20 answers

1 Year Old with Temper Tantrums

Lately my one year old has started throwing some pretty fierce temper tantrums. If she goes towards an electric outlet or hangs on the gate at the top of the stairs, we tell her "no, no" and if the behavior continues, we pull her away from the forbidden item. She will throw a HUGE tantrum---tears, yelling, throwing herself to the ground. This used to be solved by distracting her with a toy or activity that was hers to play with, but lately that is being met by her throwing that toy or today by her hitting me and my husband. I know this is her expressing her independance, but I'd like to nip this throwing and hitting behavior in the bud. I think she seems too young for a time out (just 1 year old), but don't know what else to do. Just keep up with the "no, no"??? Other ideas? Any good discipline book recommendations?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD tells you how to talk to a one year old in the midst of a tantrum. Needless to say reason doesn't work and by this age they consider a distraction to be insulting. Who knew?

1 mom found this helpful

My son is 14 months and he throws tantrums too! He goes limp, throws his head back, cries. I've been following some advice I received. Just let them throw the tantrum. Be calm. Basically ignore them. Once my son realizes that his tactics aren't working he stops crying and that's when I distract him with another toy. It's hard for me to do but it seems to work most of the time! I've read that time out at this age doesn't work because they don't have the coginitive ability to really understand it. Good luck!

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Check out the website www.thinkkids.org. This site offers great parenting advice. There is a discipline model called The Collaborative Problem Solving Approach that is very helpful. Maybe not exactly helpful when the child is one, but definitely nice to read when you are starting out figuring out your parenting style. Plus! the clinicians who wrote this book are nearby, in Needham.
The only piece of advice I can offer is that as you go along parenting, everything just changes. When a child is one their temper tantrums really are just cute. Wait until they throw a temper tantrum at five or eight... Not fun. Distraction at age one is the name of the game.

1 mom found this helpful

The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD tells you how to talk to a one year old in the midst of a tantrum. Needless to say reason doesn't work and by this age they consider a distraction to be insulting. Who knew?

1 mom found this helpful

Run don't walk to your nearest bookstoreor amazon.com and get Parenting with Love and Logic, the Early Childhood years. Loveandlogic.com has CD and DVD's too!
Good luck!

I would recommend "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" by Faber/Mazlish and "Raising our children, raising ourselves" by Naomi Aldort. BTW, both books discourage time-outs. Time-outs are, in the end, a punishment, and for reasons explained in these books, we ought not to be punishing children for the expression of their strong feelings. There are other gentler, more humane methods of helping children pass through these difficult periods. A tantrum is the expression of a need and ignoring the need or shutting it down may or may not make the tantrums go away, but absolutely will NOT make the fundamental need go away. Calm, loving, consistent presence will let your child know you are there for her and her needs will be met. It may also head off most tantrums!!

It's definitley not too early for time out. After you say no and she hits or continues the behavior, have her sit out for a minute or two and simply tell her why and don't interact with her. It should work!

I second the recommendation for Happiest Toddler on the Block. Helps you see things from their standpoint and I found it made it much easier to deal with DD after reading it. Gives great help in being able to talk to them in a way they can understand, I think.

I would also advise using words other than NO all the time. But as another poster said, not a lot of words. Short repetitive phrases can be useful with little ones.

We used "not for babies" or "danger" or "hot" and removed her immediately when she was interested in something she couldn't have. I avoided No as much as possible because it really loses a lot of meaning when they hear it constantly.

I never ignored DD but I did ignore the tantrum. So if the redirection didn't work and she went off, I stayed completely calm and talked to her normally. "Oh would you like to do x? No, okay I'm going to continue doing whatever." So she is not being ignored and isolated but I was not reacting to the drama and giving it attention.

I actually think that when the child (especially at that age) is asking for attention that we should give it to them. I have found that when DD starts doing a lot of things that are annoying me, often it is because we haven't had a lot of time together or she's tired or hungry or whatever. She just doesn't know how to express that her needs are not being met.

I agree that timeout is totally useless at that age. DD now might get it (she's 27 mos) but at that age, absolutely not. I don't use that technique now either but then no way.

We didn't have a big hitting problem but with hitting or biting I'd immediately calmly say "No hitting" and resume what we were doing. If she did it again I'd repeat "no hitting" and put her down immediately. I did not then walk away and ignore her and if she wanted back up I would pick her back up. She almost never resumed hitting when I picked her back up and if she did then down she went again. She got it.

I think it is great to have a Yes environment. I babyproofed as much as possible so the need to say no was as limited as possible. And yes, she still did figure out what No means. :) They really don't need to have that lesson over and over to get it! Another thing that I think helped TONS was using sign language with DD. Yes, she still can't play on the baby gate or whatever, but the fact that she was capable of communicating her basic needs helped keep the frustration level low generally. It is very frustrating when noone understands you so anything that can help with that is a good thing!

btw DD, although she has her moments, really does not have a lot of tantrums at almost 27 mos. I think it is partly her temperment and partly how I've dealt with her in the past.

I started reading your post and it made me chuckle only to think of my own daughter at this stage. It's funny to look back on, although not that long ago. It was the exact same thing. All of a sudden everything was so much more dramatic. The tantrums were all out throwing herself down on the floor and crying. Even now, she's 21 mos, we still get those, rarely though. The only thing we kept doing was saying no. I never felt she was old enough for timeout at that age, until just recently, and it does work with her by the way. She would throw toys and hit us in the face. Again we just kept saying no. As hard as it might be we found that our being calm and talking her through it was the best way, and sometimes even ignoring it all together by walking into the next room or turning our backs to do something was sometimes effective. I have a couple friends and family with children several months older and they all went through the same thing. I really hated the hitting in the face and I see some parents that just let it happen and don't say anything. I truly believe that you need to address it right away and every single time. Even if they do it when you are in front of someone else. About a month ago was the last time she did it to either one of us. I was feeling sort of frustrated with it and she hit me again. So I hit her back exactly as she hit me. It wasn't hard and it didn't hurt her but she looked at me so surprised and I told her that hurts mommy and that is what it feels like. It doesn't feel good does it. I didn't yell or get mad, she didn't even cry. Then it was all over and she hasn't done it since. I don't think everyone should do this and certainly not more than once if it doesn't work. I just wanted to share what worked for us. Good luck, I don't think it will last long.

My son is 14 months and he throws tantrums too! He goes limp, throws his head back, cries. I've been following some advice I received. Just let them throw the tantrum. Be calm. Basically ignore them. Once my son realizes that his tactics aren't working he stops crying and that's when I distract him with another toy. It's hard for me to do but it seems to work most of the time! I've read that time out at this age doesn't work because they don't have the coginitive ability to really understand it. Good luck!

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