December 02, 2008,
A.M. asks from Medfield, MA on November 22, 2008
13 Month Old Temper Tantrums/screaming
I am writing because my husband and I don't know what to do. We have a very sweet 1 year old boy whom we love VERY much, but lately he has been very difficult. He screams at the top of his lungs ALL the time. He's not in pain, he just screams to get what he wants. He also throws himself on the floor (like a temper tantrum) or throws himself around when you try to pick him up. I try to tell him not to scream and say "shhh, that hurts mommy's ears", but I don't know how much he understands at this age. I tell him "No" if he's getting into something that could hurt him. I don't know what else to do...I'm just wondering if this is normal behavior for a 1 year old and if so, is there anything we can do about it?
M.B. answers from Boston on November 24, 2008
The only way to break this is to ignore it. I went through this with my son and tried everything to get it to stop before it started but nothing worked. I would just say to my son at the start of a tantrum that I do not respond to screaming and whining and would just ignore it. Some of the tantrums would last 45 minutes and I would want to scream but I would just totally ignore it.
Good luck, it will get better. He is just testing you to see how far he can get.
R.S. answers from New London on November 23, 2008
I think that is totally normal, my son was very similar. I was getting sick of the temper, but can understand it since they don't really know how to communicate and they do what works. When my son was about 12/13 mths old I started to teach him how to say more please, when he was in a good mood and wanted more of strawberry's. It worked he now says it for anything and everthing though it really is just the beginning of please...ppppppp...all the time. So I don't know if that is better or not...I guess better than screaming. Good luck!!
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C.K. answers from Boston on November 23, 2008
Join the club! Sometimes the "terrible two's" start at 12 months or so from what I hear and what I have been through myself. A wonderful book that I think would benefit you greatly is Love and Logic Magic By Jim and Charles Fay.
You can just look up in the back of the book certain things you need to "learn" instead of reading cover to cover. I tried reading cover to cover but being so busy and tired I had no motivation so I just looked in the back to find what I needed like what to do if your child is hitting for example.
This book has helped me tons & my son is much better behaved and we don't have to scream and yell to get him to listen. But remember screaming and yelling usually doesn't work because who wants to be yelled at all the time? They tune you out. Good luck! Let me know if you get the book & how it has helped you. Oh, you can also email them a question and they will get back to you!
L.S. answers from New London on November 22, 2008
This is normal and he is doing it to get your attention. I told my son at this age to say mommy help because he would just point and scream at something he wanted. When he starts to scream tell him say please or mommy help (you decide) don't do both because it may confuse him. Then ignore the scream until he says please or mommy help. When my son starts to point and scream I say ... what do you say (in a calm voice) and he usually remembers to say please or mommy. He can't yet say mommy help. But by no means and I mean, by no means ever give in to a temper tantrum or screaming. Only give in when he calms down and changes his attitude. This is pretty normal for this age because they have not learned the correct way to get your attention. Ignore the screaming but you can address it once. Don't keep addressing it or it will make him think that he can scream and get the attention that he wants. Even telling him no don't scream and etc. is attention for him. Just do it once and ignore. I know, it is easier said then done. ;) good luck. My son is 18 months old now and rarely has tantrums because he just knows that it isn't going to work.
N.C. answers from Portland on November 23, 2008
Hello A., Hmmm. Screams at the top of his lungs ALL the time? Ouch. Have you checked inside his mouth for new teeth? That may be a secondary cause for his behavior. Otherwise, he could simply be testing the waters, learning what it means to 'BE' he. :) His teacher is YOU by how you react to him. So, my vote is ignore behaviors you do NOT want and praise those you do. For tantrum behavior, try turning your back and using a deeper tone say 'Ugh Ugh. Quiet voice please' and wait. 'Jump in' with moderate smiles and enthusiasm the moment he starts to rev down, take a breath i.e. and pair that with loving words like 'need help?' while stroking his back and cheeks. Give him a small token as distraction...something you keep special on the refrigerator out of sight for just these times, perhaps? When he turns the volume back up, you MUST turn your back away stating FIRMLY (not a shout though...find your mommy voice/its all in the tone) 'OH OH..No scream please' and continue what you're doing until he figures it out. Be sure to go directly to him when he takes a break to sob or to look at you when he becomes more quiet. Use your moderate attentive voice again and repeat the pattern of gentle praise, loving comfort paired with a distraction, but GO BACK to YOUR activity! This really teaches him he is safe AND loved. Its a process...and the only thing constant in raising children is ...change, literally and figuratively! :) Blessings, N.
M.M. answers from Boston on November 23, 2008
Dont you just love temper tantrums?! My son is 17 months old and has a few now and then but what seems to help him the most is that we taught him sign language-which was incredibly easy to do! I think most of his tantrums were from not being able to express what he needs and now that he signs its a lot easier-he is also starting to say some words which obviously helps! I would look into it-we just taught him the basics and it seems to be really effective but like I said he still has a few tantrums sometimes and I think thats just part of toddlerhood! :) Good Luck!
L.A. answers from Boston on November 23, 2008
We had the same problem when our now 2 yr old was 14 months. The best advice we got was ignore as much as possible- if that means picking him up and moving him to a carpeted room and letting him scream it out that is fine- they see how they get a reaction every time they do it so if you are just calm and don't try to reason with him or say anything just don't give him any reaction it will stop- you become deaf before it does, but it will:) good luck!
J.H. answers from Boston on November 23, 2008
I would ignore the bad behavior. Just walk away and pretend that it isn't happening. Easier said than done I'm sure but to give him attention is what he wants. Also make sure to acknowledge all good behavior and tell him that that is the behavior you are most proud of and it makes you happy when he is behaving in a good way.
L.L. answers from Portland on November 23, 2008
First all children develop into different stages/phases at different times. There is NO set time schedule for them accomplishing anything.
This being said, temper tantrums are certainly a challenge.
It is hard to be a parent, even more difficult to be a good one. Its a LOT of work.
I walked away from temper tantrums...into the next room. When they would come out sniffling, I would tell them that I do not know what they want when they scream and act like that. If they want something they needed to tell me in words.
And when he screams do you ask him what he wants? Asking him do you want water? snack? movie? toy?
Please do not do this. From this he learns that if he screams loudly enough he can get you to get whatever he likes. He, at this point, is teaching YOU how to behave.
When he screams, again, walk out of the room. Out of his sight. He may even follow you into the other room and start again...walk away as many times as it takes.
You could say firmly , "stop that screaming, That is NOT an inside voice."
The less attention you pay to this screaming the sooner it will end. But , it wont if you credit it.
Now, at 1 he cannot talk. He may not know how to tell you what he wants. He is capable of learning simple sign language to ask for what he wants. Baby Einstein First Signs video is what I used on my grandson and at six months he could ask for drink, water, milk, eats, ect. Bet your little dude is clever enough to learn those signs.
His frustration at not being able to effectively communicate could well be adding to your screaming/temper tantrum problem
REmember, do NOT give him what he wants if he is screaming or throwing tantrum.
The more attention you give him during these spells will prolong them.
Try to catch him in appropriate behaviors and praise him for them.
Best wishes and God bless
K.D. answers from Boston on November 23, 2008
My pediatrician told me to completely ignore screaming, and it would go away-- MUCH easier to say than do! But what I did, when my one-year-old screamed, was to turn it in to opera singing. I would find a pitch approximately like the one she was screaming and make it into a melody (of course one that goes DOWN in pitch!). And I never let it get her what she wanted, unless she asked appropriately.