16 answers

14 Month Old Tantrums

My 14 month old son has started to throw tantrums. He has always been a strong willed child. They started a few months ago, but were rare and I could pretty well predict if he would get frustrated about something and either avoid it or be prepared to give him another distraction. Now it seems to be almost anything that makes him mad. I have noticed they are worse if he is tired, which makes sense. The tantrum is usually short lived, but they happen much more often & it is really tiring! My mom & mother-in-law take turns watching him while I am at work part-time & I know he does them with them, too. I know he is testing us & his limits. He is a VERY curious boy & gets into everything so throughout the day we are constantly having to redirect him, which often makes him mad. How should I react to them? I've simply been not reacting & trying to distract him with something or just allow him to lay on the ground (the tantrum includes him lunging his body back, crying & sometimes throwing something that is around him) and have the tantrum. Any advice? Thanks!

FYI: I want to use as much positive discipline techniques as I can.

P.S. I agree with a poster who said that my son needs more stimulation at times. He is very curious & smart & wants to get into every nook & cranny. Our home is childproof and he does have cabinets he can get into safely. The redirection is usually for things that we can't childproof and he wants to explore. I believe he is too young for time out as he can't sit still anywhere & wouldn't understand what is going on. Like I said, the fits are short (10-20 seconds or so) and if we redirect, it usually stops. There are times, though, that I just let him lay on the floor & roll around crying until he stops or gets distracted by something. I probably will start using the pack-n-play for a "safe" place for times like this. He already is a difficult sleeper so I don't want him to associate "time out" with his crib. I just wanted ideas about anything else we could do besides redirect and let it happen as I know he is only getting older! I know the grandmas are good at making sure he is safe & redirect when needed. I know they don't yell or get angry & just try to give him something appropriate to play with. He's just an active boy who is trying to voice his independence!! Thanks for the suggestions & support! I plan to read up on positive discipline soon so I can start using techniques & preparing for when he gets older!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I just wanted to say that I find it interesting that I receive some wonderful comments from moms who actually READ what I wrote and others that totally ignore my request for positive discipline. I'm sorry, but it seems that those moms who chose to post about spanking anyway are somehow trying to convince me that spanking is okay because they think it is. I am a social worker and see everyday parents who choose to spank. I believe that if parents are patient enough & educate themselves on other methods of discipline, then spanking is not necessary. There are MANY parents in the world who have NEVER spanked and their kids somehow learn appropriate behavior. I KNOW that my 14 month old is not doing this behavior to manipulate, but out of frustration. I was simply asking for ideas on how to appropriate deal with in a positive manner. Sorry for the rant, but I have found that posting on this site is both extremely helpful but also frustrating when specific requests are ignored and moms chose to get on their soap box & convince others to believe and parent as they parent. That said, THANK YOU to those moms who read my request and responded appropriately.

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OMG, my son is 14 months and started doing the same thing a few weeks ago.....thanks for posting the question. He has his 15 month well visit tomorrow and this was one of my questions to ask the Dr.

Sounds like my son. I know how frustrating it can be. I started just putting my son in his crib until he calmed down. Other than that all I can is to just keep doing what you are doing. I know it's hard, but eventually he will get it. Just think though, if he's doing this now... maybe you won't have the terrible 2's!

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I completely agree with the other posters. And I would add two things - 1. You may have a very bright kid on your hands who needs more mental stimulation. If you are constantly having to redirect him, maybe he doesn't have enough challenges before him. Make sure you are not making too many things no nos around the house. Allow him to get into some things around your house, like a kitchen cabinet with pots and pans. Let him empty a cabinet, bang on the pans, explore them, then make a game of putting them back. Let him help with household chores - my kids used to love to throw clothes in the washer or pull them out of the dryer. From a toddler's point of view, all these things are facinating. The more you can all his "help" the more involved and satisfyed his active little mind will be!

The other thing is - to really control the tantrums all of his caregivers need to be on the same page. Whatever method you use to handle the tantrums, you should all follow them exactly the same way. That will send a very strong message that this ain't working with anybody!

2 moms found this helpful

A., I totally agree with you on the positive discipline! That makes a HUGE difference with my son! (He's 2 1/2.) One other tactic that I used was, if he wanted to throw a fit that was fine with me, but he had to do it in his room or bed. That was I knew he was safe (nothing to get hurt on) and once he figured out that his screaming/throwing/etc wasn't getting him what he wanted, the fits stopped pretty quickly. There's nothing wrong with putting him in his crib or pack'n'play and letting him cry for a little bit. I would check in on my son every couple of minutes and ask him if he was done yet - a couple of times he even told me know. I said okay - let me know when you want to come out! It worked wonders with my little boy - hope it helps you!

I know how hard it can be to have this little person that you love so much scream at you, but hang in there. It really does get better!

1 mom found this helpful

i think you're doing fine! just stick it out, sister. this, too shall pas... quick story, my son was a bit older probably getting on 4 maybe even 5, he was throwing fit after fit. i waited until he was throwing a fit at home and i threw a fit with him! i lay down on the floor next to him, screamed with him and had a full on tantrum! it was sooo funny to watch his little face. i think he thought i had gone coo-coo. then, after that if he acted like he was going to act out i would start whimpering and stick my lip out. you've never seen a boy whip himself into shape so quickly.

1 mom found this helpful

A., i completely agree with the other poster. sometimes all you can do is allow them to throw their fit. ours are usually because mom is making dinner, cleaning, or whatever, and the attention isn't there...so since i'm usually in the middle of something, i don't stop what i'm doing to take him to his room, i just tell him, ok, sorry you're mad, but i'm not talking to you if you're screaming. and completely ignore the tantrum. usually he fits it out for awhile then comes to me for some lovin, which is fine with me. if the situation is different (being told "NO" about something, god forbid) i will sometimes put him in his room, but if he's all wound up he's not really hearing me so i don't feel like he understands "hang out in here till you're done", i feel like he thinks it's more of a punishment. but those are just our methods. what i wanted to say was, please for your son's sake get a hold on his, because at 14 months, i guarantee you it'll get worse before it gets better. if you give him the message now that tantrums won't get him what he wants, when he's 2 and 2 1/2 he won't expect them to work, so there won't be as many of them. just like anything else, tantrums start as a last resort because he has no clue how to express his emotions. they'll keep going if you don't teach him better ways to get his point across. then it becomes a training/discipline issue. good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with most of the other posters; it's entirely normal, and you're doing fine by ignoring the tantrums and redirecting his attention. It may just take some time for him to realize that: 1. there might be a better way to communicate his needs, and 2. the tantrums are not getting him what he wants.

Right now, he's likely just frustrated that he can't explore the things that he sees the grown-ups "playing" with (the DVD player, the little glass knick-knacks, etc). ;-) Tantrums at this age aren't usually about attention as much as about venting those angry, frustrated feelings (but of course, they can quickly *become* about getting attention, if we parents aren't careful how we handle it).

If you can allow him to explore some things that aren't childproof, but are reasonably safe under close supervision, this might help alleviate some of his curiosity, as well. I wouldn't do this with anything he can reach on his own, though... only things that can be put out of reach (and preferably out of sight) when he can't be as closely supervised, so he doesn't get confused and think it's an "anytime" toy. For instance, we used to let my toddler play with my cell phone (with the keys "locked") under close supervision.

You might try "rotating" his toys if you haven't done so already. If he has things to play with that seem new (even if you had them out 4 weeks ago), it may help hold his attention a bit longer and give you one more way to redirect him.

To the poster who said, "I don't think his tantrums should be ignored. He needs to understand that it is not right to behave that way." At 14 months old, he doesn't KNOW any other way to behave when he's upset. How do you explain to him the "right" way to behave at this age? Punishment like a spanking only works if the child knows what they did wrong in the first place. Even our court system allows for exceptions for those who are *incapable* of understanding how to behave--we try to keep them from harming themselves or others, and/or teach them a better way.

At 14 months, most toddlers don't have the words or the actions to communicate well at this age; they do not yet know how to express anger or frustration correctly. They should not be punished for that!

That is why I feel that the OP (A.) is handling it just fine with her son. With consistency and patience, he will outgrow it and find other ways to communicate.

A one-minute time out usually works even if he doesn't completely understand it. Walking away, if he is in your home usually works. I would put him in a play pen if he has one.

Kids want you to see their tantrums, so you must leave his sight. Try saying I am going to go in another room so that you can finish this.

Also, make a log of when he has tantrums.

Where is he?
Who is around to watch? Is there someone that he wants attention from?
Is he sleepy?
Is he hungry?
Is he over-stimulated?
Are you or someone else about to leave?
What was he doing just before the tantrum?
Did it end spontaneously?

Hopefully, you can find a pattern or trigger for your baby's behavior.
Most tantrums are the result of something that the child finds overwhelming or upsetting.

Best of Luck!

PS I like Meg's tantrum (a couple of posts below) also. That does work with some kiddos. ;)

That sounds exactly what happened to me. I used to joke that a monster had taken over my sweety pie. When we had to switch daycares, she really went nuts. The gal introduced me to Dr. Thomas Phelan's method "123 Magic" and saved our lives. He has a website full of information to choose from. Within a week, we had our funny, sweet little girl back and I hardly count past 2. (counting 1, 2, 3-Time out) We use it with the older boys too! Dr Phelan is a renowned ADD expert as well so he's been in the field for a long time not just a new author.

give it a look and see what you think!

I agree with the idea of calmly putting him in a safe place...and just let him enjoy his tantrum all by himself. Check on him every couple of minutes...ask if he is "done"...dont try to talk to him..he cant hear you when he is in the middle of a tantrum. But dont reward his tantrum by giving him what he wanted....that just reinforces the behavior. And get a handle on it NOW...or it will just get worse.
Good luck!!
R. Ann

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