21 answers

2 1/2 Year Old's Tantrums Out of Control

Help! My 2 1/2 year old's temper tantrums have reached new heights! Yesterday was the worst...she exploded (for what seems to be no reason). During her fits, she often bites herself and hits other objects with her hand as hard as she can to make it hurt. For the first time yesterday, she pulled her own hair. It was very distressing to witness and it took me almost an hour to calm her down. She has always been pretty hot headed, but her tantrums are getting worse...it is not every day, but at least weekly that she tries to hurt herself when she is angry or frustrated. Aside from these awful tantrums, she is a loving and sweet little girl. Any advice on how to handle this situation? Any other moms go through this with their toddler? Thanks for the advice!

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

I am so joyfully overwhelmed with all of the responses I have received. Thank you to each and every one of you who took the time to send me your advice and support. I was feeling extremely isolated and alone, because none of my immediate mommy friends had experienced this type of rage with their own children. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that I am not the only one and that we will get through this! My daughter has not had another tantrum since Wednesday, but I feel so prepared for the next one with all of the terrific advice I have gained through this new support system. I am so happy to have discovered this website through another mom at my daughter's preschool. Thanks so much! I will keep you all posted on our progress!

Featured Answers

You may consider using essential oils to calm her down. I have a friend who used aromatherapy and maybe able to help Here is her number Jodj Bitzer ###-###-#### also her website is www.youngliving.org/328178 or www.jodyessentials.com

I also have a two year old who has frequent tantrums and sometimes goes as far as raging. Though she doesn't try and harm herself I can see how distressing that would be. When we are at home and she starts screaming and flopping on the floor I quickly pick her up, place her in her bed, tell her to calm down, and then close the door. I go get her when I feel she has more control. Then we sit and cuddle and talk to each other if she wants to. That is just what works for us. Most of the time she just needs a comfy quiet place for "down-time". That way I'm not giving her attention for the tantrum and she's learning to calm herself. I hope it gets better for the both of you.

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Stacy,

I have a HAPPY, non tantruming 5 year old who at 2 started what I called tantruming until a friend heard her doing it on the phone. My friend has a son who is ADHD and when he was younger he raged. While I was on the phone with my friend she said that my daughter wasn't tantruming she was raging. Her rages lasted well over an hour and could be triggered by anything from my going a different direction in a store than she wanted to go to buying something SHE thought we didn't need. It was so frustrating. She would go into an hour long rage because it was dark and she didn't want it to be dark outside. It was frustrating and insane! All of the advice I read for temper tantrums had NO effect on her. It only seemed to make her rage more.

It was when I got to the end of my rope and had been driven to tears that some one recommended a book called Holding Time by Martha Welch. The basic premise is that children learn self regulation of their emotions from their mother. When your child starts to loose control you pick her up and hold her facing you and keep her safe. She is not permitted her pull her hair, bite herself or you. You must remain calm and detached while she rages and keep her safe. You talk very calmly to her and tell her she is safe and how much you lover her. You keep the tone of your voice soft and sweet. Once she is done with her rage you will have the sweetest most gentle soul. When it is over, do not put her down. Continue holding her, stroke her face, tell her what you love about her and you can also talk about what it was that made her so angry.

My daughter would rage for more than an hour per episode. She would rage at least once per night and on the weekend it got to a point where she would have 3 to 5 rages a day. I was afraid to take her anywhere. I started Holding Time. Each night when she started to rage I scooped her up and held her. My thought was she was going to rage for more than an hour whether I held her or not and I might as well see if this Holding thing works. After 5 days, the rages just stopped. It was like she had a switch and some one turned her off. In the quiet times after a holding, I found out she was terribly scared when she was out of control which only made her rage more. She was also afraid I was going to go away and never come back. My daughter is adopted and has had two instances in her life where the people she knew and trusted just disappeared and she never saw them again. Her fears are justified by her experience. I am not saying that is the case with your daughter but you can learn so much from them in the peaceful time after a holding. Overall, my daughters behaviors improved in all areas. She did what I asked her to do. She didn't argue with every statement I made. She was less clingy.

If you would like to discuss it further I would be happy to talk to you about it. I would recommend the book. I checked it out of the library. It is an easy read and very informative. In our house it was a life saver.

2 moms found this helpful

I am a 56 yr old g-ma keeping her 2 yr old grandson. When he has his temper tantrums he is put in his bed in his bedroom and the door is closed until he works it out with himself. When he comes out he is a totally different child. Time out works for him. He doesn't have anyone to be his audience, and the more I tried to comfort him before the worse he got. This method works for us.

Best thing I found for my daughter was to pick her up and physically remove her from the situation. Take her to the the most tranquil area of the house you can find (no TV, no noise), and demonstrate for her how to scream into a pillow. Allow her to do so until she feels ready to stop. Once she has stopped, have her just rest in the peace and quiet for a few moments before she returns to playing. Sometimes a quick cuddle with Mom is in order. It sounds silly, but it's a quick and easy way to relieve frustration for a child at an age where they have few coping skills. And before you laugh, this was advice given to me by a highly regarded child and adolescent psychotherapist for my own daughter. Just remember that the more upset you get about the tantrums, the more they will escalate. We call this stage the "terrible twos," but think about how many transitions the kids are going through just from age two to five. I'm sure that at times it can all be a little overwhelming. Good luck!

Hi S.,

I was just looking up some medical questions that I had and found a site by a Dr. that had some info on your topic. Check it out. www.askdrwarren.com

Try reading a book called "The Difficult Child" by Stanley Turecki & Leslie Tonner. There are some wonderful Behavior Modification tips in this book. I am a Special Education Teacher who has dealt with this with my own son (who survived the terrible 2's and 3's and is now a senior in high school and a volunteer fireman!!!). When your daughter tantrums, put her somewhere where she 1)won't have an audience, 2)will not be able to hurt herself(don't put her in the kitchen with knives, etc.), and where you can periodically check on her. As long as she is not drawing blood, leave her alone. If no one is there to "react" to her tantrum, it will be less fulfilling to her to do this. Put her on a behavior plan, rewarding her for "good behavior" and removing the rewards when she tantrums. Rewards need to be activities that she enjoys and would be able to do anyway (listen to music, watch a favorite dvd or video, play a game, etc.). Also, try going to http://www.behaviordoctor.org/behaviorexamples.htm or http://www.behaviordoctor.org/piesworkbook.html to get examples on how to extinguish this type of behavior and many other troublesome behaviors. Dr. Laura Riffel is an excellent resource for behavior management. M. E.

How long have these tantrums been going on? Are they ever in public or only at home? Do they occur at the same time of the day? After eating certain foods? When denied something she wants? Is she angry with you, dh or her sister? Did your older dd have tantrums like this?

Get a notebook and begin to record this kind of information every time this sort of thing occurs. Write down anything you think might be significant. You will want to begin looking for trends to narrow down what might be happening with her.

When I child, even a tiny one, tries to hurt herself or someone else while in a rage, it is time to restrain the child so that does not happen. I would not recommend doing this without talking to your pediatrician because the last thing you want to do while preventing a child from hurting herself is to hurt her while you restrain her. There are definite and proven techniques on how to do this.

This could be a phase, something even a tiny 2 year old cxan do to manipulate her parents to get what she wants. Remember, your kids are intelligent little humans and she can see the fear in your eyes when her behavior is out of control. You may not see this as a way of her manipulating you but you will probably see that you spend a lot of time with her when she is having a fit - is this what she is looking for?

But this could be something else. As a parent of a child with a significant mood disorder, it is important to get involvement from, at a minimum, your pediatrician if this sort of behavior is not a one-time event. Because the behavior is so dramatic, it may seem like these events are happening more often than they are. So again, get that notebook out and start writing from this day forward. If she has another tantrum that involves her hurting herself or trying to hurt you, dad or sis, write it down with and get an appointment with the pediatrician. Hope this helps, S.

Hello,
The younger of my two sons had outrageous tantrums compared to his brother. He also wasn't really verbal. It turned out that he had mild autism, diagnosed at 2 yrs and 8 mos. I'm certainly not suggesting that is the case for you, but you may want to talk to your pediatrician about developmental issues or for more specific suggestions about what may be triggering the tantrums. I wish you the best.
M. L

I also have a two year old who has frequent tantrums and sometimes goes as far as raging. Though she doesn't try and harm herself I can see how distressing that would be. When we are at home and she starts screaming and flopping on the floor I quickly pick her up, place her in her bed, tell her to calm down, and then close the door. I go get her when I feel she has more control. Then we sit and cuddle and talk to each other if she wants to. That is just what works for us. Most of the time she just needs a comfy quiet place for "down-time". That way I'm not giving her attention for the tantrum and she's learning to calm herself. I hope it gets better for the both of you.

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