34 answers

2 Year Old Temper Tantrums

Hi Moms,
I need your help! My 2 year old daughter started having horrible temper tantrums that involve screaming at the top of her lungs, throwing herself on the floor and even hitting on occasions. I realize that this is pretty typical for the age, but I feel like I have tried everything to control these outburst, with the exception of ignoring them, and they are only getting worse and more frequent. Should I just come to terms with the fact that this is again typical and will too pass, or is there something I can do to control this behavior. Thanks for any and all advise.

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It is normal but my suggestion, maybe, is when she starts to have one ask her if you can have a hug real quick. When she hugs you, give her a kiss or tickle her. See if that distracts her from the tantrum. I use this technique on a toddler in my center and it seems to stop him. I ask him as soon as he throws himself on the floor. I keep asking. Sometimes I have to ask a few times so he can hear me over the shrieking :). Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi,

My son is 2.5 and he is starting to do the same thing. "Time Out" works best for us. The minute he starts to act up, I immediately put him in his Time Out space for 3 minutes. Once time is up, I approach the area and ask him if he wants to continue sitting in "Time Out" if he continues to yell and scream then he stays there. If he says that he doesn't then I hug him and tell him that I love him, but he can not continue acting like that...
I saw this on Nanny 911 and tried it - it actually worked.

Good luck

Ignore them. Let her scream, kick and wail but do not crack, just let her act it out. eventually they will cease when she realizes that you are not going to cave in.

My now 5 year old did this for quite sometime and it wasn't until I took my doctors advice and ignored them that they finally ended.

GOOD LUCK!

More Answers

I think the best way to deal with tantrums is to ignore - obviously that cannot happen if you are in a store but if you are at home, it can work with consistency. When my daughter, who is almost 3, decides to tantrum, I say, "Let me know when you are done." And I leave the room or completely ignore her and don't even look at her. It is all about attention for them. Half the time, she looks at me and says, "I'm done," and then wants a hug. Sometimes she continues for 5 minutes or so but I just keep doing my thing until I see that she needs my help to calm down and I say, "Do you need some lovin?" (which is our way of talking about cuddling). If she is ready to calm down she will say yes, if not, she will scream louder and I just tell her to let me know when she is ready and I walk away again. After she is calm, we talk about how it is OK to be upset and how else she can handle it. As for hitting, it seems that I am the only person she hits but that period was short-lived because she got an immediate timeout for hitting me -- no discussions, no talking at all. I just would say, "You are not aloud to hit. It is not nice and it hurts. Time out." She now knows that if she hits me, there is only one thing that will happen so she does not do it anymore. She raises her hand as though she is going to hit and looks me in the eye, then changes her mind. I then praise her and we talk about what things she can hit (pillows, stuffed animals, etc). And as full of advise as I am (!!), I don't have much for public tantrums. If she gets upset and lays on the floor in the store, I say, "OK, I'll see you later. I am going to finish shopping." And I begin to walk away (obviously not far) but this usually gets her up because she wants to go with me. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

I had this issue with my daughter who is now 2.5. This was around the 2 year mark. I pretty much ignored them, I know that she was looking for a reaction and I made sure not to react the way she wanted me to. I would remain very calm and tell her that when she was ready to calm down I would then talk to her. Sometimes I asked her to go to her bedroom and that she could come back out after she calmed down. It would be little things that set her off i.e. (I didn't use the right cup for her juice, or I cut the banana the wrong way etc.) I would always leave it on the counter and tell her it would be there when she calmed down and if she changed her mind. That sometimes worked as well.

Your daughter is voicing frustration. There is something that she is not able to verbalize that might set her off or if she feels she is not being understood. I know it is difficult not to lose patience and become frustrated. I have two little ones 16 months apart so I feel your pain. Just reassure her the best you can that you love her and that she needs to use her words when she wants to communicate with you.

I hope this was helpful. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

You have to ignore them. Temper tantrums are a form of wanting attention, My daughter started her terrible two's temper tantrums and she was cured in about a week, and hasnt had one in about 6 months. I let her freak out and did not respond untils he calmed herself down and came to me and apologized for behaving like that. It's hard to ignore, especially if you are like me(I never let her cry it out, and am always here with her) but it's well worth it.

1 mom found this helpful

It is normal but my suggestion, maybe, is when she starts to have one ask her if you can have a hug real quick. When she hugs you, give her a kiss or tickle her. See if that distracts her from the tantrum. I use this technique on a toddler in my center and it seems to stop him. I ask him as soon as he throws himself on the floor. I keep asking. Sometimes I have to ask a few times so he can hear me over the shrieking :). Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful

My son went through this a couple of times at 18 months or so, but not lately. The way I dealt with it was to ignore it. That first time, I wasn't sure what was going on, so I was trying to calm him down and hugging him but I think it made it worse. the next time I knew what it was, and I made sure he was in a place that was safe and I ignored him. I would ask him every couple of minutes if he was done, and he would then get louder, but he finally came down after about 10 or 15 minutes and then he was nice again. I think the tantrums are a result of not being able to voice something, with my son it was because he didn't like the way I did something. they were very minor things, but it would set him off. Once he realized he wasn't getting attention as a result of the tantrums, they stopped. We may have dealt with this 3 times total. My suggestion is to make sure she is safe, and then ignore her. Even if you stay in the same room (which is what I did), pretend like your busy cooking or watching TV or whatever and remain unaffected by her actions. Once my son was done, I explained why he was wrong and asked for a kiss a hug. It was so weird to see him so upset and minutes later totally fine. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

You want to control the tantrums. IGNORE them. When it starts tell her that unless she can talk to mommy like a good girl you will not listen to her and leave the room. Believe it or not within a week they will be much less. By trying to control her you are just reinforcing the behavior. She is still getting her way and you are still paying attention to her. Walk out and let her throw the tantrum alone. Trust me she'll stop if she doesn't have an audience.

Oh, how I hated the terrible 2's! I remember them so well now that I have grandchildren going through the same thing. I handled it by just ignoring it. If they laid on the floor kicking and screaming i would go about my business as usual. Even stepping over them if I had to. It didn't take them long to realize they weren't getting the reaction they thought they would get.

I had a friend that had twin girls that started throwing tantrums all the time. She was at the mall one time with the twins in the stroller when both of them started screaming and literately throwing themselves around in the stroller. She quickly took out a piece of paper and pen and made a sign that said "twins in tantrum, please ignore", put it on the handle of the stroller and walked to the side wall to wait it out. People that passed by did what she wanted and ignored them. It didn't take them long to figure out that tantrums don't work with mom or with strangers.

It's important to understand that the reason 2 year-olds have tantrums is because they don't yet have the skills to manage the range of emotions they are experiencing and because their language skills are often very limited. The reason for the tantrum may seem insignificant to us as adults - the wrong bowl for breakfast, not being able to read another book at bedtime - but to a 2 yo the intensity of the disappointment, anger, etc. she is feeling is great. Once they get older (even by age 3), they become better able to manage their emotions. One way you can help your daughter now is to put a name to the emotion she is experiencing ("You're really angry you can't have another pretzel, aren't you!"). Even though this may not prevent or shorten the tantrums right now, it will let her know that you understand what she is feeling and help her learn to identify her own emotions as she gets older. As long as you do not eventually "give in" to whatever it is your daughter is upset about, she will not learn that tantrumming is a way to get what she wants. So tolerating/ignoring/waiting out the tantrums (as long as she's safe) is often a good way to let her get those feelings out. If you are not trying to get her to stop crying and yelling, or just physically not right next to her, there shouldn't be anyone close enough to get hit. That's just the only way she knows right now to express how upset she is. And it's not really fair to expect a 2 yo to express those very intense emotions in more appropriate ways when that just isn't where she's at developmentally. Hope this helps!

J. - It isn't about controlling the behavior, but moreso about finding out what serves the function (why does she do it - tangible items, attention, sensory stimulation, etc). I work with children who exhibit this kind of behavior problem. Please feel free to email me privately and we can discuss it further. ( ____@____.com )
Take care,
A.

My son is going through that now at 16 months. Instead of ignoring him I try to understand what is bothering him because he cannot talk yet and this is the only way he can express himself. They act like that for a reason and to just ignore them might upset them even more. Just sit with her and try to find out what she wants and talk to her in a soft voice. If this doesn't work then just let her be. She will get over it.

My 3rd is now 2 1/2 and we go thru it daily. Even if I had the book with all the answers in it, your 2 year old didn't get a copy. They are all different. My best results are when I am able to ignore the tantrums. I know that's not always possible. Try saying "I'll talk to you when you calm down." and then just wait.
Good Luck!

I found that picking up my son and putting him in his bed and leaving were the best way to stop the tantrums. As soon as he realized that I wasn't going to react to him, and he was going to have to work it out himself, he stopped. Sometimes the tantrum stopped as soon as I picked him up. He still got a time out in his bed, though.

Good Luck.
C. Thomson

Probably you know all of the ways to head off a tantrum- but they do happen anyway. If your dd is in a full blown tantrum you can try to make it shorter by staying near her if she lets you and talking calmly. I find talking reason into my toddler at that moment can make matters worse. Stay near, protect her- she will know on some level you are trying to help and be close when the storm subsides. Never yell back- model calmness. I tell my tantruming one that I love him/her and whatever she needs Im here to help.

my son did the same thing as soon as he turned 2. He is now 2.5yrs and it has gotten much better, which I believe is because he is talking/communicating more. When he did have tantrums the best thing was to ignore them. We also did/do time outs, and take away toys.

Temper tantrums are really hard to deal with, especially when it seems like your baby is feeling a lot of emotional pain. Remember that real losses of control are scary for kids too. You can't control her tantrums. Only SHE can. Your job is to help her learn to self-calm.

A good course of action is to remain solid for your kid, don't ignore but don't fuss either. Reassure her sofly that it will be ok and sit quietly with her, either hugging her if she'll let you or on the floor near by and WAIT. Don't encourage the "bad" behavior that can be learned from your indulging the tantrum, i.e. learning that tantrums REALLY get Mom's attention, but letting her know that you're there for her. Eventually, and I mean eventually, the tantrums will be shorter and then less frequent, and then before yo know it she'll be 3!

I noticed that you said you tried everything but ignoring them. Try ignoring them just be sure she is safe and is not going to hurt herself or anyone else. Tamtrums are looking for attention so if you don't give the outcome she is looking for they may cease. Best of luck.

I also have a 2 yr old, so I feel your pain!! I've figured out that you have to find the reason behind the tantrum as opposed to what set it off. My son usually has tantrums when he is hungry or tired, and there is a subtle difference between the two. I can't even ask him what he wants to eat or if he wants a nap...he won't answer, just screams! I just give him one of his favorate snacks or put him in his bed (he is usually asleep with in 2 min!). within minutes he is quiet.

Good luck!

Hi,

My son is 2.5 and he is starting to do the same thing. "Time Out" works best for us. The minute he starts to act up, I immediately put him in his Time Out space for 3 minutes. Once time is up, I approach the area and ask him if he wants to continue sitting in "Time Out" if he continues to yell and scream then he stays there. If he says that he doesn't then I hug him and tell him that I love him, but he can not continue acting like that...
I saw this on Nanny 911 and tried it - it actually worked.

Good luck

Dear J.,

My son hit his terrible two's at 15 months and pretty much held onto it till he hit three. This to shall pass. It is a phase. They are trying to express themselves and push the envelope. When ever my son threw a a major fit, and it was usually in public to the utter mortufication of my husband, I just said go ahead drop right here have a good cry but I'm leaving. I walked away out of view from him, I always had my sights on him. He'd cry another minute look around notice he didn't have an audience and came out of the "trance". They have this way of dropping dead weight on you in parking lots, not wanting to go into car seats etc. The one thing I never did is what I saw a lot of mom's do is bribe him. Cause they will never stop the tantrums if they are getting goodies. He even bit me once and after he was done and stopped I explained to him that he hurt me and it mad me sad. Clearly when they are in the throws of it all there is no reasoning with them, just let them have at it. My son is 5 now very spirited but all those tantrums are gone. Have patience, and know that you are good mom. Good Luck! A.

She's looking for a reaction from you, so try ignoring it. My son went through that phase, but it was short-lived because I either ignored it or said, "I only listen to boys who use their nice voices."

My friend, who is very funny, used to turn the situation around on her son if he tried it in public. If he started having a fit, she's say in a loud voice, "Hey, everybody! Mikey's having a tantrum! Come look!" And he'd get so embarrassed, he'd stop!

Hi J.,

You are absolutely correct your daughter is at a prime age for temper tantrums. It's practically part of her "Job Description" LOL!!!! I would absolutely suggest completely ignoring her. My daughter who is now 4 used to have bad fits, as well. I would say Ok you want to have a fit go ahead. Walk out of the room and allow her to carry on. I would walk over her if she were lieing on the floor without even a glance at her. She's not going to stop overnight, it will be a process. But once my daughter finally realized mommy and daddy didn't pay her any attention she stopped. I know it may sound somewhat cruel and trust me it was not easy, but it's worth giving a try.

~Christina
Mother of Beautiful 4 yr old daughter and Cutests 2 1/2 yr old son

Hello J.,
may be a weekly music course, for kids in this age, with returning rituals in the course of the year would give your daughter a compensating challenge. My daughter loves it. All the best, W.

Ignoring them works best. sometimes the temper tantrum is done for shock value and a way or attempt to control *you* or her environment. when an infant is first born they learn they can get attention just by crying or acting cute and it is very very easy for them. When they get older they learn these things don't control people or the environment like they used to so well any more and things get very frustrating for them. They can't handle the overwhelming feelings of frustration so they act it out by having a temper tantrum. Best thing to do is smile to your self and just GENTLY take the child back to his or her crib or room and softly state even though you probably won't be heard ; " when you can gain control of yourself again then you may re-join us" and close the door and leave them to it.Just do that consistantly and every time she or he does this and soon they get the idea temper tantrums get them absolutely no where or are un adult like. They so want to be like you, after all!
Chin up Mama and please know that often temper tantrums are often a sign of a next big jump over to higher level of child developement preceding learning how to dress one self or tie ones shoes or going to kindergarten, you know the old addage two steps forward one giant step backwards??? Well temper tantrums often are a sign your little one is about to grow up even more or aquire another more adult skill. Smile Mama and know it's all normal!

I have a 30 year old, 15 year old, and 7 year old. My 30 and 7 were the worst. I found ignoring them, instead of fueling thier anger works best. Then , when they are done, talk to them calmly, if you lose it, it makes them worse. you are the adult and they can't understand their behavior.
My children got over it quickly and I know have extremely patient and loving children who can't remember the days when they were difficult.
My son usually had the tantrums in stores if I wouldn't give him what he wanted. We stayed away from stores for a while.
My 7 year old, learned quickly when I firmly said "no" I meant it. You will get through it with patience.
B. R

Ignore the temper tantrums. Responding in any way ll reinforce the behavior. Walk away when she starts them up even if it's in a store. She does not recognize the difference between positive behavior and negative behavior. She only recognizes she gains your attention when she throws the tantrum. My son used to get so worked up he'd make himself vomit. Believe me this would alarm us, but the more we ignored the behavior the easier it goot and the less he would lather himself up into such a state. Not until we ignored the tantrums did they lessen. Once your child realizes she won't gain your attention from the negative behavior, she'll be less likely to use it as a tactic to gain your attention. She'll still have terrible two behavior, but unless you think she's going to hurt herself, ignore it as best you can and see f that doesn't help to lessen it. My son is ten years old and temper tantrums have become stomping up the stairs to his room when he doesn't get his way.

Hi J.. I know what you are going through. I have four children and the youngest is 5. But really I tried everything as well but the only thing that worked was the
Supernanny tactics. I have a friend that has a two year old and she also uses it as well. I know it can be hard when children have temper tantrums. As soon as she throws herself on the floor place her on time out(on a corner or on a stool) and tell her she has to stay there. Usually the time would be 2 minutes for her age, but if she is still crying you leave her until she stops. In the mean time if she tries to remove herself from the time out stop you have to put her back. You start to time her from the moment she sits and does not get up. There is also a book called Suppernanny which has all types of tips and ways to deal with this. Although sometimes this technique may not work for some people, but it works if you stick with it. In the beginning it may seem hard but you can do it. She will soon realize that having a tantrum is not going to make mommy do what she wants. Take care and well wishes.

Dear J.-
The most effective technique is to ignore the tantrum if she is not hurting herself or others. When your daughter is throwing a tantrum, do not look at her, touch her, comfort her, or react in any way and make sure everyone else in the room does the same. She is looking for a tense reaction from you.Try to look calm and relaxed. Make sure she is safe and leave the room. Tell her firmly and calmly that you will return when she stops. When she stops tell her how you like it when she's not screaming. Talk to her, smile, give her a drink, etc. as if nothing happened, but do not give whatever it was that she had the tantrum over. If she usually bangs her head on the floor, or hurts herself or others, you should hold her in your arms like a baby, with one of your arms under her back and over her chest and arms: your other arms over her legs. This firm holding will prevent her from hurting herself or others. While trying to look relaxed, you can talk calmly and quietly to her reassuring her you will hold her until she calms down. This advice was given to me by a teacher for my son who also throws tantrums. I tried it and it works. I hope it helps you. Good luck!

With my first child my mother-in-law said that I should just let her have her tantrum and just ignore her until she is done, that's when I would be able to talk to her. (As long as she is in a safe place where she won't get hurt.) As I started to ignore them because it was her way of getting attention or what she wanted, she soon realized that I wasn't going to give in and her tantrums were not going to work anymore.

My son is also 2 yrs old and just like your daughter he is extremely independent and bright, so what i've been trying to do is ignore the tantrums for the most part. I've noticed that my son gets louder if he knows that i am watching him, so I try to walk away, that way he doesn't see me. He usually stops at that point goes starts to play with one of his toys. If he hits then i put him in a timeout, since My son goes to daycare so he knows what time out means. I hope this helps. I keep getting told that it gets better.

L.
(single mother to a beautiful 2 yr old son, Keiran.)

Ignore them. Let her scream, kick and wail but do not crack, just let her act it out. eventually they will cease when she realizes that you are not going to cave in.

My now 5 year old did this for quite sometime and it wasn't until I took my doctors advice and ignored them that they finally ended.

GOOD LUCK!

Do not by any means ignore your child, you are correct in doing this...she is asking you for something...her emotional or psychological needs are not being met and she is in distress! This is the time to build trust with her, not abandon her and teach her that her emotions are worthless and something others will ignore!

Would you want her to be a teenage girl who thinks that her emotions are not something anyone is interested in? Do you want her to display emotions as a teen in appropriate way? The toddler years and teen years are very closely related. I have a 19 yo, 13 yo, 4yo and a new baby on the way! You will run into these issues again in her life...deal with it correctly now!

Granted, her approach (tantrums, hitting, etc...) is not acceptable...but that is b/c she is two and needs to be guided though this stage of her development. And don't think of this in terms of controlling her behavior...she needs to learn how to trust herself to control her own behvior! In order to do this she needs love, support, role models, and specific ways of dealing. This is your job, momma :)And the work you do now teaching her and helping her will become a life-long skill that she will be able to rely on again, and again.

I have EIGHT words of advice for you:

Dr. Harvey Karp's Happiest Toddler on the Block.

I am not a big believer in "methods" for dealing with parenting...but his philosophy of dealing with toddlers WORKS...i promise! I worked in a daycare and used it...magic. Now, as a doula and childbirth educator, i work with parents and have first hand experience with what works. Also, as a parent! My DD (now 4) was 2.5 and out of control. One week of Karp's methods and i was sold! She turned into a different child and was so much more happy, confident and in control of herself!

I couldn't begin to write up his philosophy on here, but i think that most local libraries have a copy of his DVD and or book (although the DVD is fast a easy!)You don't want the one about Happiest Baby, that is for newborns. To quote Dr Seuss--Try it! Try it! You will see!

Good luck!

I had a friend with the same problem. She got down on the floor and did the same thing he was doing.
You should have seen the look on that little guys face! I think he was in shock, But it worked. He said ...Mommy what are you doing? Try it, who knows it just might help...He did grow out of it.

Not too sure who told you that is typical, but it's not. You need to take control over this now or it will get worse, it's not a phase. When she does this, try grabbing her arm (firm enough to get her undivided attention) and get down to her level and say "that behavior is not nice". Make sure she is looking at you and she knows you're serious. I mean basically scare her into behaving properly. It's ok if your kids have a little fear of you...because along with fear comes respect!!! I see it all the time...kids are out of control and the parents are afraid to disipline because of what others will think. You sound like a great mom who is just concerned about her daughter, so please don't take this the wrong way. You might get some women who disagree with me, but when it comes to demanding my childs respect...I don't care what others say. Good luck :)

i would ignore them. she wants your attention and is getting them. the only thing i would do is make sure she is in a safe place (playpen) when she is having them. she is trying to control her life and you with these, if you ignore the behavior, it may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.

When i was small my cousin did that and my mother left him in the middle of main street having a tantrum just like he wasn't there. he realized he was all alone and she was not effected by the tantrum -- he got up and walked beside her from then on with out an incident. i know that today we can't be that relaxed because of thier safetly, this makes it difficult, but just ignore them. you might have to take them and put them in thier carseat and wiat it out or take them home and put them in the playpen but give no posative or negative response to it.

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