D.R. asks from Lake Peekskill, NY on March 26, 2008
Need Advise on How to Discipline a 1 Year Old Who Has Tantrums
Looking for advise from mothers who have had similar situations. My son just turned One a little under a week ago. I noticed he has these tantrums when he is put in the highchair and does not want to stay in it, when he gets put in the swing, when he wants what you are eating, or at night if I don't get him a bottle fast enough. The tantrums are not limited to the situations stated, but they mainly happen throughout these times. When in the highchair, he will thrash around and start screaming and crying. In the swing he will hold his body straight out and kick and try to grab us with his hands, which makes it a two person project to get him strapped in. At night he will lift and bang his body on the mattress so hard and start whining. While I am eating, he will start nicely by asking me for some with a little grunt. If I give him a little, he wants more and will demand with a louder grunt. When I don't get the food to him fast enough, he will start screaming. I always feed him first in hopes of avoiding this situation, but to no avail. I try to ignore his tantrums (as per the advise that my pediatrician gave). I am stuck because my husband will run to him or we get into arguments about how best to deal with the situation.
A little about my son: He has been hospital twice this winter for pneumonia, asthma, bronchiolitis and reflux. In Feb he had the flu for an entire week and just got over the cough that preceded the flu. So needless to say he has been pretty sick and now makes himself cough and gag to get attention.
Any advise will help.
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So What Happened?™
Thank you all for the great response. I have been trying new methods on how to keep him happy. I now put him on the floor to play for about 20 minutes after the ride home and then I offer him his food(already prepared)before I show him the high chair. There is no more fighting over the highchair. At night I let him wear himself out by 8:00pm give him a bottle of milk and he is usually asleep before 8:30pm(no more fighting over the swing). He is also almost perfecting the sleeping through the night. I try to get him to look at me when he is about to throw a tantrum and tell him that it is ok, that he will get to be on the floor, get his food, or his cup of juice. This seems to calm him a bit and I give him what I have promised him before he has a chance to react. Against my MD's wishes I am trying to negotiate with him, but I have noticed that it is me who has to deal with it and not her, so I am trying what seems to be working in my household.
J.G. answers from New York on March 28, 2008
I'll keep it simple. Be consistent and be the example of how you want the toddler to act. GOOD LUCK!!!! Have a good day!!
K.K. answers from New York on March 27, 2008
Distract, distract, distract...HAve him pay attention to something else and then steer him towards doing what you want him to do.
J.S. answers from New York on March 27, 2008
Def. ignore the tantrums. When he starts to grunt for something, like more food, give him the words, "You want MORE. MORE CRACKER" and eventually he will learn the words. We are in it with my 16 mo now...very frustrating!!
J.J. answers from New York on March 27, 2008
this is all about exactly the same as what we went through here and continue to go through. i found that with my bright, strong willed son, "discipline" wasn't appropriate at such a young age; at 1, they are only expressing thier needs, they don't understand that cause and effect relationship between poor behavior and negative reinforcement; if you discipline him now you're only being mean, as far as he's concerned.
what you have to do is calm, kindly, firmly correct his behavior over and over, and if he's really upset, assume that he's frustrated and unhappy, and comfort and help him. it's punishment enough for such a young child to be so uncomfortable.
i still find that i get very frustrated w my son who is now almost 3 and he is very willful; but i really notice two things that i would urge you to consider;
one is, his behavior is only bad when he's exhausted or sick or in pain; if he's struggling with any kind of new skills or growing challenges, his behavior goes down hill. and exhaustion is the worst; i have seen my son turn on a dime from terriffic to terrible from being overtired. so watch for the signs of tiredness; or hunger or unhunger or teething or just general need for mom's comfort. try to be as compassionate to your baby's neeeds as possible and know that he doesn't even vaguely have the logic he would need to follow your expectations for his behavior at this point.
the other is, think about yourself; how many years did it take you to become a person who could meet her own needs or ask for help in a civilized way? probably, like everyone else, a long, long time. and how do you feel when your needs aren't being met, when you're hungry, tired, lonely, frustrated? pretty lousy, right? this is just your son enacting the same things that we all experience, just much more primitively.
he's just a baby.
i would lastly say this; i dislike my own self most when i fail to be the parent to my kids, and instead get wound up in thier anxiety or panic; try to be calm, put your son's tantrums in perspective, and be the bigger person; show him that you are always a safe source of compassion and that he can trust you to meet his needs and take care of him, rather than punishing him for being a helpless little dude.
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S.M. answers from New York on March 27, 2008
I am a Mom of five and have seen my fair share of tantrums. Your son is only one years old so it is perfectly normal for him to do this. At this age their communication skill are not fully developed and this is their way of telling you as dramatically as they can that he doesn't want to do something. It's really ok! I would be very patient, do not make a bid deal about it but do not run to fix the problem right away, allow him to calm down a little before you move him out of where he doesn't want to be. Does he stay with a sitter during your work time? If so, have them be consistent with him also. He may also be acting up on you if you work alot. I used to work full time and my kids gave me a hard time. I now work from home which is also hard but I need flexibility. He is still a baby and you shouldn't worry too much about this phase, in a couple of months he will have another phase to go through, some better, some worse. We all have our moments and we all go through phases in our lives. He will be fine, dont' sweat the small stuff. I wish you lots of luck, your son will get through this in no time and you will be planning for College before you know it, so enjoy it now because it goes by so fast. Wishing you lots of luck
If you need to talk you can contact me at ____@____.com
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J.W. answers from New York on March 26, 2008
Sounds like your son is trying to communicate with you and he's getting frustrated b/c he can't get his message across. If he's having a fit when you put him in his swing, then don't put him in the swing. He's probably outgrown the swing and doesn't like being confined to it. Instead of feeding him before you eat, feed him at the same time and give him the same thing you are eating. Put his highchair right up next to your chair or get a portable highchair and put in on a regular chair so he can sit at the table with you. Put his food on a regular plate just like yours and make meal time a together time. Bedtime should be a strict routine of bath/bottle/story, however you want it to go just as long as it is the same every night. He will soon learn that every night after his story he is supposed to go to sleep. It might take a week or so but he'll eventually get the message and stop fighting it. It's also important to make it the same time every night.
But sometimes they just have tantrums and there isn't anything you can do about it. My son would have them (still does sometimes) if I won't let him have candy for breakfast. When he starts screaming and crying I simply walk out of the room. He soon stops when he realizes he no longer has an audience.
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T.S. answers from Elmira on March 27, 2008
Unfortunatley, your doctor has given you very good advice. Your problem now stems with your husband. It takes two to make your child learn right from wrong. You mentioned that you both argue over the best way on how best to handle the situation. Take a turn, try each others ideas. If those ideas don't work then you can resort to what advice your doctor has given you. You and your husband are going to have to work through this together. Everytime your husband runs to your child during his tantrums, that is teaching your child that it's ok to do that becuase he gets what he wants. For future reference, my husband and I learned a long time ago to never ague in front of our children over our children. It's a sure way of the child using that and playing one parent against the other. Even at an early age they catch on.
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A.J. answers from Albany on March 26, 2008
#1 A 1 year old child is never defiant (defiant in the sense of being bad. Babies are NOT bad they are being babies. Babies haven't been alive long enough to know right from wrong). If you think your 1 year old is being bad I feel very sad for that child.
#2 It is inappropriate to discipline a 1 year old child.
#3 1 year old children are learning control over their world and exhibit the behaviors you mentioned.
#4 Your dr. is ABSOLUTELY 100% CORRECT IGNORE these tantrums. (this doesn't mean neglect, it means don't give him attention to reinforce negative behavior. Give him attention when he shows positive behavior).
You as his parent are his teacher. So teach him properly instead of controlling him.
He is trying to communicate to you.
If he thrashes about in the highchair, perhaps he is done. Take him out.
Give him his own food to self feed himself. Mary K's advice about this was spot on!
If he tenses up and starts to object to the swing - do not put him in it. Why do you have your 1 year old in a swing anyway? Swings are for infants not toddlers.
If he throws a tantrum when you put him to bed, take him out. Read him a story. Read him another story. Read him another story. Rock him. Sing to him. Say your prayers. Cuddle with him. Then say good night. This will take about a week before he stops thrashing but you have to give bad habits time to correct themselves.
Educate yourself better on child development. You son is being completely normal. You need to learn how to understnad him better so that there is enough peace in your house so he can grow in a healthy environment.
And for God's sake - get that kid a flu shot next year.
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R.L. answers from New York on March 27, 2008
My daughter went through a similar phase, just about 1 year old and after a month long cold. I think that we babied her a bit during her cold, so she got used to her saying jump!, and we said how high? :) I think around 1 they are at a strange phase where they are more limited physically than they are mentally in some way. He knows he wants to put food in his mouth, but needs you to give him the fork. Stuff like that. For one, and this works for us almost every time, when my daughter is starting to break down I reflect her feelings. She had a similar sippy meltdown like you described. Every single morning and every single meal time, she'd see her sippy and loose it. I could not put milk in fast enough for her. She'd see that I was doing it. I'd talk her through it. But, she'd hit the cupboards, throw herself on the floor, throw herself at us, etc. Rather than reasoning with her I started to say things like, "wow, you must be REALLY thirsty. I've been that thirsty before. I can tell you really want your milk. It's a good thing I'm getting it for you. then you wont be so thirsty." I'd keep saying similar things the entire time I was getting her sippy together. Would you believe it only took a couple days, and we do not have sippy meltdowns? She went through a highchair thing too. I did a similar thing. "You do not want to sit in your highchair anymore. You are sick of your highchair and want to get down now. Okay, then your dinner is over and it's time to get down now." I'd take her out and clear her dish. Other things to think about are how long he's spending in his highchair. Average 1 year old has got about 20 minutes of highchair patience. Some shorter and some longer, based on personality type. Make sure you're making the most of your 20 minute window. Also, are you making sure he's aware of what is happening? Really giving him transition time? With my daughter, she really responds to me explaining what is next. I start about 10-15 minutes before the change. Like, in the case of the swings, I'd say we're going out to swing pretty soon. We'll put our coat and shoes on and go out to swing. Then a few minutes later, almost ready to go swinging? etc. So, when we go to the swings I'd say "oooh, look! the swings! Let's swing!" She's usually pretty ready for it. Last things... 1)make sure you give him a choice. Do you want to swing alone, or with Mommy? If he's feeling nervous about swinging, the sense of control will help him. or, like in the case of my daughter, we hear "no" frequently now. :) we'll go for a walk and it will be time to go inside and I'll say, okay let's walk back home. She says "no!" I give her chances to come with me, and if it doesn't work, I kneel down to her level and say, "it's time to go home now. do you want to walk home, or should mommy carry you." NOT, do you want to go home now or in 5 minutes. but, she has a choice how she gets there. If she throws a fit in my arms, I give her another chance, but always explain to her "okay, let's try walking home together again." She usually stays with me all the way home after that. If she doesn't, it's 3 tries then we try another day. I always warn her in advance, "okay, sweetie, we're going to try one more time. but, if you don't walk with mommy, then I'm going to carry you all the way home and you can try to walk with mommy next time." You see what I'm saying. They're all about independence now. Anyhow, I hope all of that helps!!! I know it is hard to find patience through that. It is really hard. You're not alone! Millions of parents around the world have a toddler arching their back and screaming! LOL :)
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K.M. answers from New York on March 27, 2008
Far be it from me to think I know what I'm doing (I have 2 kids under 2, and they are far from perfect, but generally pretty well behaved). I'm flying by the seat of my pants like anyone else, but I have a couple of tricks that might help.
First and foremost is health-if your son is over his illnesses, then there are no excuses not to discipline. If his condition still needs attention, then you may need to wait. That being said, when my 2 year old was younger and started acting out, I immediately removed him from the situation - no warnings or second chances - not ever. Consistency is key - your husband will need to get on board here, too. My son learned that if he acted out, he didn't get to swing at all, he didn't get to go to the grocery store (yes, I've had to leave a cart full of groceries -advice, always get refrigerated items last in case you need to just go before you have a chance to get to them - not so hard on the grocer), we left restaurants, etc. Eventually i was able to leave the store, restaurant, etc. and just go outside with him. I would talk to him about settling down and then we could go back in, otherwise, we were going home, and which did he want to do....settle down and go back to have fun, finish a meal, etc. or just leave and go home. He started getting the message.
One key I found useful was to stay calm yourself (easier said then done, I realize) WHen I yelled, he got worse. When I stayed calm and hugged him, he seemed comforted, even if resistant at first. I think he was a little scared by his own emotional outburst - they have so little control at that age- I could see how he might be upset in addition to being just plain mad.
I have also taken him aside and said that he and mommy are going to just take a minute and calm down together because if we don't settle down, we'll have to leave, and that won't be any fun, etc. etc. I remind him mommy loves him, but he needs to settle down. He can't act that way if he wants to do special things with mommy. None of the other kids are acting that way - and we look around at the other kids (again from a spot away from all of them). Things like that.
Don't know if any of this will help, but be consistent and be as calm as you possibly can. You can also try taking away things that he values for 30 seconds or a minute at a time if he acts up - maybe not a security object, but a favorite toy or something. Tell him in advance it will happen when he starts acting out, i.e. If you don't settle down, mommy is going to have to take that toy for a little while, and I'd like for you to be able to play with it, so why don't you settle down so mommy doesn't have to take it? Works sometimes, not others. Might just have to take it. ONce you do, hold him, and talk to him, remind him that you love him, and once he settles down, he can have it back- redirect whereever possible. Try to find a new toy - change the scenery - like go to his room to play instead, or to a playroom if you have one, outside if it's nice, etc.
Good luck!!! Hang in there, and know that every mom will understand. You're not alone, just don't give up, don't make empty threats, and stay consistent. He'll get it!
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M.K. answers from New York on March 26, 2008
Spanking only teaches them to hit, and act out of control
I would say he seems to need structure.
I hear you saying he has a routine, but it needs to be a steady routine, at the same time every evening,
before dinner feed him a few crackers,
then put some food on his plate for him to eat, independently,
he WILL make a mess and might choke alittle BUT he will learn to eat, and can feed himself at his own pace.
dole fruit cups are great slide down easy and are healthy and pre cut.
before sitting down to eat cut up a plate for him, and give him a little SPORK ( spoon shaped Fork) from walmart
and let him copy you. HE WILL do it.
His tantrums are frustration because he can't communicate.
OR you can't understand him.
Your husband and you need to get on the same page.
you need to gently explain to him that although you are sensitive to his needs and the needs of your child,
that if you continue to allow him to get attention from these tantrums, he will learn that TANTRUMS wORK and when he goes to school he'll be the kid no one plays with, the one all the teachers can't stand, and he will get removed from class because he doesn't know how to respond appropriately.
That as parents its your job to teach him the skills.
That You love him , and want him to learn compassion however
Compassion is reserved for BOO BOO"S hurt feelings and things of that nature,
NOT for I want a cookie and I want it NOW.
Hopefully he can see your point.
So like i said set up a clear routine, everyday LIKE at
6am MOMMA wakes up
7am wake up, wash up, get dressed
9am TV time, story time
10 am playtime
1130am new diaper and naptime
2pm clean diaper and wake from nap
5 pm playtime,
6pm mommy time
7pm dinner time
8pm daddy time
9pm bed time.
By doing this your helping your son, letting him know what will happen next, so he can anticipate, it will keep him calm and relaxed, and you will feel more relaxed.
I know its hard to do everything, but if you plan your days around HIS schedule, it will run far more smoothly.
Cleaning and everything else can wait till the weekends.
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