16 answers

Out of Control Tantrums

I have a 2 1/2 year old son who as of late has been having tantrums that last up to a 1/2 an hour. I DON"T KNOW WHAT TO DO?!

I went to school for child development and was a nanny all throughout college. I feel I have the basic tools to combat this typical behavior, however these tantrums make me feel like I am "losing".

Typically when my son has a tantrum I tell him that it is not acceptable to act that way and then I tell him what I want him to do; if he hit's me he get's timeout for a minute. These have been effective in the past, though I do have to repeat myself which I know is normal.

The tantrums he has had lately he hit's me tries to bite me, even kick's me when I don't let him get his way. The first time it happend I stood my ground, put him in timeout, continued to put him in timeout as he was getting up from it early, and then he was fine after a 1/2 hour like nothing happened. I found myself at one point restraining him to try and get him to calm down becasue he was in hysterics...This makes me feel awful. Am I doing the right thing???? Is this behavior normal, will it stop? I have maintined patience throughout these tantrums, i don't want my child to see me angry, but inside I am really frustrated.

I am looking for any ideas on how I can end this out of control behavior, as I am feeling like I don't have control any longer. Have your children down this??? What did you do?

All replies welcome!



2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I want to thank everyone for there feedback! I think I really needed to get some outside perspectives as to what was going on and re-evaluate my plan of action for when my son has tantrums.

It is funny, becuase most of the responses I recieved were about ignoring the tantrums and only doing timeouts when he starts hitting. THe thing is, that is exactly what I used to do! I guess I got off track and needed some reminding, lol.

Regardless, I have been ignoring the tantrums, which has all but ceased the hitting, so I don't have to put him in timeout all that often. I essentially tell him that I am not going to speak to him or give him a response until he settles down and then I walk away (making sure he is not hurting himself obviously).

Although, the tantrums have not stopped they have subsided a lot. They usually involve him wanting food right before dinner, so I am thinking of giving him some water or milk as soon as we get home from daycare and giving him more snacks on the weekend.

Thanks again!


Featured Answers

Hi M., I totally know what you are going through when my son was about the same age we also dealt with ugly tantrums. What seemed to work for us was putting him in his room until he calmed down, that seemed to really work for us. It will come to an end, you just need to be consistant and not feed into his behavior. it is tough, but sometimes tough love works. Be strong.

More Answers


I'm sorry you are going through this. It sounds like you are having a really hard time! If you are in the Allegheny County, you could call the Alliance for Infants and Toddlers at ###-###-#### and request to have him evaluated. He's probably fine, but if you are relatively educated and experienced in early childhood and you're feeling like something might be wrong, it might just ease your mind to have someone else make an evaluation. You can also talk to your pediatrician and see what she thinks...

Good luck, hopefully this is just a phase!

1 mom found this helpful

My kids have both gone through periods of terrible tantrums. I agree about putting your son in a safe location and ignoring him. If he doesn't have an audience he may be less inclined to prolong the tantrum. Another thought...do you count "1,2,3" to get him to cooperate. That might be something to try. The book "Magic 1-2-3" clearly details how to make counting to three effective. If you stick with it and follow through on the consequences he should come to know that you mean business and he will also know what to expect if he doesn't comply.

Sometimes no matter how well any of us are "trained", I think when it comes to our own kids and our own emotions we are at a loss for what to do. Here are a few things I do with my kids to avoid and/or deal with tantrums in various situations. Maybe they will give you some ideas.

I tell my kids I know they are upset and that I will be willing to listen to them when they can talk to me without hitting, kicking, etc.

If possible, I give choices so they feel they have some control (choice of two different desserts, etc).

I do a countdown before transitions (10 minutes until X, 5 minutes until X, 2 minutes unti X, time for X).

I practice using feeling words so they can communicate their emotions with less physical drama.

I praise them when they use more appropriate techniques in place of tantrums or also when they cool down quickly.

Good luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful

You're not doing anything wrong, but I think he needs to express himself. When DD (1.5 yrs) throws herself on the floor in a tantrum I just wait it out and I don't react to it. Of course, all children are different, it sounds like your sons tantrums are pretty dramatic. If it were me, I would stop playing into it and just let him get it all out. When he calms down you can begin teaching him positve ways to deal with his feelings. Clearly, punishment isn't working for him anymore. Like everything else, it will be a process, but you will be able to teach him to use his words to get positive attention, not his actions to get negative attention from you. And keep in mind that it will not be this way forever. It's a phase and you will be on the other side of it before long. Good luck. I hope you find something that works for you.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,

First of all, you are a good mother. What you are experiencing is a power struggle.

Okay, you know that. Now, what is your son's behavior with his father? Is it the same?

Here is a web site: hope it can answer your question.


Good luck. Hope this helps. D.


Please talk with your doctor about this. I would also suggest making an appointment with the Child Development Unit at Children's Hospital. What I thought were really bad tantrums in my daughter was actually Sensory Processing Disorder. All of the parenting advice and books in the world will do you absolutely no good if there is an underlying disorder.
The red flags are his behavior during the tantrum and the fact that you had to restrain him. Hurting himself or you is definitely a red flag.
If he has an underlying disorder, he will not respond to the "normal" ways of calming. I learned this the hard way, waited too long, and am now so thankful I got the diagnosis. I now understand why my daughter has these episodes (they aren't tantrums, her brain his wired differently, it gets overloaded trying to process sensory input and then melts down, just like a computer hard drive that keeps running looking for information and finally crashes). With therapy and help, things are improving.
I can tell you she has problems with transitions, with too much input, with exhaustion, and with sickness.
Good luck to you

Just wondered if there was any pattern to it?? Low Blood sugar, needing a nap, ready for bed or something.
You sound like you do have a handle on it, even if it doesn't feel like it.

Hi M., I totally know what you are going through when my son was about the same age we also dealt with ugly tantrums. What seemed to work for us was putting him in his room until he calmed down, that seemed to really work for us. It will come to an end, you just need to be consistant and not feed into his behavior. it is tough, but sometimes tough love works. Be strong.


My older son, now seven, was (sometimes still is) a big violent tantrum-thrower. He's big for his age, and at about three-and-a-half, I was getting to a place where I couldn't physically restrain him during tantrums. It was actually pretty scary a couple of times, and very disheartening. We read and took a lot of good information from a book called "Raising Your Spirited Child", which gave me some techniques for recognizing those signs and situations that would likely end up in overwhelming my son, which would then lead to a meltdown. I came to realize that he ramped up into a major tantrum when we made transitions too quickly, or when he was nervous or upset about something else (The month of August is usually bad, because he starts worrying about the start of school.) I found that the 1-2-3 method actually made things worse with him many times, though it's fine with my other, more even-tempered son. Read the book if you get a chance. You may have some "aha!" moments like we did. Good luck!

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