C.F. asks from Rivesville, WV on September 06, 2007
Temper Tantrum Troubles
My son is a very active and determined 19 mo old, and the last few weeks he has started throwing huge temper tantrums. He'll scream and cry for at least 10 minutes (sometimes as long as 30 or 40 minutes) The littlest things cause them, and once he gets started I can't get it stopped. At home, ignoring hime works pretty well, but when we're in public I can't ignore him. I refuse to give him what he wants that started the tantrum, but I don't know how to make it stop. Any suggestions?
J.Y. answers from Pittsburgh on September 07, 2007
You should pick him up and hold him, preferably in a quiet environment. They get out of control and begin to scare themselves which causes a cascade of emotion. Sit and hold him firmly until he is calm.
L.T. answers from Pittsburgh on September 07, 2007
My kids just turned 3 and 2. They don't tantrum as much as they used to but they have their moments. If a tantrum occurs at someone's house, I exuse us from the room and go to a quiet place for timeout. I try to talk them out of the tantrum and if it doesn't work I let them work it out on their own.
Our public outings mostly consist of shopping trips and I use a variety of tactics to limit tantrums in stores. None of them work all the time, but I've had pretty good success. First, I try not to take them shopping just before nap time or meal time. That spells disaster for us. I do take along a snack and sippy cup. If I can sense that a tantrum is coming (maybe we are headed to the toy section or they are picking on each other) I pull out the snacks and drinks to keep them busy. Sometimes I ask them to help me by holding items I am buying. I also ask them to help me find certain items I am looking for. Sometimes I sing and distract them so they won't be interested in the things around them. Talking or singing in funny voices and having them repeat it often works. With my older child, sometimes I will let him hold something he has asked for while I am looking/comparing other items. I tell him he can hold it and look at it while he sings "Happy Birthday" then we have to put it back because we aren't buying it today. With my younger child I sometimes take along the activity mat that wraps around the shopping cart handle bar. I always praise them and thank them when they are being well-behaved and tell them that listening to me in the store helps me get the shopping done.
On the occassions where these tactics haven't worked and a tantrum starts that we can't get under control I load them in the car and go home. While some people have told me that in those instances I am letting the kids control what I do, I counter by saying that I am doing what I feel is best for all of us. I am stopping the tantrum, lowering my stress and decreasing my child's frustration. I am also considering the fact that maybe my kids are having a bad day, aren't feeling well, or are over stimulated, so if I can get them to a happier place then I do it. These occassions aren't often (maybe once every couple months) so I don't feel as though I am letting the kids call all the shots and I don't think they have come to expect that either. I'm just trying to be reasonable and respect their needs.
I hope something here will be useful to you. Good luck!
N.S. answers from York on September 07, 2007
I had a first grader that would do that and I would calmly state his options and leave him to decide. While he was screaming, I would kneel down and talk to him face to face. I would tell him that I can't help him when he is screaming and yelling and that when he is ready to act like a first grader than we can decide how to handle the problem that was making him upset. Maybe with your son, you can simplify it by saying, I can't help you when you scream but when you talk like a big boy then we can talk about (it). If you are in a public place, I would drop what you are doing and take him out to the car and let him know you will not allow him to do that in public.
By the way, good for you for not giving in. He will learn structure and understand he can't always have what he wants.
T.M. answers from State College on September 07, 2007
I agree completely with the advice about the Gymboree class. I've never heard of or taken that class, but what I've been reading on toddler tantrums says the same thing - they need your compassion, empathy and understanding. They tantrum b/c they feel overwhelming emotion and it is our job to teach them how to handle it - threatening, yelling or anything negative like that is only going to teach him that feeling hurt, sad, angry, frustrated, mad, etc. is NOT an o.k. or normal emotion. You should keep your voice calm and empathetic, tell him what you are seeing ("I see your face is scrunched up like this [make a mirror of his face w/ yours], your are making fists with your hands, your feet are kicking and you have tears in your eyes. You seem to be very angry." I know it sounds stupid, but it will 1) give you something constructive to do and 2) teach him to put a label on what he's feeling so later in life, he can better verbalize it when he knows what it is.
Don't worry, mama, this shall pass! But the way you teach him to deal with it today will follow for a life time!
A.H. answers from Pittsburgh on September 07, 2007
My daughter went through this same phase, it was not any fun.
Try not to ever give into the tantrum. If you do once then he knows if he pushed long enough you will again. :( I totally understand the problems in public, I was THAT mom. The one with the screaming kid whom everyone else is looking at. Really not fun. What we did was to just take the child out to the car and let the tantrum run it's course. My daughter screamed and kicked in our family car for over an hour because Wal-Mart was out of the little stickers that the kids sometimes get when they walk in the door. We just sat with her and made sure that she couldn't hurt herself until she was ready to be done. Finally she calmed down and we went back into the store. She had to learn that she wasn't going to get her way and screaming and kicking wasn't going to help at all. It's no fun and pretty time consuming, but that is what worked for my family. Good luck!
S.W. answers from Reading on September 07, 2007
Not giving in is the most important part. In public I would suggest removing him to an area out of the way, if possible. Like out to the car or to the rest room. Do not lose your temper and do not let rude people who may stare at you make you give in. He should learn pretty quickly he tantrums are not going to work. People who have kids should understand a tantrum and I am sure most have been where you are. If you give in just once then you must start all over again and so you must be strong. Do not baby him, try to console him or treaten him. Just take him somewhere safe and let him calm himself down. I know this is very hard to do but, I learned the hard way it is the only way.
M.R. answers from Pittsburgh on September 07, 2007
I have a 3 year old who does the same thing (he has just started doing this). Depending where we are I will sit him down in a chair and let him rant and rave there. He knows he cannot get up until he is done. Usually people will understand what he/ she is doing and will be patient. Usually my son quits when he sees that he will have to sit there.