10 answers

Temper Tantrums in 19-Month-old

I have a son who turned 19-months-old today and he has been having a lot of temper tantrums. I was reading last night that this is normal for his age but his daycare provider said the last few days he has gotten violent during his fits...she said he just goes running with his arms flaring and kicking and has kicked a year-old and her 16-month-old. I do not believe he is kicking them to hurt them, I think he just runs mad and doesn't pay attention (he is an only child at home so if he does that he doesn't have to worry about hitting/kicking anyone). My son can be a little sensitive and doesn't like it if another kid yells at him...that will usually start him into a little tantrum and he gets frustrated when we don't know what he wants and that can start a fit (I realize that is also normal because he is trying to be independent but obviously isn't there yet and can't vocalize fully if something is bothering him). I am looking for other peoples advice on how you handled these little fits. This morning his daycare provider said the last few days have been really bad and we need to work together, which I fully understand, but than again when someone is talking about your kid you get a little defensive. Any suggestions would be so much appreciated. THANK YOU!!!

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M., Have you tried separating and containing him when the fit starts. Try a pack and play in a room apart from everyone else. Explain, if you are going to have a fit, you can do it here. When you are done, we will talk about what you need. If he doesn't have an audience the fit is less likely to continue. I watched a friends child for about a year and we realized the most important thing was to have the consequences the same at both places. They were gracious enough to accept my plan since I was with him more, although we did discuss it. He is old enough to begin to put together cause and effect, ie: if I have a fit, I am separated and do not get what I want!! It may be WWIII for a bit, but he will get it!!

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M., Have you tried separating and containing him when the fit starts. Try a pack and play in a room apart from everyone else. Explain, if you are going to have a fit, you can do it here. When you are done, we will talk about what you need. If he doesn't have an audience the fit is less likely to continue. I watched a friends child for about a year and we realized the most important thing was to have the consequences the same at both places. They were gracious enough to accept my plan since I was with him more, although we did discuss it. He is old enough to begin to put together cause and effect, ie: if I have a fit, I am separated and do not get what I want!! It may be WWIII for a bit, but he will get it!!

This sounds more like a communication frustration than true temper tantrums but it could be a bit of both. I highly suggest teaching your son some sign language to help him express himself until he can find the right words. The DVD series BabySign is an excellent way to do that and you guys can learn right along with him. Tantrums are very common in kids of this age and research indicates it is usually more about frustration that they can't tell you what they want or need in a way you can understand, or they can't do something yet that they really want to do but their body isn't quite ready. I have several friends with kids this age, even one with a set of fraternal twins, all started using the baby sign and the frustration level for all of them has dropped dramatically, it's worth a try! Good luck.

My 20 month old is going through the same thing, it's the age...terrible two's are just around the corner. The best thing you can do is remain calm. Make sure you explain what is wrong and why it is wrong to him: "It's not ok to scream it hurts people's ears... use your words... hitting hurts..." I use brief time outs when things are too escalated, while discussing the problem. I also use 123 Magic (giving a count to three before removing the child) in dangerous situations or refusal to listen. Work with him on his vocabulary, flash cards, first word books, and sign language can do wonders! My daughter loves to do these everyday! Also, giving simple choices can help a lot: "Do you want PB&J or cheese...blue shirt or red...pick up the toy you threw or take a seat..." Hang in there, it's just a stage...I remind myself of this daily!

I run a family daycare with a 17 month old and 2 1/2 year old and when they start "bad" behaviors thats when I step in and separate them and pull out new activities. Your daycare provider should watch for signs of temper tantrums and head them off before they start. Distract and redirect works every time. :)

Hi Melisssa,

I feel your pain .. LOL. My daughter just turned 2 in January and has been having temper tantrums since about the age of 1. Her brother, who is 3, never did this but is lately starting to pick up her bad habits. What do you do at home when your son does this? I have tried every method of behavior modification and I have found that "time-outs" actually work the best. Even though he is young, he'll understand what you are doing. Telling him he has to go to time out for his behavior for 1 minute (increase 1 minute per year of age) will not harm him and can only help. At first he may not get what you are doing, but he will eventually. Just tell him he can not get out of time out until you say so, and don't say anything else to him. As much as he screams, kicks, wails etc., do not talk to him. Just put him right back if needed. The more you talk to him, or try to rationalize, the more attention he gets for it and the more he will do it. My daughter still gets time out, but not nearly as much as she used to. Now that she can talk more, I can tell her to calm down and use her "big-girl voice" or else I won't talk to her. Her daycare provider is great at doing the same, consistency is key! I know all kids are different and this may not work for you, but maybe it will. It doesn't hurt to try. Just try to remember to always talk with a calm tone, even when he gets you mad.

This could very well be a food sensitivity. My oldest is literally like Tigger when he gets certain foods in him, especially artificial colors and flavorings, wheat, and dairy. He actually gets a bit aggressive when he has citrus. A friend of mine, her son gets violent when he gets dairy (he actually took a baseball bat to his sister once). Check out feingold.org. I finally found a doctor who actually believes that foods can cause problems for some people. Your top culprits are the artificial anything (if nature didn't make it, it's artificial), wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs. Keep a food diary of what he eats and when. Also keep track of what his behavior is and when. Then you might start seeing if there is a connection. I say "might" because if he is getting a food all day, every day that is causing problems, it could be harder to figure out. Hope this helps!

Check out the book Holding Time, by Martha Welsh. It is a helpful way to reconnect with your child that has had a hard day and help them to feel grounded. Some people have a difficult time with this method at first but my opinion at your son's age is a perfect time for him to receive this type of attention from you and will help his tantrum significantly. I have done this with my son when he repeatedly acts out. He hates it at first and then calms down and afterwards he listens, seems to be secure and happy.
R.

I think this behavior needs addressing and you should take him into your pedia doctor asap!!!! something is not right here, i have a son that can not tell me whats wrong and usually when we see behavior its a ear infection/or he is coming down with something or he has a headache and so on. Don't relie on the daycare person, her comments warrant you to take this precious little guy to the doctors asap.

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