2 1/2 Year Old Extreme Tantrums

Updated on May 27, 2009
L.L. asks from Windham, ME
7 answers

My husband and I are just about at our wit's end. We don't know what to do. Our son used to be the happiest, silliest kid I knew. Lately though, nothing's good enough for him. He cries, whines, screams, repeatedly asks for the same thing (even if its right in front of him), hits his face on the floor, and the list goes on. The first time he hit his face on the floor he gave himself a bloody nose, now hw puts his hands dow and hits those with his head. I just took him out of daycare yesterday, and while he was there he was an angel. He transitioned perfectly, only cried about 3 times when I dropped off. But as soon as we are home he melts down and becomes a stranger that I don't even know. I'm not sure if its because he's jealous of his sister, who he is always nice to though. He'll constantly ask for something, like his binky, and whem you give it to him he throws it across the room and cries for it again. That can go on for a long time. I've tried walking away when he has his tantrumsa but I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself. We don't have carpets, and he hits his head on the floor, throws himself around and claws at his face with his hands so much he sometimes makes himself bleed. He does have a lot of allergies that cause severe eczema on his body. So we're not sure if its steming from that, or if something else is going on. Maybe something was happening at daycare and he was just waiting to act out when he's home. He also used to be a great sleeper, going right to bed and going to sleep. Now he screams and cries every night until 10, then finally is so exhausted he'll fall asleep in my bed. There's no reasoning with him, it seems as though he doesn't hear us when we try to talk to him. We've tried everything short of calling his pedi, which I will do soon though. The behavior is just getting worse. Any help would be appreciated. It seems too extreme to be the "terrible two's."

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Boston on

Some things to check out: food sensitivities can cause these types of reactions. I saw one happen in real time in a child once, who went from a well behaved, rational 8 year old, to whining, hitting his mother and unable to sit still or read or do any of his normal activities after eating some candy - turns out he had a sugar sensitivity.

Also check to see if your child is autistic.

If you live near Salem, MA there is a very good clinical psychologist there who can diagnose if there are family issues, school issues, or some brain malfunction going on. His name is Dr. Richard LeBel at ###-###-####

Dr. E.



answers from Boston on

To tell you the truth there is really no reasoning with any 2 year old. What kind of reaction is he getting from you when he acts this way? That could be the exact reason why he is doing it. Maybe he has tried it a few times at daycare and realized pretty quickly that it just isn't worth all of his effort. Your daycare person may not be saying anything because, to be honest, most parents really don't want to hear it and it ends up causing problems between the parent/provider. If she feels as though it is a situation that she can handle on her own with your son, then sometimes that solution is the simplest. My mom is basically retired from daycare after 30 years and she has had the sweetest parents in her daycare, but as soon as you tell them their child has had a lot of difficult behavior they get very defensive and it causes such friction in the parent/provider relationship that it makes it really tough. This is obviously not true with all parents, but a good majority. She may feel the behavior isn't bad enough to risk that relationship. She has probably dealt with tons of kids in the past and knows that she can handle it and if it gets to a point where she can't then she will speak to you to come up with some solutions. A lot of this behavior is just terrible two's, but it's all in how you handle it that will determine how long it lasts. You will eventually get your "little angel" back. It will pass :)



answers from Boston on

Hi L.,
I am so sorry you are having to go through this. My son behaved exactly as you described. Have you ever heard of sensory integration disorder? It took me a while to get to the bottom of my son's behavior. I had early intervention, doctors, you name it. His tantrums were non-describable. He would hit his head on the wall, with his hands, etc. He was strong and aggressive for a little one. He also could not talk and express himself well. So I tracked his tantrums and found that he would "act up" when there was too much going on. When he was out of "his comfort zone or element". It was a tough time, I never knew what to expect. Going out in public was a non issue. If I went to Walmart he would have such a tantrum that I would end up crying. Thank goodness I got a great group at early intervention who actually went with me to walmart to show me how to deal with those tantrums. Today my son is a happy healthy 8 year old. There is hope. There is/was a great support group in Newburyport for parents of Sensory Integration Disorder children. It helped. I'd be happy to share more if you want.
Take care,



answers from Boston on

My heart goes out to you. I had an "extreme tantrum thrower"- I thought! But compared to your situation, I guess they were just long and loud. If he is hurting himself, I would definietly call the pedi. and don't let them talk you out of it based on his age. Mine would wail and kick and scream- only occasionally throwing herself on the floor, but it was always in response to being told she couldn't do something, not for no reason. Maybe his allergies are getting the best of him, or maybe he is having a severe emotional reaction to some meds? Good luck, and I hope you and the docs can figure it out! If your local one can't, perhaps they can refer you to one at Children's who would have a greater range of experience to draw from? Maybe he is getting severe headaches and can't express it?



answers from Portland on

Sounds like you really need to speak to a pediatrician about this. There is too much involved here to figure out the cause...from physical issues to emotional. A pediatrician can check all the physical possibilities such as allergies or other possible medical triggers. Your child may also be dealing with frustration with language (some toddlers get really frustrated when they cannot express themselves the way they would like). A pediatrician can lead you in the directions you need to explore whether it is physical, emotional, behavioral or language based. Your child is of the age when many disorders or medical issues start really coming to the forefront. He also could have been behaving like this at daycare as well and the provider just didn't tell you (which happens often when a provider doesn't want to lose a paying tuition slot)...which makes it seem as if it only happens at home. It could only be home-based, which a change in your parenting approach may need to be explored. In all situations, this seems extreme and obviously your child is dealing with some serious issues that need to be dealt with. Toddlerhood is a difficult time (for parents AND children), but this sounds more on the extreme side of the spectrum, especially since he is harming himself and making himself bleed and causing injury. Testing may need to be done both physically and emotionally to make sure it isn't something more serious.



answers from Boston on

Hi L.,

I just wanted to encourage you to use the mammasource files to find immediate answers to some questions you might have.

I have found that often I can use the files for information on a particular subject because the same question has been asked in the past and I find useful information even if it wasn't personally meant for me.

God bless you and your son.

J. L.



answers from Boston on

My almost 2 year old does the exact same thing. I think that they are trying to find some control over their lives. Mine doesn't talk yet and understands everything, which makes it all the more challenging for him (and us!). I think it will help when you pull him out of day care, that way he doesn't have to coop up his emotions all day to let it rip at night. Although I would not expect the tantrums to stop over night!

I know this is no fun, but I don't think there is anything "wrong" with him, although itching would not help the situation. Have you tried small doses of Benadryl?

Good luck!!

H. Z. (SAHM 5 1/2, 4 1/2 and 23 month old boys)

Next question: Seeking Advice on Temper Tantrums with My 3 Year Old