2 Year Old Temper Tantrum

Updated on November 16, 2011
C.A. asks from Las Vegas, NV
12 answers

Every 2 year old goes through the terrible twos right? I'm sure every mom feels like this, but I think my son has it the WORST! He is just barely over 2, and throws the most intense temper tantrums, I am honestly so lost at what to do.
To fill you in on his personality(because I truly believe each kid needs different parenting according to personality)...
He is so so so one track minded. He wants what he wants and nothing can distract him.
I'm also that way, so I try to put myself in his shoes. What would I want? A hug. But that doesn't work for him! He just wants me to pick him up so he can direct me where to go to give him his way.
I try to pick my battles. I have a 3 month old baby, so I try to keep him calm while she's sleeping, and the only way to do that is to give him what he's whining for. (I know..consistency right?). But honestly, I want to rip my hair out when he wakes the baby. So it's easier sometimes to just give him what he wants.
But when it's something that I absolutely will not give in on, he LOSES control. He turns beet red, almost purple, screams at the top of his lungs, and his whole body convulses in anger. So I've been trying time out, and I put him back on the time out chair over and over, and that lasted 15 min. I don't have that kind of time with the baby and all.
Then I tried ignoring him. But immediately I feel terrible, because here I am already giving the baby positive attention, and he gets ignored. So I really hate to do that.
Honestly, I feel helpless. Like I don't even know what to do for my own child. I am seriously lost. Do I just have to endure it until he's closer to 3 and he can communicate better? Or is there like a magic trick I don't know about? ;)

What can I do next?

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answers from Des Moines on

The best thing to do about a temper tantrum is NOTHING. Do what you can to prevent them-- try not to let him get over tired or hungry, etc. But once one starts IGNORE him (as long as he's in a safe place), I found what worked best was to sit down about 2 or 3 feet away and ignore him until he was done (if I could-- if I was in the middle of dishes or something I kept on...)

TOUCHING him, in anyway, whether to comfort or move out of the middle of the road, sent my son through the ROOF. Not only would the tantrum be longer and louder but I was VERY likely to get hit, bitten, and/or scratched. So I quickly learned NOT to touch unless there was a safety issue!

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Tampa on

I am going through a similar phase with my son. He turned 2 in July. One thing that has helped ME deal with the behavior better is I say "it's okay to feel sad, but mommy doesn't want to hear you. You need to go in your room to feel sad/mad and you can come out for a hug when you feel happy." I never thought in a million years this would work for my strong-willed child but you know what, it does.
He even walks himself to his room now without me dragging him if he's super mad about something. He will cry and scream a bit, but I found if I am not there as an audience, the tantrum lasts only minutes whereas it could be a long time if I am there. I truly believe it is all for me and he calms down and walks out for a hug, usually with a smile and says "all done". Just a thought. I have been grasping at straws too for how to handle this way intense outbursts. Still don't have a plan for outside the home yet :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You have to send him to his room.

My kids have a 21 month gap. It was hell those first 6 months. My oldest tested and tested and tested. What worked was making a few things clear (1) if you are going to whine, you must be tired, you need to go to your room for a nap or until you can use your normal voice, (2) unreasonable behavior (not taking No as an answer) led to bedroom time until a normal voice could be used, and (3) don't give an audience.

No more TO for the big things, send him to his room until he is calm and ready to talk in a normal voice.

In all, it sounds perfectly normal to me considering the circumstances. I remember this one time when my hubby was gone, baby was 6 weeks, and my oldest threw an out of control tantrum at 11 at night. She was in bed, I don't remember why she woke up, what she wanted, etc. but she threw a 60 minutes totally out of control raging tantrum because she was so tired.

If you haven't already stated reading positive discipline books, I'd go to the library and start reading.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

the problem is that sometimes you do give in so of course when you don't it's an all-out holy terror, nightmare tantrum! You have to decide if it's easier to give in to him when the baby is asleep and then not give in when it's convenient and suffer the consequences or put your foot down, be consistent and get results. By the way, my daughter always made a lot of noise intentionally when her babies slept and they learned to sleep through anything! They can literally be in a room with a screaming kid throwing the worst kind of temper tantrum and not wake up. It might behoove you to get your baby used to sleeping with some noise and take the control back from your son!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

I had a son like that and it's really hard. You just cannot give in to tantrums or they will rule your life. He'd better learn early because that won't fly once school starts. Hold the line Mama! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My first child (my son) was just like this. He has a VERY strong willed personality. At first I was more sensitive to his emotions like you are being but I learned over time that it made him WORSE. He has been a very hard child in many ways - 3 was way worse than 2 and 4 and 5 were awfully hard as well. He is 7 now and has a younger sister who is 2. Now I know that when they are having a tantrum it is best to ignore them.

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answers from Eugene on

How much time are you offering him now. This is a problem of having children too close together. If you plan a third child give it three years. For now you will have to give more time to your son. In the morning though it is winter plan to have him and his sister out at the playground by 10am. She can sleep in the carriage and he can have your attention on the swings or the jungle gym. The exercise will do him good. Before bedtime you or your husband can give him personal time by reading to him or teaching him songs you can sing together before he goes to bed.

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answers from Kansas City on

i agree with both laeh and sarah. 2 years old is still SO young - of course you would never take it back but it is going to be hard on him for the first year or so, having a new baby in the house. he can't really understand why he's not mommy's #1 priority anymore. so yes, he will be acting out. a lot.

i also agree with sarah about ignoring the tantrums. unfortunately (without someone taking the baby and you doing a 2 year old tantrum bootcamp for a couple days and just deal with HIM until he starts to learn they won't get what he wants) you are going to have to deal with a screaming 2 year old, possibly waking the baby. it's kind of unavoidable. i hope he gets past this soon - lots and lots of hugs and mommy time, as much as you can give him. reassure him that he is still in your heart (2 year olds want to be the center of the universe, of course you can't tell him that, but...lol) good luck!

nicole has good ideas too, as far as "you are entitled to feel how you want but we are not entitled to suffer through it - go to your room." that worked with my son. granted, he was not a huge tantrum thrower. but she mentioned outside the home - the couple times my son tried this, i got mean mommy on his butt. no i didn't beat him in public (although i was tempted a time or two) but i definitely let him know that behavior was UNACCEPTABLE - and i left (dragging him kicking and screaming, once or twice) wherever we were at. NO negotiations. you do NOT act like that in public. luckily, we are not big "goers" so the only times i remember doing this was once at a pumpkin patch (didn't hurt my feelings, it was just me and him and we were not on anyone's timetable), and walmart just grabbing a few quick things. both times i lectured him all the way home, and those were the only times i remember him trying a public tantrum. you really have to be prepared to make an impression.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi C.,
I seem to be recommending this program a lot lately when I hear about discipline issues with their children.

I found out about a program called Grooming the Next Generation when I had a friend, who had three children all under 5 all well-behaved! It’s a program taught by Dani Johnson, who was recently on Oprah and ABC’s Secret Millionnaire.

The program teaches you how to discipline children age 1 to late teens.
You will learn what you need to do to discipline your child with love and more importantly, groom your child to succeed in life by teaching them basic skills they need.

You can read more about the program at:

Hope this helps,



answers from Las Vegas on

You have some good advice on here. If you keep this up, you won't be happy when 3 comes around, it will be worse. This age is called terrible 2's because this is the age that they begin to test boundaries. You have now taught your son that if he throws a tantrum long enough, you will give him whatever he wants. He get more and more worked up because you are completely confusing him. You give in to him sometimes, so when you don't give in he doesn't understand. He also assumes that if he keeps up with the tantrum, you have a breaking point.

You have created more work for yourself, but you can fix this. Unfortunately, you are going to have to endure the yelling and your baby may wake up. I know it's awful, but if you keep this up you will have bigger struggles in the years to come. You will be that lady eveyone stares at in the grocery store and restaurant.

As other moms have mentioned, I put my kids in their rooms for tantrums. When they got to a point where they were getting worked up, I would calmly say to them "I understand that you are upset and if you want to yell and scream, it's ok, you just have to do it in your room. When you stop crying, you can come out and talk to me." If they did not willingly go to their room, I picked them up and put them in their room and closed the door. I never yelled back, argued, spanked or punished them. Honestly, it only took 2 or 3 times of this and it has not happened again. My kids are 6 and 3 and do not throw tantrums. To this day, if whining starts, I tell them they can do that all they want in their room and it stops.

You have to view this not as a punishment, but simply as allowing your son to have his emotions in his room. He will stop because he wants an audience and when he realizes he doesn't have one, he will have no need to throw a fit.

In public, I have only had to deal with one outburst. I was so embarassed but I just ignored it. My daughter wanted a doll and when I said "no" she had a melt down. I wanted to run out of the store, but I thought why should I leave a cart full and let her dictate my life?. I just moved fast, finished shopping, checked out and told her in the car that I was sad that she would behave like that. Because we walked out of the store and I did not cater to her, she knew that throwing a tantrum would get her no where.

On a final note, your son is also reacting to the change in his life with the new baby. He doesn't know how to express himself other than through tantrums. When he is behaving, give him lots of praise and attention. He'll realize he'd much rather have that kind of attention. When you change the baby's diaper, ask him to bring you the diaper or talk to him while you are doing it. While feeding, have your son sit next to you and talk to him. Say things to the baby like "you are so lucky to have your big brother". There are ways you can incorporate your son into the time you are spending with your newborn so that he doesn't feel like he lost his mommy. When your daughter is napping, try to give your son a little extra attention. If you are doing the dishes have him put the spoons in the dishwasher, it might take you longer to do the dishes, but you will be spending one on one time with him, keeping him busy and giving him attention.

Good luck, stop catering and yes, consistency truly is the key so you don't send mixed messages, which hurts your son more than ignoring him during a tantrum.



answers from Las Vegas on

I know you have already heard but you have to just try to stay calm (I know it's hard) explain why he can't have it and walk away and ignore him. Let him know that his crying and screaming does nothing to get want he wants then he will learn that it doesn't work. I have a very string willed 2 year old, he wants what he wants when he wants it! Very frustrating!

Just a suggestion about your baby's room, you can try a sound machine or an air purifier that makes a constant noise it kinda blocks any outside noise. It will help a little. I have an air purifier and put it on full blast when my younger one sleeps.



answers from San Diego on

the 3's are worse. good luck!

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