How to Handle the Start of Tantrums?/ Sippy Cup Question

Updated on April 05, 2010
T.B. asks from Avon, OH
19 answers

Hi Ladies!
My DS is 16 months old and had his first MAJOR tantrum today (which included kicking, screaming and ended with him biting me!) I think I need to start really enforcing time outs but Im not really sure how. If I put him on a stair, he will be happy and just try and climb them. Would he understand if I even put him in a time out? How do I teach him that no means no? I'm hoping to at least get a good handle on these tantrums as he has always been a screamer and was a really fussy baby so I know the tantrums are going to be insane. LOL! Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

I also need to wean him off bottles (he takes 3 a day) onto Sippys. He drinks water all day from them so I know he likes them, but when it comes to milk Im struggling to get him to drink any from a sippy. Im a first timer here- sorry!!!!

*ETA- I do walk away when he screams, but he does follow me crying and pitching a fit- wanting me to pick him up- Should I continue to get up and leave until he calms down? Or pick him up after a bit and explain when he is still crying? sorry all the questions!

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So What Happened?

Good news, I packed up the bottles last night and he took the sippys today no problem! Who would of thought it would be that easy! He didn't drink as much, but he didn't fuss at all for his "ba". I guess one struggle down! Thanks for all the advice on tantrums, I know this is going to be much harder! : )

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answers from Detroit on

you cannot explain anything to a child having a tantrum.. they are totally into the tantrum and their brain isreally not functioning.. he is too young for time outs he will not understand why this is happening ot him..

really they need to be at least 2 and with some good language skills to benefti from a time out..

This is a hard age.. it will get better when he can talk

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

My advice to you would be to put him either on the floor against the wall or put him on the end of the couch and walk away. Let him cry it out until he stops so that you can explain to him what he has done wrong. If he gets up and follows you you just pick him up and put him right back where ever you had him and tell him to stay there until he is done crying. You just have to keep doing it and be strong and not give in. This is what we do with my niece who is usually has bad tempers too. You need to also let him know that kicking and throwing himself on the floor is not accepted. I usually pop them on their hand. I try the timeout first and if not then I pop their hand. It is fine for them to get upset but it is not ok to act like a fool.But after he stops crying then go over to him and get on his level (very important) and explain to him what he did wrong and what he should have done. I hope this works for you. Just be strong and don't give in. You are the parent and have to show him the right way.

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answers from Kansas City on

i'm sure you'll get lots of advice, but i have to say about the sippies, he WILL drink milk from them. just stop giving him the bottle. he's just not "used" to it so he resists, then you give in to him. don't sweat it. he won't starve.

i don' t know if time outs are that successful at this age. does he have a pack n play or a playpen you use? set him in it gently and tell him "no biting/kicking/screaming". being away from you (of course you'd have to walk away) will get the message across. also, don't leave him in more than a minute or two.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Cold turkey. No more bottles. If he stops drinking milk for a while, fine. Humans don't need to consume the milk of another animal to survive. Make sure he gets calcium and protein in his diet from other foods and drinks, and keep offering milk in a sippy. None of my kids (I have 3) have ever been big milk drinkers. Not a big deal.

They happen for 2 reasons-- because they are frustrated and/or tired (you have to be proactive) or because he is testing you to see if he can get what he wants when he throws a fit (show him he can't get what he wants when he acts that way)

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answers from Indianapolis on

When my daughter was 2 yrs old I couldn't believe she still took a bottle at nap time and bed time. It was almost embarrassing. One day I noticed how much she liked the car seats for "big kids". I read up on the car seats and found that she fit the age and weight requirements for the seat. I agreed with her that "yes, those seats are for big kids" and told her she had to throw her bottles in the trash in order to be "big enough" for the new seat. When we got home she immediately went to the kitchen, asked for all her bottles, and one by one threw them in the trash. I think it was important that SHE did it as I watched. I clapped and made a big scene after each and every one. She was not taken by surprise when it came to bedtime. She never even asked for a bottle - she knew they were gone. I didn't allow myself to have a "back-up" bottle for a just in case moment either. I resolved at this point that no matter how bad it got, I would not give in. By not having that emergency bottle on hand, I couldn't give in even if I wanted to. Fortunately it never came to that. Bottles were no more! Of course the VERY next day, I marched to the store and bought that seat. When I picked her up from daycare it was waiting for her in the car. It was surprisingly the easiest thing and turned out much better than I had anticipated. Of course, waiting till she was 2 and able to communicate, she was probably more ready for it than I realized. Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

"*ETA- I do walk away when he screams, but he does follow me crying and pitching a fit- wanting me to pick him up- Should I continue to get up and leave until he calms down?!" YES keep walking away and don't say a word. He follows you you get up and go away. I know it is hard but this will nip it in the butt fast.



answers from Dallas on

First and foremost - tone of voice and consistency! You tell him, very calmly and with a tone that means you mean business, under no circumstances is it an option for him to throw a temper tantrum OR bite you! You tell him that every single time he starts a tantrum. Walk off and ignore if you have that ability. He can scream and kick all alone - he doesn't need you for an audience - that is what he wants. If you've given him the reaction he wants, he will keep doing it - he enjoys the response. When he realizes you aren't responsive (and it will take many, many times), the temper tantrums will hopefully be less and less. I did this, and neither of kids have ever thrown a full fledge tantrum.



answers from San Diego on

Hello T.,

Congrats on being a new mom! Despite this post I am imagining some powerful moments that you haven't given yourself permission to celebrate yet. Knowing that non-verbal language is more powerful than words, I call this age-appropriate response a "frizzamyer" a term I coined to replace negative labels so the child isn't the one being blamed. Believe it or not throwing a fit can be rewarding for both of you. I would ask myself why I am uncomfortable with his response? Is he in immediate danger? And if not, then what am I really feeling inside? Our children have a built in radar that can be triggered by our emotions. They feel more deeply than we realize sometimes. So check in first. Here's a scenario that I find highly successful if these conditions have been addressed first.

When the trantrum starts breath and allow yourself to use the time to evaluate what just happened. How will this scene in your life's play impact your child 6 months to a year from now? Allow them time to work out those emotions while you are present, and holding a safe place for your child. When the anger subsides follow their lead in how much involvement your little one is needing. Yours may be a hugger, a talker, a loner... Knowing your child's love language will enable you to experience more of what you dreamed being a mom was all about. I'm rambling but as you can see this is so customized for who we are as families. I want to scream when a Super Nanny who has never held her own child and still lives at home with her own daddy tries to persuade us that a one sized model fits all: in one T.V. segment. Despite the propaganda no one is more capable than you to develop our next generation of thought leaders!

Believe well!

A. Z.
Coming soon!



answers from Cleveland on

Walking away and making yourself too busy to pick him up is,in my opinion, the best method of dealing with tantrums. He cannot hear you when cring so loudly but your message has to be, "when you stop crying I will pick you up". I made myself very busy so my hands were full etc. Mom's busy but I will hold you when you stop. Regarding the sippy cups, we left all of our bottles at grandma's house so that she could give them to a baby. " I told my children "you are a big boy and can drink from your own special cup" Also eliminating one bottle at a time might help the transition.


answers from Savannah on

Hey T.,

I also have a 16 month old son and boy do they have a lot in common!

I swapped bottles for books about a week and a half ago. The first two naps/nights were rough - but they got better.

I wrote out a concrete bedtime routine - and I mean concrete! And it worked like a charm. Every night we take a bath, get on a diaper and pj's, kiss daddy goodnight, walk towards his room waving "Night Night" slowly at everything, then we read two books... kissing each goodnight after we've read them.

He doesn't love it, but he doesn't fight me.

He will stop taking a bottle when you stop giving it to him. You can do it!!

On tantrums - my husband and I are both Irish so I have had more thn my fair share of experience with hot tempers.... when my 16 month old pitches one, he loses everything - whatever is in his hands at the time, whatever it is he's screaming for, AND MY ATTENTION. I gather the items calmly, don't look at him for one second, and march my happy little self directly onto a household chore and ignore him until he comes and finds me and leaves the situation (he's still upset, but he's not in the floor performing for an audience)

I do this for a few reasons: #1 because spanking him isn't my thing. #2 because showing him aggression will only either scare him, or encourage him to do the same towards myself and others... and #3 because he must learn that when you behave a certain way, you get nothing, and when you behave a different kind of way, you get good things.

You can't punish him for a feeling he is having. He will naturally get angry and frustrated. But the way in which he displays these feelings is the issue. He needs to learn to come to you for help, even if crying or mad... but not to wig out and get aggressive or violent.

Remember to keep yourself calm. He can read your emotions. If you're pissed and stomping around the house.. then walking away to do laundry will only encourage him to get more enraged. Just chill. Take away the toy or whatever it is, place it calmly and easily out of reach, walk softly onto another task, and wait for him to come to you. And he will.

If he comes to find you, and then collapses to continue the tantrum in the new space... just leave again. He must learn that he will not receive any attention until he is NOT laying in the floor kicking, or trying to harm you.

Once he sees that no one cares - he'll try a different approach. It might take a few weeks... but you'll get there!!

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

The bottle thing is easy. Take one a day away from him. And replace it with the sippy. Just put the sippy where he can reach it and be done with it. But and this is a big But don't allow or even start the routine of letting a sippy cup go anywhere other than the table/kitchen. None in the bed. or that will be another battle later on.

The tantrum thing is hard. I am one of those moms who do not play into them. If he is starting one then you very clearly state he will be going to time out if he has one. Then pick him up and put him into his bedroom or a special chair if you have that. My mom uses carpet sqaures for time out in her daycare. she says they can't fall off or hurt themselves on a carpet square. they have to stay on it completely. no rolling around etc. and each time she puts them back the timer starts over. time out should last for 1 minute for each year of their age. believe me 1 or 2 minutes can seem like a lifetime to a toddler. forget about trying to explain he is too young.

now having said not to explain let me clarify that. you need to have some rules. and they need to be short and clear
1. Hitting is not allowed
2. Biting is not allowed
3. kicking is not allowed.
4. running is for outside etc not mor than 3 or 4 words.



answers from Washington DC on

We started putting our son on the time-out step around his 1st birthday. It took a while for him to figure out what we were doing, but once he understood it became a great thing. When he cries/whines for no apparent reason, we tell him to sit on the step until he's done. He goes over and sits and generally his fit is over within 20 seconds.

The most important thing to do with behavior is to praise good behavior because it reinforces it and encourages it.

As for tantrums, don't give in. As L. as he's in a safe place, walk away and ignore him. Our son threw tantrums when he didn't get his way for about a month when he was 15/16 months old. We ignored it and it stopped. Yes, you get looks in the store when your child it sitting there in the cart screaming and you're ignoring it, but if those people ever had kids they would understand.

With the bottles, just put them away and don't offer them. We switched my son at 9 1/2 months. He might fight it for a day or two, but rest assured he won't starve himself.



answers from Portland on

A young child's life is pretty constantly managed, and often abruptly manipulated, limited and controlled by parents and caretakers, schedules and circumstances. They hear "no" a dozen times an hour, and are lucky if they get a few yeses in a day.

Some children can accept all this management (unless they're too tired or hungry), but most find it incredibly frustrating. meltdowns don't happen without a reason. Too much frustration, which the child DID NOT CHOOSE to feel, logically results in either tantrums or withdrawal. In the case of tantrums, parents may believe it necessary to add an additional frustrating layer of discipline, which usually translates as "punishment."

There may be more positive ways you can reduce the clashes fo wills by simplifying his days, planning ahead when you need to meet a schedule, giving him advance notice when he'll need to let go of an activity he's enjoying, participate cheerfully with him when you want him to complete a task (probably won't take any more time than dealing with a tantrum), and keep as much humor and fun in your days as possible (this will enrich your parenting experience, too!).

When you do feel the need to employ a time-out, current thinking is that it shouldn't be punitive, but rather a way to help the child ride out the overwhelming emotion in a safe and caring environment. Don't give the tantrum any emotional energy of your own, but take the child to a safe spot and stay calmly nearby, maybe sorting laundry or reading a book. As soon as the tantrum subsides, offer a hug. That will reassure the child he's still loved, and that he can enjoy being loved better when he's calm.

Hang in there. This stage can be nerve-wracking. But it will probably pass more quickly if you can simply be a calm, protective mama while it's blowing through.



answers from Dayton on

For a tantrum, I would either put him in his room and tell him to come out when he's done or put him in his crib (or a playpen) and tell him you will get him when he calms down. You can use the crib or a playpen for timeouts too that way you know he stays in and is safe.

For the milk, all 3 of my kids had problems taking milk from a sippy - even when they would drink milk or juice from sippys fine. Depending on the kid, I tried 2 ways. One was to only offer milk in the sippy and figure he will drink it when he is thirsty. The other was to not offer milk for a few days; as my mom said "they'll forget they are fighting you." Another solution might be to try a straw cup - one of my kids preffered those to sippys from the beginning. Good luck! They get a little trying at this point, but consistency goes a long way.



answers from Indianapolis on

I f you have ever watched THE NANNY or NANNY 911, she tells them it's not allowed or appropriate and how to handle it differently. She puts them in the corner, chair or whatever until they do it correctly....even if it takes hours. I've seen her do it and after more problems.

You CAN'T give in. You can pick him up, explain why he's going back to the chair or whatever, then LEAVE HIM THERE. Otherwise, they think this is how to get attention and get you to respond. Teach them there are other POSITIVE ways. This age is NOT too young.



answers from Denver on

A tantrum is about trying to get attention for his autonomy struggles. The reasoning goes something like "If I can't get my way, at least I can make a scene."

The solution to this in most circumstances is to extremely limit your reactions to them. Stand there and wait till he stops with a calm blank face or a "you know you look silly, right?" sort of expression.

If he's attacking you, walk away from him to another room, or close a door between you. Come back when the screaming stops and ask him if he's ready to cooperate yet, or if he would prefer you go wait in the next room till he's done venting his frustration.

When he's calm again, you can say something like "when you bite, it makes me not like you very much and not want to do things with you and for you later. If you want mommy to want to do fun things with you, you need to make a choice not to bite when you're frustrated."

At that young he will only sort of get it, but he and you will start to pick up the rhythm over some time and when he's getting no reaction but abandonment or blankness from acting out, the motivation to do it will fall off pretty rapidly in most kids after some early bursts of trying any escalation they can think of to get a reaction from you.

Know anyone who needs the bottles? One options is explaining to him that there is someone you know who needs them for their baby, and he's such a big boy, you know you would be willing to help this little baby out since you're big enough for sippies now, and get him to give them away and then praise the snot out of him for doing it.

Or if you're keeping them for later use again, just pack them up one day and say the baby stuff was packed up, and here's a big boy sippy of milk. He will get thirsty and consume it eventually if you don't rise to the occasion of reacting to his resistance to it or demand for the alternative.



answers from Chicago on

The best thing you can do for tantrums is IGNORE your son. Don't even talk to him. Any interaction with him will reinforce the behavior. I wouldn't worry about putting him in time out, either. A tantrum is a child's way of expressing frustration. I would do as you wrote, walk away or leave, but do not pick him up. Wait until he has calmed himself, then talk to him.



answers from Cleveland on

we started time-outs with our son before he was even a year old, and now (at almost 14 months) if you say he will get a time-out if he continues to do whatever it is, most of the time he will stop. i'm sure that he understands, but I think he also likes to test the limits, so he does earn himself a time-out or two every couple of days.
we use our port-a-crib as his spot for time-outs. it's in the corner of the room where we usually spend the most time, and when he's in there for time-outs, we make sure there are no toys, etc. it works very well.
as far as tantrums go, i've really found the best solution was to lie him down (because most of the time he's flinging himself backwards anyway) and tell him "go ahead and have your tantrum, I'll be over here when you're done." the tantrums usually don't last long after that.
hope that helps.



answers from Indianapolis on

For his age, time outs should be a minute, but if he gets up, keep putting him back on the stair or rug or wherever you find best. He may be a little young to understand he needs to stay in place, but set a timer and let him know that when it goes off, he can get up. Since he is young and not really talking or understanding, you can also strap him in his highchair or use a pack n play. Something to help him get the idea that he is having a time out from his behavior and its unacceptable. My son is 2.5 and just now staying put! Its hard work Mom, but keep at it, he needs to learn when no means no, even if its hard work on you!

As for bottle, I hate to say it, but you should have weaned him by a year. Experts recommend this age for a reason! He has been so use to having milk in a bottle that he doesn't want it any other way no. I weaned a girl I watch off of her bottle at 16 months because her parents gave up and now she just drinks water from her sippy and nothing else. This is the consequence of waiting too long. Your son can get his dairy from yogurt and cheese, etc. Offer him milk in those cups, if he absolutely refuses, then too bad. Break him of that bottle now!

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