Is This a Tantrum?

Updated on October 20, 2010
S.S. asks from Los Angeles, CA
10 answers

Recently, my 16 month old son has started crying much more frequently than he used to. It used to be that if he wanted something and we took it away, he'd cry but then stop soon if we held him, distracted him, etc. Now, if he wants something and can't get it, he puts both of his little hands to his mouth and cries pitifully!! I always thought tantrums were angry crying, kicking, screaming, etc. but this is just plain sad crying!! It breaks my heart and I'm tearing up even remembering how he looked as I write this. I try to hold him and sometimes he'll let me but other times he pushes away to go to the door (if he's crying to go out) or to point at whatever he wants, then when I shake my head no, he cries harder (again, in a sad fashion). Is this a tantrum?? and how do I deal with this?? Its hard for me to ignore him which is what I read you're supposed to do with tantrums b/c he seems so SAD, not angry. and I can't explain to him b/c I don't think he understands enough yet to get what I'm saying (he doesn't yet speak except for a couple of words). Please some advice! Thank you!

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answers from Boise on

I would still explain to him. Let him know that you know he is sad because he can't have X, and tell him why he can't have it. This isn't a tantrum, just his reaction to being upset or frustrated.

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answers from Toledo on

You can call it whatever you want, it's just reality. Up until now, things have pretty much gone his way, and he's now learning that it's not always going to be that way, and, of course he's sad. Who wouldn't be? When he figures out that "sad" doesn't change your mind, he'll escalate it into the more traditional "tantrum." You can divert his attention, ignore him, or however you want to handle it. Just don't give in when you make a decision. No means no, always. If not, he learns that he'll eventually get his way, if he just pushes you farther, screams louder, or throws something. Good luck. We've all been there. The only kids who consistently throw tantrums are the ones who get their way by doing it.

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answers from Dallas on

Awwww. I don't think it is a tantrum exactly. He is just frustrated he can't have his way. Maybe that is a tantrum of sorts, but he is too young and innocent to know what he is doing. He has to learn his limits when appropriate, and although it is h*** o* you both you are doing the right thing.

Help him when appropriate to ease his frustration. He, like all of us, wants control. My oldest was born like this to the max. If I poured his milk when he was three or four he would scream, "I wanted to do it" and start to cry. I ended up pouring the milk back into the bottle and holding his little hands to do it together. He loved that! He just was always independent, and it was frustrating because his brain knew what he wanted to be capable of, but his little body didn't have the skills yet. To me that's quite different than wanting something that he shouldn't have at that moment. In that case you might have to let him cry it out.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I think your little one is not pitching the typical 'tantrum' , but, if he finds this sympathy tactic works for him to try and get his way, he'll continue to do it. It may break your heart but, don't train him to do this by rewarding him afterwards. You can say something to him such as later, or afterwhile, another time,..... and then give him a hug and walk away, or at the very least don't give this behavior your attention. You can try to distract him with another activity. If you give in to him you may end up setting yourself up for a tough time later, because he's learned to manipulate you
to get what he wants. It's not nearly as sad when he's 10 or 12, trust me.
Children ,even this young are smarter than we give them credit for . Lots of Luck & be consistant. C. S.

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answers from Chicago on

A tantrum is a welling of emotions, not all kids tantrum the same, mine has an all out MELTDOWN like what you see on Supernanny times 10! But it seems your kid is too smart for all that, the little bugger he KNOWS how to get to your heartsrtings and wants to play you like a pretty sweet harp. So say to him you are allowed to have your cry in blank cry space then when you are done you may come back and talk to me. Even at his BEST or worst tantrums my son is sent to the basement (our room at MIL's house) and can not come back up until he is calm and ready to talk. Before his room was the place to go, some ppl use a chair or a step or what have you as the cry area but find it for you guys walk away let him learn to deal with his emotions on his own he is old enough to work on that and have a time limit for yourself of when you will help him calm down if he has not done it him self, I would start with 3-5 min depending on the type of cry and let him learn how to work it out on his own. It does work mine comes back to me once it is done saying sorry mommy, and i am ready to be calm now.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

yes this is a tantrum, and he's doing it to see if he can get sympathy, passion, flat out attention

it breaks a parents heart for their child to do that...but you need to stay strong and not let him see that you may feel sorry for him or it'll get worse. he's old enough to understand "no" and a brief explaination like "(name) will get ouch playing that way" or something of that nature...he understands more than you think he does



answers from Tulsa on

mine does the same thing it is a tantrum. be strong mom



answers from Dallas on

Sounds like a tantrum to me. My kids were never big into screaming and kicking, their tantrums were more subtle...most of the time:). He is a smart little boy. He has already figured out what button to push...he knows the crying breaks your heart. As hard as it is you'll have to learn to ignore it. Some of the crying maybe out of frustration, since he can't talk, he thinks you don't understand what he wants. I would calmly let him know you understand what he needs in one positive statement, " I know you want to go outside, but we need to eat lunch first". After telling him once, you need to ignore the negative behavior. If he continues to cry, let him cry. Sometimes if I can get out of my daughters line of vision, she calms down more quickly. Once he is calm and done crying, then you can go hug him. Hang in there!



answers from Pittsburgh on

Yes, it is a tantrum. He is trying a new form of manipulation out on you. He can see on your face that it is getting a reaction so he will keep being pathetic until it works. His goal is to get what he wants and your is to stand your ground. Kids are so effective at tugging on the old heart strings but once you have said no, stick with it. If he learns that this sad face works to his benefit sometimes, it will continue or perhaps get worse. I know it's hard and breaks your heart to see them sad, but even at this young age they learn what works and what does not.



answers from St. Louis on

yes, it is a tantrum. He's not getting his way, therefore he's showing you how he feels. I like to think of tantrums in two different categories: "Crabby Patty" & "BooHoo Baby"...... both are when the child cannot use words & appropriate actions to express himself.

I think the most important issue for parents during this to be diligent in avoiding indulging the child's whims. The more you indulge, the more frequent the battles occur. & they won't end until you teach your child what you consider proper behavior. It's much easier to be proactive & nip it in the bud.....rather than having to change fixed patterns later on!!

A perfect example would be how many times (thru all of my years of inhome daycare) I have heard children screaming/crying/throwing a fit on my front porch .....all because they want to open my door & Mom forgot! It is truly insane that these Moms actually stand there & apologize to the child - who's in charge? Sooooo, my rule of thumb is: children are not allowed to open my doors AT ALL. It is a safety issue & the doors are completely off-limits.
(& I want to clarify why I have this rule: I have had children throw open the door so hard that the wall is dented.....hit other kids with it....& trip & fall face 1st into the house in their need to beat Mom in. Completely insane!)

Anyway, please do not give in to your child. The demands only become more frequent. I wish you Peace!

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