Screaming and Crying 16 Month Old

Updated on March 15, 2010
S.D. asks from Savage, MN
10 answers

My once happy daughter has over the last week developed the most tiresome behavior. She is 16 months old and our only child. Nothing has changed in our household, but over the last week she has started to scream and cry for two reasons, 1) if she doesn't get her way or 2) when she gets frustrated because she can't get something to work i.e. get the shapes in the shape sorter or gets stuck pushing her dolly's stroller. If I try to help her she gets even more upset. She throws a fit but can be pulled out of it, but only for a moment before she starts in on something else. Our friends said that they have trouble with their oldest getting frustrated because they were so attentive that they feel he didn't learn to be persistant. Their second is much more patient, because he sometimes had to wait because they may be attending to the other child. Is there anyway to help correct this behavior. It's wearing us out! Thanks!

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answers from Augusta on

DO NOT give her what she wants when she pitches a fit.
If she gets frustrated show her how to solve the problem after she calms down.

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answers from Kansas City on


I seriously felt like I was reading a description of my 16 month old little girl. She is also our only child. I know it is very frustrating when they scream so much, and you have no idea what to do.

Here is what we try to do to help her. When she gets upset at something that doesn't work the way she wants it to and gets frustrated, we try to laugh like it is all fun and make her see that it is okay if something doesn't go quite the way we want it to.

Another thing is to distract her from what is frustrating her and then go back to it when she is calm. When you go back to it, try showing her how to do it and let her do it with you. That shows her that it is okay to accept the help.

We also try to ignore her when she is upset and doesn't get her way. It is hard, because they scream and throw a fit, but if you give in then it just teaches her that if she screams and throws a fit that it leads to her getting what she wants. Not easy to do, but it helps.

You can also try to divert her attention to something she can do or can have, and that helps take the focus off of the negative behavior.

I hope this helps. If anything, just know you are not alone and we are dealing with so much of the same things.

Hugs to you guys!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It's a phase they all go through , as much as the screaming wears you down , it's because they want to do thing themselves but can't quite manage it , and as they cannot ask for help the only thing they can do is scream/cry. My 20 month old will throw herself to the floor and kick her legs if she can't do something. I just ignore her , once she calms down I will help her.

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answers from Omaha on

Welcome to having a 16 month old. In my experience, that's about the age where my boys started tantrums, and such...when they are trying to do something, and can't voice what they are feeling. They can't quite say, "this is frustrating me." That's how they they learn to talk, it gets better...



answers from New York on

I have found what your friend is saying to be sooooo true for me. My first child was the first for everything. First for us, first grandchild, first nephew. He is sooooo impatient and does become frustrated very easy. He is 25 now and is still the same. My second is the most patient child I have ever met. I am sure it is not only the case but place in the family does sometimes play a role. My son could not stand to fail at anything, he would quit easily, and my daughter is so easy going. Personality I am sure also plays a role my son is me to the t a perfectionist, impatient, quick tempered, and my daughter is my husband to the t, the sky could be falling all around them and they are totally unaffected. I envy them because they will never have an ulcer that is for sure. I would suggest you let her be and try to let her figure it out on her own. Constantly helping her will not help her to build self confidence. I know it is difficult to see your child struggle and be upset but sometimes we have to so they can learn to problem solve on their own. I never allowed my son to do that and I believe to much love can also do some harm. It is all well intended, but if I had it to do over I surely would have done things differently. It is just so difficult to hear them cry. Get some ear plugs and let her be, even when she has a fit just walk away. She will learn to rely on herself and figure things out for herself. Good luck!!



answers from Minneapolis on

You are not alone. My 15 month will have these tantrums as well and he is my second. I just started reading a book that discusses when children are out of equilibruim and it occurs around 18 months--your child just may be a little early. The book I am reading is called 3 yr old-friend or enemy, and I tell you this b/c the author, who I cannot think of at this time, has written books for each year of a childs life. The book is on amazon. May be helpful just to understan even if there is nothing to do.


answers from Omaha on

They all go through this lovely phase. It's annoyingly stressful. I've just come to the conclusion that they aren't mature enough to process things so they freak out and don't understand why there isn't immediate gratification. They are learning to understand their feelings. They don't understand that it's even an option for things not to work or the cookie isn't immediately in front of them. All they know is, "Hey this doesn't feel right. I'm not used to this!" She'll eventually learn that sometimes things don't always go how we want them to. Right now she just doesn't process it. So be patient and understand that she is learning. Do not under any circumstances give in. The last thing you want is a spoiled tantrum throwing 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 + year old. You're in the nip it in the bud phase. Good luck to you!!!



answers from Omaha on

Maybe she's not feeling well. I have 5 children and so many times, when I'm at my wits end with them, they end up being sick.
Several months ago my 11 yr old was being impossible! I told my husband I wanted to send him to boarding school because I couldn't deal with him. The very next day he came home from school and said he was having trouble breathing. He was sick with pneumonia and was sick for several weeks.
Just a week ago, my 3 yr old was driving me insane!!! He didn't seem sick, no fever, but then I noticed he was coughing a little. I took him in and sure enough he had a sinus infection. After 2 doses of antibotics, he was a different child and I felt horrible for not realizing sooner what was going on.

Anyway, I'm not sure, at 16 months, it's hard saying what is going on. She could be having pain from teething too. You might give her some tylenol and see if her behavior improves. I've done this before when I can't figure out with the little ones what is making them so cranky. If they act better, then there was pain or discomfort that they couldn't tell me about.

I hope things improve for you!


answers from Albuquerque on

Hi S.,
Along with agreeing with what the other Mamas have already written, I successfully used baby sign language. When my babies would get angry/frustrated, the *only* way I would respond to them was if they signed the word, "help." To do this, they had to be calm (a screaming toddler can't sign - lol).

It helped to calm them, and gave them a way to get what they wanted *appropriately.*

By the time they got to 18 months of age, it was, "help, please."

Good luck :)



answers from Sheboygan on

I had the same issue when my 18 month reached about 16 months. He is the only child right now, so he is used to having nothing but my attention all the time. They say its a phase they go thru where everything makes them frustrated. I usually try to redirect his attention by moving on to something else, or letting him help me do something since he is also in the helping mode these days. Most of it is frustration, so I try to stay calm as best as I can and talk him through whatever he is doing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't but he tends to calm down if he gets help. Hang in there, they get over this by 3:)

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