Tantrums - Brea,CA

Updated on December 01, 2007
S.M. asks from Brea, CA
3 answers

Ok, so I know there are 500 questions out there about tantrums but I am hoping for some advice anyway. I have a daughter that is 17 1/2 months old. I know she is starting the terrible two's early, as most do, so I expected as much. And normally I just ignore the tantrums and she is done in a couple of minutes. Over the past two days or so, the tantrums seem completely unprovoked. For instance, today, she was making pleasant, calm, sweet noises when she woke from her nap. I went and got her and we walked down the hallway with all smiles. I laid her down for our routine post nap diaper change. Pants came off, area wiped, new diaper laid in place. As I was sticking on the second tab, she flipped out! I am talking screaming, kicking, flailing, rolling mad!! Normally her cries are the tantrum, nothing-is-really-wrong cries. This one, and maybe one or two tantrums previously, had a mix of a pain cry. I tried to dress her, she wouldn't have any of it. So I picked her up and held her because she sounded so sad and she fought it. I had checked her temperature before her nap because she is teething-no temp, no diaper rash, no red areas in diaper area at all. It's as if a switch turned on! She arched back so I laid her on the floor, and she's crying, rolling over, kicking and screaming. This went on for five minutes so I got up, put her wipes box away, put her clothes in the hamper (all not in the same room where the tantrum happened) and on my way back to the living room, she met me in the hallway and whimpered some more. So now I am in the computer room and all I hear out there is laughter and toys being played with. I don't get it! There are no triggers, she's moving all around so I am inclined to think she is not physically hurt. We do Oragel as directed around the clock (her poor gums are swollen). Is it that I might need a stronger teething gel? I have heard of a prescription that a doctor can prescribe. Any advice? Sometimes I just want to cry I feel so helpless. (I don't do this in front of her, of course.) I welcome any advice!!

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answers from San Francisco on

I think you're doing a great job with your daughter. :) You handled this so well. Even though there weren't any triggers that you could figure out, toddlers this age, who aren't verbal and can't use any other language to communicate, will often melt down at absolutely nothing, that we can figure out. We have the tools to say, "after my nap, before my diaper change, I'd like to have a nice cup of milk, then a bit of play time, then....." you get the idea. The good news is that she was playing after like nothing had happened, meanwhile, you're traumatized.

Here's my advice, don't take tantrums personally, chalk them up to your child's frustration at not being able to communicate their wishes, feelings, frustrations, etc.

I found it helpful with my son, to help him "name" his feelings and let him know that I was here to help. Here's an example: "I can see that you're (fill in the blank) frustrated, angry, upset right now. Mommy needs to (fill in the blank), change your diaper, put you in your car seat, hold your hand when we cross the street. Don't talk too much at this point, because they can't hear you.

If they're out of control, let the storm pass then about 5-10 minutes later, go to them and sit down, hold them if they'll let you, and speak calmly and in a soothing, matter of fact way. (Don't let them see that you feel helpless or out of control, because that is MORE SCARY for them). You're the experienced, world-wise mommy who can handle anything, even tantrums.
Here's what worked for me. "I can see that you were frustrated,....fill in the blank, angry, out of control a few minutes ago. I can't help you when you....throw yourself on the ground, scream, .....fill in the blank. You have big feelings for such a little person, and I'll help you figure out how to let me know what you need, but it's not ok or safe to....fill in the blank. When I feel frustrated or angry, I make a mad face like this... or I go for a walk or I jump up and down, or.....and then model the behavior. Good Luck.

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answers from San Luis Obispo on

My daughter is the same age and she started the tantrums too. I kind of follow a little checklist in what to me is a sequence that works pretty good:

1. First is if she just hurt herself, like bang on a door or slipped and I did not notice right away.

2. One time I had no idea she had an ear infection and I thought it was teething. The pediatrician said he keeps telling parents that teething is never a very big deal, but ear infection is and causes great fussiness, but a parent cannot diagnose it, so I make it a point now that I just take her to the Doc if she is just extra fussy. If that's the case you'll get antibiotics and that reason will be out of the way.

3. The third thing I check ALWAYS is if she is hungry. I have been surprised more than once that eating made the fit totally disappear(and you do have to find the food she likes, or it will look like she is not hungry, but if you feed her what she likes it's a whole different story).

4. The fourth thing after the above are out of the way is sleep. She does have a routine of naps and a regular time she goes to bed, but I think because they are growing so much and being so active at this age, that some days are more tiring than others. So if she starts a fit and the above 3 are not the case, I take her in her room and put her in the crib, then leave. Just like that. It has happened that sometimes she felt asleep within 10 minutes. Other times she just got quiet and started talking to her bears in the bed, so I figured it was like giving her a time out, which my daughter understands.
That's really all I have been doing and so far it has worked everytime.
What I have learned so far is that kids are way easier than some people say they are: they have simple but very basic needs: no pain, food, rest, and of course love, but that I am sure you give plenty of, so that would seem to me not the reason most often.

Not to go on too long, but I remember when she was only 1 month old she would cry so often I would start crying too. My mom and other moms would say that the baby was just picking up my mood and react to it.
Then the Doc said to me: "Honey, babies need good feedings, good burping and sleep. Not much more complicated than that." And I found out she needed more milk than what I was giving her (I was nursing a lot but not making enough milk for her). The moment I supplemented my milk I was in total shock: she looked like a different baby, all calm and peaceful.
That's when I learned that the very basics come first.
Good luck.

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answers from Honolulu on

I echo what Barbara suggested. Even at this age, start to "teach" them words for their feelings. This sets a foundation for them later, when they can understand better, what their feelings are. I did this with my daughter too, and from an early age, she became very articulate in expressing herself with telling us how she feels. Yes, they will tantrum at times, for no apparent reason. Chalk it up to developmental changes and cognitive growth. Their brain, is sometimes ahead of what they can actually do. They get frustrated. As with my daughter, sometimes just letting the "storm" pass, then the next thing you know, they will settle back down on their own. Sometimes we need to let the child learn how to pass through things on their own. And they will. It's the age. But remember, "terrible 2's" doesn't stop there, it goes on to "terrible 3's" and through 4 years old too. When my daughter was like this, she would actually say "I'm grumpy..." and if we asked too many questions or tried to "stop" it, it would actually make her more "grumpy." She would even say sometimes, to leave her alone, and she will be fine. She would stew in her grumpiness by herself, and then sort through it, and then be fine later. It's like adults, sometimes we just need space,and sometimes we are just irritable for no reason. But at your child's age... they can't really articulate every reason for their tantrum. We can just gently aide them, and try to "read" them... and see what it is they really need. Yes, sometimes just hugging them and loving them in the midst of a tantrum will stop it. We won't always know "why" they are acting that way, they just are trying to navigate through the world and their feelings. But sure, they need to start to learn "boundaries." And that will evolve too. Try reading up on it.... the book "What To Expect The First Year" by Arlene Eisenberg is great. And "Parent's" magazine is terrific too... you will find you are not alone. Their website is:
Each child's personality & temperament varies too. Many times, they just need to know that we "understand" them and are there for them. It is a "fussy" period of growth for them and full of changes. Then they will be on to different phases and different kinds of "tantrums." Sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason for it. Sometimes there is. Distracting them and redirection, age appropriately is typical methods. For my daughter, using humor, and making a joke of situations, would turn her mood around. Good luck, you will get lots of good suggestions here.

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