Tantrums, Tantrums, Tantrums

Updated on May 16, 2007
M.E. asks from Orlando, FL
10 answers

It seems like my daughter cries for everything nowadays! Just in the past 3 days, she has gotten really bad! Anything we say no to, or remove from her, she will throw a fit and will throw herself on the floor. I know this is normal tantrum behavior for a toddler and have been told by her Dr. to ignore the tantrum and not give in. But, like I said, it seems to have gotten really bad in the past few days.

She has now started to hit her head on the wall, table, etc. during the tantrums. A few times, she's also bit herself. This behavior is really disturbing to my husband and I and we don't know where it's coming from or what to do.

I spent most of Sunday crying and feeling really frustrated. HELP!

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So What Happened?

Well, nothing has happened yet, since I need to go home and implement some of your suggestions. But, I just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone for your advice and support.
I'll have to see what works! :)

There is hope! After reading your advice and doing some research on the internet, I decided to try a twist on the ignoring approach. I found this great site http://www.drhull.com/EncyMaster/T/tantrums.html with information on tantrums and what you can do. I tried his approach of "active ignoring" and it has worked twice already! For those of you who wrote saying you had a similar problem, read over that site. It makes sense and has worked for me so far. The tantrums have not lasted as long and she calmed down on her own without much effort on my part. :)

Thanks again everyone!

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answers from Melbourne on

First, yay to you for admitting there's a problem and looking for help! I sent out a request very similar to this a couple weeks ago, you could look that up and read the reponses, I got a lot of them! It made me feel better just writing that request and it brought tears to my eyes to know that people who dont even know me gave a darn enough to send out suggestions.

Unfortunately I dont have advice, I'm still trying to get a handle on my munchkin. I'm reading a book right now about parenting strong willed children, and I'm crossing my fingers that it will help. Or that he grows out of these tantrums soon! Everyone keeps saying just hang in there, it'll get better, I'm hoping and waiting for that day. Until then I have my very sad moments, who knew parenting was so tough? Good luck, I really hope things get better for you soon.

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answers from Miami on

it's so hard!

when you remove something from her, is it possible to replace the item with something else? disract her?
when she has a tantrum, agree with her- give her words- like "it's so FRUSTRATING to have this taken from you! You're ANGRY! Let's see what else there might be that would be a BETTER CHOICE to play with! Here, let's play this"

it's very hard to do, but get up and interact with her- if she's into a drawer she shouldn't be, actually get up and remove her to somewhere she is allowed to be, rather than just saying "no!" and then "I TOLD you NO!!!"

if you are always saying no no no then it begins to not mean anything...

when she has her tantrum, tell her "it's OK to be angry!" and then maybe put her somewhere to actually BE angry- not a time out per se, but a way to know that her while her behavior is ok, it isn't necessarily acceptable out & about with others/in public



answers from Orlando on

A book that really helped me is by Jane Nelson, Positive Discipline. Check out their website www.positivediscipline.com

They have a book tailored to the toddler stage that gives specific advice to help through this stage. The key is to just avoid her getting so upset as she is trying to get your attention by hitting herself.

Somethings they talk about that helped me was to set rules in advance. If you see a pattern when she always has a tantrum, such as bedtime. Then you guys can sit down together and make a schedule of everything that needs to be done before bedtime- you ask her what needs to be done and a cute idea they had was to take pictures of the child doing the activity and use that instead of the words on the schedule. So then when its time to go to bed you can say What's first on our schedule? and she can look at the picture of her taking a bath and she will know on her own. My daughter loves her schedule and she'll get her little step out and look at what she needs to do next.

Also if the issue is toys at the store, then you need to be clear before you go in the store what you are going in for and if she is allowed to pick out a toy for herself. What will happen if she starts screaming or crying. (An idea that was given was to walk back out to the car and sit in the car until the tantrum is over, saying as soon as you are ready we can go back to the store- you let me know when you are ready, and calmly ignore the tantrum) I only needed to do this once.

The best thing in all situations is to let her know in advance what you want, set a time limit (we're going to leave in 5 minutes) and then calmly reminder her and then calmly stick to it. Notice I keep saying calmly- no need to get involved in it.

Kids like to know whats coming next, so you can do a Dora thing like first we're going to the store then to the bank then to the house- Where are we going? Store, Bank, House. Where are we going? Store, Bank, House. She'll be rushing you out the door to the next place you need to go. Also distraction works really well. Can you hold my keys for me? Can you walk like a baby duck? It is so much more fun then war and they just love it when mommy is silly!

Anyway you can make it a game or fun for both of you is a win win situation!

Good luck!



answers from Orlando on

wow what a great link! Nice precise info on handling tantrums! I have booked marked it!



answers from Miami on

Hi M.,

We went thru similar with our second child. My husband's cousin, a mother and step-mom of 9 children, said what she finally had to do with one of her very head-strong young daughters was to bodily wrap herself around her daughter when her tantrums got too violent, restraining her arms and keeping out of the way of her teeth. She found it best to carry her in to the bed and hold on to her there to prevent injury, restraining her gently but firmly until she calmed down to talk about it and have a hug after the storm. This gives her a safe environment until the tantrum passes, and shows her that she you are both there to help her and that you are in charge. Yes, it takes alot of stamina to hold onto a child in that kind of tantrum, but there aren't alot of other choices when it gets to the point that they could get injured. In all liklihood, it is just a phase and will pass. It's very frustrating for some children when they can't yet communicate clearly what they want or are upset about.

It's probably also a very good idea to visit your pediatrician to make sure she doesn't have an ear or sinus infection. Sometimes children act out horribly when they are in discomfort but can't verbalize it. (Even since speaking age, often my kids don't tell me when they have earaches or sinus discomfort, they suffer but forget to TELL me!).

Also worth seriously considering: Keep track of what she eats for a few weeks to see if there is a correlation between something she is eating and the outbursts. Intolerance reactions to foods can happen from 10 minutes to 48 hours after eating. (Intolerance is not the same as an allergy that causes hives.) One of my sons goes berserk if he eats anything with red or blue food color, the other goes berserk if he eats anything containing MSG (both of which are surprisingly in TONS of grocery store foods...). The MSG kid also gets beet-red ears and mooodswings if he eats anything with corn syrup, again which is in most every single food product at the grocery store. Many kids are intolerant to cow milk, wheat,soy, corn/corn syrup, food dyes, etc. Many kids are also intolerant to otherwise healthy foods that naturally contain salicylates, such as apples, grapes, and strawberries. You can find out more about that online: Dr. Ben Feingold, MD was a pediatrician/allergist who specialized in linking diet to behavior problems in children.

Wish you the very best getting through the tantrums, keep taking deep breaths, and it's OK to cry!

C. N.



answers from Miami on

Hi M.,
I'am just writing to tell you are not alone!!!! My almost 17 month old behaves exactly how you describe your daughter.It's very difficult to deal with.I'am ignoring the behavior as well.My husband also has a hard time with it,like most men he just wants to fix it.I'll be reading your responses for help with this as well!Let's pray it's a phase.Good luck :)



answers from Orlando on

My 5th child, who is now 7 and a gifted child, went through horrible tantrums and she seemed miserable from about the age of 1 to 3. She would fall backwards on her head if she got upset. She would scream and scream and there was nothing that i could do except hold her so she wouldn't hurt herself. Well, she completely grew out of the tantrums and is now a happy, gifted, calm, extremely well behaved child! I think that some toddlers have tantrums because they are highly intelligent and they get so frustrated because their mind is working ahead of what their body is capable of doing. rest assured that your child will eventually grow out of this behavior. With my daughter, once she learned to read she became a different person. I started her out doing artwork at 2 which also helped with her frustration. Good luck!



answers from Orlando on

M., sorry about what you are all going through. She is very young, probably can't tell you want she's wanting and gets fustrated...It could be a series of things, I would go through the process of elimination and make sure she getting enough sleep, playtime with you,(not sure if she's with you all day)for us my when daddy comes home he usually devotes at least half hour just for our dtr with no other distractions so she gets in some "daddy" time otherwise she will do every thing she can pull out of her hat to get his attention, your dtr might just need a little schedule time with just you, no sharing mommy or daddy - no phone - no tv. Make sure that she's not in silent pain like an ear infection or teething it's very h*** o* little ones to communicate. I did some sign language with my dtr before she could speak and it helped tremendously..I also agree with the other advice given that distraction is key when taken something away, in my opion if she's only 16months old - she is still a baby - but maybe that's just me.



answers from Orlando on

Hi M., this is not a suggestion but just to let you know that we are dealing withthe same thing. My 19 month old son is worst. It started started around 1 year old and got so bad recently. When he doesn't get things his way or if he is playing for example with blocks and they aren't fixing the way he wants them to, he will start scattering things all over the place and screamimg. The say to ignore him but that only makes things worst cause if we don't get him he can go for almost an hour hitting his head with his hands then hitting his head on the floor and walls. I know it is frustrating and wish there was a easy way out, but for us the best help is to move him away from whatever he is doing soon as he start signing a tantrum about to explode. Wish you all the best.



answers from Lakeland on

Tantrums are a normal stage of developement. They also seem to go away for a period and just when you feel that it is all over with they come back evn worse without worning. Listen to your doctor and ignore it. This is just her way of figuring out just how much she needs to throw her fit until you give in. If you give in she will start her fits at that level and it will just get worse. If you ignor it she will realize that acting this way will not get her what she wants and eventually try a different tactic. Just be sure that once she tries the tactic that you want her to act respond to her. Just do not get upset. I know this is hard but it is a response. Example You only alow her 1 treat a day, she had her treat already after nap, now she has come in from outside wanting another one. You say no and she falls to the floor. Walk out of the room. Not a word. She will eithier escalate there or follow you. Say and do nothing don't even look at her. Cause you know those eyes will make you give in. When she is all done she will most likely try the buttering up approach. This is where you can respond with your answer give her another or tell her she can have another tomarrow. Try to avoid the word no. This will usually just trigger the same cycle.
If you are still having issues with her hitting her head put her in a safe place until she is done. High chair, her bed, Time out in a regular chair is not as effective at this age. It will just turn it into another battle.

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