Q&A: Controlling Toddler Meltdowns?

Sarah writes:

“I discovered a few days ago that if I yell, sternly, ENOUGH!!!, when my18-month old starts spiraling into a tantrum, he stops, stunned by my
loud and stern voice, and returns to a calm state.  On the weekend, he
was about to meltdown in his stroller, and I yelled ENOUGH and it
stopped him dead in his tracks, I have to admit I was quite pleased.
Today he started to melt down because I wanted him to stop playing with
something that was dangerous and so I yelled ENOUGH again, and again,
it worked.  But today instead of being pleased I started to wonder if I
was scaring him into submission, or “training” him like one might train
a dog.  I have no idea how to deal with tantrums.  I have read your
posts and I understand that it’s ok to comfort an 18-month old through
the tantrum without giving into their “want”.  But if I can stop it
before it becomes full-blown, isn’t that preferable?  Or, am I using
old tactics that we’ve learned since are harmful to a child’s
self-esteem? 

This is part of a broader issue, which is that I just want my boy to be
happy, and I know my husband feels I am on the verge of spoiling him by
rarely saying no to him.  Do (good) parents yell at toddlers, as I’ve
started to do to halt bad behaviour, or is that a total no-go?  I feel
at a total loss.”

I’m going to say that this is not a good thing. On the one hand, it is kind of just a distraction method, right? You’ve shocked him into being quiet. But really what’s happening is that you’re yelling at him to get him to stop yelling.

I absolutely appreciate the urge that made you yell ENOUGH! in the first place. And I think we’ve all been there with the kneejerk, instinct-level reactions (your preschooler smacks you and you reflexively smack him back, your elementary schooler calls you a name and you respond with “it takes one to know one!”, etc.) because none of us are perfect and it’s just human nature to react when you feel attacked, even by a little kid. However, the goal is that you make discipline policies that are well-thought-out and are going to help your kid (and yourself, too) learn mastery of themselves and increase connection with you.

So, as a policy, yelling is a no-go, because it’s just punitive (and is experienced as violence, for sure). It’s not teaching anyone anything good–it’s teaching your kid to be afraid of you and it’s teaching you that brute force is the way to run the situation with your child. And in the long-term it’s not helping you guys individually or as a pair.

Honestly, I’m really starting to feel like toddler tantrums are just another developmental blip for us to ride out, like the 4-month sleep regression or that stage when they only want to eat things they can feed themselves. I think tantruming, on a kid-by-kid basis, is “normal” behavior and no matter what we do it’s going to pass. And maybe for some kids there’s something simple you can do to get them to stop having tantrums or to get them through that stage faster, but not for all. Which means that you try some stuff, but not with the goal of finding The Cure, just with the goal of helping you all deal with it in a way that honors all of you as people.

The bigger thing I think you need to look at is how you and your husband are approaching discipline. At all ages, but especially at this age, it’s about setting boundaries, not about getting kids to obey. (I really hate that word obey.) When kids obey, they’re doing it because they fear punishment, not because they’re making the choice themselves. I think we can all (or most of us) agree that the goal is to raise adults who have an internal sense of right and wrong and the power to make good decisions for themselves and others.

This young toddler age isn’t about having them make good choices, because their ability to actually choose and then carry out an action is limited, and when they get an urge it’s super-hard for them not to do it. But it is about getting them used to boundaries, and that they aren’t going to be allowed to do certain things (like hurting a pet, running into the street, sticking forks in electrical outlets, etc.), that they are going to have to do certain other things (like brushing their teeth, having their diapers changed, etc.). Another aspect of boundaries is learning that they will be loved, that no one is going to hit them or yell at them (which is why kids who are abused have problems with boundaries later), that their opinion matters, that they’re part of a community.

So it sounds like your husband sees setting boundaries as “saying no to him,” while saying no sounds too punitive to you. So maybe sit down together and talk about setting boundaries and how you want to do that. Three great references to get your head around the concepts of setting boundaries are Haim Ginott’s Between Parent and Child, Lawrence Cohen’s Playful Parenting, and Faber and Mazlish’s How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. (If you can only get one, get the Ginott.)

For practical, minute-by-minute tips on boundaries and dealing with tantrums at this young toddler and preschooler age, I don’t know anyone else better than Sharon Silver. I’m hoping she’ll drop in and comment on this post. (OK, I just clicked over to her site to find the URL to link, and started laughing because her current headline is “Stop Reacting – Start Responding – We’ll Show You How. Do you find yourself yelling at your toddler or preschooler because you’re frustrated and you don’t know what else to do?” Ha! So yeah, let’s hope she drops in.)

0 thoughts on “Q&A: Controlling Toddler Meltdowns?”

  1. I’m thankful for this post. I have a 17-month-old, and I’ve really been struggling with appropriate discipline strategies for him. Having taught elementary school, I saw way too many indulgent parents, and I swore I would never be like that with my kid. But now that I actually have one, I’m having trouble applying disciplinary strategies in real-life.

  2. Timely. I’m actually feeling like a total sh** today for speaking really abruptly with little G (13 mo) yesterday, just so I could finish assembling a table. He wasn’t doing anything dangerous or “wrong”. I will apologize, tell him I’m not going to give up in my fight against my own frustration and temper, but. . .what was the damage? He was clearly frightened, and looked at me with those eyes and *that look*.OMG, by the time I get a handle on this, will it be too late? Will I have done the damage to G? Will he seek out b***y girlfriends/wife some day?
    And the word “obey”–don’t get me started. I like it about as much as the word “should”. This is a sensitive area for me as I was raised at a religious boarding school where spiritual blackmail was a way of life. The song “Trust and Obey” (anyone else know it?) is one of their favorite hymns, and to me it’s like a cult anthem. I know I have so many issues that I thought I dealt with in therapy, but now feel like those 6 years were NOTHING, b/c having this gorgeous intelligent, active baby somehow is making me all twisted up inside again. I just want to be that person that I had started to like, I want to be that person for me and for G; I’m just so tired and consumed by the day-to-day mechanics of our lives, I am scared to death of who I am/will be/will become.
    Sorry for the long-ish post and vent. Thanks for listening. . .

  3. This is so tough, isn’t it? It feels like (g)you either are going to be too strict or too indulgent. But there has to be a wide range of gray in between, you know? I’m working in that gray.While I haven’t read Ginott’s book yet (it’s on my shelf just waiting), I have read the other two books Moxie recommends, and they are really fantastic. With the toddler tantrums, I’m trying specifically to do more of the playful parenting techniques, because I think for my child these work really well for the tantrums.
    Here’s some things I do, depending on my level of what I can handle, how she’s been acting overall, what the real issue is and where we are:
    -When she starts whining/yelling/crying but we’ve recently been playing, I imitate her but not in a mean way. In a fun way, as if she’s not really upset but we are trying out our voices. And I quickly turn it into funny noises or funny faces to get her laughing. (This one is great when it works.)
    -If she’s upset because she’s really tired or hungry or something really upsetting has occurred, I try to hold her or at least be around her and console her. I let her have a bit of a tantrum and tell her that I know it’s hard for her. That I understand she’s upset. That it is very upsetting and frustrating. Etc. Once she’s calmed down enough, I move to distraction with something else like a toy or offering a walk.
    -If she’s upset because I can’t pick her up (this is a common one in our house), I tell her why I can’t (“Mama’s doing the dishes/cooking/using the bathroom and can’t pick you up right now”). Then I usually offer her a hug (this is often her favorite substitute) or sing her a song or ask her to get a specific toy to show me (she loves to go get things).
    So there are some ideas. I fully admit that they don’t always work.
    I also wanted to mention in case people haven’t read Cohen’s book about playful parenting one thing that really struct me. At any age, if a child is throwing a tantrum, he says not to send them to their rooms or say that you aren’t going to be around them when they are acting like that. I forget why he said they throw tantrums (he had something about towers of isolation and powerlessnes, but I don’t remember this explanation exactly), but I remember that he said that being around them and not shunning them for having the tantrum will help the child in the short and long term.
    As for the aspect of not saying “no” enough, Moxie expressed how I feel about that. I don’t see the need to tell my daughter no for everything. I prefer to save my no’s for the important things (like not throwing toys at the dog, which happened last night). What do I care if she sticks a measuring spoon in her mouth? I’ll just wash it later. What’s the big deal if she wants to climb up into a chair? I will just spot her so she doesn’t fall on her head. It’s normal for toddlers to want to explore everything and touch and grab and play with everything. If it’s not going to hurt her, why would I restrict her?
    Sorry for the long comment. Good luck to everyone dealing with the tantrums!!

  4. OT: Sorry, but one last thing totally off topic… If anyone in the DC Area wants to get together, please come to my blog and vote for the date in August that you prefer! The poll and details about the get together can be found in the upper left side of the screen.

  5. We’ve found a few things that helped:1) prevention strategies. My kids all have signs they’re reaching their turnover point, but they’re subtle. Usually they’re a slightly glazed look in the eye, or a somewhat delayed response to a request for attention (say their name and they take longer than usual to look up), or a bit of rigidity to their bodies. A bit of clear observation helped a LOT with B, who was the champion tantrum boy.
    2) Likewise, prevention on their part – mainly they lack skills for coping with stress and frustration. This is normal, developmentally appropriate, etc. It’s just not helpful for the parents! Teaching my kids to stop when they start feeling themselves ‘lock up’ and ask me for help at that time made a HUGE huge huge huge difference. (By this age, they’re used to us interfering in their goals, so we’re not really on their team, are we? So why would they ask us to help get their needs met? Changing the tactic to saying, “I want you to have what you want – how can we figure out how to do that and meet my need for safety/order/etc. too?” worked well at 3 years old. Earlier, it may have to be simplifed.
    3) Modeling and Coaching through effective responses to feelings. Since my kids didn’t see my frustration when I handled it well, and did see it when I lost my temper, they only understood ‘frustration equals temper tantrum’ (because really, what is me stomping my foot and yelling at them but a temper tantrum on my part?). Duh, obvious, what we do when we’re upset is yell. I had to coach them through the process of being calm when frustrated by modeling my own feelings out loud, ESPECIALLY when I was handling something well. That made it less magical and invisible. It also made the feelings less scary – because hey, mom can get frustrated and not lose all control, so being frustrated must not be all-powerful as a feeling! Go figure! Coaching involves the whole active listening thing – You’re ANGRY, you are SO frustrated! You’re so angry it feels like it has to come out your hands! and once they feel heard, they do a much better job of calming down, quickly.
    4) Philosophically, consider whether you want your child to just behave well, or if there’s a reason behind their behavior that you want. If you want them to behave well because they are skillful with emotions, and respect those around them, that’s what you have to teach. If you don’t care WHY they behave well, then having it be fear as the reason is, well, at least in line with your expectations.
    5) Architectural solutions to social problems. Sometimes the trigger for the fit can be avoided by making a concrete change – change in timing, schedule, amount of warning, amount of food/drinks, access to outlets for energy (of that particular type), etc. Not being able to see the thing you can’t have means not being reminded you can’t have it, for example.
    6) Life Litany. My mom did this – she would find one of us in a fit, and would just sit down with us and voice for us all the things that were hard about life for us. You don’t get to choose when to eat, the weather was rainy when you wanted to play outside in the sun, your brother has wonderful toys he won’t let you play with, you want to say things and they don’t come out quite the way you wanted, you get toted around when you’d rather stay home… It’s really hard being you today, isn’t it? Love and life litanies are empowering for the child, and provide a great opportunity to connect with them empathetically – it’s hard to not end up sitting there next to them in tears because it really IS hard to be them. And sitting there in tears is perfectly okay. My mom did it, and so do I.
    On my blog yesterday, I posted about parenting for tomorrow – which is really what your concern is. Yes, this works today, but what does it do for tomorrow, and the next day? You can use it for a bit, but eventually, it will lose impact, and it will stop working, and you’ll find yourself either just being louder and meaner with it, or scrambling to find another method. Or one, then the second when you realize where you’ve ended up. Been there, done that, far too many times! Instead, figure out what method you want them to have in their own heads when they grow up. Your voice will be their internalized ‘parent’ as an adult (as many of us know far too well!). So, what voice do you want them to have in there? As an adult. You don’t want them to have a ‘I can do anything I want, so NYAH’ voice (permissive reactions only), and you don’t want them to have a ‘I’m not allowed to be angry, I have to swallow this and not express it to anyone I care about’ voice. What voice instead? Modeling your best reactions out loud creates part of that voice. “I’m really upset. I want to stomp around and throw things and yell at her. I’m going to choose to stop, and take a deep breath, and calm down. Now I’m going to think about what happened. Was my idea about it right? Hmm. Yes, the playdate was canceled for the third time in a row. But … well, maybe it isn’t because she doesn’t like me. And maybe it isn’t because she doesn’t respect my time. I’m still disappointed, though. But, she can’t really control whether her child is sick. So. Hmm, I guess I can let that go, and maybe we can figure out another way to get together. I think I’ll call her later when I know I’m all the way calm and see what we can do. Yes, that feels better, now.” All that stuff goes on in our heads, but we don’t voice it for them, so they don’t know it does. Modeling that is a way to put that process into their heads, so they can use it themselves later. Maybe years and years later before they can manage it on their own, but it’s in there.
    And it does work. We started this with G at 15 months, when he started screaming and throwing things whenever he was angry. Aside from helping him find a way to express his feelings that REALLY expressed his feelings (a calm response wasn’t his favorite at first – he needed to stomp!), seeing how I talked myself through a problem became a clear series of steps. So clear that at 3, one day I was in the car with him, and we were in a really slow fast food line and I was frustrated and feeling like we were going to be really late, and was growling and muttering to myself… and from the back seat, I hear, “Mommy, you need to take a breath and calm down. It isn’t the fault of the person in front of us that the line is slow. Everyone deserves to be treated nicely in their turn. We’ll just have to wait. If we’re late, we’ll still be okay.” (yes, he was highly verbal, and man was that mortifying, but … well, he GOT it, and that was great!).
    Anyway, hope that helps a bit. I also recommend anything developmental-level associated (the ames and ilg books on Your 2 year old, etc.), so you know what to expect at a more detailed level, and Respectful parents, respectful kids – there’s a slew of them.

  6. I hear you on this one. I’ve got two yr old twins and this is a constant struggle for me.I *try* to think about how hard it is to be a toddler. So much of the world is frustrating, and they very little control over it. Not to mention, they often cannot tell you the problem. With all this pent-up frustration and anger, they have to do something with it. And so . . . they tantrum. In my limited experience (1 set of 2 yr old twins), heading off tantrums with distractions doesn’t make their feelings of frustration go away, it just delays it for a bigger tantrum later in the day (bedtime).
    My feeling is that if they tantrum, I sit there with them and let them cry. I hold them if they want it, I rub their backs and talk about how they seem really mad and it is hard to be mad. Often they just need to get it out of their system and they feel better. Plus, with you right there beside them, they learn that you aren’t going to be upset/abandon them them when they are feeling out of control.
    Don’t get me wrong, this is really really hard sometimes. But I take some comfort in the fact that even though I don’t get it right all the time, I continue to get better at it.

  7. @hedra – I love the talking-it-out method! Thanks for sharing that one! I’m going to start using that too. I tend to struggle with my frustrations, so I can see this helping me as well as modeling a better way for my child. 🙂

  8. Sarah’s question will inspire a lot of great ideas to help her out, I’m sure. So I’m not going to reach into my bag of tricks and offer similar ideas. I want to head in two other directions. The first direction addresses what a child may learn when corrected the way this parent described. The second direction will address some traps parents may find themselves in as they’re applying any new parenting method.Mom, you’re absolutely right! Your son will stop what he’s doing when yelled into submission, especially if his name is included in the yelling, because in many ways an 18 month old is still a baby. His behavior will stop, but at what cost? To fully understand the cost of correcting behavior this way let me show you what he may learn when he’s corrected like this.
    One or more of the following may unintentionally be learned if a child consistently experiences this type of correction between 1 and 5. He may begin to learn:
    • that his feelings don’t matter; only his parent’s feelings matter.
    • that the best way to get what you want is to yell at someone. If yelling doesn’t work he may graduate to using force to get what he wants—he may become a bully, or retreat inside of himself and become shy and timid.
    • that it’s safer to avoid feelings, so he stuffs them.
    To see the price an adult had to pay because they were forced to stuff feelings as a child, go to my website. Look at the right sidebar under Archived Newsletters. Look at the very bottom for “Feelings”. Go to the second section of the newsletter and read “A Parent’s Perspective.”
    • to avoid your yelling by trying to negotiate loudly on any topic he can.
    • to ignore you, and that can be deadly. Since you’ve used the same tone of voice, i.e. yelling, to correct all things, he never learned what the “Stop NOW danger” voice sounds like and may ignore your warnings walking right into danger, and no one wants that!
    Then sometime during the tween and teen years he’ll unleash behavior to show you, “I never felt listened to as a child” and his rebellion will be huge. I’m sure none of this is what you intended on teaching him by correcting him the way you’ve begun to?
    Think about this too. If you’re yelling sternly now, as he’s doing age appropriate tantruming, what methods will you need to resort too in order to correct behavior at 2, 3, 3.5, 4 – the upcoming developmental hotspots?
    Is it possible your expecting too much? An 18 month old is just being introduced to the fact that he has feelings, and that they have names. 18 months is just too young to “stop it right now” without being forced and that can cause some of the repercussions already mentioned.
    How were you raised? Some parents repeat what was done to them even though they had a reaction when they were treated that way as a child. There are other ways to manage emotional behavior and you’ll read a wealth of wisdom from the moms here.
    Last point. Your question stated two opposing points of view.
    1. You’ve found that if you yell sternly your child stops what he’s doing.
    2. Your husband feels like you’re on the verge of spoiling your son because you rarely say no.
    These two parenting styles are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Yelling sternly is the Drill Sergeant- Strict parenting style, and can cause the kind of reaction you’re using. Rarely saying no is the Helicopter-Permissive parenting style and can cause a lack of boundaries, and boundaries are crucial in parenting to help produce an emotionally healthy child. Neither of these ways will get you where you want to be, but a balanced parenting style will. Parents really can be supportive and firm at the same time, and it’s a lot easier than you think. However, there are a few traps that can happen when you begin using a new parenting method I want to mention too.
    Choices are a great way to handle correcting misbehavior, but they can fail too.
    Parents tend use choices two different ways. One way introduces independence by saying, “you can wear the red shirt or the blue shirt, what do you choose? This way can be used with really young children.
    Another way is to use choices is for discipline, and that’s when it can become confusing and possibly fail.
    When parents give choices that sound like, “you can stop screaming now or have a timeout, you choose?” That’s the trap, those words are not a choice, they are a threat disguised as a choice!
    A true choice is, “you can stop screaming in here or you can scream in your room, you choose. Choices dictate the direction you want a child to head. Here the choice accomplishes stopping the screaming now, and still the child gets to choose if he stops, and if not, where to go to scream. That’s a true choice. And if he chooses not to listen, he gets to learn what happens in his family when he doesn’t do as asked. That’s very valuable information that he would have missed if he were just yelled at to stop the screaming. Using a choice this way works best for 3’s and older.
    How many choices should I give, this is another trap. Give 2 choices only.
    If you ask a child to choose between two dresses that are still hanging in her closet, it can feel like too many choices. Also she’s at the stage where she’s learning who’s in charge, so she’ll most likely try to choose a dress that you didn’t include in your choice. However, if you take 2 dresses out of the closet and hold them up and then ask which one do you want to wear, she can do that easily.
    Positive reinforcement is a great solution too. The trap is going overboard and in the timing. If parents hand out praise/positive reinforcement all day long it can back fire. An older preschooler may think, “She compliments everything I do, does she really mean it?” then they ignore any further positive reinforcement.
    Also try changing the timing of your positive reinforcement and use it to redirect her. Imagine that your child isn’t good at sitting still while you fix her hair, and your habit is to not praise unless she sits still the entire time, you’ve missing an opportunity. Try telling her how well she’s sitting to redirect her away from the fidgets, and begin making little comments when she exhibits the behavior you want to see, and do that until she’s done. This shows her she can get filled up on the positive attention by doing as she was asked, instead of using fidgets to produce yelling which turns Mom’s focus away from hair to me.
    Method stopped working. You’ve chosen a new way to correct behavior and it’s been working beautifully for days, and then out of the blue your child reverts back to his old behavior. The trap is thinking that the method has stopped working. All that’s happened is that the child has begun to relax into this new method and has begun the testing phase. He unconsciously wants to see if what he used to do, tantruming and screaming, can still sway you and make you cave in. All a parent has to do during the testing phase is keep using the method and the correction works its way towards resolution.
    The last point I want to make is to expect emotions, especially when you correct behavior, crying is the only articulation he has when he’s emotional, so factor in some crying, it’s the only way he can say, “I don’t like this”, and we already know that.
    I could go on for days but won’t. If you want details about how to create boundaries that accomplish a supportive yet firm way to correct behavior, that teach how to respond not react to misbehavior, you guessed it, go to my website-it’s all there.

  9. This was great, because our son, who is about to be two, has suddenly TURNED INTO a two year old. He tests limits and boundaries and even if he KNOWS he’s not supposed to pour his water on the floor, he’ll do it faster if we say NO and head his way.My husband and I just discussed this the other day … how do you discipline a 2 year old … too young for time out (and doesn’t understand the concept, anyway) and spanking/smacking/popping is not what I want to teach him, although I think it’s warranted in certain, serious occasions (crossing the street alone, or running away in a parking lot, for example).
    So I don’t know. But I’m off to check out the links. Because I think it’s important for kids to mind their parents and I think it’s important to start young.

  10. The part that struck me about the question was “I just want my boy to be happy” and the inference that somehow this desire is the opposite from saying no. It also goes in someways to what Hedra said about “tomorrow parenting”. You are not raising a happy person if you do not say No at the appropriate times, IMO. My belief is that you are setting that person up to be an extremely unhappy person. 18 months is an incredibly frustrating age for both parent and child but if you don’t say no, don’t use appropriate discipline, then it becomes even more frustrating for a longer period. Sometimes just a simple no and removal from the situation reinforced over and over again can actually be the shortest path to helping the child understand appropriate behavior. Also, I think it’s worth noting that with kids, esp. toddlers, it’s not necessary to convince them at that moment or keep explaining to get them out of the tantrum. Wait til it passes and don’t react to the tantrum except by removing from inappropriate situations. I fell into a trap and have noticed others do it as well of trying to convince my daighter (now 4.5) that I was right in the heat of battle. And it never worked and only prolonged things. I’m not saying don’t explain the reason, i.e. “No touch stove – hot!” I’m just saying that if that prompts a tantrum, just let the tantrum go. The important part is the firmness and consistency leading up to the tantrum and sometimes “ignoring” the tantrum actually ends it faster. You just have to go to your happy place 🙂

  11. caramama I totaly agree about saving the no’s and letting him do things. babySaid is really into exploring his whole world and for the most part I feel like my job is to love him, tell him he is loved and make sure he doesn’t KILL himself.So he eats bark and dirt and spoons. He crawls upstairs and plas on his own till he calls me… oh and climbs on a rocking chair and rocks standing up… I will just catch him wen he falls

  12. I’ve been reading a book: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by: John Gottman, Ph.D. and so far I’m really loving it. I have 3 year old (almost!) twins and the tantrums were making me crazy. I see now that my methods of dealing with them or reacting to them were not good reactions (which I already knew in my heart)Anyway, I highly recommend it.

  13. Well, yes, I hear what everyone is saying and I agree. But sometimes tantrums, accompanied by hitting and kicking, happen no matter what prevention you try — my daughter is 4.5, and we still have to deal with the occasional tantrum. As far as preventing, we find that positive reinforcement helps (“If you can be pleasant all day, we’ll go to the playground after dinner,”). But sometimes, there’s still a tantrum. We put her in her room and calmly explain that when she’s finished tantruming, she can come out. Tantruming without an audience is not as interesting, but sometimes it still takes a good 15 minutes for the tantrum to reach what I call the “sniff & cuddle” stage, where she is ready to talk about what happened.Still, dealing with a tantrum when the parent is at wit’s end is no picnic. And sometimes, you *know* what you should do to prevent a tantrum, but if you’re exhausted too it’s just SO HARD.

  14. Great post and comments. I wanted to add a couple of things.First, coming from the family of yelling in-laws… it works now, but by 4 or 5 then yelling – yelling anything! – will no longer work and what do you do then? Kids are very adaptable. They learn to tune things out.
    Second, to add to the great techniques here, we have found the “Happiest Toddler on the Block” neanderthal technique works well with our son. The theory is that when he’s upset, all he can focus on is communicating his upset. So you have to kind of get through to his brain that you understand:
    You get down at his level, make eye contact, and reflect his feelings in the most caveman language possible:
    You’re ANGRY! ANGRY! You WANT. You WANT cookie. Grr.
    It sounds stupid but does it ever work with our kid.
    And that leads me to point three… remember that tantrums at this age are communication. They are not necessarily the kind of communication you want to have forever, but your child is learning.
    Is what you want you child to learn ultimately that when he is upset/angry/hurt/distressed/frustrated that you have had ENOUGH? Just a thought (not a criticism… have I ever been there!)

  15. @MLB, one of the things I learned in a parents seminar for Montessori was exactly that – trying to communicate in the midst of an emotional uproar doesn’t work. I certainly don’t ‘hear’ well when I’m upset, and neither do they. It’s not conducive to learning ANYTHING.So, wait it out, definitely.
    But note that if your child seems to have remorse after the fit, but can’t seem to keep the rules/issues/consequences in mind before/during the fit, they are likely laking skills in managing their emotional reaction. Teaching them how to spot their own windup and stop before it gets to the boilover is important in those cases. Try “The Explosive Child” for methods for that. It’s mainly for kids with disabilities that limit their capacity to function emotionally, but that’s really basically ‘the truth’ for kids under 3, regardless – language and physical skills aren’t all functional! You can find info online under ‘collaborative problem-solving’, I think (google). If it works for people with severe mental/cognitive/physical disabilities, it will probably work for a toddler. (and it’s respectful, too).

  16. This will definitely depend on the personality of your kid–mine is verbal, intense, and rather sensitive–but one thing we did with Mouse around this age (up until maybe 2.3 I think) was to offer a reward for calming down, in combination with comforting the pain and standing firm on the issue. So if she would have a moo-cow about, for example, having to get out of the bath, we would say “you really don’t want to get out of the bath, you’re mad that mommy says you have to, you’re mad and sad and very upset. You do need to get out of the bath, because it’s bedtime and you need to sleep. Would a sticker help you do it without screaming?”A large percentage of the time, this worked. She would accept the sticker, come out, and cuddle or talk as best she could about her feelings. This was one of those things like the whole nursing to sleep discussion where we were warned about creating bad habits and letting the kid get the upper hand and how we would increase the tantrums because she would throw them to get the sticker and blah blah blah. YMMV, but for Mouse the sticker didn’t seem to be a big enough reward to make her set up a scene for it (if a 2-yo can even do something that sophisticated) –it seemed to serve as a tangible acknowledgment of her feelings, and having that, she could deal with not getting her way. I don’t think we did any official stopping of this technique, it just faded out as she moved on to other ways of expressing her needs and feelings.
    I am having a much harder time not yelling now that we’re in the really intentional 4-y.o. boundary testing phase. (It’s normal, right?)

  17. no time to read comments (which i know are going to be great!) but i am just going to confess right here and now that i am a yeller, and i don’t like being one, and i totally get that it’s a form of violence (my mom was a yeller *and* a spanker, so i feel as though at least i am advancing from that- my husband, too) but it’s just the way i respond to frustration/anger.i also totally get that when i say “we don’t yell” to the pnut after i just finished yelling that i must look like an idiot. sigh. so much of a work in progress i am. soooo much.
    that said, i’m not going to beat myself up over this, just keep trying to improve. and sometimes, my kid *does* need to obey (or whatever word you want to use)- danger issues, etc. things i call non-negotiables. so this: “When kids obey, they’re doing it because they fear punishment, not because they’re making the choice themselves. I think we can all (or most of us) agree that the goal is to raise adults who have an internal sense of right and wrong and the power to make good decisions for themselves and others.” becomes one of the toughest lines to navigate- and one that i think we all are just trying to do as well as we can. will be back!

  18. The yelling approach? Seriously?OK- here’s why I *try* not to yell. Although I think it bears mentioning that parents are not perfect and I have snapped at my kids many, many times.
    Yelling is ineffective. Sure, you may be shocking your son into submission for now. Wait until he is 2 and a half and he will be WORKIN you. Getting Mommy riled up is really, really fun for the 2-4 set. I think the rationale is that yelling is negative attention and most toddlers will do anything to get attention.

  19. The Tot is ten months old and I haven’t yelled at him yet (sounds strange – who yells at a baby but I’m quite sure my mom yelled at me from the moment I was born). I get angry at the adults in my life the same way. Hold back until it explodes. I’ve read countless baby/parenting books, just got Between Parent and Child and How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, trying, trying to change my course/ways of thinking and being. I say no very rarely, rather redirect and talk and explain even if he has no idea what I’m saying, I try and give him as much freedom to explore and learn as I can safely allow (although he still gets frustrated with his limitations)- but I get so much resistance and disapproval from my family. I’ve been told that he is spoiled and will be a terror. He’s ten months old for goodness sake. Anyway, I understand the impulse to yell but all it did was teach me to hide from scary emotions and not trust myself. Not at all anything I want the Tot growing up learning. Does anyone else find that being with their child gives them the opportunity to be the person they always wanted to be but never thought they were capable of being?

  20. As I predicted the moms are chiming in with great suggestions. Charisse shares a great example of a fine line point that parents need to be aware of. The reason offering a sticker worked for her child was because it wasn’t the only thing that was offered, there were lots of words articulating and supporting the child’s emotions. The sticker wasn’t a bribe that could be cast away in favor of staying in the tub, she was getting out of the tub, there was no choice there. The sticker was set up to be a way of making doing as asked a little easier. Using the sticker as a bribe by saying, “if you get out of the tub, I’ll give you a sticker”, doesn’t share any words to honor feelings, and it makes it easy for the child to say, “I don’t want no stinking sticker, I want to stay in the tub”-and a tantrum begins. That’s why it worked for her.Also, I highly recommend the process that Hedra suggested, sharing how a parent deals with frustration, it works beautifully with little people and creates a baseline of trust around feelings that will pay off for many, many years to come.
    I wish I had shared more of how I managed my own frustrated feelings with my two. The only comment Taller has made over the years was, “I wish you had told me you were struggling with some of these emotions, I always thought it was so easy for you and there was something so wrong with me!” I’m sorry sweetie!
    pnuts mama is right-please, don’t any one beat themselves up for yelling. We all do it, it’s how we *really* learn that we don’t want to yell any more.
    And beleive it or not a benefit can be found when you aren’t 100% perfect in your parenting. You get to experience and remember what it feels like to not be so masterful when doing something. Now you can *really relate* and have empathy when your child is frustrated and can’t be as masterful as he would like.

  21. @Sarah: Second, third, whatever the idea that once the shock value of the the yell wears off, it won’t work anyway. It only works now because it’s startling. You’re getting many great ideas, so instead of helping you, I’m going to hijack your thread! Sort of.Sorry. Sort of. 🙂
    So I did fabulously with my toddlers and the choice thing. (If I do say so myself, heh.) But I’ve got a 4-year-old that’s completely kicking.my.ass right now. If she decides she doesn’t want to do something I’ve said she must (and I pretty much only say she much with the non-negotiables), I can count total misery. It goes like this:
    She screams.
    I tell her if she’s going to scream, she can do it somewhere else where we don’t have to listen.
    She refuses (sometimes by shouting “NO” right in my face — or, if I’m very lucky “NEVER”, which I admit was mildly amusing at first, but isn’t anymore).
    I give her some short period of time to make a decision.
    She doesn’t.
    I make the decision for her (take her to another room).
    She opens the door and runs out.
    I put her back.
    Etc, etc, etc until finally I physically restrain her until she agrees to stay put (that sounds truly awful, trust me, I know it does).
    She screams and screams and screams until she is completely exhausted or I retrieve her (I’ve tried it both ways — timed and “until you’re done”).
    I used to do the comforting/talking/being with her, but our big problem is that she is totally driven by my attention. Meaning she wants it. All the time. This is a child that sat through an hour+ church service in silence at 14 months because her choices were to sit quietly or go to the nursery. And many, many of the tantrums are somewhat related to wanting me to hold her or otherwise do something with her/for her when I just can’t. So the nice methods, the ones that feel better to me, wind up really being about giving her exactly what she wants. And we all know that giving in to tantrums is a recipe for disaster.
    I simply cannot seem to find a way around this one and it’s tearing me up. I am so tired of spending the better part of my time (which is already limited by little necessities like work and sleep) with my kids in conflict with my daughter.
    Help.

  22. Oh Moxie, I heart you! You perfectly described why I do not yell at my kids. I could never put it into words myself. Believe me, some days I want to do it (2 year old twin boys will do that to you!) but it’s not accomplishing anything.

  23. I found that as a both a teacher and a parent, doing the exact opposite of yelling was much more effective to get the behavior to change. There is nothing like whispering at someone who is screaming to make them stop. Bend down, make eye contact, and whisper what you need them to do, and I bet you’ll find an immediate change in behavior. My husband was yelling at our daughter when she was about this age, and when I suggested and he employed this tactic, it worked like a dream (and it works for 13-year olds too!).

  24. Oh, I just thought I should pop in here to say that I do yell, too. (Doesn’t everyone, at times?) When I hear myself yelling I realize I’m near the bottom of my reserves. Nothing to beat yourself up about, just try to work things so you don’t get into the situations that make you yell, if possible.

  25. @Jan – my 5 year old is similar – I don’t think I have anything brilliant to offer, but reading your post gave me flashbacks.She’s still an intense person and still won’t watch the princess movies – they’re all scary because the protagonist becomes separated from her parents. And if we’re out someplace she checks back on me constantly to make sure she isn’t lost.
    I will say that at age 5, going non-linear doesn’t happen as often as it did when she was 3 or 4. And that when she gets into a state, putting her into a timeout in her room did not work – it was exactly the scenario that you described. So 3 – 4 was the worst for this.
    At this point, having her sit on the couch until she can collect herself (at age 5) works well – everyone can see everyone, and if I go about my business she can collect herself. I can’t remember when we started doing that exactly. And we use it for when she’s really wiggly and has been told several times to not do something (usu. of a jumping around nature).
    The Happiest Toddler on the Block was the only toddler-age parenting book I read – so sometimes taking a moment and doing some sort of active listening helps smooth things out.
    But from when she was very young I’ve had to do maneuvers to make it feel like it was her idea to do stuff, otherwise she just wouldn’t (and we’d end up with a bad scene).
    She’s still wiggly or a bit of a dilly-dally when told to do something directly. I have no idea where she gets that from. :^) But it’s still frustrating.
    And the fine line is that I like her headstrongness as long as it doesn’t get in the way of my own agenda (like getting everyone out the door in a timely manner – esp to get to one of *her* events). And I don’t want to crush it, but I also don’t want to feel like I’m swimming uphill all the time.
    I think I’m going to start narrating my mental process with her – a)it’ll help me remember to use my words and (b)it’ll change the game a little but still be safe/respectful/kind.

  26. Pumpkin is only 15 months old, so we’re just winding up to tantrum age. But she can already throw a pretty good tantrum. Things that have worked in our house:1. Getting down on the floor and throwing a tantrum with her, while complaining about how life is so unfair for a little girl. This usually has her laughing pretty quickly, and sometimes she even comes over to comfort the tantruming parent with a pat on the head. But it doesn’t work well in public situations, for obvious reasons. However, we are taking her for her first airplane ride this afternoon, and I reserve the right to tantrum with her if I have to.
    2. Distraction. For instance, she wants to watch her signing time video and we want to go outside so that we can cook dinner on the grill. I stand outside the back door and offer a ball. I really like Charisse’s idea of acknowledging that she is not getting what she wants, and offering my distraction as a sort of consolation prize. I think I’ll try that.
    Of course, we still have tantrums. Our current tantrum problem is around getting into her car seat after day care. Nothing I try works. I’m going to read these comments carefully for new ideas!
    As for the second part of the question- Hubby and I are working on that now. Luckily, I think we’re both of the “pick your battles” school of thought, but now we need to agree on what our battles will be. I’m pretty happy with how the minimalist approach to rules is going so far. We don’t have a lot of forbidden things in our house, but she’s pretty good about respecting the ones we have. We have already successfully taught Pumpkin that she’s not allowed into our office without an adult and that the kitchen trash is off limits. I think the fact that we only have a few off limit areas made it easier to teach her to avoid them. I’m hoping we can apply the same idea to the rest of the rules we need to have.

  27. Oh, @Jan- reading Cathy’s response to you made me think about the “time in” idea from Playful Parenting. His idea was that taking a child who is screaming for attention and putting her in isolation just makes things worse. He suggested calling a “meeting on the couch” to resolve the underlying problem. I don’t remember the details, but I remember thinking I should come back and re-read that part of the book when Pumpkin was older.

  28. This post could not have been more timely. I have an 18 month old that throws a fit every time his diaper has to be changed. He starts backing away, kicks and screams etc. We’ve tried talking him through it, explaining what we’re doing but it doesnt work. How do I make this less of a struggle? The other thing he sometimes does this thing where he is playing on the floor and then comes and grabs us like he is going to give us a hug and kiss (which he does) which then morphs to pulling of hair?Anyway to avoid that?
    Thanks!

  29. @jan-Oh man! We went through a couple weeks of that recently with our pre-schooler. It helped a little to give up the requirement that she go to her room. We do put her in another room (symbollic- because you could still totally hear her), and studiously ignore her for a few minutes until she starts calming down.
    Oddly, and I have no idea if this is related, I also started reading chapters of a big-girl book at night (Narnia)as part of her bedtime routine, which corresponded with things getting better. Maybe the increased attention when she was NOT freaking out helped?

  30. My daughter is the opposite. At 4 1/2 has seriously never had a temper tantrum. She is just too eager to please adults to do anything that might garner their disapproval, and I have only rarely had to even raise my voice a little–in fact, if I do, even the slightest bit, she will collapse into a puddle of tears. So it’s been something of a crash course in frustration management for me.That said–I wanted to say that there is yelling adn then there is YELLING. Shouting “enough!” at a toddler is not ideal, I don’t think, and it would be upsetting for a child; but again, there is violence, and then there is VIOLENCE. It might not be great but I don’t think it’s the kind of thing anyone needs to beat themselves up over.
    You know, ENOUGH! just lacks some of the emotional oomph of “I WISH YOU WERE NEVER CONCEIVED, YOU LITTLE BRAT!” Some of us got to experience YELLING more like the second variety and less like the first, and let me speak on behalf of all of us when I say that there is a vast continent of difference between the two. You are not destroying your child or setting them up for a lifetime of failure.

  31. @Jan, We did a lot of time-in with B, because separation was his greatest fear. That or being ‘invisible’ were instant rage/fear/freakouts. I had to just stay near him, neither making any fuss about it nor getting annoyed at him. It was hard, sometimes, because he’d do what he could to rile me up. But he really needed to know that I could be safe with him even when he was at his worst.He also was king of not caring about the consequence. He’d just choose to not care, no matter what it was. So we were crippled there, too.
    We did a bit of the emphasizing attention when he was doing well, and that helped – there was an assumption somewhere in me that once he was ‘this big’ I could just carry on about my business without attending to everyblessedthing he was doing. But that didn’t work for him. He needed to be noticed. One of the most powerful things I did was to let him catch me watching him throughout the day. Even if that meant I was mainly watching out of the corner of my eye while doing something else, as he’d start to turn toward me, I’d look toward him, and he’d find me looking at him already. I noticed while doing this that he spent a LOT of time peripherally watching to see if I was watching. M also did this – she needed to know I was attending, even if from across the room. If I wasn’t, then things were bad for her. But if I was, regularly in small bits through the day, she coped rather a lot better (granted, she’s still 3 1/2, so we’re not into the 4’s yet!). It’s kind of the anti-quality time concept – more of a just quantities and quantities of relatively ‘eh’ noticing. Not some grand adventure or down on the floor doing stuff or playing tea parties or whatever. Just constant ongoing minor notice.
    Anyway, that’s another thing to try. I do send my sympathy – the kids for whom ‘together’ is their most powerful word can be exhausting. The peripheral attention did allow me to continue working on cooking, etc. (Oh, and whenever they want up/with while I’m doing something else, I get better results from saying I need some help, would they like to be my helper? Even if it is just standing on a stool by the counter while I cook, and now and then shaking or stirring or measuring something – helps a lot!)
    good luck!

  32. @Meera, my Pumpkin isn’t a big fan of diaper changes, either. Sometimes she’ll handle it fine, and others she pitches a fit. I suspect she’s pitching a fit because I took her away from something she wanted to be doing to do something she doesn’t want to do- she’s never cared much about wet or even dirty diapers, and probably doesn’t see why I should have to change them. Anyway, one thing that sometimes works is that I sing her one of her favorite songs. I get my face up close and ham it up a bit, and she’ll focus on that and let me go ahead and change her diaper at the same time.

  33. @Jan, the 4-yo is kicking my butt too at times–for slightly different reasons, the volume has dropped somewhat but the tenacity has only increased on things she really cares about–which I try to acknowledge and support, it’s just sometimes you can’t have what you want right now, you know? & what am I supposed to do with the laughing defiance? I mean, the “hahaha, I’m not going to” and run away move. I guess this is my first experience with actual, literal testing, as in it’s not about her just having trouble expressing herself or something, it’s really taunting and seeing what I’ll do. Mouse is approaching 4 1/2–can someone tell me if there’s some book I should be reading? thx!!

  34. As I was reading all the comments I realized I missed something that Sarah maybe feeling right about now. It can be very hard, maybe even defeating, to go from yelling and punishment to some of the more gentle ways to manage misbehavior described here.Sarah, look for parenting methods that can help you replace the tendency to yell, still stops behavior, and teaches him what’s expected-respectfully. Look around the web to see which parenting program, book-whatever will work for you. Don’t forget to visit me; seminar #1 & #2 accomplish what I’ve described for toddlers and preschoolers. Good luck to you.

  35. This kind of reminds me of Happiest Toddler on the Block — maybe you could use his technique (state for your child what they’re feeling that’s causing the tantrum, the key being that you have to say it at a comparable emotional level: YOU WANT THAT WANT THAT WANT THAT). It would change it into a more positive interaction, and not make you lose out on something that’s working.

  36. @Cloud, our 18 month old has been fighting us on the car seat for about 4 months. We now have “car toys”. Small (but not choking size) or soft. He gets to pick 2 as he gets in the car, 1 for each hand. He holds them and plays with them while he is buckled in. They are small enough that he can continue to hold them while we get his hands through the arm straps. He only gets to play with these in the car so he is happy to see them. We do talk about the importance of safety and I hope that and the habit sink in eventually.Please let me know if you figure out a painless diaper change for the toddler who would rather be doing something else!

  37. I have a 4.5yo with these same issues. He still cannot calm himself after a meltdown- it can take him an hour. Time out away from us just makes him worse, but he can scream louder than anyone I know, so I really need him away from me. I find myself using all sorts of awful attempts to get him to stop- short of physical violence. I keep talking to doctors trying to find out if there is something really *wrong* or if this is considered normal. I send my sympathies to Jan; I understand.

  38. @jan, @hedra, @charisse… all you guys addressing the challenges of the 4yo+ set: I’m so glad for a little companionship with the “I just want to be WITH you” crowd! This is a constant refrain in our house, and she does not not fall for the ‘I need a helper’ ploy (obviously, she knows it’s a ploy).And I have become, to my great dismay, a yeller, which I never ever thought I’d be. Moxie’s point about low reserves is well taken, though I can’t imagine how to fill them up as a single mother with literally no support. Something to work on though. Thank you Andrea for the reassurance about the different kinds of yelling… I have gotten out of control with volume, duration, and intensity of yelling and I’m mortified and ashamed and worried about those times (not for quite a while now, thank God), but I have never never called names or done character assaults or other the like. It’s more like “WHAT are you DOING? WHY aren’t you sleeping? People SLEEP in the middle of the night!!!” kind of stuff.
    I’m going over to ProActive Parenting now.

  39. My 2.5 year old is allowed to watch approx 20 mins of TV while I change his poopy diaper. It is my gift to myself – I don’t have to try and deal with poop and discipline!

  40. Just wanted to pop in and say you are not alone to all the “yellers”. My DD just turned 2 and all of a sudden, there is a lot of yelling going on. It probably isn’t helping that I’m 6 months pregnant, but it’s just killing me. I hate it but I feel like I don’t have any other tools. Sharon, I’m going to your website NOW! 😉 And Hedra, I’ve read your blog posts the past few days and I’m hitting the library too!I think (hope?) recognizing it and wanting to change is a huge first step, but I still wonder about permanent damage. =(

  41. My thanks also to @jan, @charisse, @maria wood, @hedra. I have a 3.10 yo DD and for the past few months she has been (even more) clingy to me in particular, and prone to meltdowns and tantrums. I’ve been at my wits end trying various things – calming techniques, “use your words” (she’s very verbal), describing the emotional state. I have also been thinking about what emotions we allow her to have. Is the tantrum distressing to me because I am worn out, or because it is really unacceptable? Sometimes the tantrum is due to a power struggle (probably needs one set of strategies) and other times she’s just plain tired (probably more appropriate for different strategies?). I have not been able to really put any of this into practice except that I have been thinking about it a lot every morning as I walk away from preschool feeling like a failure.Anyway my other point is just, it is always so good to hear that others are experiencing the same things and to get ideas of how to approach each child.

  42. I’ve pondered this precise question too. I haven’t found punishment to be effective for anything with my now 2.5 year old, so we don’t do it. But teaching him good behavior and setting clear boundaries is important, so we do try a lot of other things (distraction, “do-overs” etc.). But your question makes me think about my dad, who is a soft-spoken, kind, and very gentle man. He is a wonderful father and BELOVED Grandfather who my son (and every child in the universe, it seems) ADORES. Opa (that’s what the kids call him) will sometimes raise his voice when talking to my son – not as punishment, but as an attention getter. Just as the poster described, it stops my son in his tracks and short-circuits the impending meltdown. My dad’s phrase is usually just “okay, okay, OKAY, OKAY” in an escalating, firm tone with dramatically increasing volume. Its not a violent “yelling” like Moxie described – its using voice to interrupt the tantrum cascade before it gets rolling. And it works, without any harmful effects that I can detect. I have tried it a few times (its not my thing and doesn’t come as easily to me) with some success, but mainly I offer this just as a point of reference.

  43. @Meera: We usually give a choice at diaper changes: it’s time to change your diaper, do you want to do it on the table, or on the floor? Or, here’s your changing pad, where do you want to put it (putting it on the wood instead of the carpet is apparently quite funny). Or, what would you like to hold during your change?The other thing we recently (22 months) started doing at changes is saying, do you want to sit on the potty and get a special diaper (pull up) standing up, or do you want to get changed here on the floor/table lying down? These choices really did help my son especially with his resistance to changes.

  44. @Meera – I’ve found songs and being vocally interactive the best way to deal with the diaper changing struggles. For example, I’ll sing the same couple of songs during diaper changes, and now I pause at the end of a line and wait for her to say the word. Or I ask her “What does the lion say?” And she stops struggling, thinks, and answers “Arrr.” This doesn’t always work, but usually–if I’m able to maintain my patience and think of it and she’s not already in overload.

  45. @Meera, the only thing that worked for our kids at that age was standing diaper changes. There’s some info on Parenthacks on how to do standing diaper changes without getting poop on yourself, I think. Check the archives. After about 20 months, I think, it became a matter of choice for them to lie down or stand, and they began to prefer lying down for poopy changes again, but wet, they still prefer standing changes.Granted, we kind of skipped the whole ‘changing table’ thing after a while. Especially with the twins, when you’re already on the floor the entire time, why get up and go somewhere else for a diaper change? We just put change supplies in bins in various places (including a change mat), and changed where we were (this also helps for the ‘I don’t WANNA leave what I was doing!’ thing.)
    @Maria Wood, the trick with the ‘be my helper’ is that it *can’t* be a ploy (though I think I made it sound like one in my previous note, sorry!). It has to be real. You have to *choose* fully to be in there with her while you work together. If I try it as a sop, a ploy, or a trick, they ALWAYS know, and they get even more pissed off. If I consciously release my own wound up state, and invite them in cleanly and with welcome and contentment/happiness (even if not outright joy every time), it works 80% of the time. The rest of the time I’d misread what they really wanted, and it wasn’t to do with participating or being WITH, it was to do with CHOICE. They wanted to choose how to be with me. As a single mom, I’m not sure how to find the energy required to be able to release your current state and change states… hopefully Sharon’s Pro-Active Parenting materials fit the bill.
    Choice is a big deal for that age – and right now, my girls are not that old, so it’s more tilted toward the ‘being with’ than the ‘choosing how to be with’ – not entirely looking forward to that stage. The older ones, it was a bit easier because there was just one at a time – and I was definitely able to get some breaks.

  46. No time to read the other comments, but here is what has worked for us since about 16 months old: when my daughter starts to spiral toward a tantrum, I lower my voice (quiet and deeper than my usual) and say, “N____, look at mama.” This stops her dead in her tracks for some reason, and she actually does look me straight in the eye. Then I tell her, “Crayons go only on the paper,” in the same low, non-smiling (but not frowning) voice. For some reason, the eye contact seems to ground her and help her direct herself.If she’s in the middle of a real meltdown, I ask her if she wants to be held (or just hold her if she seems to be really out of herself and unable to decide) and say, “N___ is mad/frustrated because ____.”
    Of course, we’ve just recently entered a phase wherein every single thing I say meets with a “Noooo!” So who knows where I’ll go from here.

  47. Thank you all for your suggestions! I love this site.Our 21 month old boy has started up with the tantrums – and my husband has no idea how to deal with them. I’ve had good success with the distraction method – pointing out trucks when we’re in the car, handing him something from the gadget drawer in the kitchen, giving him his stuffed kid sized bear, but I know it’s only a matter of time before he progresses to another level.

  48. I’ve skimmed about half the comments, so don’t know if this has been brought up already…I have a four year old who cries at the drop of a hat; anything will set her off. I find myself cringing everytime, and trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to hold back from telling her to just stop. First, I don’t want her to feel like I don’t care about her emotional state. Who am I to tell her that it doesn’t hurt enough to warrent crying?
    But the other thing I want to mention, is that I think it’s important to consider why avoiding the tantrum is so important. Is it painful for you as a parent to witness your kid crying? Does it make you feel like a failure? Are you assigning meaning to it that maybe doesn’t exist? I don’t know if this really applies to Sarah’s situation, but I know, nine times out of ten, it applies in situations where I’m tempted to snap toward my kids — the issue is more with me than with the kids, and once I can figure out at least some of what’s going on for me, it becomes easier to respond in a way that I feel right about.

  49. @Charis, double points! That’s an issue I totally forgot.Definitely, a lot of my ‘parental tantrums’ have more to do with my needs, issues, and concerns than with my child’s needs, issues, and concerns. So regardless of whether they’re having a fit or not, my patience for whatever they’re doing is directly tied to MY stuff, not theirs, well over half the time (I haven’t calculated it out, but 9 out of 10 can’t be far off).
    Any of the collaborative problem-solving, expressing and meeting everyone’s needs, active listening (including to yourself), etc., methods applies to this aspect.

  50. Ummm, I’m a little late with comments here, but I’ll put my two pence worth in anyway…@Meera, The only thing I found that worked re diaper wars was sitting on the floor perpendicular to my son and putting my leg over his belly (not resting it there, but using it to help restrain him while I was working on the business end). Also, I always warn him of when I’m going to change him. He tries to run away but then we make it a great game of catching him so he’s at least laughing on the way down to the mat. The key also is consistency of approach – if you let the baby run away and not change the diaper a few times, then they will try this every time. They need to know you mean business. Once they know you’re going to do it and there’s no point struggling since it just makes it an unpleasant time, they tend to just go with it. Then the leg barrier becomes more of a psychological restraint than a physical one. I imagine your little one will grow out of this soon. We had about 3 months of screaming wriggling diaper changes and I thought it would never end, but as soon as I hit upon a consistent approach, it all just stopped, literally after about a week. Good luck with whatever method you choose!

  51. I think we can all agree that the goal is to raise adults who have an internal sense of right and wrong and the power to make good decisions for themselves and others.

  52. Hahaha .. Kyle made me laughed so much! This is so funny! And the way your made the video, exceellnt! My best laugh of the day Surprisingly, he was rather game to act it out for me that evening. As for the video, I got a pretty fun software to make videos; AVS video editor, gives me more flexibility than Windows movie maker []

  53. He is so funny!!! And an excellent actor! His self-portraits are very well-taken too. I woludn’t know it’s taken by himself if you didn’t mention it..-= Ingb4s last blog .. =-.We call him Mr Child actor at home. Have to be wary with his great acting skills, many a times, I can’t tell if it is genuine. []

  54. And sadly as they get older it can be caused by soda drikns, often and probably containing Caffeine and Aspartame.Possible there can even be some demonic element involved, serious, but probably rare.And lastly I wonder what about vaccines as well.And often spoiled, can’t get what they want as the woman says here.Thanks for sending me this.Lee.

  55. Supper Nanny books are the best. They break down step by step how to deal and over come these situations. You can find them at any book store.. Barnes and Noble Borders etc

  56. Hello,I really liked ur blog and tohhgut I drop you a message. we are currently seeking people who are interested in posting messages in our forum. we have a specific category for parenting.. is this something you might like to do? we are looking for volountary moderators for our categories.drop me an email at:

  57. Tantrums go hand-in-hand with toddlerhood. They only have the power we give them. Ayva’s a very smart baby. She renidms me so much of Tee at that age. She’s going to use whatever works, so just make sure tantrums don’t work. They will quickly fade and make her use her already highly developed language skills! She’ll be speaking in full sentences by 18 months! As for us and our desires for adult tantrums, if I could get away with it, I’d do it! I had a dream once that I had a full-fledged tantrum in my old bosses’ office. It was a direct result of frustration I was feeling at work. We just have to cool off and figure out what will work in reality. Alleviate the stress w/out causing any damage! lol!

  58. Kate’s list is great! I love your profiles, esclpiaely the one on your mother. And after a visit to the Sip Shoppe I’m officially ADDICTED to Clarke’s Bark. It truly is sinful! Love the whole atmosphere. Your family has a delightful property and wonderful sense of hospitality!

  59. I guess we all feel like having a tunrtam at some point or another. Little ones have a tough time expressing their emotions and they have so many going through their heads that sometimes a tunrtam arises. They can’t tell you what they are feeling so why not show you. It can be frustrating for everyone, but they all go through it. That is good that you will reinforce the taking shoes off policy. If you research the amount of toxins we track in on our shoes it is crazy. I am going to post about plastics tonight. Hope you stop by the Hen House! Have a great night!Mama Hen

  60. I dont know honestly! I have a close faimly member who is a stay at home mome, and has a 4 yo , a 3 yo and a 1 month old. She handles it with grace and acts like it’s no big deal, then again her toddlers are pretty well behaved, I bet that helps!My husband has been begging me for another baby for 2 months now.. But between my new career and a 22 month old , I just don’t feel ready to handle a newborn in nine months.

  61. carpal tunnel may be caused by restrictions maybe it’s forearm nuisance, and maybe it’s a compounding. Restate handling consists of injecting sex hormone medicinal drug into the Carpal Tunnel itself. Some exercises sit a repetitive move upon much caused by miserable carriage on the bicycle. Acquiring decent amounts of atomic number 20 at least carpal tunnel syndrome is seemly a vast terror. There are a mixture of all the way plump for or all the way forrard, and the fingers don’t function as good as when the articulatio radiocarpea is in full flexed or in full protracted.

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