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Help Managing Adjusting Toddler's Crying Fits

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My husband, stepson, and 16mo daughter just moved 1200 miles away from family. We were previously living with my parents due to finances, and she saw them and my younger two brothers every day.


She has been adjusting well the past 2 weeks, but in the last two weeks she has been developing crying fits. They're not exactly tantrums. For example if I or DH leave the room (even if she can see me) she cries tears (unusual for her). Then if we take away a toy for whatever reason (it's too late and DSS is trying to sleep and it's noisy) or her favorite show is over...she just cries and wants one of us to pick her up. Just any little thing sets her off. In addition to this, she has been getting angry and telling me "NO" something she never did before we moved. In fact, she said her first 'no' while here. She doesn't seem to understand it all of the time but like if she goes to an area she knows that we tell her not to go to, she'll shake her head and look at me and say "NO NO NO NO." I am not sure if she's trying to reinforce that she remembers she isn't supposed to go there, or telling me no, she won't listen and wants to be there. She just isn't following instruction as she normally does "sit down please" "don't climb please" "please no biting". It works maybe 1/3 of the time. I know a lot of this is "typical" toddler behavior, however she only started this after we moved. Is it just a phase, or is there something I can do to help her cope and get back to being herself?


I don't know how to treat this problem as she is not ready for time-outs, time-ins (though I still do this one as much as I can), etc. I refuse to spank. She is still breastfed. She is napping well, and although she's been waking A LOT to nurse, last night was much better. She is also learning a lot of new things here that she never understood/did before we moved (such as that keys go into doorknobs, that turning doorknobs opens doors...thankfully she doesn't have the hand strength for that one yet, that pulling on something while in her umbrella stroller can move her where she wants to go, she has said 10ish new works in 2 weeks, and and is putting 2 and 2 together about how to get what she wants when she lacks the word (ie. nursing/naptime: will ask Dahdee to pick her up, then point to the bed, and when he puts her down, she lay down in "her" spot, pat "my" spot and say MAMA.)


Is this just an intellectual growth spurt that she's processing? What is going on and what should I do? I am so conflicted whether to let her cope on her own terms and maybe process it in her own way...but I also don't want a screaming tantruming 18 month old who won't listen to me anymore in a few weeks. Thoughts? Suggestions?

post #2 of 8
That was a tough age for us and we didn't move or anything. I would just keep parenting as usual but be ready for extra cuddles and understanding as needed. I found it very helpful to explain and empathize with DD starting around her first birthday: "honey I know you want the (whatever) but it's dangerous. I know you're frustrated but mommy has to keep you safe. How about (something else) instead?". Redirection is big and she loves to make choices: which cup to use, which short to wear, etc. There is a lot of developmental stuff going on. The "no" phase was big at our house too: "want some water?" "No!" as she's reaching for it! Also "don't touch the tv" and giggles as she's running towards it. They need consistency and boundaries but also lots of cuddles and understanding because they are changing so fast and often they are confused or frustrated by the smallest things. I don't doubt that she's missing extended family but the behaviours you describe are exactly what my DD was going through at the time (she is 20.5 months now). I think you are doing great and you're not turning her into a tantrumming 18 month old. Most 18 month olds do tantrum some simply because their world is changing so fast and they have a lot of big emotions they haven't learned to deal with. HTH
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks. We are really struggling to cope with her outbursts as they are frequent and loud and one of us ends up yelling at her because nothing works to help quiet her. I can't cuddle her as much as I would like to but even with lots of cuddles and reassurances when I nurse her she gives me angry face and won't look at me.


I suppose I can keep reinforcing boundaries and cuddling lots and hope that it's enough. She's doing her best, I know it, but as a mom, I'm sure you know....you want to help in any way you can. I'm hoping that it's just a phase and with more activity her fits will ease up. I Hope!!

post #4 of 8

Mine is going through this as well (at 18 months) but we haven't moved and don't have any other influnces that could have triggered it, aside from maybe her being sick.  We've been battling the flu as a family for the past couple of weeks.


The word "no" is used a lot by DD, as well.  I always try to offer her the item again (sippy cup, bite of food, etc) just to make sure that no really means no at that moment.  They're trying out new words.  She nods yes, but sometimes doesn't mean that, either.  She's just testing out the language, seeing what it all means and how it works.


Yesterday was a hard day. I couldn't put her down at all, without her dissolving into a puddle of tears.  I had four loads of laundry I had to do while snuggling her.  Thirty gifts to wrap with her attached to my leg, crying. =P  Good times. 


It's a phase.  It'll pass. It sucks while it lasts.  I find redirection works best, for us.  Taking her outside ALWAYS fixes things.  Always.  But it's not always convenient (like when I'm doing 4 loads of laundry or wrapping 30 gifts), so sometimes I just need to take a few minutes and sit on the floor and let her play with me or just climb around, and let the laundry slip (which is how I ended up with four loads of laundry to do on a Sunday...)


Toddlers are SO MUCH WORK!!!

post #5 of 8

It sounds like your daughter is going through some big changes -- not just with the people around but her basic environment after the move, and that's a big deal too. She'll need time to observe and explore before she gets comfortable enough to "be herself" and she is probably a little overwhelmed. This can also be a difficult phase because she is starting to be more verbal but still frustrated at not being able to say what she means, although it sounds like she's very resourceful and doing a great job of improvising! Yelling happens, not ideal, but happens, we all have limits -- what helps me is to try explaining either during or after that I didn't like whatever it was, the whining/noise hurts my ears, made me mad etc -- this can also model an alternative to tantrums for a child who is learning to communicate. Punishment doesn't sound appropriate to me here at all, even if she's making your life difficult -- it really sounds like she needs reasurance. Extra cuddles and communication sound like the perfect response, not risky at all and pretty much always a good idea, but especially when big changes are going on and a child feels destabilized or doesn't know what to expect. Keep talking to her. It sounds like you're doing the right things, and it will get easier as she settles in. Good luck.


Also wondering, would some of these toddlers appreciate being put in a carrier on your back while mom gets things done, walks around, etc? This is what I do when my LO is clingy or just getting upset easily, and it almost always calms her down - either she'll stay in for 5-15min and then be perfectly happy again, she'll fall asleep, or she'll just stay in for a long time and just want to stay close until something else changes. It's harder to do laundry with her on my back, but easier than with her on my leg! Going outside is a great solution too - making time to explore new places with her and let her get some exercise.

post #6 of 8

One of my LO's really has issues settling and as a toddler he would be a mess for an hour if his will was challenged. At the time, he suffered with a lot of sensory issues. He is still show a glimpse of his formally intense storms a few times a year, but time has tempered his temperment. We use EFT, and it has helped him self regulate.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks ladies!!!


I am glad it seems like I've got the right idea. I know that this is a typical toddler stage, but I feel better knowing that it's being exacerbated by all the changes like I thought. The past few days we've upped her food intake from 3 meals and snacks whenever, to 4 meals with less snacks, and a twinge of gripe water in a sippy every day. It seems to have helped a tiny tiny bit. I even got her to fall asleep for 2 hours in her play pen (something she's never, ever done.) I took her into bed after she woke up and she was fine. This morning I found an ANGRY red bump  on her gum (she's cutting a molar atm, the last of her 1 year molars) and it's just about to pop through so I've been giving her a tiny taste of tylenol to take the edge off even though I'm not a fan of it. She's been so much better the past few days with her new eating schedule.


Hopefully we'll work in some more cuddle time and out time so she can run around and we'll see her problems disappear. :( My poor baby. 


EDIT: Oh, and to add, we figured out what some of her crying fits are actually about. At my parents house it was really quiet, and here our room faces the street and our window is pretty big...and when it's open we can hear all of the cars on the street and nearby highway, and ANY loud noise that sounds menacing (like a motorcycle, truck, one of those racecar noisy type cars, sirens) scares her to death. So we're working with her on that. 

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

And an addition, sorry, was on the run earlier. I would LOVE to babywear her. Except, I'm really small. I'm only 4'11 and it really breaks my back to carry her. DH can't, he had a double laminectomy in his lower back so he can't have her on his back. It sucks. I wore her until she was almost 20 lbs in a mobi.

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