23 Months - Sudden Violent Tantrums - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 12-12-2013, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
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My almost-2-year-old is going through a very disturbing phase, totally wigging out when she has to get dressed, change diaper, or get into her car seat. I'm talking a screeching, sobbing, planking, thrashing wrestling match! We are doing everything we can think of - giving her choices, taking plenty of time, trying to get her on board, dangling incentives, bringing along toys and animals, distraction, singing, you name it. But for the past couple of months, to get clothes on or off, or to get her into the car, we have to physically overpower and manhandle her. Diaper changes are almost impossible - I've all but given up cloth diapers because I can't handle that many changes.  It's awful! I feel like a terrible parent for having to physically fight her, and I know that the battles only make it worse.  But it reaches a point where there's no alternative.


Once she's dressed or in the seat, it's pretty much over. She rides just fine, and she wears her clothes no problem (except having a fit to take them off again). Weird thing is, it doesn't happen every time (but probably 90%). She almost never leaves my sight, but if she were in childcare I'd seriously wonder if someone was hurting or traumatizing her. It's that bad. Any ideas on how to survive this?


PS - We moved a month ago.  The tantrums started a few weeks before.  Could this possibly be adjustment-related?  And if so, how do I help her?

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#2 of 4 Old 12-12-2013, 10:47 AM
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How independent/high spirited is she? I ask because my 2yo is highly independent and very spirited (to put it nicely lol) and the more I try and do things FOR her the more she fights me. She can basically dress herself ( get the shirt over her head and she does the rest right down to socks and shoes) and will 'help' do the car seat buckles. We've worked pretty hard to allow her to be independent yet safe (Montessori) and so sometimes it's hard but I find it easier if I let go and let her do it herself. Now bedtimes have been horrendous because she created a game of "I do; mommy do" and doesn't want me to put her in her big girl bed...and yet crumbles to the floor telling me to do it...it's soooo getting old, but I'm trying to grit my teeth and let it play out. We had a similar power struggle with the potty, and FIL forced her to sit on it - not good!!!! She wouldn't touch it for months and I had to give up even trying to talk about it until she decided it was ok. Well the day she turned 2 she went diaper free (only uses one to poop now) day and night and has done great, but I still have to remind myself she did it herself, when she was ready and had I insisted she do it on my terms or schedule we wouldn't be where we are now. If getting dressed is going to be a fight, and not a big deal remaining in pjs - let her stay in the pjs and head out on errands. If she fusses, it's ok well next time we go out and I say we need to get dressed you will have x minutes to do so otherwise we will leave in pjs.

Could be adjustment but in general it's the age ;-)
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#3 of 4 Old 12-16-2013, 12:06 AM
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I recently read a book which gives a really good description of how to handle temper tantrums like this. There's a technique called the "firm holding" technique where you actually hold your daughter so that she basically cannot free herself from you and you keep holding her until she calms down (which she will eventually). You aren't hurting (physically fighting or "manhandling" her but you still make sure she can't hurt you.


Anyway, it's a bit long to describe here. There have been psychological studies done where parents have used the technique and results indicate that it only takes three or four tantrum/holding incidents before the child learns to feel safe and gives up turning on tantrums.


The book that describes it really well is called "Toddler Parenting" by Laura Stewart. It's just a little book on Amazon, and it has heaps of really good info without all the fluff. I bought the Kindle version at first, but found it so good to refer back to that I ended up buying the paperback as well.

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#4 of 4 Old 12-16-2013, 05:34 AM
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A child under five or six has very little control of emotions due to lack of brain development. The brain has not even grown all its tissue until age seven, and then continues development until after twenty. Therefore a very young child does not yet have the development to control or rationalize emotions.
Margot Sunderland is author of the book The Science of Parenting. She is (quote) " Director of Education and Training at The Centre for Child Mental Health London, Honorary Visiting Fellow at London Metropolitan University, Associate Member of the Royal College of Medicine, and Child Psychotherapist".(end quote).http://www.margotsunderland.org

I read her book Science of Parenting and she notes two forms of tantrums.

First, Distress Tantrums; The type with tears and obvious distress are literally felt like pain, and the brain and body go through stress of pain, these need love and understanding, closeness and tenderness, as the child does not yet have the development to deal with the strong emotions so needs help by a loving caretaker to calm down. She cannot do it herself and her body goes through distress and elevated cortisol levels.

Where as the "Little Nero" tantrums involves no tears or crying, more so the child shows control of self. Envision standing in front of you, crossed arms, stomping the foot, staring straight at you. This child has gained enough development in the brain to begin to control emotions and rationalize. Little Nero tantrums occur begin to occur after the age of five. These are the ones it is safe to walk away from.

So toddlers tantrums, where obviously your child is distressed and in pain, crying, move close.
If an older child is having a controlled tantrum, a Little Nero, move away.

Scroll halfway down the following link for more info on the two types of tantrums:

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