18-month-old & Tantrums (complete with foot stamping!) - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-25-2009, 02:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 18-month-old has recently been throwing huge fits quite often, which involve VIOLENT screaming, like he wants to hurt someone, and jumping up and down/stamping his little feet. He also cries so hard that he holds his breath and turns a little purple. This is over things like me telling him he needs to stay out of the snack cabinet (he is forever pulling out boxes of Annie's bunnies or whatever is in there--I need to move the snacks to a higher cabinet, I know) or unknowingly giving him milk when he wants water. He barely talks at all yet, so I think some of this is coming from me not knowing exactly what he wants some of the time. He just gets SO upset, and it takes forever to calm him down, and it's always over tiny things that can be easily resolved. It just seems like once he's in tantrum mode, even the thing he wants doesn't stop the fit.

Any suggestions for dealing with this? I've tried ignoring it, which seems to make it worse, and being stern with him, which results in him laying on my shoulder sniffling for half an hour with me feeling like the worst mother alive. How do you respond when a young toddler has a full-on angry, screaming, stamping tantrum?
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Old 01-25-2009, 02:25 AM
 
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With my guy, I just stay near and calm and reflect what I am seeing. "Wow, you seem really frustrated. Your eyes are filled with tears and you are stomping your feet. It's OK to feel upset, you will be OK. Sometimes it helps to take a deep breath." Model breathing. Once he calls a bit I try and show him what might help him meet his need, like "You really wanted some little bunnies. Sometimes it helps to open the flap, or ...point to the bunnies to show mama what you want... or whatever." Me staying calm and talking calmly about what's going on often helps him resolve the tantrum.
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Old 02-01-2009, 01:04 PM
 
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What PP said was really good. I also just let my LO know that I'm right here when you want a hug. Try to notice when the tantrums occur. DD it's really only when she's exhausted. And sometimes that's the first sign so there's no way to prevent it. Yesterday she had the worst tantrum ever I finally did pick her up because I was afraid she was going to hurt herself. We then took her to the bedroom and my DH started praying over her (we're Catholic, might sound strange but by the third Hail Mary she was totally calm and we were too). I think learning your own calming strategies will help you cope and that will help your LO cope.
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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Do you sign at all? Around that age I talked a lot about emotions and showed him the signs for them. I (still) tell DS during a tantrum "Wow! You're really angry!!"

What seemed to help DS most was just learning about the emotions: happy, sad, frustrated, angry, excited, surprised, tired. He needed to know that everyone feels strong emotion -- he wasn't alone. I would tell him when I was happy, sad, etc. to give him a model of how others handle strong emotions.

We also sang "If you're happy and you know it" a LOT!!! We had lots of differrent verses: If you're sad and you know it shed a tear. If you're angry and you know it stomp your feet. If you're tired and you know it take a nap. If you're surprised and you know it say "Oh, My!" etc.

Also, what helped me was the idea that all emotions -- even strong ones -- are acceptable. Not all behaviours are. So if he was mad, and stomped his feet instead of hitting and kicking me, for us, that was a good deal. I would tell him "We don't hit/kick/scream, but it's OK to be really angry"

HTH!

Learning & growing & changing everyday!
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by julianito View Post
With my guy, I just stay near and calm and reflect what I am seeing. "Wow, you seem really frustrated. Your eyes are filled with tears and you are stomping your feet. It's OK to feel upset, you will be OK. Sometimes it helps to take a deep breath." Model breathing. Once he calls a bit I try and show him what might help him meet his need, like "You really wanted some little bunnies. Sometimes it helps to open the flap, or ...point to the bunnies to show mama what you want... or whatever." Me staying calm and talking calmly about what's going on often helps him resolve the tantrum.
(bolding is mine) this is excellent advice. your DS has very strong feelings and needs to be able to express them. he'll learn better ways with time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by flower01 View Post
I also just let my LO know that I'm right here when you want a hug. Try to notice when the tantrums occur. DD it's really only when she's exhausted. And sometimes that's the first sign so there's no way to prevent it.
I think learning your own calming strategies will help you cope and that will help your LO cope.
(bolding is mine) yep

and just so you know, my DD has been signing since she was 8mo, and by the time she was 16mo she had more than 75 words, and more than 100 signs, and she still has these kind of tantrums.
i'm not saying that signing/talking wont help you DS, but i'm convinced that people this little can't be expected to deal with such strong emotions without letting off some steam. regardless of how small the issue seems to us (once DD had a 20 minute meltdown because she could not fit a ball inside a too-small cup! and once it was because she couldn't wear underwear as a shirt!) they are major issues at the time for the LOs, and they may just need to get those big feeling out of themselves before they move on.

it is very upsetting to watch, and sometimes it's all i can do to keep from picking DD up and snuggling her, even though i know that will make it worse for her

good luck, mama. i know it's hard
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