How do you respond to a "tantrum" in a 2 year old? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 07:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm curious to hear some ideas, theories, and experiences of how other parents respond to a tantrum in 2 year old. My first child didn't really tantrum in the very typical sense. My second is now 2 and occasionally she will just kind of cry and feel very upset and is a bit irrational = typical "tantrum". These are rare and we will obviously be working on prevention but I am curious to hear how other parents respond when their young ones tantrum in this way. 

 

I don't think my DC wants to be touched and she isn't receptive to verbal communication AND she doesn't really seem to want to be cajoled out of it anyway.  So, that leaves me kind of piddling around her, occasionally telling her that I'm here for her if she needs me. 

 

There's something about that, however, that can feel a bit uncaring. Has anyone else felt this way? I mean, I absolutely do not think that rising to her level of stress is a good idea but it feels kind of mean for me to be all cool and calm while she's freaking out, yk?  

 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

 

TIA...


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#2 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 07:21 AM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

I'm curious to hear some ideas, theories, and experiences of how other parents respond to a tantrum in 2 year old. My first child didn't really tantrum in the very typical sense. My second is now 2 and occasionally she will just kind of cry and feel very upset and is a bit irrational = typical "tantrum". These are rare and we will obviously be working on prevention but I am curious to hear how other parents respond when their young ones tantrum in this way. 

 

I don't think my DC wants to be touched and she isn't receptive to verbal communication AND she doesn't really seem to want to be cajoled out of it anyway.  So, that leaves me kind of piddling around her, occasionally telling her that I'm here for her if she needs me. 

 

There's something about that, however, that can feel a bit uncaring. Has anyone else felt this way? I mean, I absolutely do not think that rising to her level of stress is a good idea but it feels kind of mean for me to be all cool and calm while she's freaking out, yk?  

 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

 

TIA...

Under the circumstances, I think giving her the space and time she needs is the most caring thing you can do.  I could be biased though because ds went through a phase where he needed to scream every now and then, and would usually do his screaming under the table because he did not want to be held, touched, talked to, or even looked at.  I usually stayed where he could see me, but on the other side of the room, and when he was done screaming he would usually come cuddle.  All evidence clearly indicated that he really did need to be left alone to work through whatever he was working through.  It's hard to not do anything when your child is obviously upset though.

 

eta:  He eventually outgrew that phase, thankfully.

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#3 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 07:30 AM
 
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It depends on the circumstances. If DS is having a meltdown because he's been overstimulated, I pick him up and move him to a quiet room and sit beside him until he is ready to be comforted (which doesn't tend to take long once he has been moved). If things just aren't going his way, I sit down beside him where he is. If he's overtired, I pick him up and sit down with him, at which point he screams he wants down, I ask him if he's tired, he says yes, he nurses, and then he's asleep in under 5 minutes. Typically, he doesn't want to really be bothered when he's having a meltdown (aside from when he's overtired), but he still needs to know I'm available when he needs me, so I sit quietly beside him. That tends to be enough.

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#4 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 07:36 AM
 
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You just described my 26 month old to a T! She doesn't tantrum often but when she does get upset, for a few minutes (which FEELS like an eternity) she wants nothing to do with me. Any attempt to communicate or console her only results in a deeper level of emotion if she's not ready. I do break down and cry with her from time to time (definitely not on purpose; I'm having mood issues with my current pregnancy) and it also only makes her more deeply upset so remaining calm is definitely preferable in our case. There are two things that kind of help us most of the time:

1) a "magic" phrase or small compromise in the first few seconds sometimes nips it in the bud. For instance if she's freaking out about having trouble putting on her shoes then I'll say "it's all right, K. Try again!" and often she'll settle down and try again and succeed; crisis averted. Another example; if she doesn't want to leave the park then in the first few seconds a small concession will help her feel more heard "ok, K one more quick slide then we're all done". Usually it helps enough.

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#5 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 07:40 AM
 
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I'm pretty chill about keeping it cool at this point.  My feeling is, I'll meet them at what I think is an appropriate emotional level.  Your favorite toy got lost in the rain?  Oh, sweetie, I'm sorry.  Hugs and kisses, and we'll see if we can find Lambie when it's dry, and put her through the dryer for you.  Your current preferred underpants are in the washing machine?  Bummer.  I'm gonna keep doing dishes.  You tripped on your socks and banged your knee? Have an icepack, and get your socks off the floor.  The cat looked at you funny and it's a crisis?  I think you need some cheese and crackers and some quiet time.

 

If I meet them at all on what we call the "Shirt Tag Tantrums" (i.e., my kid is crying because his shirt has a tag in it, and my kid doesn't have sensory issues), or the sudden outbreaks of Tragedy Disease, it's at "you need a snack and a rest." 

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#6 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 07:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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MeepyCat...

 

ROTFLMAO.gif

 

Yes, for a slightly older child (and for sure with my 11 year old) I really do think we are a wonderful mirror for how our kids respond to things. And, I don't think there is anything disrespectful about mirroring an appropriate level reaction to a situation. I'm not a huge fan of the adult/child comparisons but we mirror appropriate responses for the adults in our lives all the time. 

 

But, with a 2 year old, it feels a bit different. I guess maybe I just don't feel my toddler is quite "there yet" in terms of having the developmental skills of regulating her responses, yk?  I mean, yes, I do mirror still just how you described but once it gets to the tantrum stage, there isn't any mirroring that is going to help. 

 

Very much appreciate your response anyway...I needed a laugh this AM!  And everyone else - thanks so much. More later! 


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#7 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 08:26 AM
 
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ICM, I actually think mirroring appropriate reactions is important even at two.  Toddlers feel everything intently - there's no real difference in the emotional resonance for them between being denied another cookie and being bitten by a friend.  My staying chill is an important cue for them that something is maybe not so big a deal. 

 

I can't match intensity for a two year-old for very long.  It's exhausting, and it plays up my anxiety issues.  I can't function if I let myself get worked up that much.

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#8 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 09:34 AM
 
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I read about a study where they looked at videos of toddlers having tantrums and determined that the tantrum has a particular trajectory and if the parent can't head it off at the pass early before it really starts going, there isn't anything they can do in the mid-late phase except wait it out. So just waiting for them to simmer down, and making sure there's nothing for them to injure themselves on, seems like an okay approach to me. My daughter (2 next week) is a pretty chill kid and doesn't really have tantrums qua such, but when she starts having a ridiculous meltdown over something that wouldn't usually bother her that much, that is usually a cue that she's hungry or tired, maybe both, so we pursue one of those avenues. Ex. she might bonk her knee and look at me for a response, I say "Hey, it's okay" and she goes on playing. But if she bonks her knee and bursts into inconsolable tears, that probably means she's tired.  

 

I do agree with the idea of being able to mirror disappointment but also give perspective. 

 

I also have a cue of "Can you chill?" and often she'll say "Yes" if it's pretty early on in the meltdown cycle, and soothe herself a little. 


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#9 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 11:23 AM
 
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It depends on the child. If I can't head it off I let them feel their anger/frustration/disappointment without trying to stop it. Some kids want to be held and some want to sit in a comfortable area without a teacher. My DD used to have really bad tantrums and they turned a corner when I accepted that it was OK to feel emotions we often call negative, I didn't need to rescue her. I prevent and talk after but I don't feel the need to try to force a happy face from a grumpy child.
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#10 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 12:21 PM
 
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Last week I did the "sitting on the kitchen chair wait" for about 15mins bc my 19mo just lost it and was rolling on the floor.  Made sure there was nothing in the way for her to grab and throw, waited for her to calm down and offered a few times to give her the applesauce (which she'd asked for and I WAS already giving her when she suddenly wigged out!), or asked if she wanted to be picked up or wanted to nurse, but other than that I know better than to just pick her up bc she bites when she's mid-tantrum and we interrupt, so the floor works.  I don't love sitting there staring at her either, but my experience as a dog trainer has taught me to go with it and wait for the approppriate time to let her make the next move.  And even the offer to nurse is with an air of caution bc the only time she has bitten me nursing is when she's worked up and upset so I can't even allow her to start until she sufficiently calm.  DH didn't believe me that she could throw such a fit until he finally had the priviledge of seeing her do it, and finally got bit, and I think it became clear to him just why I don't pick her up at those times.  Thankfully it's not often although it does feel like it lasts a lifetime!  This last one she started to hyperventilate and turn blue at which point I did pick her up, and the screaming continued, until who knows why, but she snapped out of it, nursed for like 2.5mins and was out cold for a 10min power nap.  Very bizzare.  I was a calm toddler, she very much takes after DH.

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#11 of 11 Old 06-17-2013, 07:54 PM
 
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I generally sit on the floor next to DS when he's having a meltdown.  He just dropped his nap, and we typically have an afternoon slump where he is tired but can't sleep, and gets extremely sensitive...like the world came to a screeching halt because I moved a toy he was playing with three hours ago.  

 

He doesn't want to be comforted, or talked out of it.  For him, talking is usually the worst thing I could do - he just can't process my words and his emotions simultaneously.  Even saying, "I'm here when you're ready for a hug" will worsen the meltdown; he's likely to try to push or hit me or throw something.  Like you said, I feel uncaring if I just let him lie there while I putter around, so I just sit near him and keep myself calm.  When he pauses and looks at me, I silently hold out my arms, and he'll either come in for the hug or shake his head.  He always comes in for the hug eventually.

 

I like sitting nearby because my presence tells him that I'm not ignoring him, that I'm not scared away by his outburst, that I'll see him through it.




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