13 month old throwing tantrums - please help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 09-16-2004, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
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I really could use some advice!

My 13 month old DD has started throwing tantrums when she doesn't get something that she wants, and I'm really at a loss as to how I should react.

As an example, the other day, she was playing in the back yard. I needed to come in the house to start dinner, which meant that DD had to come inside too. I held her hand and we walked to the door. As soon as I opened the door to go inside, she realized that we were going in the house and she started crying. I told her that it was time to go in, and I tried to help her step up into the house. She kept crying and let her legs go slack so that she fell onto the floor. She stiffened up and arched her back and threw her head back so that it was difficult to pick her up, and then once I picked her up, she started kicking her legs. I calmly explained to her that it was time to make dinner and that we could play outside or go for a walk later on, but that mommy had things to do right now. I took her to the kitchen and gave her a cracker, and she was upset for a few minutes, but then she calmed down.

That was pretty extreme, but I feel that it went ok. Something that happens on a more regular basis is that she starts yelling if she doesn't get her way. For example, if she sees me latching the baby gate so that she can't climb up the stairs, or if she's playing with something that she's not supposed to have and I take it away. If she gets something that she's not supposed to have, I usually ask her what she has, and then I tell her to "show mommy", and most of the time, she'll hand it over to me and I tell her thank you (of course, sometimes she gets smart and runs away from me :LOL).

How should I react to stuff like this? I really really want to be gentle and consistent, but I feel totally at a loss here. If I'm in the kitchen and she points to the crackers on the table and screams, I realize that she's telling me in her nonverbal way that she wants a cracker. So if I give her a cracker when she screams for one, am I encouraging the screaming? I'm so confused, mamas! Please help!
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#2 of 12 Old 09-16-2004, 05:25 PM
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Maybe she needs more sleep???
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#3 of 12 Old 09-16-2004, 05:34 PM
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I think it's a "newly toddler" thing ... My DD is doing it now too *lol*
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#4 of 12 Old 09-16-2004, 08:11 PM
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I can't take credit for this, but I can share....my DP (who stays home with DS, 17 months, more than I do) started saying to him, "if you're frustrated with that toy/object, etc, please give it to mommy.(this is the tantrum of the object isn't doing what I want it to do).

Other times, like the "I didn't want to come inside" example that you gave and with which I am very familiar, I usually hold him through his upset. I once read in a Dr. Sears book about the notion of "time in" (a sling) instead of time out. So sometimes when DS is doing tantrums I will put him in the sling so he can be close and get loving and nursing.

I too struggle with the "if he screams, and I give him what he wants, am I promoting screaming?" question. One thing that cuts down on the screaming for things he wants is that we have taught him signs. So he knows the sign for please, so I will often ask him to sign please for whatever he wants and he usually does this.

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#5 of 12 Old 09-16-2004, 10:54 PM
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I agree it's a newly toddling thing for some kids. As they start becoming more mobile and aware of their surroundings they can get their first real sense of "Hey I really want to do this and she isn't going to let me....Wahhhhhhhh!" They have no clue of how else to say that to you but to wail and flop around lol. I think that if you continue to calmly say what they are feeling and what is happening (I see you are angry. The stairs are not safe.) they will develop the verbal skills they need. Some days melt downs just happen. Ignoring some of that and offering comfort for the sad times when they will take it is what we did.

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#6 of 12 Old 09-17-2004, 01:24 AM
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Before reading your thread, just seeing your title, I thought, "Oh, she's getting the back arch." It's soooo developmental and I think you're handling it fine. Both of mine did it too (and I know lots of other mothers with the same experiences) and I just tried to make them as safe as possible and find ways to say yes as well. Obviously some things can't be negotiated--for dinner prep I learned to bring their tot table into the kitchen with playdoh or whatever and let them play along with me. When they could stand reliably on a chair next to me, I gave them little snackies so they could watch while I prepped. Now ds likes to help prep (he's five). I saw a decrease in this particular type of tantrum at around 18 months for both my kids...then other kinds took over.
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#7 of 12 Old 09-17-2004, 03:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LiamnEmma
Before reading your thread, just seeing your title, I thought, "Oh, she's getting the back arch."

Of course, now she's sound asleep and she looks so peaceful and sweet. If you saw her right now, you'd never believe that she was capable of the back arch. :LOL

I really think signing probably sounds like the way to go, since I'm sure that a lot of the frustration is because she's not able to really communicate. When she does scream, I try to repeat words to her so that she gets a better grasp of them, but she's really nowhere near being verbal.
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#8 of 12 Old 09-17-2004, 09:46 AM
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When I can, I try to anticipate what might cause a tantrum and use distraction to keep it from ever getting started. Like if I had to take dd inside and I thought she'd be unhappy about it, instead of just saying, "It's time to go in," I might say, "Hey, let's go get a cracker." Or I might pick her up and start a silly game on the way to the door, like jumping with her in my arms, or holding her upside down, so she was having too much fun to care that we were going inside.

And I'm not sure if this is the best approach, but if she does start to get really upset about something, I'll often just "give in" and make her happy again. Not if it's dangerous, of course - I wouldn't give a sharp object back to her just because she cried when I took it. But sometimes the thing I'm trying to make her do really just isn't that important. Like if I want to go in and fix dinner, or get in the car and go somewhere, it often doesn't really matter if we wait five or ten minutes to do it instead of doing it right that minute. And if I wait a few minutes until she's not completely absorbed in what she's doing, or until I can think of a way to make her go with me happily, she'll often be perfectly willing to do the thing she was throwing a fit over. Sometimes it feels wrong to "give in" and let her control whether we go into the house or whatever, but mostly it feels wrong to me to ignore her feelings when she's obviously very unhappy. Sometimes it just isn't possible to give her what she wants, but when it is possible, and not a major inconvenience, why shouldn't I do it? I hope that by paying attention to her feelings and wants I'm teaching her to eventually have the same consideration for other people.
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#9 of 12 Old 09-17-2004, 01:16 PM
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I have only one tip to add (my ds is 12mo., so I'm dealing with this as well).
Unless he has something extremely dangerous, I'll usually find something even more appealing, and ask him if we can "trade". It takes a little slight of hand, but I can usually get him to be content with the "new" object fairly easily, and avoid the fit.
The screaming for food thing ended a few weeks ago when he learned the word "Yum".
Actually, that word has cut down on a lot of his frustrations, considering the fact that he uses it for such a variety of meanings.
When a situation arises where a tantrum is unavoidable, I'll usually lay him down on the floor (holding his head so he doesn't whack it mid-back-arch...lol...) and sit with him thru it, and tell him I know he's mad, and I love him, etc. The fits have gotten shorter and shorter since I started doing that....down to about 3 seconds.
Now I'm wondering about those "other kinds taking over"...uh-oh!
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#10 of 12 Old 09-17-2004, 01:44 PM
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Great thread, wonderful advice! Thank you ladies!
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#11 of 12 Old 09-17-2004, 02:06 PM
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i admittedly have no clue how to GD in practical/everyday terms and i dont know if this is the wrong approach but lately with her tantrums i've been feeling she needs to reconnect--so what i'm trying is saying "i know you are upset abt xyx, do you need to huug mama?" and *mid-cry/tantrum/scream* she'll stop and melt into me and we hug and she is calm and then at that point i can distract/redirect

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#12 of 12 Old 09-17-2004, 02:29 PM
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My little "angel" had her first tantrum at the hair salon 2 days ago...she was playing with all the hair products on the shelf, taking them out and putting them back...the lady who owns the place said it was ok...but there was one I had to put up high...

well she threw herself on the ground in major hysterics...I was shocked as it was her first one, her big sister was getting her hair cut and thought she was seriously injured...I patted her back, explained how I understood but that one was not for her but she could have another...she stopped, got up and I hugged her and she went back to playing....

Then when we left I put her in the truck and the infamous "back arch" she has never objected to the carseat...she wasn't tired, didn't want food...just having a bad day I guess..

It's all age appropriate...

I have found that a lot of the tantrums occur with transitions...leaving something, putting something away...giving lots of warning helps some, making sure there is something interesting to go to etc. etc. But nothing is 100%....

I think my goal is minimize the # of tantrums when I can and when they occur anyway help her through them.

Good luck
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