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15 month old and major tantrums, all the time. WTD?

17216 Views 21 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  cjr
I'm at a loss. My 15mo ds has several tantrums a day. I mean full blown on the floor screaming and kicking tantrums. It started at around 11 months and has just escalated. I know it's mostly communication. He's frustrated and get so mad when he can't do or have something.

We have basically been ignoring him until they are over, we don't say anything about the tantrum and go about like normal. When the tantrum is over I give him words for whatever he is freaking out about and either give him what he needs/wants or trade him, depending on whether it's something being taken away or something he wants. I thought it was supposed to get better when you ignored the negative behavior, but it's not.

This morning he wanted a piece of my pear. He turned to me and raised his arms and pointed to the pear and before I could even get the piece to him he freaked out and tantrumed. I mean it all happened in a split second. Then he stopped and stood up and did it again. He did it 3 times before I was able to get a piece of pear to him. When he finally calmed down I just said to him "please" and handed it to him.

We went out for dinner last night and he wanted to walk around the restaurant. Dh took him for a stoll and then it was time to sit down. He screamed and screamed and had a fit on my lap. He finally stopped when the girls dinners arrived and we bribed him with fries. Then he needed to be changed and screamed bloody murder the whole time. I was so embaraced by his behavior. Dh's mom said he was spoiled, but I don't see how he can be. We honestly do not give in to his negative behavior at all. We don't give him what he wants just to please him. We also don't spank him or slap his hands.

I am at my whits end. He is so different from the girls. The girls had very good communication skills at his age and temper tantrums were never an issue. It's so frustrating to try to deal with and it really grates on me after about the 6th tantrum in one day. Especially when we are trying to get him dressed, or at a diaper change, or when dh leaves the room, or when he wants something but doesn't give us a chance to get it for him, or when the girls are sitting in his chair, or when he's hungry but doesn't want to eat, or when we are trying to get his coat/shoes on, or when we are putting him in his carseat, and so on. He was never like this. He has always been so happy and playful. I just don't know how to handle this so it gets better.
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Hi there. We just went through this phase with my DS and it's getting a TON better.
His tantrums were not as bad as your DS, but there was still quite a rough patch.

Now that I'm on the other end of this phase, my advice is to do nothing different at all.
I know it's hard and you doubt yourself etc. and people are critical, but it really is just a phase ... your DS is incredibly frustrated by limitations right now (some of them physical, some of them situational, etc.) but he will start to catch on to parameters.

IMO at that age they are too young to have tantrums specifically to get something. I think it's just uncontrollable emotions. JMHO though.

You will learn what sets him off and will be able to avoid SOME situations that are just too stressful for the little guys right now.

HTH. Your DH's mother has no idea what she's talking about. All people believe their children didn't throw tantrums when they were this age, and all children do, and all MIL's think you spoil your kids. It's just a fact of life I guess.
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DS will be 15 months next week and has what I call "mini-tantrums" -- they don't escalate to the lying on the floor flailing around, though I'm sure they would if I ignored them. What I do when he starts is get my face level with his and give him the words for his feelings right then. If he has already sunk to the floor I pick him up and hold him so that I can talk to him. In your pear example I might say something like "You wanted the pear and you didn't think mama was getting it for you. That was really disappointing." Maybe that's too wordy for some toddlers but he understands a lot and he almost always calms down. I would probably also hand him the pear as I'm talking if I was going to give it to him anyway. I don't feel that his mini-tantrums are "misbehavior" or an attempt to manipulate -- they are just pure frustration -- so I don't see any harm in giving him what he's asking for if I know what it is and it's something he can have. Once he's calm I might add something like "Sometimes mama doesn't know what you want right away -- try to be more patient if you can." If it's something that I can't give him it will sometimes go on longer though it doesn't escalate into a full out tantrum as long as I stay connected with him trying to express his feelings. Sometimes he does need to cry for a while if something has truly upset him and then he will reject attempts to hug or move on, but I just stay there with him trying to give him words and empathizing with his feelings. I don't know about other toddlers, but I'm sure with my DS that ignoring him would be a disaster.
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I don't have a lot of tantrum advice for you. What I did with my kids during tantrums is stand by and offer hugs and cuddles if they want (they usually didn't during the tantrum) and then just wait for them to be done. They usually were/are ready for cuddles the moment the tantrum is done and then we talk about what happened. I think things will get better as soon as he is better able to communicate. The part of your post that really interested me was the part about your mother in law saying he was spoiled. For me, try as I might, I still look for validation and take seriously comments from the people I love and respect even if they have a completely different set of values and beliefs. I empathize with you on being embarrassed in public because I hate thinking that other people are thinking bad things about my parenting skills if the kids are misbehaving. Do you think that the tantrums are bothering you more because you think that if you were a great parent they wouldn't happen? I must admit that I have gone through this thought process myself, that if I was such a good parent then my kids would be perfect and not have tantrums to begin with. Anyway, I'm kind of blathering here but I just want to point out that tantrum phases are difficult, they happen to all types of kids and they are temporary. I swear that some grandparents must forget what it was like to have small children around and see that time in their lives through rose-coloured glasses.
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Thank you all. He so does not want to be touched or talked to during the tantrum. It gets worst if I even attempt to approach him. He is ready for cuddles when they are over though. I don't believe that he's having a tantrum to get something, however I don't want it to turn into that later on. That's why I'm at such a loss as to how to deal with it.

I feel like I'm a better parent now then when my girls were babies/toddlers. I look at different stages with a better view. I am able to handle situations in a more positive manner. I think I'm embaraced by his behavior because it does reflect on me as his primary caregiver. "Why can't see control that baby, we're trying to enjoy our dinner", is what I get from the looks. I didn't even want to take him, but it was dh's dad's b-day and he was treating and wanted to see all 3 of his grandkids.

Seriously, the girls have never had a temper tantrum ever. DD#1 was already talking in sentences at 15months. We kind of laugh and say she went from being and infant to being a pre-schooler. DD#2 had a good strong vocabulary at 15 months and could communicate her needs to us very well. DS has not found his words. He can say a few key words, but can't find them until it's too late and frustration has already set in. It breaks my heart to see him so angry. He's such a happy baby. He's so loving too. He is always dishing out big open mouthed kisses, and giving hugs and cuddles just because.

I have been trying so hard to catch it before it happens. Chase him around a little and get him laughing before I change his diaper. Give him a job to keep his mind of his troubles, which buys me time to get what I know he wants/needs.

I am starting to babysit a 2 1/2yo. He's over now. I'm hoping that if he has a little buddy to hang out with and learn from, then he will be buisy enough to allow me to get to his needs before he explodes.
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Yes, he is teething. However, the tantrums are based around very specific situations. Usually when his teeth are bothering him he's just generally cranky.
my ds has just recently started doing this too (kicking the floor and blood curling screaming type tantrums) I think it's frustration mainly as he doesn't talk much as well as learning he can't always get his way. I try to comfort and talk to him during them, otherwise I don't make a big deal about it. thankfully he is one to get over things quickly.
My daughter had terrible tantrums at that age, and constantly. She was scary. A pediatrics nurse told me to keep track of her tantrums because she thought they were seizures -- that's how bad they were. They weren't seizures though, they were just tantrums.

There isn't much you can do IMO. All you can do is wait it out. The better he can express himself and let you know what he wants and what he's feeling, the fewer tantrums he'll get, so keep talking to him about his feelings so he learns how to express what's bothering him and how bothered in a better way.

Big hugs to you! I know how hard it is to be the mom of *that child* in playgroup. It's just something they have to grow out of though. My daughter doesn't have many tantrums anymore, though she's still *that child* LOL. She's the one who gets the most angry, but she's also the one who gets the happiest and most excited, so I guess it evens out
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My son is just over 11 months, he's been having tantrums on a daily-weekly basis for a few months now (sigh). I was stunned when they started, because he is generally so happy and he was so young. A few things I've experienced:

* When he's on pain from teething, his tantrums are worse- and they seem to come in clusters. I didn't figure this out for about a month- when a tooth popped up. I felt so bad. Even though his tanrums are about specific things (the kitty left the room, etc), he reacts better when he feels better. So, whenever he is overreacting to a situation I put hyland's gel on his gums afterward or give him a good teething food/object- whichever is more appropriate.

*We're working on a few ASL signs, I've heard this can help, if the problem is communication.

*Sometimes, I do give him what he wants, just to please him. I try not to engage in struggles with him, to a reasonable extent.

good luck! I hope to read about your son's tantrums ending soon, so that I'll know my days are numbered
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I have a 15m old... she started mini-tantrums at 6m, which included throwing herself to the floor. She does tantrums whenever she really wants something and doesn't get her way.

I talked to a supposed developmental expert at my dr's office a few months ago... when she asked how I responded to tantrums, I said it depends. She said I always should ignore them. I said, well if she is tantruming, and in the process hurts herself, I'm going to comfort her. The dweeb said I should ignore it even in that case. Uh, yeah, child hurt b/c she whacked her head as she was tantruming and I'm going to ignore the fact that my child is now crying b/c she is hurt.

Anyway, my point is, I really do think how you respond does depend. I find if I just 'ignore'.... she only keeps tantruming. Why?? B/c tantruming IS a form of communication and she keeps communicating until she thinks she has gotten my attention. If I go to her, and comfort her and then explain to her why she can't have something and then tell her later (whatever), and THEN let her have her reaction... things go MUCH better. If she then continues to tantrum for an extended period, I usually pick her up, comfort her, and then she get's over it. SHe just needs to know that people understand her.

Anyway, at this stage, none of her tantrums are b/c she is trying to get her way, they are all b/c she is upset she isn't getting her way, and she isn't old enough to express it in a better form. When tantruming, also start labeling the feelings. Oh, you are upset, I understand that... that way they have words to put to the emotions.

Anyway, sometimes, I just completely ignore them if it is something that is NOT negociable... such as, yes your diaper MUST go on. We are putting it on now... and then ignore they wailing, throwing herself, and blood curdling yells. ;-)

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My almost 20 month old dd has just started tantruming within the last few weeks. I know it is connected to the world around her-I just had knee surgery and can't walk,so she is not getting the attention and activity she is used to.

The biggest trigger for her seems to be diaper changes. She can be dripping out of her dipe, with poo smeared all over, and telling me she is poopy, but try to change her and it's like stabbing her with knives. Normally I would just let her go naked, but because I can't walk, I also can't try to catch her when she needs to go and get her to the potty. My poor carpets can only take so much :LOL Right now I KNOW her diaper is wet, and my obsessive compulsive cd'er persona is crying, as I have never left her in a wet diaper for any longer than I can help it, but I just can't deal with another tantrum right this very minute.

She is pretty verbal, so when she is tantruming, she will tell me "no" or "owie" when I try to touch her. Sigh.

This too shall pass, right?
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I try to find inner sympathy for the child, even when there have been several that day and what I really want to do is run away!

I agree that ignoring sends the wrong message. Some kids don't want to be touched during their tantrum, and I'd just sit by and let him/her know that I'm here when she's ready for a hug. I also feel like during the tantrum the child isn't really able to hear you much, or learn anything, so I try to keep talking to a minimum, focussing more on keeping a calm and sympathetic tone of voice more than anything. After they are calm is when I start labelling emotions.

Taking kids that age to a restaurant is asking for trouble. I realize it was a special occasion. And it's so hard when you are in public. But you must ignore that. Controlling parents aren't "good" parents, despite what we all feel when we're out in public and our child loses it. Until this phase passes, I'd stick to takeout. We've been in and out of "restaurants are doable" phases with our DD and now with DS. It's better for everybody, IMO. Especially mama!

Importantly, try not to look at tantrums as bad, or something undesirable, or something to "stop". They are normal expressions of emotions. Boys tend to be behind girls in certain aspects of development, so his being less verbal rings true. And my little fellow seems very sensitive already. I have a feeling he'll be a tantrum-er at that age, too. But it's all part of his wonderful personality and I will just ride it through (at times wanting to pull out my hair, I'm certain) and not try to change anything.
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DD is 16 mo and very strong-willed however what has helped is a) signing, signing signing (tho she is very verbal too) and b) homeopathy and flower remedies especially Chamomilla, Pulsatilla on the homeopathics and Holly, Cherry Plum and Chamomile flower remedies.
I agree signing is a great idea. My ds is much happier since he learned some signs. We just made up our own. Some wouldn't go over well in a restaurant though...we taught him to bang on the table when he wants more food. It works well.
I'll echo signing too, it doesn't hurt, but doesn't necessarily cut down the tantrums. If your child is tantruming b/c they are frustrated and can't get their point across, it does wonder. If the child is like mine (a couple posts above), where the tantruming is simply b/c she isn't getting what she wants, then it doesn't help. Of course, my 15m old uses it to sign that she wants cheese. Cheese please. Eat. Cheese please. REally!!!! Cheese, cheese, cheese. She only signs that conversation about a 100 times a day. I think she is a tantruming mouse, with the vocal chords of a lion. ;-)

I'm really, really pro-signing, but I do recognize it doesn't necessarily mean it will stop tantrums.

I am trying the signing thing. However, he's not into it. We have been trying for a couple of months now. I even took out some books from the library last weekend.

He was great all afternoon, but our little friend was here and he was having a blast. However, at dinner he had a complete meltdown. Throwing food all over the place because I took the bowl away. He was throwing the bowl with food on the floor. After the 4th time I put it on the counter and he lost it. He threw his dinner at me, was hitting at me and screaming. I took him out of his chair and took him to the couch where he immediately snuggled into me and stayed there for 10min. I figured dinner was a lost cause at that point so he's walking around with some spelt crackers and a bottle of goats milk.

Each child should come with their own manual.
nicely handled

at 15 months we weren't letting dd have her own food. she ate off our plates (we fed her bites) while she played. never had food playing issues.
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Our ds's sound so much alike. My ds is 2 and still doesn't have very many words. I tried to teach him sign language but he was just not at all interested in learning, so we don't have that to help out. Usually what I do when he is having a tantrum is just sit nearby and tell him I am there for him when he is ready and wait it out. Once he gets going there is no stopping him...he doesn't want to be talked to or touched. Trying to pick him up makes it even worse. I've got no real advice, just lots of sympathy.

Originally Posted by quaz
I'm really, really pro-signing, but I do recognize it doesn't necessarily mean it will stop tantrums.
Definitely true! I am sure a lot of it is temperament. I forgot to add what else I do with DD (who is very emotional) is try to verbalize her emotion (like I know you are mad because you want the kitchen knife, icecream, go outside) or sad or tired (as best I can) or we really need to change your poopy diaper but I know your MAD and want to get DOWN. Seems to really help sometimes, other times I think she just needs to vent. Anyhow just wanted to suggest it. DD has had tantrums from early on and is really doing so much better now. (For now..!!)
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