Mothering Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

· Registered
515 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tantrums! They can be soooooooo ugly!! what to do...........

Now that dd is almost 21 months, she's taken her tantrums to another level. Whereas before she would just turn red and scream, she now will throw herself on the ground and yowl like a banshee. The tantrums also seem to last longer. Her attentions span is longer, I guess! I usually try to figure out what the tantrum is about, i.e., is she throwing a fit b/c I said she can't have a popscicle, or is she crying because she's frustrated with something, like she's tired or hungry. My way of dealing with it is to softly and calmly talk her through it. Whereas this tactic seems lovely in writing, in real life it doesn't seem to work. For example, at the grocery store, she wanted to try no less than five items in the store. After allowing her to try a couple of items and removing the rest, she totally started "sqwauking"....these are short screams followed by periods of short silence where the tears run down her face! The whole time, I kept talking to her very softly, but seriously, telling her that we have to pay for the items, that she can have them later, etc, etc. Finally, I simply looked at her and very firmly said "stop it." I will not talk to you when you are like this. She was stunned into silence I think. Then, she cried real earnest tears, we hugged, and she stopped. This is just one example.

When she has her mind set on something, any indication from me that she can't have it throws her into a hissy fit. At times like this, I feel like just ignoring her. But, when I do that, I feel that her yelling gets louder. sometimes she'll let me hug her and comfort her. Other times she'll try to hit me. I do not tolerate the hitting at all and always tell her "that hurt's mommy" in a very serious voice. After doing all of these machinations, however, I am mentally exhausted. Sometimes, I think, maybe I should just let her throw herself on the floor and scream it out while I go to another room. I certainly don't want to encourage that ugly behavior, no matter where it's coming from. I know a lot of the behavior is normal and I don't stress over the small fits she has. On the other hand, I feel that maybe I should give them more consideration, so she doesn't feel that she has to throw big fits to get my attention.

I guess my question is, how do you handle the various tantrums that your kids have, particularly in the toddler stage??? What are your favorite and, least favorite, coping mechanisms and strategies??? I'd love to hear everyone else's perspective on their kids' tantrums.


· Registered
98 Posts
I have 4 kids 7,5,2,9mo.
My eldest was a professional tantrum thrower.
She would do the kickin screamin throwin tantrum.
No matter what I said even softly speaking or yelling worked.
Finally what worked for us was I would look her in the eyes tell her what I expected and then I would put her in her room until she calmed down. Sometimes I stayed there with her and sometimes I would go in the hall. Sometimes me being in there just aggrivated her more.
That works well at home. I know if I kept trying to talk to her over and over just made the tantrums worse. For example maybe she was mad about wanting to watch more tv.
She'd start fussing kicking screaming.
I would gently hold her have her look at me and say. We are not watching anymore tv tonight. When you calm down we can read a book. If she kept screaming. She would go to her room.
Usually only for a few minutes and out she'd come with a book.
When we're out we'd go to the car and let her calm down there.

Different things work with different kids. Good luck!

· Registered
1,634 Posts
a great book that helped us with the tantrums is Raising Your Spirited Child.

what worked best for us and I got this from the book is to look to the causes (or patterns) of the tantrums and try to avoid the situations in which they happen.
for us low blood sugar is a huge trigger.
also my dd is one who although during the tantrum is screaming for mom, doesn't really want me hugging or touching her, I need to just stand in sight and sometimes talk quietly. I don't know if it's ugly behavior but if dd has to lay on the floor and kick and scream, I remind her that it's ok as long as she's safe.

also I never give in when the tantrums are over objects-like while shopping, we just leave-even if I have to leave and come back for a whole cart of stuff.

good luck, it does improve as they get older.

· Registered
16,471 Posts
I second the Spirited Child book!

Just keep in mind that if you try to comfort and she's not letting you, just tell her you are sorry she's feeling angry/sad/whatever and then ignore it. She will cry louder at first, esp. if the tantrum is over something she can't have, but then just tell her calmly she can't have that becuase it will hurt her or get broken or whatever and be firm. The less attention you pay to tantrums the less intense they will probably get over time.

For dd's tantrums (and she's a spirited one!) I:

1) Try to comfort, hug, show emphathy, and distract. If she pushes me away I

2) talk to her, give her words for her feelings. If she continues to cry I

3) stay in the room but ignore the crying. If she cries for an extended period of time (more than 5 mins) I

4) try 1-3 again, then ask her to to go to her room until she's ready to stop crying. If she won't go I carry her. Normally she'll either stop crying on the way to her room, or shortly after getting there.

5) Then I go on as if nothing happened. Offer her water or a new toy or whatever. Later we can talk about it (Sorry you can't have cookies right now, until you finish your lunch first. Sorry you can't have Mommy's scissors because they will cut your finger and it will hurt. Sorry you couldn't put that puzzle together. Next time ask Mommy to help you, okay?)

I would not put her in her room if she were not as spirited as she was. I hate doing it, but she gets soooo out of control at that point, and I'm pg and it raises my blood pressure more than normal to have her screaming for long minutes, beyond what should be reasonable. Half the time she finds something in her room that she wants to play with and stops the crying.

Hitting is never, ever tolerated in our house. If she does it she immediately gets put in time-out. Your dd is probably too young for time-out but what you can do is tell her it hurt, and then walk away for a minute.

I *always* give her a hug afterwards and even will rock her if she's still sniffling. But I don't reward tantrums. I don't want to encourage that behavior and giving in sometimes to the tantrum in an effort to stop it only teaches her to cry harder next time.

Best is to try to prevent the tantrum in the first place if at all possible. The Spirited Child book will help you with some strategies. I was reading a different book last night and it calls the 2's "the first puberty" because they are getting their sense of autonomy. I like that description, of puberty, but it makes me dread the 2nd puberty in 10 years or so!!! Won't even think of it yet! lol!


edited to add that I can tell my dd's about to have one when she starts bouncing off the walls, really hysterically happy and not listening. Then she crashes into a tantrum real fast if I don't do some kind of calming thing with her like give her the spray bottle and a towel to wash windows, or have her help me prepare some food. But not always. Sometimes she just gets frustrated.

· Registered
793 Posts
when my daughter, now 16, was 4...she wanted something in a store and I told her "no, you may not have that toy." Something like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and I tried to help her find a toy I felt comfortable with. (I hate those turtle things..!) anyway, that did not work. She thru herself on the floor and proceeded to scream and kick and howl. I stood shocked for a moment..then I layed down on floor and proceded to do the same thing.

I think I shocked her. She quit her tantrum immediately while I continued to howl. Mind you, I was 30 at the time! and she said "stop, mommy. you are embarrassing me." I stopped and we started laughing. She never thru another tantrum.

I guess because of her age, it was effective. We both still laugh at it from time to time.

· Registered
38 Posts
I think its important to acknowledge your child's feelings of anger etc., but at the same time, I think its important not to "give in". Don't give them what they are throwing the tantrum my experience, that only gives them reinforcement for their behavior. (if I scream this loud, mommy will give me the candy bar)

I hope that you find something that works for your child.

This to shall pass!

· Registered
1,148 Posts
There was a great article in Mothering about tantrums. It appeared just as my ds was having his first tantrums - I think he was about the same age as your dd. She says to let the tantrum happen, let them release that negative energy. This worked wonders for my son. He didn't throw huge ones but the more I tried to avoid the tantrum - by distracting, soothing, ignoring, etc. - the more frustrated he got. He wanted to have the tantrum and was just looking for something to push him over the edge so he could get the release. So I would pull him into my lap and say, "Do you want to cry?" he'd nod his head and then cry. Actually with him he didn't even cry much. I think it was enough that I recognised that he was feeling sad/mad/whatever.

Doesn't seem to work now that he's 3.5. I'll have to go back and read the article again!
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.