How to deal with toddler's behaviour

(8 Posts)
Ijustworemytrenchcoat Tue 19-May-15 21:00:46

He is 21 months. He is funny, engaging and affectionate. His language and physical skills are coming on in leaps and bounds. In the past few weeks I think he is understanding more and more of what I say for example if I say we are going out he brings me my shoes. He is also getting more and more confident when it comes to climbing and jumping.

But, his tantrums have gone to another level. I thought maybe with understanding more they would ease. Some examples are when He is sitting on my knee he just throws his head back, he doesn't even have to be upset. He has hurt me doing this and even though I hold my head back he still gets close. If I pick him up to stop him doing something he will just throw himself backwards over my arm and he is so hard to hold. If I try to lead him away from something or get him to walk when he doesn't want to he bends and twists and ends up hurting his head. I feel completely incompetent. I am scared he is going to hurt himself as he has narrowly missed door frames before and often just throws himself down from a sitting position and cracks his head. If he cannot get his way he knocks his toys over, tips dining room chairs, empties baskets of toys.

It is hard to get across how explosive it is. They are not normal tantrums I don't think, not like others I've observed in family members. Yesterday I separated him from the dog because he was hit him and when I stopped him he tried to grab his skin and pinch him. When I took the dog into the kitchen with me while I finished cooking dinner he started throwing books over the safety gate at him! He normally adores the dog so I don't know why he did it.

I'm scared of him doing this to another child at the Childminder or at Soft Play as he seems like he is going to hit but stops just before he makes contact. Lots of advice on here says to put him down if he hits and ignore the bad behaviour but a lot of the time it's not practical for example if I am on a walk with him and I pick him up to cross a busy road while also pushing the pram. In that situation he will hit out and I can't stop him. I just want to know if this behaviour is normal and if he will come out of it or should I be looking at something like Toddler Calm classes?

Sorry for the long post!

JustOneMoreSliceOfCake Tue 19-May-15 23:41:56

I think he sounds pretty normal but I have a tornado of a toddler myself grin
Ds is 2 next month and has really calmed down over the past few weeks. He still has his moments but I find its a very frustrating time for them when they are trying to communicate and it's not coming out.
Once ds started talking in sentences it eased a lot of his tantrums.
Imagine you know exactly what you want to say but you can't quite get it out, it must be so frustrating for them.
It does get easier I promise. As for dealing with the tantrums I can't really offer any advice other than the usual try to keep him safe, usually by the time you've learned to deal with one phase they're onto another!

NickyEds Thu 21-May-15 13:48:02

My ds is very.....physical(??) too. Throwing himself around, thrashing his head backwards (I swear he's nearly broken my nose), chucking stuff over the baby gate, emptying toys....I think it's just their age tbh. My niece had legendary tantrums, they would last for hours, red face, snot everywhere, she was a little ball of rage when something really pissed her off! She grew out of it and is now the nicest, most calm teenager you'll ever meet.

Last week ds smacked his own face on the baby gate such was his rage at not being allowed to play with a nappy bag full of shit. Tuesday was the "he's broken my nose" incident. I gave him regular malt loaf instead of banana malt loaf yesterday which didn't go down terribly well. As long as it's just part of an otherwise happy, healthy little boy I'm not too worried. Although it is bloody awful for us poor parents.

tea4two4three Thu 21-May-15 21:17:09

My DS has done everything you have mentioned and at about the same age. He is now 2.2 and although his tantrums have evolved to a whole new level of drama they are not as violent, although he still tries to get the odd hit in.
The only time I have ever been really angry with him and couldn't bear to deal with him was when he kicked the dog so hard the poor thing yelped and went spinning across the room. It took all my restraint to walk away and not throw Ds out of the window. When he was taking it out on the dog we completely ignored Ds and put all our attention on the dog. Also wouldn't let the child be in the same room. If dog came in child had to leave regardless of who was there first and what they were doing. His bad attitude to the dog soon stopped although we keep a close eye on it. Head being flung back, yes! They first time I reacted to it and he noticed it was like he got a saddistic pleasure from it. It made putting clothes/shoes on very difficult for a bit. He popped my nose on one occasion and was lucky dh was on hand to take him off me quickly, it did pass eventually you have to learn to do everything with your head to one side. He also cracked his head on his bedframe/wall/table doing this so I think it is a lesson learned eventually.
We did some training and the 'time-in' method was recommended. He kicks off, you pull him in onto your knee sideways so head is on chest and cuddle as tight as comfortable, make sure both arms are restrained in the hug and if you need an elbow for his legs it can be manouvered. Tell him he's safe and no-one can get hurt, ask what's wrong and talk him down. We count down from 10 and he is free to go on 1 if calm. Every time he kicks off during the countdown it starts again from 10. If it's for hitting we then say 'we don't hit people it's not nice, what do we hit? And get him to tell you something it's ok to hit like a ball. It took a while but it works well now.
As for the picking him up whilst on the move and getting belted, I've had a metal Thomas used against me when I couldn't get his second arm restrained in time, nice whelt I had then, he seems to have stopped with that, and if I see his arm being raised it is stopped or becomes a lot weaker with a stern 'you dare!' The threat means a time-in which he doesn't want to have to do, what self-respecting toddler does? Time-in happens eveywhere as well although not in the middle of the road :-/ I've done it on my haunches in the middle of a cafe, soft play, music class, whilst walking home for xyz, it's often easier than forcing a rigid child into a buggy.
After all that sometimes just plonking him down in the spare room/on his bed then going and locking myself in the bathroom is the only thing for it. By all accounts I think it's normal, it's just dealing with the parental shame that's tough ;-)
DS is the sweetest most gentle, funny little thing but by god his meltdowns are spectacular, I made dh record one recently to prove to people they happened as everyone just thought i was joking.
Hope things calm down for you soon. It's exhausting and draining, I've cried. You are not alone! X

Ijustworemytrenchcoat Fri 22-May-15 01:41:54

Thank you for your replies. I have managed to avoid his head recently after one particularly bad incident when he cracked my nose in the middle of a restaurant. I was seeing stars, it didn't stop hurting for a week! Yes to the safety gate as well, mine are the safety first ones and he has slammed it so hard it has clicked shut and opened on the other side.

I think partly it is a shame thing, I seem to spend outings trying to gently lower my mid-tantrum toddler to the floor as he flings himself around, but sometimes he is so fast and the move is so sudden he cracks his head. I look like the mum who is letting her toddler hurt himself and feel judged by others.

He seems to actively look for things he can attack now - pushing the tv, rattling the fireguard, toppling chairs. He will pull a toy over and look quite satisfied with himself.

I have tried something similar to the cuddling-in thing you mention tea4two and it is quite effective once I get the swinging arms under control, but only in the house so it might be a strategy for soft play.

TandemFlux Fri 22-May-15 02:45:02

Have you tried explaining what you are going to do next. Prewarn him a couple of minutes before even 'when we get to the road, We will fly you over like a jet plane'. Then make it fun

Ijustworemytrenchcoat Fri 22-May-15 08:22:25

I have tried it in terms of 'we are going to put our shoes on so we can go out'. He can understand enough to bring me my shoes, but I still have to avoid his flying head.

Picklesauage Fri 22-May-15 22:50:17

I was another one going to suggest 'time out / in'. When I started it with my DD she was restrained on my/DH lap. Wrapped tightly with her back to my chest so she couldn't headbutt backwards. I always told her why she was there and how long she had to wait. (1 min per year of life)

after that time, I calmly explained why she was in time out and what she needed to do 'say sorry and put shoes on etc'. Often she wasn't calm so I simply started the clock again. Rinse and repeat until calm, sorry has been said and cuddles then given. Then they do what was asked. If they refuse any step if this, back to time out.

Each one took ages when I first started. (A lady in a charity shop made me a cup of tea whilst I did multiple time outs in her shop once!) Eventually I didn't need to hold her, I sat her down on a spot and explained and waited.

It was a really really REALLY draining first week with lots of deep breathing and chocolate required. But slowly it began to work, the cinsistancy of it being used for every wrong doing worked well. My DH and I watched each other too, just do we could be completely consistent.

Good luck, it does get easier.

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