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Severe tantrumming in 19 month old - tips?

(8 Posts)
MrsJamin Tue 20-Sep-11 13:56:34

Just in the past week, DS2 has had total red mist times, screaming like blue murder, lying prostrate on the floor, stamping feet, anything up to an hour long. Last night he woke at 1.30am and just started kicking off. A lot of the time there isn't even an obvious trigger to what he's frustrated about so it's not like I can even give him something he's after. His language skills aren't great which I'm sure isn't helping him. I'm not sure whether I'm missing something or this is just how it's going to be for the next year or so until he gets his emotions under control. DS1 never did these so I'm stumped and feel like a new mum again! I'm doing all the obvious stuff like ignoring, gentle distracting, etc but might need some new tips from people who have been there.

RedRubyBlue Tue 20-Sep-11 18:35:21

Try this if your nerves will stand it.

Remove him if possible from the scene of the tantrum
Do not reason or 'promise' anything
If you can put him in room/cot anywhere 'safe' where he cannot hurt himself
Close door


After two minutes go in and check
Again say nothing but sit very, very quietly (bloody difficult)
Tantrum continues
Leave again for two minutes



I found after a (very long) week/s the tantrums became less frequent and of a shorter duration.
When he calmed down we had a cuddle and I gave him some water/milk.

He sounds very similar to your DS. The tantrums came from nowhere as he struggled to communicate something or wanted some random object that he was not allowed. Usually expensive electrical goods or to play with the knife block and contents.

RedRubyBlue Tue 20-Sep-11 18:38:42


I resorted to this after he nearly broke my front tooth on his head when he slammed his head back while I was holding him during a tantrum.

Something had to give and I quite like my teeth and his head intact. smile

plupervert Tue 20-Sep-11 21:18:05

I think you're right to mention his language skills. My DS went through an absolutely horrible phase at about this age: tantrums and shoving in particular. I thought the Terrible Twos were beginning early and would last a year and a half!

However, he suddenly reached some kind of critical mass in language terms, and finally had enough language to make a structure on which to build more language, and I can't tell you how much it changed him.

I think we were doing Sing and Sign at the time of the change, and loads of reading books.

For crises, RedRubyBlue's advice for dealing with tantrums when they happen sounds good: non-provocative and de-escalating.

Also, I understand that boys have a surge of testosterone at about 18 months, so your DS could be working with this in his system, too? We went outside every day at that age, at least once a day, and I know that helped, too. DS was a nightmare if he didn't get any exercise.

MrsJamin Wed 21-Sep-11 13:58:29

Fantastic tips thank you all. I think actually that his week of horrific tantrums may have been connected to being ill, as he hardly ate anything, yet yesterday and today he's eaten like never before, and been a lot more chipper as a result. The surge in testosterone makes a lot of sense, the aggression he shows through tantrumming is outstanding! It's difficult to strike a balance between showing that you're still there and care, but not being an audience for them to perform to!

plupervert Wed 21-Sep-11 17:50:59

Thanks for the update. Upsetting as illness is, it's good to hear that was at play, as it is something which can pass.

Good luck! smile

AngelDog Wed 21-Sep-11 23:05:40

It often goes with developmental leaps too, and 18-21 months is one huge developmental leap.

I just stay with DS saying something reassuring over and over again till he calms down a bit. I don't try to hold him as he kicks & writhes. He bfs so that always works to calm him right down once he gets over it a bit.

Once he's calmed down a bit I try to describe to him what happened and explain why he couldn't do what he wanted e.g. 'You were upset that you couldn't play with the knife. Knives are dangerous so I have to keep them safe in the drawer.'

plupervert Thu 22-Sep-11 09:41:51

You are so right about leaps. It's extraordinary how non-linear development can be. Maybe the fact that developments are often motivated by frustration has something to do with it!

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