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Toddler Tantrums Top Tips Thread

(22 Posts)
JumpHerWho Tue 26-Mar-13 20:38:40


DS is only 15mo but it's started already and I'm not dealing with it well. Please give me your strategies for surviving the day without hurling a toddler out of a window please?!

anonymosity Wed 27-Mar-13 05:23:55

I suggest that when /if you're feeling severely challenged by it - walk away (if safe and possible) and get on with another activity, as if you're distracted by it and not interested in the tantrum, but not angry / annoyed / bothered at all

Also distractions - move the child's focus quickly onto something else, the younger they are the easier it is to distract them from a melt down.

and good luck.

cloudhands Wed 27-Mar-13 05:43:11

Aletha Solters book 'Tears and tantrums' was very useful to me. When I realized that crying and tantrumming is a natural healing process that helps a child to release stress and tension I was much more patient about listening to my child , staying close and offering love and affection if child needs it. Try not to think that your child is really angry at you or fighting against you. They are just releasing feelings. If you support a child and key them tantrum they can release the feelings and return to a happy relaxed mood. Stopping a tantrum by distraction just means the tantrum will crop up again later.
There is a free e book you can download from which is also useful. Good luck!

Bearandcub Wed 27-Mar-13 06:13:25

Helpful link cloudhands.

IME do not negotiate, a rule is a rule BUT only have a few that can be used more widely ie be kind can also mean, sharing, no hitting, etc.

Also really reward positive behaviour so focus on picking up when they are doing something well, especially following a rule and praise, praise, praise.

gourd Wed 27-Mar-13 08:55:10

Depends on what tantrum is about, and where it occurs. If child sits or lies down in the road to have a paddy you obviously have to intervene and get them somewhere safer, but generally I would say don't intervene at all unless oyu cna head it off early with disctraction 0 if child is really cross distractions wont work so let child have a howl, then as it subsides offrer hugs as they often get tearful and upset after the initial crossness. They need to know you arent angry with them and still love them. We generally just let ours have the tantrum as we find intervening or trying to talk to her during only prolongs it. Tantrums these days are usually short (a few minutes) and when she sees she wont get what she wants by lying on the floor screaming and kicking she just stops, and is often a bit teary, so we give her cuddles and tell here she's OK then go onto the next activity. The other day we wanted to go out for a walk with her but she was a bit poorly and when she got outside she just stood there llimply and cried so we went back inside, but this is diffreent, we only wanted to go out for her sake, not ours, and there wasnt much point if she was too ill too enjoy it - she also didnt have a tantrum, just got teary so it was a different situtaion really. She still has full on tantrums sometimes - she sits or lies down in town and screams and kicks if she wants something or wants to go a different place/do something else or dsometimes if you tell her not to do something, and that's when the disctraction can still work if you catch the tantrum early enough but if she's in full flight it's definitely better to just let her get on with it for a few minutes as she soon stops and wants to be picked up and cuddled as soon as she starts to calm down.

JumpHerWho Wed 27-Mar-13 11:40:06

Thanks all... really helpful stuff so far. I know I shouldn't get angry myself, that's the key isn't it. At the moment our main battles are nappy changes, and getting coat and shoes on to go out. Nappies are the worst sad just trying to roll over, kicking and screaming. I try to say absolutely nothing, but use physical restraint to get the job done. Is this the best bet? I can't reason with him, and saying 'no' loudly and firmly doesn't make a difference, and just makes it worse! But I still keep doing it, and really raising my voice, despite knowing it doesn't help. He's been such a lovely boy (and of course still is) but these battles are horrible, and having him kick and scream when I'm doing something for him is just so frustrating and horrible, it's really getting me down.

NessieMcFessie Wed 27-Mar-13 12:13:14

When DD was about that age she was the same - refused to stay still for nappy changes - lots of kicking and screaming. In her case, physical restraint was not the answer, distraction always was. I always made sure we had an action song, or toy or something that would take her attention. Sometimes I gave her a wipe and let her 'help'. I would turn it into a race or a game too. We also often put nappies on her teddies together.

These days (22mo) it sometimes takes a while to get her there but she is very good at waiting patiently.

Would pull-ups help?

Good luck!

gourd Wed 27-Mar-13 12:19:13

We either ours (2.5 yo) go nappyless till a more appropriate time when she is calmer (as to be honest i dont care of she has no nappy on in the house) and try to get her to sit on the potty if we are at home - which she likes so will happily go and sit on it and look at a book (distraction) till she decides she want to do something and gets up - at which point I encourage her to get a nappy and put it on herself (wth help), and she suauly wnats to by this point so no problem. If we are in a hurry to get out (i.e. in morning she often does not want to get ready and have nappy chnaged) we just bung her into nappy and clothes and carry her to car and bung her in the car seat so she cant take it off again. If she decides she doesnt want to get ready, we just wait till last minute to get her dressed - sometimes she will go and find her own outfit which again is distraction so she will not have a tantrum, but other times she really does not want to get ready but we have to get to work so yes, at that point it's a case of bunging her into nappy/clothes (it takes two of us!) and into car strill howling liek a banshee. Usually all fine a few minutes later though - She has a great time at CMs so is usually happy by the time we get there - it's only a ten minute drive so really the howling isnt for too long. Think you just ahev to be firm (but kind). No point rasing your voice just say, "We have to go out now so you have to wear a nappy", stick it on and leave it at that till LO calms down.

gourd Wed 27-Mar-13 12:20:09

Sorry that should've been "We let ours." Dont know how I got "Either" in there..

gourd Wed 27-Mar-13 12:22:42

Oh, BTW, you can try putting nappy on whilst chidld stands up if they just dont want to lie on a mat - LO thinks it's hilarious, she holds onto my shoulders whilst I crouch to put her nappy on whilst she is standing up and she makes 'wobble-wobble' noises, pretending to fall over etc...

gourd Wed 27-Mar-13 12:41:33

If all else fails remember you are the adult, and you are in control of the situation (your child isn't - they are just reacting to it in the only way they know), and that the child isnt doing it on purpose, they just have no concept of why you must do certain things or in what timescale! Heh heh!

I am sure our daughter knows we go to work every morning and that this means she will be going to CMs, but I doubt she has any idea why we haev to go to work or indeed why this means we have to poke her awake at 6 to leave the house at 7. Poor thing! I'd be grumpy too if it were me, so whilst I do tend to roll my eyes and sigh quite a lot, I have stopped raising my voice, swearing under my breath, or getting irrate about tantrum antics - she can do that for both of us!

anonymosity Wed 27-Mar-13 15:58:53

Just wanted to add (didn't know about the nappy issue) that when mine was about 2 to 3 I literally changed nappies (pull ups) with the children over my lap / knees, as fast as possible. The kicking didn't get me in the face and they never fell off or got hurt. Same with getting dressed at one stage - when desperately trying to get two under two out of the house.

rrreow Wed 27-Mar-13 16:42:33

For us what makes a big difference is:
-*Notice*. Don't just change the activity abruptly because it makes sense to you, lead up to it gently. "We're going out to the shop in a few minutes. We'll play for a few more minutes, then put your coat on." "We need to do a nappy change in a minute." Repeat 2 or 3 times before actually putting it into action.
-*Involvement*. "We're going out now, can you get your shoes/coat?" "It's time for a nappy change, can you get a nappy?" If your DC is too young to understand these things, just say them and then show what you mean (by getting the shoes, encouraging DC to follow you, point at the shoes etc)
-*Acknowledgement*. "You don't like having your nappy changed, you really hate it!"
-*Distraction*. "Oh look there is a picture of a cat on the nappy! What does a cat do?" Etc.

For us distraction only works after acknowledgement. If I try to distract my DS without acknowledging his feelings he just wails/struggles even more.

Another thing that is important to remember is that acknowledgement does not equal giving in. I think this is what happens with a lot of people, they think that as soon as they acknowledge the feeling it's a slippery slope to the child and their wishes ruling their life. You acknowledge their feeling so they feel understood, and then you explain what needs to happen. If you can compromise or make it better in some way, then do. E.g. "We'll change your nappy now, and then we're going to have a snack! What will you have, raisins or banana?"

A toddler has very little control in life and a lot of stuff just happens TO them because an adult decides. The above helps them get the feeling of some control while still allowing you to do what needs to be done (and hopefully with less of a struggle). I do think it depends on the temperament of the individual child though, but the above all really makes a big difference with my DS compared to when we don't do that.

There is actually one more that I haven't mentioned here (because I'm guilty of forgetting this a lot with DS):
-*Choices*. "Do you want to wear your shoes or your wellies when we go outside?" "Do you want the nappy with the dog or the monkey?"

JumpHerWho Wed 27-Mar-13 19:57:34

Thanks for further helpful posts re nappy changing, lots to try. Distraction used to work, it just seems to have stopped and me getting annoyed is just feeding the situation I know. I'm reading these posts thinking omg there are years of changing nappies ahead of me!! I thought it wouldn't be for much longer, hadn't really thought it through properly! sad

Rrreow useful tips, can I ask have you read 'How to talk so kids listen and listen so kids will talk?' Because lots of what you say is techniques from there, which I haven't properly put into action yet. Like acknowledging feelings. He can't talk yet and only has limited understanding, but I do try to do this... I just need 100000% more patience I think so I don't just lose it. Physically restraining him while I get on with changing him... I don't know why I thought it was a good plan tbh, I'm just so pissed off with it and wish he would just accept that this thing which he doesn't especially like has to happen, will happen and he should not kick his poor mother... gah.

rrreow Wed 27-Mar-13 21:03:17

Yes I read it twice, once while pregnant with DS1 and once while he was about 1yo. I don't consciously apply concepts from the book but when I read it I try to assimilate some of the tips into my everyday interactions with DS so they become second nature. I think I'm probably due a re-read as some more stuff will be relevant now that he's nearing 2!

Also, if it helps, DS went through terrible phases with nappy changes (around the time he became more mobile maybe at 11mo, and then again maybe around 15mo). Right now he's actually fairly compliant. So hopefully your DS will become a bit easier with it soon.

cloudhands Thu 28-Mar-13 08:29:45

one tip I have found with power struggles, is just to really work at having a closely connected relationship with my daughter as free as possible from stress and upset.

I noticed that the time power struggles are worst, is when I'm feeling stressed, or we're travelling and very busy. Then my DD doesn't want her nappy changed, and wont let me put her coat on etc. So if you're going through a period of lots of difficulties, then focus on building close connections with your child.

These ideas I also learnt from an amazing resource. Their approach is based on the idea, that children are naturally good loving and want to co-operate with us. When they show ''off track'' behaviour, fight what we need to do, it's actually a red flag showing that they need some connection. Children really thrive on sense of connection, and that's what they need to feel like their natural good loving selves. But their sense of connection is easily broken, through stresses and minor upsets. As any parent notices our children, especially the young ones seem to demand our attention so much!

so I use some techniques I learnt from Hand in Hand, like special time, playlistening (laughter games, similar to those described in the playful parenting book) to give my DD a close sense of connection. Try it, that and listening to children's upsets, without trying to stop the crying, or distract them, and some of those power struggles will dissapear.

gourd Thu 28-Mar-13 10:25:37

OP, just remember that whatever you decide to do, every child and parent is different and what works for one may not work for another, it depends on personalities and lifestyle. Everyone has diffent rules and limits of what they find acceptible behaviour too. Ultimately you just have to go with what works for you and your child and damn everyone else!

JumpHerWho Thu 28-Mar-13 11:28:15

Cloud that really rings true. We were supposed to go to a play group this morning, but I really felt that we needed to reconnect so we just stayed in, played, read books and did some baking. I feel much better for it (and hopefully he does too). I'm going to try to keep that in mind. It's so hard though, I agree with all the calm, stress-free, kind, patient parenting ideals, but when things need to be in a rush, or we've been cooped up indoors because of the weather, or I get my period unexpectedly (grr) then my patience levels zoom right to zero and I find myself having unreasonable expectations of him eg playing independently for ages, or doing things immediately or whatever. I have the Playful Parenting book, it's in the queue to be read after 'How to Talk...' I mentioned earlier. I think Playful Parenting may e more useful for right now. I've been doing BLW with him and am so proud of how well it's gone, I am endlessly patient, ignore mess and non-eating occasions... I feel it's because I had a clear strategy to follow that I understood and believed in. With these tantrums I just feel a bit lost, like I can't rely on my instincts and need a course o action to follow. I am a pretty laid back parent but with some things I need a clear strategy I think so I don't lose my temper and unfairly treat DS.

JumpHerWho Thu 28-Mar-13 11:30:00

Gourd I know! grin I ignore people in rl and avoid HVs like the plague, but mostly on MN people go 'hmm, ok well this worked for us so maybe worth a go' as opposed to 'you're doing it all wrong, you should do it like this' like my mum and mil

gourd Thu 28-Mar-13 11:46:50

Heh heh! What i hate is when peope go "We never let ours do that!" as if we are "letting" her do it - and anyway theirs almost certinaly did do it, but it was just so long ago they cant remember...

SuperDuperTrooper Thu 28-Mar-13 12:15:53

My DS is also just 15 months old. For the first time today he had a public tantrum. We were in a cafe having a snack before nap time so had a feeling the tiredness might stop him complying to being put in his pram. It was a lot worse than I expected! Ended up carrying him out and finding a quiet spot to try again.

Just wanted to say that he too has gone through difficult nappy change times. I found moving the spots where I did it kept him interested and more still. I even resorted to putting the tv on and doing in front of there now and again. Usually worked and then that terrible phase passed and we could back to normal.

cloudhands Thu 28-Mar-13 12:48:08

Hi Jumperhoo, sounds like you doing a great job of figuring out what your daughter needs, I try to have regular down days as well, when we hang out at home, or at least days where we aren't in a stressful rush to get out of the house.

I totally get what you mean about BLW and having a reason to accept the mess, and understand the process.

There IS a way to do this with tantrums too. Hand in Hand parenting, showed me how to reframe the way I thought about tantrums. They are a healing process for stress and frustration, so not a negative thing at all. Now when my daughter cries, I don't think ''oh no she's crying/tantrumming' again, i just accept and give her some affection, hold her, etc, and I know from the experience of listening to her that if I do make it to the end of the tantrum withut distracting, ignoring etc then she will be in a better mood when it's finished. a much better approach than trying to dodge and avoid tantrums all day which can be even more exhausting than the tantrums, I find.
if we can do things we need to keep us calm and collected that's the most important thing so that we can listen and accept our kids feelings. There is a whole set of booklets you can buy from the Hand In hand online store, that explain the process of healing and emotional connecting, and there's one booklet in the set on tantrums and one on crying. A total lifesaver!!

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