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Unbelievable tantrums

(7 Posts)
Tt1803 Tue 07-May-13 09:06:06

Am in desperate need of advice on how to deal with my son's tantrums (18 months).

He has always been very 'willful', horrendous sleeper, always wants his own way etc. But he is starting to be actually quite unpleasant, and to other people not just me.

I've often worried that he isn't that keen on playing with children his own age but he has always been very jolly with grown ups and very open to playing with them. He spends lots of time with grannies and godparents away from me without a care. His tantrums have started to become fairly unmanagable but this weekend (while we were away with friends) he wouldn't let anyone touch him and flew into an absolute rage at the slightest thing. He was also incredibly clingy with me which is very unusual for him. It was really awful as all the people who were there love him lots and are always so kind to him and want to play with him. None have children of their own but are never tired out by DS and never just want to bat him away so they can read the paper etc (which is what I might do if he wasn't mine!).

I know this is probably a pretty normal phase and I'm sure it will pass but I would so appreciate any advice. a) on what to do when he flies off the handle. I have been trying to ignore the tantrums for the passed few months and never react but it doesn't seem to be having any affect. b) on how to get him enjoying other adults and not constantly saying 'no no no!' every time they come near him.

Thanks so much in advance!

HoneyStAngelo Tue 07-May-13 10:05:41

It's a power struggle! Even at such a tender age he has the power to make sure you give him all your attention.

If I was you I would be inclined when visiting relatives/friends to settle him with you but make a few trips out of the room, clearly telling him where you are going and you will be back shortly. Ie going to the loo.

Then make the trips longer. Explain all this to family beforehand so that you can catch up with your relatives/friends in the kitchen but leave your lad in the living room or garden with other relatives/friends each time so that you can enjoy your visit and so can your little boy without being joined at the hip.

It's pretty normal for young kids to want to hang off your neck 24/7!

Mine are all grown now but I still remember one angelic little boy at my sons play group who would howl like mad when his mother dropped him off. She would then feel obliged to stay and he would just cling to her and if another child went up to him he would scream and lash out.

So the nursery told her to get tough, drop her off and go. She would walk up the road sobbing and the boy would scream like he was being murdered. Within seconds, it was like a switch being clicked he would shrug, stop screaming and join in playing with all the other children without a care in the world!

They do it in your presence as a way of gaining power and attention!

youmaycallmeSSP Tue 07-May-13 10:11:27

This weekend could have been difficult for any number of reasons: growth spurt, feeling off-colour, tired... I know there have definitely been times with my 3yo when I've wondered whether I've been raising an ASBO child, doomed from birth! It's always passed.

In general though, it does sound as though your DS spends a lot of time with adoring adults, which is great but might sometimes be a bit too much for him. I can imagine him feeling quite smothered at times, always having to be available to be played with. As an adult I sometimes just want to do my own thing, be grumpy and antisocial from time to time, have my own space, socialise on terms I'm happy with etc. I can see why a toddler who is working out how to express his emotions would get cross and frustrated.

Does he go to a regular stay-and-play session where he could build associations with other toddlers? That might help if not.

Tt1803 Tue 07-May-13 10:40:14

Thanks so much for the advice.

SSP you are probably right re adoring adults. They are all very keen for him to like him and so that is probably quite stressful sometimes. He goes to a childminder in the working week (I work full time) but he is her only full time mindee, the other two are a little older but they do play well together. They go to the park a lot and lots of playgroups so he has contact with other children every day.

We are moving house soon and I think I am going to send him to nursery (hysterical about the uprooting as I love my CM but that's a different story!) which I think will be a good idea for him.

Honey you are definitely right about the power struggle! I also know that if I weren't around he would probably be fine. Whenever I have last minute childcare emergencies he goes off for the day with godmother and couldn't care less where I am.

Goldmandra Tue 07-May-13 10:44:31

Not playing with other children is developmentally appropriate. At 18 months they usually play far more alongside other children than on cooperation with them. They show more interest in getting the toys the other children have than in playing together with them.

It's also appropriate for him to be experiencing separation anxiety at this age, especially around less familiar people. It's nature's way of keeping them safe once they get mobile.

When you see him around other toddlers his age does he seem different? Do you have concerns about something in particular? Gut feeling is important and you should listen to it if you feel that something isn't quite right. Does anyone else comment?

Tt1803 Tue 07-May-13 11:04:11

I'm not really concerned as I do know (or think I know - first time mum!) that this is fairly natural at the age. I am nervous that this is going to last a long time though as I am finding it really draining. At the moment there is probably a tantrum every 40 minutes to an hour. I'm just not sure that I am dealing with it in the right way, particularly since the other adults thing (including dad) is quite new. He has never been very fussed about me before but now cries when I leave the room etc. Maybe it was just the weekend away being in a new place. But I really want to approach this the right way and not make it worse.

On another note there is a possibility that maybe he is a bit under the weather. One of the girls who goes to his CM has been struck with chicken pox. My DS had spent the whole two weeks before the spots came out with her (and was with her the day of the spots coming out) so I just can't see how he avoided getting it. Is it possible maybe he has it but just doesn't have the spots? I thought not because even though he has been unsettled (sleeping badly but that is quite usual for him) he has plenty of periods of being very jolly smiling etc and has not seemed unusually tired or anything like that.

Goldmandra Tue 07-May-13 12:07:17

Pre-chicken pox children are usually vile. You may well be right smile

You won't make anything worse by reassuring him when he's anxious and letting the tantrums pass without comment. It might feel like ignoring this behaviour isn't working but rewarding it would have a very negative effect.

Offer calm reassurance with minimal interaction while he's in full meltdown because he won't be able to process language properly then. As he calms offer cuddles and describe his feelings to him so he learns to recognise and name them.

Good luck if it is chicken pox. You'll probably be in for a couple of sleepless nights.

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