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16 months old and constant tantrums....somebody save me!

(11 Posts)
whiteroseorredpls Thu 11-Oct-12 20:49:24

My 16 month old has turned from a delight into a real little madam!

Anytime she gets told no or something isn't the way she likes it she screams and screams, lies on the floor and cries and cries. I have tried leaving her to it, but she can't seem to calm herself down. Everything and anything sets her off.

She is my first and I thought she was too young for tantrums! I don't really know the best tactic to take with her - should I try to calm her down with cuddles or let her calm herself (even though it takes a long time - I have tried playing with her toys to try to coax her to stop the tantrum and join me but this doesn't work).

Any suggestions? Is anyone else 16month old like this?

QTPie Thu 11-Oct-12 21:29:09


Firstly, are there any physical triggers for these tantrums? Is she sleeping well? Napping well? Eating well? Does she drink well and have wet nappies? Is she teething? Is she ill?

16 months does tend to be prime teething age and teething could well be to blame. I also think that it is prime "trying it on" age too: DS tried tantruming at that age, but I didn't pay it much attention. Basically I would gently ignore tantrums: I would just pretend to "go about my business" (carry on what I was doing and talk about something unrelated - like the weather). So I was ignoring the behaviour without excluding DS - if that makes sense.

I think that you need to judge on a case by case basis: if a child is genuinely distressed, then you address the problem rather than ignore it. If they are effectively tantruming over nothing, then ignore the behaviour without excluding them: they will soon give up if they don't have an audience.

A young child (starting from a very young age) is a master manipulator: they try different things and see what reaction they get. Depending on your reaction dictates whether they will do it again... We had "screaming/yelling" problems (DS is 2 years 8 months) this week because Grandma was here (and tends to get flustered and tries very hard to placate DS if he is vocal). I pay no attention to screaming/yelling, so fortunately he is dropping that practice very quickly again now that Grandma has gone home...

One thing to remember is that children tend to "play up" more when out in public: because parents are much more embarrassed and tend to not handle it as well. Try to handle tantrums as you would at home - just ignore everyone about you.


whiteroseorredpls Thu 11-Oct-12 21:38:27

Thanks QT I suspect that she is tired, its worse after she's had a day at nursery. But she has gone to nursery for months and this is recent behaviour. In the past week or so she has also started refusing food - she was a great eater before so teething is a definite possibility but I can't be sure.

She is genuinely distressed but it can be over the smallest thing, for example I offered her a yoghurt and there was a complete meltdown, my husband won't give her his iphone complete meltdown.

I am worried that if I cuddle her and try to bring her of the tantrum I will be encouraging the behaviour. I know she has tantrums at nursery too and they generally ignore and she quickly stops. But with me she goes on for ages.

I will try your gentle ignoring technique and hope she gets better!

QTPie Thu 11-Oct-12 22:00:34

Sounds like teething. (especially with the lack of eating), but how you react is definitely the most important thing (got to think quickly on your feet and, regardless, keep calm and in frazzled - easier said than done some times wink )

If it is over something like a yoghurt, then I would just say something like "oh, you don't want it? Just say 'no thank you Mummy' and I will take it away", then take it away and carry on talking about something unrelated (paying no attention to further screams or whatever). Obviously DD might well not be able to say 'no thank you Mummy', but that it not the point: it is really just something to say as a space filler to diffuse things (and a much longer term aspiration wink ). That is a reaction suitable for the situation. By showing her that it is a "non-issue", then you are setting an example. Be consistent and she will get it.

iPhone is trickier. If it is an issue, then put it away (if isnt around, then she cannot demand it).

Children really do tailor their behaviour to individual people and how that individual reacts: DS reacts differently to me, to his dad, to his Grandma, to my Mum, to the toddler gym teacher. It is fascinating to watch - they are very clever, even from an incredibly young age! It means that we need to be one step ahead of them and manipulate them in to behaving how we want them to. So if we don't like their behaviour I regard to us, it is about thinking how we can behave ourselves to elicit a different type of behaviour. As a parent we have a really huge amount of influence on them at ths age.


hmmmum Fri 12-Oct-12 11:17:50

My daughter is 16 months and she's been having a lot of tantrums lately too. She tends to have more when she's tired, but she'll have them anyway whether she's tired or not. And it's if we give her something she doesn't want, or take something from her that she does want, that type of thing. I think she is teething, but I think the tantrums are also part of them developing and understanding more of what's going on, getting frustrated when things aren't going exactly as they want them to. I've read that it's important to help them identify their feelings (i.e. "i know you're feeling sad right now because mummy took the plastic bag away from you") because it lays a good foundation for emotional regulation as they're growing if they are able to name their feelings. At this age their feelings feel very overwhelming which I guess is part of the reason they tantrum. I think QT's advice is really good - ignoring the behaviour without excluding them... Sometimes they're just seeing if they can get their own way; other times they are genuinely distressed about something.
Some days I have to say when there are constant tantrums it's pretty exhausting! Feels like there's too much emotion in the house! One day my baby had tantrums all day, and near the end of the day in one of her tantrums she whacked me hard with a toy while flailing. I had pms so burst into tears (the tension of the day, hormones etc) and my husband came in to find both of us weeping, haha. Thankfully most days aren't quite like that!

Mine started her tantrums around that age too. It's a shock that my little lovely baby has turned into a tantrum machine like overnight. Anything I said no, or grabbed off her (like plates, glasses), she would throw herself on the floor and scream and cry.

I would recommend the book Toddler Taming by Christopher Green. Really helped me to understand what is normal, and what I should do.

pilkyelliot Sun 14-Oct-12 12:58:44

Hi there, I have a 14 month old boy and for the last 7 days has done nothing but cry, I cant take him anywhere cos he is so clingy he cries when I take him to nursery and when he is at home he cries more. I wouldnt call it a cry its just a constant moan, I am a single mum and only have the 1 child. He used to be such a joy and I loved spending time with him, but now I just want him out my way! I love him to bits but these pasgt few weeks I'm at my wits end! He isnt sleeping, which is probably with him teething, then the minute he wakes up he cries until bedtime. I really dont know whats happened to my pleasant boy, the only time he is quiet is when im out and about with him! I really dont know how much more I can take its making me feel ill.

Am I doing something wrong please help!

pilkyelliot Sun 14-Oct-12 12:59:25

He had his injections a few weeks ago and hasn been the same baby since sad

QTPie Sun 14-Oct-12 13:12:56

Hi Pilkyelliot

So sorry for your rough time: it isn't easy for any mum, but must be considerably harder for a single parent - you get no break at all.

Honestly, there are lots of ups and downs during parenting, but teething does cause a lot of distress (for both baby and parent) sad. I know what you mean about the "constant moaning": don't get it now, but it was very common at your DS's age.

You are a signle parent, but do you have any family/friends nearby who can give you a break? You are doing brilliantly, but that is what would be most benefial.

Other than that, as you have noticed, get out and about as much as possible: 99% of whinging/whining/moaning does tend to be in the home. Pack him up, go to the park (good weather) or a shopping centre or softplay (during bad weather). Anywhere for a walk, some fresh air, some peace...

Things WILL improve, promise smile

Kittycatcat Wed 17-Oct-12 03:41:11

I have a now 17mo and a 1 month old. DS has been brilliant with his new brother but did start the meltdowns as I call them, but like others have said he is teething and also going through development learning new words on a daily basis. We don't think the meltdowns are connected to the arrival of his new brother, a coincidence. But possibly have contributed slightly as we had so many visitors and it was overwhelming for him. On the upside he's not having them as much now so as the saying goes... This too will pass :-). Good luck.

Kalisi Thu 18-Oct-12 20:13:06

Pilkyelliot, I just want to say that if your Ds's behaviour isn't normal and you are doing something wrong then atleast that makes two of us and i for one am so relieved to read that I am not alone. I'm a SAHM and the fact that I don't enjoy my sons company at the moment truly breaks my heart sad

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