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Trantrums in a 15 month old - how would you deal with it?

(8 Posts)
sjs Thu 09-May-02 15:16:12

Well here's an interesting "case study" and I'd be really interested in your advice/suggestions about how you handle similar situations.

My dd is 15 mths old - generally a very placid, happy, contented little girl. (Would have said always instead of generally, but in last few months she is much more "challenging"!)

Usually if she is a bit cross or frustrated because I say no, or she can't physically do something she is trying to do, she has a short cross moment but is quite easily distracted and cajolled out of it. Or if we ignore it that sometimes works too.

She was in a great mood today, and had her usual naps etc. We'd been out at playgroup and got home around 5pm and I gave her some tea - something she really liked. The problems started when she wanted me to take the top off her beaker so she could sip it like a normal cup (if you see what I mean.) Her nanny and my dh have sometimes let her do that. I said no and tried to distract her. (Because it was a different kind of cup, with a very narrow top and also because the last time it happened she got water everywhere and quite honestly, I think it is a mad idea to do it at all because she isn't old enough to do it and then won't let you put the top back on again). Anyway, she started crying (not too bad to start with just whinging) but then worked up more and more. She started throwing food in anger and kicking etc. (Should I have given in at this stage and let her have the cup without the lid?)

She eventually got so upset I took her out of her highchair. She was furious - hitting me, kicking etc. Tried to calm her down but she was soooo cross. In the end tried sitting with her, putting her in her cot, walking her etc. But she wouldn't calm down. Eventually she calmed down when I sat with her on our bed, with some Russian dolls that she hasn't played with before. (Should I have just left her in her cot. At the time I didn't feel I could because she was so upset.)

When she was calm again, I tried to put her back into highchair, but she started to scream again. I think she still wanted to eat but didn't want to sit in her chair - if I'd fed her on my lap, think she'd have taken it. But I wouldn't give in, and insisted if she wanted to eat she had to go in the chair. (By this stage we'd been battling for about 20 minutes so I was getting cross myself and trying to remain rational!) So, we had more tears and tantrums and in the end she wouldn't eat any more.

She calmed down later and had a bath and had her milk and went to sleep quite quickly. Think this was all caused by combination of busy afternoon at playgoup and a molar coming through which I'm sure must hurt.

But how on earth do I give her all the love, affection, support she needs since she is tired and has sore gums, but still teach her that she can't have everything she wants, and that tantrums don't work.

Feel physically exhausted and felt like a very "bad mummy" while it was all going on. (Just glad it happened at home and not in a restaurant where I'd get looks from other diners!

Appreciate your suggestions for the future. (Anyone read Toodler Taming? Should I get it?)

Enid Thu 09-May-02 15:29:34

'But how on earth do I give her all the love, affection, support she needs since she is tired and has sore gums, but still teach her that she can't have everything she wants, and that tantrums don't work.'

I wish I knew sjs, then I'd have this parenting lark sorted in no time!

Its horrible when your previously angelic child starts throwing tantrums, but it happens to us all. The cup story was horribly familiar. Things dd has had tantrums about: wanting to pick a flower and then having a tantrum because it was broken; wanting to wear mummy's shoes instead of hers and wanting to kiss the woman behind the till in Sainsburys (she decided this as we were walking back to the car). A friend of mine's ds had a mega one because there was a hole in his polo mint.

Your dd sounded tired which is a surefire winner as far as throwing a wobbly goes. I think you should pour yourself a large glass of wine and try and let it go, you aren't a bad mother AT ALL, just normal!

'Raising Happy Children' is a great book if you feel like reading something about tantrums.

sister Thu 09-May-02 15:31:09

I'm sorry but from what you have said your dd had all the control. She was testing you. I have got a two and 3 year old and their is no way I could manage to give in to every tantrum. (my 3 year old is a lot better now). If that sort of behavious starts then you either ignore it, or if they start kicking you put them in their room with a stair gate on the door.
Sorry if that sounds cruel but they need to be taught what is and is not acceptable behaviour. You doing your best to keep you dd happy is not teaching right from wrong. Your dd is reaching the terrible 2's so you need to decide what action you are going to use to cope with tantrums now and stick to it, sorry to sound hard

Enid Thu 09-May-02 16:04:54

sjs, FYI, do a brilliant cup called a Doidy cup, which is angled slightly to make it easier to drink from. Maybe you should invest in a couple and let your dd have a go at it?

sjs Sat 11-May-02 06:06:00

Thanks for your responses - you are right part of the reason this is so distressing is that she didn't used to be like this.

Guess I'm going to have to toughen up sister! I had been lulled into a false sense of security by the expression "terrible twos" - obviously it starts earlier!

I did have a large glass of wine and that certainly helped...

I'll look out for that cup - is it only available from If so, I'll maybe order one to send to my Mums for when we are back in UK in a months time.
Thanks again

batey Sat 11-May-02 08:26:44

SJS, been trying to reply for a while but 2 dds keep needing me! Anyway just to say, both of mine started terrible 2's at 16 and 18 months. Both going from reasonable girls who would do/ eat most things into 2 raging control freaks! They're now 4 1/2 and 2 and life is easier, the 2 yr old still has her moments but not tantrums as such. We have dealt with both by either distracting as much as poss, but when that moment has past, ignoring. Our "thing" for time out/ ignoring is sitting on the bottom step. We have lots of stairs in our house so there's always one available! If they're in such a state they cant listen then they get put there or told to go and sit there. I never shut them out or make it so they cant see us but they HAVE to stay there until the've calmed down/ ready to talk about what's happened (for the 4 yr old).
It's hard at first when they're small especially when they keep getting off, but I just keep taking her back until she's ready for a cuddle and to show Mummy what went wrong. But now at just 2 if she gets upset/cross she takes herself off to the stairs to calm down.
In the end too you have to decide what is worth a fight, it's taken me a long time to do this, but if it,s not hurting them or someone else or it's not a "safety" thing then I TRY to let it go.
Just a small consolation, in my experience, seeing our friends, it seems that kids who tantrum at this age dont do it later. We have alot of 4 1/2 y/o friends having regular wobblers now, none of whom did it at 2, whereas my 4 1/2 y/o rarely has them. Allthe best.

GillW Sat 11-May-02 08:46:23

sjs - doidy cups are available from - cheaper than Urchin, and available singly rather than just in pairs.

We have them and can't speak highly enough of them - my 8 month old drinks quite happily from it (and has done for a while now), and is even getting enough control to not spill any, when we still aren't having any success with any of the non-spill beakers.

SofiaAmes Sat 11-May-02 09:55:26

I think "terrible two's" is a bit of a misnomer. With my son (now 18 mo.) the tantrums started the week he started walking (around 13 mo.). My paediatrician in los angeles assures me they will stop when he can start expressing himself verbally. I don't know if this is true, but it sounds good and gives me hope so I believe it. I take the tantrums as his frustration at not being able to express himself so I deal with them in a combination of ways that vary according to the situation and how tired I am. Usually I just try to distract him, but sometimes I just put him to bed.
On the subject of cups...I started letting my son drink out of a small plastic (light and unbreakable) cup from 9 or 10 months. I never gave him anything but water in it. That way he didn't expect sweet things and also the worst that happened when it got spilled was a bit of wet. He is now quite expert at drinking with a cup, though I still never put anything but water in it as he does get distracted and knock it over as he is trying to stuff his entire dish of pasta into his mouth in one go.

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