Tantrum advice please!!!(25 Posts)
My DD is 2.2 and for the most part is a pleasant and affectionate child. She's never been a great sleeper but I would say she's not bad anymore, still has moments, but generally sleeps 10-12 hours a night.
We've started to get the dreaded tantrums that everyone talks about, and they mainly happen first thing in the morning. It's almost certainly related to tiredness, which of course we are trying to work on (last night she slept 8.30-6.30).
This morning, she had one of the worst meltdowns yet. I need advice as to the best way to deal with them. She screams high pitched at the top of her voice. This morning she wanted to go back upstairs to bed ( even though she was screaming upstairs to come down z🙄). No matter what she wants, if offered or agreed, she'll change her mind. It can go on and on and on. I just basically have to ignore her until she calms down, which I don't like doing, but nothing can shake her out of it.
In terms of managing future behaviour and development I'd really like to know the best way to approach her tantrums. She was previously easily distracted, but unfortunately no longer! I had seeing her so wound up and frustrated, I know she doesn't WANT to be behaving like that, as much as I don't want her to behave like that.
Staying with family just now and conscious of the 6.30 screaming match up calls
It sounds like a very tricky phase! DD is 3 and I follow Janet Lansbury (she's not to everyone's taste). In the getting up frustration that you describe, I would sit on her bed with DD on my lap, give her a big hug (pin down her arms and legs if necessary so I'm not punched/kicked) rock back and forward and just help her to calm down by talking lots. I also say "let's blow up your balloon" and do deep breathing which helps her. When the screaming and crying stops I'd lie on the bed with her and tell a story from memory like goldilocks. By the end of the story the tantrum and frustration are usually forgotten.
Sorry if that doesn't help. Know that it's a phase and it will pass.
Not heard of Janet Lansbury but I've learnt that technique can be the only thing that calms my, older, Dd down.
I was just wondering how her speech is? Could communication be a factor? Also, given her age, are her back teeth coming through?
Thanks for your quick replies! She's now being a lovely child, playing with her leap start book with me and cuddling - it's all changes so quickly!
If I try make any physical contact with her she gots even more nuts but maybe I need to try it, even force her if I have to, to see if it works. I like the blowing up the balloon idea (if she stops screaming long enough to listen of course!!)
Interesting about her speech - in the last week her speech has gone from OK to brilliant. Maybe shes trying out all her new words and sentences to get what she wants? Although to be honest she's doesn't even know what she wants.
One of her back molars has just came through, not sure if this is related or not, she wasn't too bad when the other two came through. She doesn't seems to be in pain, just gets herself SO worked up and is unable to snap herself out of it.
Last night, for example, she said good night to everyone with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. Her dad was taking her upstairs to bed, just as she was leaving the room she caught sight of a small rubber pig she'd been playing with a while earlier, and wanted to take it with her. That was fine, her dad said you can take that to bed with you. Once she had it she started screaming saying 'no pig!!!!' but f you suggested she leave it downstairs or put it down, she got even worse! It was like someone had flipped a switch in her!
I'd love to know the answer to these first thing in the morning tantrums as my Dd has them too - she is 3.2 and generally a very tantrummy child but oh my god the mornings. It's such a horrible way to wake up!
If she's had a full 12 hours she can be better......
My DS1 was like this. Ludicrous tantrums with circular arguments from a shockingly young age. "I WANT XXX" handed X to him "I DON'T WANT XXX" X is thrown across the room "I WANT XXX"... repeated as infinitum. Multiple times a day.
At 3 it included hitting, kicking and spitting at me.
It started to calm down when he was 4. And now at 5 he still flips out occasionally but for more logical reasons, and he can calm down much better.
We also found that any input from us only made things worse. The only thing we could do was to let it pass.
I posted (under several usernames) at the end of my tether several times but there were no useful suggestions. (Lots of logical suggestions from well meaning posters with experience of 'normal' tantrums, but DS1 was on a whole other level. Normal things didn't work. I tried it all!)
So, no help, I'm afraid OP. Just sympathy and solidarity.
If it does help, DS1 was a high needs baby (before I'd seen that phrase on here) and though he's still highly strung he's also very intelligent and articulate and is flying in school. His stubbornness is genetic 😳 but it'll help him go far in the long run. We have thought about various SEN over the years too, but there seems to be none.
I'll look up Janet Lansbury in case DS2 has plans for the same behaviour.
Glad I'm not alone alors!! It really is difficult when you are tired yourself too.
Domestic DD was also a very high needs baby. I remember the midwife coming round when she was 8 weeks old and I was having feeding issues. She screamed for a solid 90mins and I recall the midwife saying 'I think it's just her personality'. At the time I thought it was ridiculous, but now I'm starting to understand 😂.
She's not too bad for the most part, but when she goes my God does she go!!
If she's just had a tooth pop through, it might be worth giving her a dose of ibruprofen. If her mood improves, you'll know it was her teeth bothering her.
I think you just need to try different things. With DS we just ignored him with an occasional smile and "has that ever got you what you wanted DS?".
DD however seems to get to a point where she can't calm herself down at all and the only thing that will is a cuddle from Mum.
Ha! "has that ever got you what you wanted DS?" DS1 has only recently started to appreciate this point (he's 5.5). He now understands when we say "we can't encourage that behaviour by giving you what you want" and will sort himself out.
Just reading the Janet Lansbury pages - I must've read some of it before. There's a brilliantly reassuring bit in there about just letting them have their emotions (particularly anger) in a safe place and letting them get on with it till they're done.
This is so riddled with guilt for me. I feel guilty that we somehow made him like this (though logically, I know that this is literal on a genetic level only) and then guilty that we're making him worse. So any reassurance that we might have done the right thing at some point is good!
Mine used to do these morning tantrums and then I realised he was holding his pee and getting very angry and distressed. So if yours is toilet trained, try a trip to the bathroom immediately on waking.
DD reacts badly to being touched in anyway when she's in a tantrum. We just put her in a safe place, no tv or anything, and leave her to it until she calms down enough to say sorry and have a sorry cuddle. The first few times it took a loooong time to get to the sorry, but now she calms down quite quickly. Might be worth a try?
Average we've not started toilet training yet, that's another hurdle we've yet to pass!
Team yes maybe worth a try, I generally just have to leave her to it anyway and tell her she can come for a cuddle when she's calm enough.
Is it worth discussing it with her once she had calmed down and a little time has passed?
While we are having our sorry cuddle I talk to her about what she did wrong, why it was wrong, and how to deal with the situation better next time, but after the cuddle chat, we start afresh. Works for us. I feel far calmer dealing with it this way that before. DH also deals with tantrums in exactly the same way, and if we are both there when she kicks off, one takes the lead in dealing with it, but she has to say sorry to both.
My worry is, I don't necessarily think what she is doing is 'wrong'. I don't think she's doing it on purpose or doing it to be purposefully bad. Obviously it's not great, but I don't want her to feel she's not allowed to express how she feels. I just want to be able to help her calm down
We're going through this at the moment with our 21mo, with the added complication of a newborn. I can't claim to know the answers as I started a thread about the problems we're having!
I've been reading Gentle Parenting after recommendations on here. I don't agree with everything in there but it helps to understand why toddlers have tantrums and how to deal with them in a gentle and constructive way. The theory is that toddlers are in a difficult situation where they have a desire to be grown up and independent but don't have the skills to manage everything on their own. They are frustrated by having so little control over their lives (hence being difficult with things they can influence like eating and getting dressed) but don't have the communication skills to say what bothers them which leads to tantrums.
I find it helps to indentify where the tantrums routinely arise and either avoid the situation or develop a distraction tactic. When they do happen I make sure DD is somewhere she can't hurt herself and sit down on the floor a meter or so away and tell her I'm there to give her cuddles when she's ready. Going near and trying to hold her usually just makes matters worse.
I agree with you that toddlers aren't doing anything wrong at that age. Getting them to say sorry is pointless as they haven't developed the empathy needed to understand how their actions affect others.
Yes, it's not necessarily doing something wrong, but there are better ways to express the frustration and anger that leads to meltdowns. For example, tiredness. So if it seems to have come from over tiredness, we talk about how it feels when you are tired, and that can make you sad, so it is better to ask for a nap or quiet cuddles than to scream and shout and kick. I think I'm trying to mainly get her to understand better ways of expressing emotions by helping her to understand where feelings come from. Its so difficult though!
A fan of Janet Lansbury here too. She also advocates letting children feel and express their emotions without tying to shut them down and whilst acknowledging and offering support. I find it helps.
OP, also wondering if your DD might be hungry first thing and not realise it? This is definitely a contributory factor for my 25mo DD in the mornings (and any other time she's hungry) so I have started having a snack to hand upstairs (cracker/ pine nuts etc) that she can have immediately on waking. It buys me a few minutes to get her nappy changed before breakfast.
DS is just entering this phase too, although he has his meltdowns invite afternoon. His are also tiredness we think. The best thing for him is to stick him in his cot and stay close by till he calms down. If I try and soothe him it just seems to make it worse! You have my sympathies OP!
Silver that's a good idea about having something to eat to hand. She's ALWAYS hungry, but doesn't want me to go make breakfast if she's upset and having a tantrum, so it's a catch 22!! Will definitely try this.
Grab a children's book, sit down near her, pretend to read, and ignore, ignore, ignore. Any validation of her tantrum will only encourage more of them. When she settles down, ask her if she would like to look at the book with you. If she agrees and is calm, you can then figure out if she's hungry, overheated, etc.
Here we go again 😩
DH has just taken her downstairs kicking and screaming. She wanted me to lie down in her bed with her, except when I tried she didn't want me there, so I went back to my bed (which of course she didn't like!).
I can hear DH trying his best to distract her now, she's calmed down slightly.
I'm away to google that book!!
Sleep I've just remembered, DS used to be foul when he awoke, until he had a drink. Would that be worth a try?
She could be hungry and thirsty but the problem is if she's off on one she'll not entertain the idea of either 😩
Does she nap? If not, might she nap if you had her out somewhere in thebuggy or car at about the right time?
Dd2 is exactly the same & same age. Doesn't want to take pyjamas off in the morning, doesn't want to put them on at night - that sort of toddler logic. God knows what the neighbours think with the high pitched screaming that's going on.
I'm doing a mixture of cuddles & trying to calm, pacify & distract with shall we sit on the stairs to calm down, and lots of choices & telling her what's coming next.
Not much success so far, but hopefully going back to normal routine will speed the process up.
Join the discussion
Please login first.