Desperate Mom Seeking Toddler Tantrum Advice

Parents often think their children are the absolute best. I am no exception. I love the crap out of my kid. My 2 year old son is smart, funny, thoughtful, cute, sensitive, and athletic (You should see the cracks he gets on a tee-ball!). My 2 year old is also, unfortunately, a champion tantrum thrower. I know this is a stage and that all kids throw tantrums. I am just hoping it is a stage that he will grow out of quickly. Until then, I’d like to hear about how other moms deal with tantrums.

Toddler_Tantrum

The Tantrums

The tantrums really started to get bad right around the time he turned 2 years old. Surprise, surprise, right? When something doesn’t go his way, my son will dig his heels in the sand and scream at the top of his lungs. His face will turn red, and he will seriously commit to being mad. His tantrum focus is laser sharp and, if he forgets about why he is throwing the tantrum for one second, he will immediately return to his tantrum performance with added force. I’m just grateful that he doesn’t fling himself around dangerously, but he does fling himself around in my arms when I am trying to remove him from a situation. At 20 weeks pregnant, removing him from situations is going to get more and more difficult. My son is very verbal and expressive of his feelings (tired, sad, hungry, scared, etc.), so communication isn’t the issue. He just goes all Veruca Salt when he doesn’t get what he wants.

Advice

I have read a lot on the topic of preventing toddler tantrums. Our house is toddler-proofed. We have a pretty good schedule going. He gets plenty of time to run wild outside and is involved in fun activities. While he his certainly slightly spoiled like most kids this day and age are, we don’t give him everything he wants and we don’t let him get away with whatever he wants to do. We are stern. We enforce time-outs. We give him choices. We reward excellent behavior.

I have also read a lot about dispelling tantrums, but nothing is working for us lately. When he was younger, in order to dispel tantrums we would use diversions to distract him from whatever he was fussing about at the moment. It worked really well. But I realize that I might not always be able to focus on distracting my son from his tantrums. Lately when he throws one, we acknowledge him and then continue on with whatever we were doing until the tantrum ends. The problem is: the tantrums last FOREVER.

I am at the point where I really want some more advice, and I am hoping that some of you readers are “Tantrum Whisperers” and can share with me (and the New Orleans Moms Blog community) some pearls of wisdom.

So please tell me, what is the best advice on tantrums you’ve received? What “tantrum techniques” work for you?

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Marie is the owner of Little Hometown, a company specializing in locally themed baby swaddles and apparel. Prior to opening her business, Marie was a professional event planner turned stay-at-home mom. She spent nearly a decade living in New York City, where she met her husband, Jeff (a New England native). Early in their relationship, Marie told Jeff that New Orleans is the only place where she would want to raise her children. As soon as she got pregnant, they started shopping for houses. They moved back in December of 2012, welcomed their son in 2013 and their daughter in 2015. Marie now spends her days entertaining her kids with silly songs, desperately attempting to stay organized, and balance her life as a work-at-home mom.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Marie,
    My son wasn’t a champion tantrum thrower, but I did follow this advice that I read/got somewhere and it seemed to have worked.

    Basically, you do the exact same thing as your toddler. So for example, Kaleb would lay down in the middle of the sidewalk and have a tantrum, then I would also lay down on the sidewalk. It would so utterly confuse him and it just seemed to have really worked for us. Warning: it can get pretty embarrassing, but I’m one of those people who doesn’t get embarrassed that easily. 🙂

    • Haha, Lucie! I’m just imagining myself on the floor of Lakeside Mall. I’ll have to try that one…in private first. 🙂

  2. My son is 3 and his tantrums are extreme. They are always either because he can’t have what he wants or he doesn’t want to go to timeout. I get so overwhelmed by his tantrums lately. I definitely don’t have a magical solution, but there are 2 things that have been working lately. 1) He rarely sheds a real tear, but when he does, then hugging him and rubbing his back calms him down. 2) When he is having an out-of-control, crazy tantrum (hitting, throwing, screaming), we lock ourselves in our bedroom and calmly say, “Let us know when you are finished and we will come out.” Then, we completely ignore him from the other side of the door. The first time he kicked the door and screamed for us to come out. Finally, he stopped and said “I’m calm now! Come out!” I reminded him (through the door) that if we stepped out and he started screaming again, we would go back in. Now, he calms himself down pretty quickly so we will come out. Apparently, he hates being completely left out, and I’m sure he feels like his efforts are pointless since we can’t see him. This might sound crazy, but it really has worked lately.

    Now, as far as public tantrums, I just leave and usually cry!

  3. I know exactly what you are going through! My oldest, now almost 5, was very difficult and very extreme when she threw a tantrum. I was pregnant as well during this hard phase. I truly believe that not all things work on all kids. I tried so many different things. What worked on her may not work for your son, but here is what I found to work the best (it didn’t keep them from happening but lessened them and I think in the end helped her create a way to learn how to deal with all her changing emotions)
    I stayed consistent no matter where we were. I stopped giving too much attention to the fit. I would not ignore her or make her feel alone. I found that right when the moment was starting to happen I would give her a verbal option on choosing one action or a better one. Then tantrum would most likely happen and I would simply say, a few times during the tantrum, the same sentence; “When you are ready to talk about it I am here”. I would stay close but not say anything else to fuel the fit. In this way I believe she saw that I was not giving attention to her negative behavior (which really is just her learning and sorting out her world) and at the same time I was not abandoning her and she knew that I was right there with her. I would still go about keeping myself busy near her but I wouldn’t hover. When she was calm again we would do just that, sit and talk in a very simple way.
    It still was very hard but at some point of this being consistent her response back to me after having a tantrum would be, “I am ready to talk about it now momma”. That’s when I knew all the hard work was starting to pay off! For us nothing else worked but this.
    good luck. It is hard but you are doing great!

  4. I’ve been having some success with advice from Janet Lansbury. My 21 month old son was not responding to time outs, acknowledging the tantrum, ignoring the tantrum, etc.

    For him it turned out to be an issue of frustration. He doesn’t speak much yet and heavily relies on body language to communicate (pointing, reaching, etc.) when I would set limits without acknowledging his attempts to communicate, or his desires or feelings he would have a meltdown. Even speaking children, however, can feel misunderstood and have a melt down.

    Example: son would hang on doorknob to back door. I would tell him he can’t go outside and he would scream then fling himself on the floor to have a full on tantrum. After reading some of Janet Lansbury’s articles on parenting I tried something new. Son hung on doorknob. I looked him in the eye and said, “I can see that you really want to go outside and play. I know you enjoy playing outside. I want you to have fun, but it’s not time to go outside right now. We need to find something to do inside. Would you like to play with your trains instead?”

    He’s so young that I felt awfully silly at first talking to him like this but the results made a believer out of me. He listened to my entire statement, dropped the doorknob without a single protest and walked over to his trains.

    He still throws the occasional tantrum when I don’t catch it in the beginning or he’s tired or hungry – he’s not even two yet – but they are much shorter. I always acknowledge his feelings and tell him that I want to help him so he can come to me and ask for help when he is ready. That almost always stops the tantrum fairly quickly.

    I would encourage you to explore her website. I read some of the articles and thought they were far out and crazy at first but my son’s increasing happiness and good behavior is evidence enough for me.

  5. I’ve been there, and am currently there with my 21 month old. Two things have worked for my kids: 1) ignore the tantrum – just let your toddler lay on the floor, screaming and kicking (as long as he/she can’t hurt him/herself). Sometimes my toddler’s tantrum will last a few minutes, sometimes much longer. But, when she is done, she’ll come to me for a hug and we move on. 2) get the book “Happiest Toddler on the Block”, and follow the advice in it. Basically, it advises to recognize what your child is upset about, and state it to the child in plain, simple language. Many tantrums are the result of a child not feeling as though they have been heard.

    Good luck!

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