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Toddler Temper Tantrums

Toddler Temper Tantrums

The other night Zoe spent 15 solid minutes crying on the floor over nothing at all. It may have been because the dog gave her a kiss, she ran out of puffs, or maybe it was because the books were in her way as she was walking. Whatever the reason, she rolled around on the floor screaming and kicking her legs for what seemed like hours.

Toddler temper tantrumsAt first, my husband and I tried to reason with her…but that didn’t get us far. How can you reason with a 15 month old? I don’t even think that is possible. Then, we tried to fix the problem by redirecting her and trying to get her interested in something else. When that didn’t work, we both just started laughing because we didn’t know what else to do. I texted a few of my ‘go-to’ moms, asking for advice on how we should be handling those situations. The resounding feedback received was “ just ignore them.”

So, we tried to ignore it. We tried to ignore Zoe screaming for 15 minutes until my husband got up and asked her to help feed the dogs. Then, as if nothing had ever happened, she ran over laughing, giggling and happy to help. My husband and I just looked at each other with a puzzled expression, laughed and both said “she is going to be a nightmare when she turns two.”

Experienced parents, I’d love your advice. What other ways are there to to reign in toddler temper tantrums?

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2 comments

  1. Kate January 3, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Oh Jessie, it’s like deja-vu. At the same age my son (now 3.5) started to throw tantrums, and it was way earlier than I was prepared for. I tried not to get too rattled by them but they were so puzzling! I did not have much success with redirecting. I agree that ignoring them is almost always best; you don’t want to give them too much of an audience. I also found that Dr. Harvey Karp’s advice in “Happiest Toddler on the Block” worked pretty well for my son. He suggests speaking in very short phrases with simple words — as if talking to a caveman! — and reflecting back their emotions. So I will say, “You’re MAD! mad mad mad! You didn’t want that shirt” or whatever. As he got older I started to teach him deep breathing, hitting pillows, and other methods to calm down, but it has been a process. The tantrums did get easier once he could express himself more. Hang in there!

  2. Sam February 4, 2015 at 7:40 am

    My daughter, just turned two, does this periodically. Mostly these seem to be caused by what seem like insignificant things to me but for her are oh so important. Example which shirt to wear or how many chicken nuggets are on her plate. I’ve found that repetitive calm comments from me explaining the situation and asking her how to fix it works best for us. To use the shirt example:

    Me: I can’t understand you when you’re screaming/crying. I need you to tell mommy what’s wrong. Do you not want to wear the white shirt? (Usually this is repeated a few times before she is calm enough to respond.

    If she can’t calm down enough to respond calmly, then I sit her down or otherwise direct her attention to me and I say to her again in a calm and deliberate tone, “I know you’re upset, but we are not going to throw a fit. Throwing fits is not nice and we don’t do that at momma’s house. So I am going to count to three and if you can’t calm down then you are going to sit in time out. One…”

    If the first approach didn’t work this one normally does, but on very rare occasions I will have to put her in time out which requires her sitting in a room by herself for a few minutes. Then we start over again.

    I’m not sure if this approach will work for you, but I’ve found that simply ignoring my daughter tends to make tantrums worse.

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