Getting a "Handle" on Tantrums

  • Now that my little Hazel monster has entered the toddler years she has become a real monster on occasion with throwing tantrums. She will throw her whole body on the floor and WHALE and occasionally smack her head against the wall or whatever surface she can find. The other day she even threw her sippy cup because she didn't want to be put in her car seat... and there have been a few occasions where we are at a store or on our concrete patio where she will try to do this and i will have to try to catch her before she slams the back of her head down on the hard floor / ground. For us they usually start because she isn't getting what she wants (Which i'm sure is usually the case with most toddlers). My approach as of now is to walk away and not pay attention to it and she seems to stop and move on. This is my first child so i was wondering if some of you more experienced parents out there have a better approach to minimizing tantrums and their duration. Especially while out in public. I can just walk to another room at home, but i can't very well just leave her alone in a store and walk to another aisle. 

  • I found that my son would throw a tantrum when he heard the word "no"...so I started rephrasing things. If he wanted a cookie at the grocery store..instead of saying "No you can't have a cookie right now, it is almost lunchtime". I would say "You want a cookie right? Okay, you can have a cookie after lunch. When we get home you can have a cookie but not right now." 

    It seemed to help him understand that No didn't mean forever it just meant that there were other things that had to happen first. Sometimes you can avoid certain meltdowns just by phrasing things a different way. 

  • it isn't really the word "No" for her right now. she could care less if we told her not to do something, it's when we have to physically remove her from the cabinet doors she keeps opening, or from the kitchen because she is playing in the dog food or water.. things like that. I will definitely keep the rephrasing in mind for when she gets a little older though. I am finding that she is starting to understand sentences a lot more now, so hopefully reasoning with her will become easier. 

  • Brinny-

    She sounds like she has an opinion about things! I love that! :)  I would look to be consistent, simple and calm.  So if you are going to tell her not to do something, i tell her "no" once and redirect her to an activity that you would like her to do instead.  Then if she goes back to the dog water for example, say "No" and then do a time out or other major distractor.  Stay calm, unemotional and consistent in your technique.

    -Jess

  • Hazel and my little girl Melody are right about the same age. Melody does the exact same thing. When she starts a tantrum, I politely tell her thats not how "big girls act" and walk away. When in the store, I tell her the same thing, "thats not how big girls act" and turn away with my back towards her. To prevent anything from happening to my daughter, I lift my phone and watch her through the camera.She doesn't realize I am watching her though, you have to be secretive doing it.

    If my warning don't work and she continues her tantrum, I opt for time out. She will usually tantrum in time out, but I hold my ground. When she stops crying I tell her I love her but not her tantrums. NO explanation, just simple statements. They are starting to get better, but it has taken time!

  • Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. She definitely is a girl who knows exactly what she wants and she will do whatever it takes to get it. In retrospect that's a great quality to have, but it makes keeping her safe a little more difficult. Sometimes redirection works and sometimes it doesn't it all depends on how determined she is to do whatever it it that she was doing. I will definitely give time out a try again, it doesn't really seem to affect her; as if she realizes that she will only be there for a minute, and then will be set free again. I will try just turning my back on her in a store, hopefully that will work. She is the sweetest little girl 99% of the time, but man!!! In that 1% she sure can throw a fit.

  • When it comes to tantrums in the store, I just leave with the toddler immediately, which usually results in a worse tantrum because they really like being in the store. Once they know I am firm, they usually don't throw them in public. Home is tougher because they are so familiar with the surroundings, but my advice is be decisive and follow through with whatever you can. Replacing the object of their desire with something else positive is often a great distraction.