Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Toddler Tantrums - How to Manage?!

Post total freak out
Pearl has entered what I have heard referred to as the "terrible twos" stage.  She isn't quite two yet, but she is certainly throwing ridiculous tantrums all of a sudden.  She is still a very sweet girl, but will occasionally lose it over the tiniest things.
We walked to a nearby restaurant for breakfast on Friday.  She kept trying to walk into the road on the way home and since that stretch of the walk has no sidewalks, Jeremy picked her up.  Pearl went totally nuts.  She was crying, screaming, kicking, and eventually started hitting him.  Once we got home, he sat her down on the floor bed in her room to let her work it out.  She rolled around her room crying for a good ten minutes before finally crawling into my lap and falling asleep.
I thought he handled the situation amazingly well as it was his first experience with one of her tantrums.  I have been seeing them more and more recently during the day though and I have no idea how to punish a young toddler who is crying for silly reasons.  It's one thing when she dumps out the dog food or is playing with the stereo.  Those are easy things to tell her she shouldn't be doing and pull her away from the situation.  But what do I do with a kid who all of a sudden thinks the end of the world has arrived?  I'm not sure how to make her understand that acting like that is not okay.
So, I would love advice.  I know a lot of you who read my blog are parents and I'm curious to know what has worked for you during the crazy tantrum stage of toddlerhood?
Thanks for the help!


  1. We have started doing time outs. It is difficult as they don't really understand the full consequence yet but what is mostly does is allows him a moment away from the situation to calm down. I think putting her in her bed is pretty much the same. We set Linden in the corner on the floor and he knows to stay there but it is never longer then 1 minute. He is usually put there after hitting or pushing someone so we then have him give hugs to his friend and say sorry... he can't actually say sorry yet but I assume it is on the horizon since it happens a lot haha

  2. 2 aint nothin. 3 is when they enter beast mode. Being super consistent with consequences and really trying hard not to react when the tantrums start (now) is your best bet. It's hard when they can't communicate, I can imagine it's frustrating, however even when they can it's still days filled with unreasonable demands and expectations. Hang in there Momma!

  3. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to be two! So many things you can do, many many more you can't, no ability to determine which is which, and limited ability to communicate. I want to throw a fit just thinking about it. I think it is okay to let them get mad and if possible show them a way to vent without all out physical riot. I've used YES spaces, a place to go to with their favorite things when the meltdown begins, pounding clay, teaching them words or signs to express how they're feeling, getting down on the floor and acknowledging they have a right to be frustrated. My older daughter gets violent and if it escalates, people and furniture stand to be harmed. Hardest thing for me has been to let them get their release without rewarding them for the tantrum just to get them to stop. I don't want to teach that bad behavior gets the results they are after. Phew, didn't know I had all that in me, but I guess you asked for it. Luck!

  4. I realize this response won't be popular... but I spank my girls. Before I explain to them why they are being punished and I hug them and love them after, but I also reiterate that certain things aren't acceptable & when you do them there are negative consequences. Negative consequences can be taking things away or time-out (I've done all of the above) but those only work if they see them as negative consequences, in my book. And yeah, they're little, so they don't understand everything about what I am explaining to them. But they can understand more than they can express. Consistency is definitely the most important part - no matter your system. And if Matt and I are on a different page about how we treat a certain thing, the minions figure out how to work that to their advantage very quickly. You have a few more weeks of zone defense before you have to go man to man. Just make sure you have a game plan. (Oh my word, I just used sports metaphors! Are you proud of me? Probably not - because I probably used them wrong, huh?)
    I will agree with Jenn that 2 is just them trying to figure out the world and voice their opinion and frustration but 3 is where you enter the fight for independence (and if Pearl is as stubborn as someone else I know - we will likely both rue the day we ever said anything bad about 2). Three is where they get extra sneaky. Seriously. Watch out for three... I would also like to say that, as bad a rap as it gets, 2 is one of my absolute favorite ages. You have that adorable baby element still but they start to actually communicate & the better they can do that and use words, the less the need for tantrums to attempt to communicate frustration. Personality shines at 2 and I absolutely love that.

    - Tab

  5. Oh man, I can't even imagine how frustrating this age must be for both you and Pearl. So much she wants to do and discover and so many boundaries you need to put in place. I have no mommy experience or advice to give, but I'm reading all the comments and taking notes. Good luck! :)

  6. Well, I am no expert in parenting since I only have an 11 month old, but I did work in a child development center with two year olds. Two is a tough age because they can understand a lot of what is going on but cannot communicate like they so desire (like what Carisa said). A lot of their frustration is caused by their limited ability to verbalize so they act out.

    I think we gave the two year olds choices that usually ended with the same result. For example, "You can put your shoes on yourself or I can help you with your shoes. Which do you choose? For your instance, "The road is unsafe for you. You can walk and hold daddy's hand or we can carry you. What do you choose?" Also, we would validate their feelings, "I can see you are frustrated..." But there was also a lot of "You need to calm your body, friend" and time outs. Let's face it these little people have strong wills. Ha ha! Good luck!!! I'm not too far behind you. Just wait a year for my blog post. ;)

  7. I agree with everything everyone has already said. Our pediatrician told me that tantrums usually occur right before a growth spurt, so their minds can think of what they want to do, but they aren't physically able to do it so their frustrations come out in a tantrum. It's so hard (especially being pregnant) but once you get into the discipline routine that works for you guys it should be a little easier because everyone knows what to expect. Diane Comer has written a lot of great posts on anger in children (I found them really helpful when Bennett started having tantrums)..http://www.hespeaksinthesilence.com/category/children/ (scroll down a bit. I just did a search for "children"). I feel like 2.5-3.5 was just straight up craziness and now that he will be 4 soon we have less tantrums but CONSTANT WHINING which drives me nutso. Seriously, I might go crazy.

  8. Oh yes, we are right there with you. Enzo will just straight up freak out over the smallest and sometimes nonexistent (at least to us) things! And the whining! Agh!! But hang in there. I remember going through this same thing with Claire and she turned out to be pretty darn amazing despite the year or so that I thought she had been abducted by aliens and sent back to cause destruction to the earth. And thanks Becca for that link, I'm going there now! I need some more advice on how to talk Enzo down once he gets going with his meltdowns. xo

  9. Hmm.. Nora is only 10 months and I know the screaming years are coming. I read the book Gentle Discipline, which gave a lot of really great advice in figuring out the best sort of "discipline" is best for your child... like time out.. or talking with them. or more covering the basis of why the tantrum is being thrown. Or.. a lot of the moms in my moms group just tune it out.. lol.. and then their kids do the death cry... when they fall back like they are in so much pain and the world is coming to an end.

    PS I do love Pearl's new hat on instagram today :)

  10. I ignore it sometimes, like just walk away and let her do her thing. But lately I am putting her in time out until she is done. Sophia throws tantrums sometimes, but I know I was a big tantrum thrower so its like God is showing me what my mom went through so I just have to deal with it :)

  11. Ooooh your face in this picture--it's priceless! Can't help you out with the toddler tantrums though, sorry : /

    PS-I miss you! I got super sidetracked with starting back to school last year but am finally on a nice long summer break. Will be catching up on your blog the whole time : )

  12. I do have to tell you...two is easy compared to three!! (sorry, not to be discouraging! lol!) Considering Ellie is 3.5, we have been on this road for quite awhile now. She's not a bad kid, but she has her fair share of tantrums. I read a lot of articles from "Aha Parenting" and I HIGHLY suggest taking a peek at that website! One thing that I fully agree with that is discussed in length on the website, is that learning does not, and can not happen in the middle of a tantrum. The child is upset, and it can be compared to the adult version of "seeing red" when an adult is angry. That is not the time to try to teach the child what they are doing wrong, and it's also not the time to try to punish the child because the punishment will be in futility! That doesn't mean you reward the tantrum. The child needs a safe place to calm down (your arms, her mattress, etc), and only once she is fully calm, should any type of parenting, or "talking to" or even punishments (if her behavior earned some sort of punishment, time out, etc) take place.

    And like other commentators have mentioned, tantrums at age 2 occur for much different reasons than at age 3. At age 2, most kids are just frustrated that they can vocalize, or express their feelings. So a lot of grace should be given to a 2 year old in that respect...by age 3, most kids can vocalize and are now actually testing your boundaries...deliberately disobeying sometimes to feel you out...that's why most parents feel like 3 is worse. Because the tantrums and misbehaving is much more deliberate. And that's when consequences and boundaries should be considered.

    Whew, sorry for the novel!!
    ♥ Kyna

  13. Looks like Fern and Pearl were on the same "almost terrible twos" timeline. Ugh. The worst.


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