View Full Version : 15 month old & tantrums help needed!
11-16-2004, 11:23 AM
I didn't think tantrums could start this early!
My 15 month old DD has been throwing fits and tantrums for about a week now. They mostly occur when taking her pacifier away. In the morning she always would put her pacifier in her crib when we said it was time to get up and have breakfast, now she's very attached to it. Other things have set her off as well (finishing her yogurt and now left, putting her coat on, etc.)
She throws herself on the floor face-up, sometimes hitting her head repeatedly. She stiffens up her body and scoots around the floor screaming and kicking. There are some tears but it's more "mad" than "upset".
I've tried holding her tight but that seems to make it worse and she starts hitting me, I've tried diverting her attention w/ no luck, tried ignoring her (putting her in her room until she's calm) and that's all that seems to work but the 3 times we did that it took over 35 minutes, not the few minuets I hear from other parents:( .
I've looked into books, on-line chats, etc but all the suggestions are for 3 and 4 year olds. I'm not sure how to calm and reason a 15 month old.
Any other suggestions
TIA - 1 Tired Mom
11-16-2004, 11:35 AM
Oh that's very hard. But I think it's in the typical range. Little ones just have such a hard time controlling their emotions and on top of that, it's scary for them to lose control.
Off the top of my head I would suggest making sure that you're giving her choices when she has to do things. Some kids have a huge issue with the lack of control in their lives. Like - Do you want to leave your paci in the crib yourself or do you want mommy to do it?
But there will still be tantrums. I usually just left/leave my kids where they are but ignore them until they calm down. And sometimes it's longer than a few minutes.
I would also call my pediatrician. Mine is always very helpful with behavioral stuff. good luck!!
11-16-2004, 12:09 PM
I know how upsetting it is when your child is throwing a tantrum and, no matter how well meaning, no one really understands unless they are there at the time. It wears you down. My Noah is 16 months old today (born July 16th) and, while he is a good little boy most of the time, he has been known to get PO'd and throw a little tantrum. I think the best and only thing to do is walk away and ignore him. It's hard I know because sometimes he runs after us, screaming and demanding that we acknowledge his fit.
As far as the hitting is concerned - my doctor suggests that when Noah hits, bites, or otherwise acts inappropriately, we put him in a three point restraint. That means we sit him on our lap, facing away from us so that he can't see our faces (mine is usually trying to stifle a laugh because it feels silly) and hold his arms gently pinned to his sides so that he can't move. We have to make him sit like that for 1 minute for each year of his life (1 1/2 minutes for him). We don't forget to also tell him first "No biting" or "No hitting" so that he is clear as to what the punishment is all about. Then we ignore him and hold him steady for that 1 1/2 minutes, without speaking or acknowledging him in any way. He hates this and he carries on, twisting and turning to get away. Sometimes he screams like a maniac -- but he seems to understand now that if he hits or bites this is the consequence.
Still, he is a true delight and we just adore him.
Wow what a timely thread as one of my good mom friends sons just threw a doozy of a tantrum last night and we were having a long discussion about it. IT lasted something like 45 minutes, involved throwing himself all over the place and was quite scary for the mom.
While we haven't dealt with anything quite that bad yet, Logan does have quite a temper sometimes. The mantra I try to repeat all the time is pick and chose your battles and try to not sweat with the small stuff.
For a while Logan threw a fit about getting in his car seat- That was not an option so I just kept saying I am sorry, while I proceeded to shove him into the seat and buckle it. So some things we just deal with the screaming and move on.
We do try to give him choices when its things that aren't that big a deal, like what clothes to wear, etc. BUt if he does get mad I usually will walk away and ignore it. He seems to calm down pretty quick on his own.
And finally one thing our ped. pointed out to us is from 15mo-2 years there are bodies are going through lots of changes and some kids need more sleep. If tantrums are occuring in the morning it might be a result of needing more rest. We actually just recently started putting LOgan down a 1/2 hour earlier because we were dealing with a cranky baby every morning. That really seemed to help.
11-16-2004, 12:20 PM
I would suggest taking her to the doctor to rule out any problems. My DD was having fits just like you describe. Anything would set her off. She was about 18 months at the time. Turns out, she had her very first ear infection. I recently took my son to the doctor because he was having fits. Turns out, his molars were coming in. If it's behavior that is completely out of the ordinary, I would rule out a medical cause first.
Now, when my kids just have fits, which happens on occasion, I will pick them up, put them in their own room (in bed), and tell them to come talk to mommy when they're calm. Then I close the door and wait about 10-15 minutes. They usually calm down by this time. I'll go back in and check. I know that my daughter will eventually call for me. Then I'll go and get her and we can talk. She's 3 now so it's a bit easier in that way. My son will also eventually call for me. I wait until they're ready, though. This way they see that I will not deal with them at all when they throw a tantrum and that the behavior is unacceptable.
11-16-2004, 12:22 PM
I'm going to come at this from a totally different angle. Many babies/toddlers this age get frustrated because of their inability to communicate. Is she talking at all?
Have you tried sign language? We've been signing with DS, and he currently signs about 60 words. While this doesn't necessarily prevent him from getting mad when he wants to play and we want to eat ( ;) ), I think it really lowers his overall frustration level. He can tell us if he needs help with something instead of crying or throwing a tantrum. He tells us when he's hungry or when he wants to go to sleep. He also tells about stuff that he's noticing that we never would have realized.
I can not even fathom dealing with him at this age if we couldn't communicate. Since he can communicate much of what he needs to us, little things do not set him off. As an example, if he were to finish yogurt and be upset about it, he would just sign "more" instead of having a tantrum.
Just something to think about.
11-16-2004, 01:26 PM
I wish we would have started signing w/ Ella, is it too late to start? But do you have suggestions on books or DVDs that might be helpful to start.
The tantrums are bad but they're even worse when she's at work w/ me. There isn't a "bedroom" that I can put her in to finish her tantrum so by the end of the day we're both exhausted!
She had a doctors appt Friday and I mentioned it. Doctor noticed she's getting her I teeth in and she does have a little cold. She's normally a little angel, this is just new to me so I'm not sure if I'm handling it right.
11-16-2004, 01:33 PM
Great advice given above. This is, in my mind, on of the hardest things to deal with for parents. It drains you completely. My DS did the same thing and it was mostly communication frustration and the need to control his environment. Once you've ruled out any potential physical causes, you can chalk it up to a passing stage.
15 months is actually a very common time for this to start. I always think of 7-15 months as being "the honeymoon" for parents and babies. They pass into a new awareness at about 15-18 months, realizing that they and you are separate beings. This is different for every child, but many have difficulty with that transition. They are more complex little beings now than they were a few months ago. They have more needs and curiosities and want to make their own choices. Thaey also expect you to be able to read their minds and make more yogurt appear instantly. Unfortunately, toddler telepathy just isn't available yet.
Tough as this is, it is temporary. By his 3rd birthday my son's tantrums waned to once month or so and a brief time out was all that was necessary to calm him down. It's completely impossible to reason with a child when they are in that state of mind. Trying to talk them through it just raises your blood pressure. Give them a little quiet space to themselves to calm down. A "lovey" like a blanket or bear can help too.
Some sort of something to calm you down will help too (no, no... you don't need to get out the valium, ;) ). Talk it over with your partner or a close girlfriend. Keep your sense of humor. For some reason drinking a tall cold glass of water after a tantrum helped me with my frustrations. Who knows why, but it did.
Good luck. I hope this helps.
11-16-2004, 01:40 PM
Yes, as a former nanny to over 6 kids and now a mother of two, I know a 15 month old can have a tantrum and how you treat them now will determine your quality of life for the next two years!
I always found the best place for a kids tantrum is the half bath. Install a toilet and cabinet latch and stow everything away. It is small so they don't run all over the place and get hurt or get into things that are dangerous. At this age I never had a timer of how long they had to stay in time out, I let them know that they can come out when they are "ready" and ready is determined by what behavior landed them in time out in the first place.
It might be that they need to use an indoor voice, share, play fair, ect. The most important thing is that they do not get a bunch of undivided attention for bad behavior. When they misbehave you scoop, use as few words as possible to tell them what they did wrong and put them in the bathroom. If you want to be able to watch them, you can resort to the "dairy door" where you cut the door between the hinges above the handle so you can shut them in with the bottom and watch them through the open top. I never needed this because most kids would learn to calm down quickly.
I am probably going to get blasted for this answer but here goes:
My oldest started throwing fits at about the same aget 18 mos, the first one was in a grocery store. I was mortified because she had never done this before. Then she started doing them more regulary, like you said with the pacifier, I took her to the drs and everything was fine--of course she was teething(they all do at that age). Then my Mom came over one afternoon and she had one of her fits, up to that point I really tried the "holding" thing, the time outs, everything. My Mom said--go and get about 2 TBSP of water in a cup, I did and when she started screaming and hitting her head my Mom threw it in her face. She stopped right away and looked at me like I was crazy. My mom then said, every time she does that, try the water. It took only 1 more time and she stopped. I asked the Dr after that and she said that was really OK..she was not getting the "reaction" she had received prior and it was kind of a "shock".
All I know is that it worked, and when her sister had tried the same thing I did it the first time and it never happened again, I just went and got the "cup".
They are now 23 & 20 and are great ladies. Just hang in there!!!
11-16-2004, 01:55 PM
Heh, Kim, I wish I had tried that. Sounds like a lot less effort than hauling a flailing 30 lb. toddler up the stairs to his room.
Reminds me of using the sprayer on the cats to get them to quit clawing the furniture.
11-16-2004, 03:10 PM
Great suggestions so far (love the spashing water idea!). DD (age 2-1/2) is just beginning to communicate. we used sign and i truly feel it helped eleviate many of the TT's (temper tantrums!). i don't think it's too late to start now. start with 1 word and reinforce it for a week (i would pick 1 new word each week). choose words which you feel will best help your daughter communicate (more, all done, milk, juice, cookie, help, please, etc.) here's a web site where i got most of my signs:
sign language (http://commtechlab.msu.edu/sites/aslweb/browser.htm)
also may i suggest a book called The Happiest Toddler on the Block . it's written by a dr. karp and should be readily available in any of your bookstores or on line. it helped me tremendously for the TT's that did occur. we have really been lucky, between the signing and the tricks we learned from the book our DD has had minimal TT's.
11-16-2004, 03:16 PM
Sarah, I don't think Ella is too old to learn sign language, in fact, I bet she'd pick up on it pretty quickly. I'd definitely look into that. We're trying to do some signs with Natalie. She isn't really doing them back yet, but maybe soon :)
11-16-2004, 06:27 PM
I'm not blasting anyone, but I am going to share my opinion--the water sounds completely inappropriate. I think it's important to remember that all these "lessons" are about life and not just stopping the behavior that is driving mommy crazy.
We are supposed to be teaching our children how to deal with anger, disappointment, etc. in THEMSELVES, and also OTHERS. That seems like a recipe to invite Junior to decide to shut somebody else up. A tantrum is a natural part of growing up--it's not our job to shortcircuit their anger FOR them, but to teach them how to do it themselves--that's why the idea of spending time alone or being restrained can be a powerful tool(usually one method works and the other doesn't, it depends on the child). The first few tantrums are usually doozies, and extra time spent reasoning with them can prolong it. If these methods are not working---after months and months it's not getting any better--it's usually one of two things (in my experience): the method is not used consistently, or the child possibly has a problem, maybe with anger, maybe with something else. We get this hammered into our heads in my classroom (half our kids are non-verbal) that there is almost never a tantrum or as we call it, protest for no reason. They are expressing SOMETHING. Now if you had something important to express, would you want someone to shock you out of it?
I highly recommend a book such as: "Positive Discipline for Toddlers". It does a great job of explaining some good reasons why kids do the things they do.
11-17-2004, 04:28 AM
The water idea is interesting, however, I'm sure my children would have evntually used it against me!
I think 15 months is fine to start sign language. I think my son was beginning to learn just after he turned 1. They teach it at daycare.
I get the best results with putting them each in their own room and waiting it out. This shows them that I refuse to acknowledge their behavior and that they need to calm down or I can't help them at all. I'm working with my son a lot because he's a complainer. I tell him over and over that I can't understand him when he cries and yells and I can't get him anything that he wants if I can't understand him. As he gets older, he's getting better. I find that if I ignore him, he'll just stop crying and go off to play with something. I can see it's more of a control thing with him- he wants my attention and he doesn't like to take no for an answer.
They all react differently to teething, though. When my son was throwing fits about everything, I took him to the dr. His molars were coming in. We gave him some motrin tablets each day for a few days and the problem went away.
11-17-2004, 07:58 AM
My son had a few tantrums like this around the same age. He would cry, scream, kick--all the ugly stuff. My daycare provider gave me the advice to start singing & doing something else--read a magazine, do the dishes, anything but give him attention. I wouldn't even try to put him in his room. I just walked away. This infuriated him the first couple of times, and seemed to make it worse--but my babysitter said to keep with it. I did, and eventually (like a week or two later), he would simply stop as soon as I stopped giving him attention. Then, when he calmed down, I would hold him & tell him that I loved him no matter what, but if he was mad he had to learn to use his words. He finally learned to say "bad day" when he was feeling that nasty feeling, and we'd try to find a way to deal with it. We had a deal that he could cry & be mad, but no screaming, throwing, etc. I don't know how much he understood, but we still deal with his moods this way (he's almost 4, and to this day will say, "I'm having a bad day" when he feels bad & usually will ask me just to leave him alone for a little while). I also started giving him options--"Do you want your red or your black coat on?" "Do you want to put your books or your toys away first?" The illusion of control helped him a lot. I know not every child is the same, and different things work for different families, but once you find your "thing" I'm sure you'll find a way to make it work.
11-17-2004, 08:43 AM
Originally posted by DebGo
also may i suggest a book called The Happiest Toddler on the Block .
I just heard this guy on the Bob Edwards show this morning. Wow! He really seems to know what he's talking about! If I were parenting, I'd pick up both his books. I'm actually thinking about seeing if they're at the library, because it was such an interesting interview.
11-17-2004, 10:00 AM
Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. I'm going to check out the signing website this afternoon.
I think alot of it was her teething but I know this will come up again, and again, and again:p
11-17-2004, 10:15 AM
Sarah, I highly recommend the Signing Times DVDs. Everyone who watches them loves them. They are geared toward kids. DS loves to watch them. You can see short clips on the website so you know what the videos look like.
11-17-2004, 01:27 PM
both of dr karp's books are great, i recommend them.
another interesting book i picked up the other day is called The Social Toddler. the authors use serial pics of toddlers doing these things with comments below each pic to describe why and what is going on as well as good suggestions to deal with behaviors like tantrums.
my dd is 17 mo and has had a couple, no hitting her head or anything but only distraction seems to work well. i don't think i could restrain my child, i tried holding her close to calm her and she just got worse. however she isn't talking or walking yet and i think she is still too young for timeouts etc. i think it is definitely a communication problem with her.
11-17-2004, 04:33 PM
In private, I used to applaud and cheer. "Very good, that is an EXCELLENT fit." In public, it was a quick exit, even if it meant leaving an entire cart of groceries in the middle of an aisle. As soon as they learned I really didn't care (even though I REALLY REALLY DID CARE!) it stopped with minimal pain.
11-17-2004, 08:11 PM
When you get feeling really frustrated - remember the empty nest syndrome is right around the corner!
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