Terrible tantrums - 15 month old

anotherone

Registered User
Hi all

Just thought I would check with you guys regarding this new "issue" with my son. In the past week he started having frequent tantrums if he doesn't get exactly what he wants straightaway, and no amount of explanation or soothing would stop the whinging and crying. Over night he seems to have learned the art of rolling around on the floor / holding onto furniture refusing to move / shedding a ridiculous amount of tears / sitting in the middle of the living room looking as if something unspeakably terrible has just happened to him. And he's nowhere near Terrible Two yet!!

I know it's futile to try and rationalise things with kids this young, but did anyone else experience this so early? This is especially frustrating since disciplining wouldn't really work when he's this young...
 
what do you do when he does this?

my suggestion is this: he is most likely looking for attention of some kind. he's too little to distinguish the difference between "good" and "bad" attention. when he starts, either leave him where he is and walk away, completely ignoring the behaviour or take him to his room and then walk away... do not give attention for this behaviour at all... eventually he will learn that he won't get what he wants with that behaviour.
 
My son was similar. Cara's advice is right, as tough as it may be, even if you are outside and people stare (which has happened to me!). Need to learn early that it's not the way to get what you want.
 
OMG.. my 14 month old boy is going through something similar. He is having more and more tantrums, specially when he cannot get what he wanted. Although most of the time, we can distract him with something else.

Last night he woke up at around 12am. After giving him a midnight feed I put him to sleep... He slept for few minutes and started to cry. I tried patting him, bringing him to our bed, carrying and walking him on my sling, and still didn't work. One hour later, I ended up breastfeeding him to sleep.... Really don't know what was wrong with him...
 
I learned by watching my mom when my son started doing that sort of thing (around 12 months for my son) to just walk away. My mom was living with us then and if he started clinging to her leg and throwing a fit, she would gently, but firmly and without a word put him down on the floor so he didn't hurt himself and leave the room. If he ran after her doing the same thing she would repeat the process--as many times as necessary. She would also put him in his room and tell him, "Come tell me when you are done." My son would shape up really quickly. Even now at 3 (almost 4-years-old) when he starts having a fit over nothing I will look at him and ask, "Are you done yet?" He will usually quickly start wiping tears from his face, calm himself down and say, "I'm done." We never tolerated the fit-throwing. I think giving the child what he or she wants or even distracting him with something else is just setting yourself up for trouble later. It drives me crazy when my in-laws do this. They're getting better with it as he gets older but they would always reward his behavior by giving him something. It even astonishes my Chinese husband how local people here often see a child having a fit and give them candy! He often comments, "Well, that's just the opposite of what you should do." There have been times when people have done that on the train with my son and I politely accepted the candy but he never got it, that's for sure. Now that my son is older I've told him, "Unless your body or feelings are really hurt, don't cry." It's working well because when he starts to carry on I'll tell him, "Show me where you're hurting" or "Did someone hurt your feelings?" Usually the answer is "No" and then I start asking him, "Are you done yet?"
 
I understand Thanka and Carang approach, but somehow I don't feel that I can do it on my baby (yet)... Probably because I have always been kind of "attachment parenting" style... I tried following other approach before (Baby Whisperer) and somehow it didn't fit. So I have always tried to fulfill my baby's need as much as possible, so he would not cry as much. So I don't think he would understand if I suddenly let him crying because he cannot have something that he wanted... Instead I have always tried to explain to him why he cannot have the item or why I need to have that item back, and instead I offer him something else if he seems attached to that thing.... I don't think he quite understand my words, but usually he take it pretty well. I am usually quite flexible, and would let him have most of the things he is interested in (because I want him to have chance to explore more, not because I want to spoil him), provided that it is safe... My hubby on the other hand is too cautious and mostly would not let my baby hold items that are not "toys" or that he considers unsafe (e.g. bottles, containers with cream, lids, etc). He is sometime blunt at removing the object from my baby, making him cry. My hubby has tried that cry it out approach with my baby (specially when I am taking a shower).... It never worked, and I have always hated it.
 
i do NOT believe in crying it out for a BABY, the thing is .... 14 months is not a baby anymore. children will NOT get everything they want. they need to learn how to handle the feelings when they don't get exactly what they want. please believe me, i see it ALL the time. i deal with it ALL the time (i teach over 150-200 kids every week), you need to nip this problem in the bud. it does not magically get better, you are setting up the patterns for your relationship with your child over the next few years. if you don't try to do something (i'm not saying that my approach is the only approach), you will end up with a child like "dudley, Harry Potter's cousin"...

why didn't it work when your hubby tried it? two simple reasons: he only tried it once and most likely when you got out of the shower you went and gave your child what he wanted and two, your child has since learned that if he cries long enough you will give in and give him what he wants.

i'm dealing with two older kids. if i had let them get everything/do everything that they wanted as younger children, i would have to totally out of control kids. being a kid is about pushing boundaries, testing those around you to learn how to interact with them.

being a parent is about setting those boundaries. children feel safe with boundaries, they need them.... they may not like them all the time, but they need them/want them. it makes them feel safe.
 
why didn't it work when your hubby tried it? two simple reasons: he only tried it once and most likely when you got out of the shower you went and gave your child what he wanted and two, your child has since learned that if he cries long enough you will give in and give him what he wants.

well, actually my hubby really didn't do it on purpose.... He in occasion just kind of felt down to entertain my baby, so just let him crying. Most of those time is before the baby's bed time, when the baby is usually tired and cranky. So yes, when I go out of the shower, i breastfeed him and put him to bed......
 
in that case your child IS crying for attention, literally.... i would have no problem whatsoever with going and comforting them. at that age, comfort is as important as food. BUT if your child is screaming out of anger because he doesn't want to clean up or he wants ice cream... THAT is a totally different story.
 
But last night, I really was ready to let him cry... I was so mad at him..... But saw my hubby helplessly trying to calm him down, and we both have to work on the next day.
 
I understand Thanka and Carang approach, but somehow I don't feel that I can do it on my baby (yet)... Probably because I have always been kind of "attachment parenting" style... I tried following other approach before (Baby Whisperer) and somehow it didn't fit. So I have always tried to fulfill my baby's need as much as possible, so he would not cry as much. So I don't think he would understand if I suddenly let him crying because he cannot have something that he wanted... Instead I have always tried to explain to him why he cannot have the item or why I need to have that item back, and instead I offer him something else if he seems attached to that thing.... I don't think he quite understand my words, but usually he take it pretty well. I am usually quite flexible, and would let him have most of the things he is interested in (because I want him to have chance to explore more, not because I want to spoil him), provided that it is safe... My hubby on the other hand is too cautious and mostly would not let my baby hold items that are not "toys" or that he considers unsafe (e.g. bottles, containers with cream, lids, etc). He is sometime blunt at removing the object from my baby, making him cry. My hubby has tried that cry it out approach with my baby (specially when I am taking a shower).... It never worked, and I have always hated it.

Hmmm....I think that at some point you're going to have to let your child cry when he wants something because you simply can't always give him what he wants. I think it's good to start establishing some boundaries when they're young so that when they get older you don't have to struggle as much. I would also like to add that to me the advice in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer never amounted to letting a child "cry it out." The way we did it we actually taught our child to self-sooth and put himself back to sleep and there really wasn't very much crying involved. In ten days he went from not sleeping through the night to sleeping 12 hours straight--the key was consistency. The problem is, most people just give up at the first whimper. The longest he ever cried was 15 minutes with that method.

I don't think explaining most things to a 14-month-old really works--unless it is very simple. As you said, children at that age don't really have the cognitive ability to comprehend that type of reasoning I've always thought "no" was enough of an explanation for a child that age. I understand what you mean by replacing an object with another to keep a child from crying but I think that's totally different than every time a child cries (especially throwing a tantrum which to me means throwing their bodies on the floor and making a huge scene of it) because they aren't getting their way or exactly what they want looking for an object (or food) to pacify them and make them stop crying. That's a really tricky road to be walking down.

This summer I taught in a playgroup and there as an 18-month-old boy whose grandmother did exactly that--she couldn't and wouldn't tell the little boy no and he was such a terror with the other children--constantly snatching their toys, pushing them around and then having a tantrum when he didn't get exactly what he wanted when he wanted it that the other parents and children didn't even want to be around him. His grandma was always just shoving a bottle or food in his mouth or finding another object to "make him happy." All I can say is "yikes"--the child already had a "social handicap" at 18-months-old because of the poor parenting choices of his grandmother. I feel sorry for him and his family because interviews for kindergarten roll around when children aren't even 2-years-old (my son was not even 2 when he interviewed for kindergarten) and staff don't look kindly on that type of behavior--seriously limits the child's choices.

I have seen that children basically do what we allow and expect them to. So, whatever behavior my son is doing that I find inappropriate--it's best for me to just look at my parenting style and see where that behavior is being reinforced. Children are also much more capable than we give them credit for.

Not saying your child is like that but I simply believe a tantrum should rarely if ever be rewarded. It's different if a baby wakes up from his sleep and needs to be cuddled back to sleep once in awhile. That's normal. But, I've seen adults in HK running around constantly trying just to keep the child happy--it's like watching a circus act with the juggler just trying to keep all the balls in the air. That's just not a reflection of what real life is about--sometimes the answer does need to be no--and not because something is dangerous but just simply because it's not the time or place for it. I'll tell you what, we started young with my son (6 months-old) and it's awesome that today he can say, "I want ice cream" and I will reply, "I know you want ice cream right now. Ice cream is really nice. But, we're not going to have ice cream, okay?" And he will reply, "Okay" without even questioning me. It probably would be a totally different story if I just had said "yes" to everything he had requested as a toddler. I think it's never too early to start modeling and teaching self control.
 
i think i just had that same ice cream conversation with my 6 year old....
'mummy, can i have ice cream?'
'no'
'but i really want ice cream!'
'yes, ice cream is delicious, but it is not an "every day" food'
'ok'
 
My boy hasn't have that kind of tantum yet. And I think he hasn't yet because 1) he cannot communicate quite well (probably that is why he feel so frustrated), 2) his mobility is not that developed to throw this kind of tantrum yet.

This morning he just stood on my bed, raised his hand toward my desk, opened his hand and said "bah bah" like wanting to reach something. I knew he wanted my iphone. Instead I handled him my brush, which was next to the phone, and said "What? do you want my brush? Here, take it!"... he looked disappointed, but took it anyway, lol... Probably in few more weeks he would be screaming and crying "NO!!!! PHONE PHONE!!!"
 
After speaking to a few mums I have decided to give "time-outs" a try, although deep down I'm still rather cynical about the effectiveness of such techniques on someone "only" 15 months old. The next challenge of course is to train the helper and the husband on this (not helped by the fact that I'm off on business all week next week), but that would be an entirely different discussion....
 
problem is this, if you are cynical about it... you go into it believing it won't work... then most people end up giving up too easily...

good luck... you are going to need it! ;)
 
He is sometime blunt at removing the object from my baby, making him cry. My hubby has tried that cry it out approach with my baby (specially when I am taking a shower).... It never worked, and I have always hated it.

Stick with the approach you are BOTH comfortable with. If done inconsistently, the cry it out method does not work, the baby will not get the message, and he will continue crying out of frustration.
 
Setting boundaries is really important. I recommend, Positive Discipline: The First Three Years. You can get it in the ShopinHK site. It helps you understand where your baby is developmentally and gives you a few tips on how to respond to a tantrum.
 
I decided to introduce time-out after reading this thread. So it has been 2 days, and is working out pretty well. Yesterday morning I explained to her what time-out is and how/when she will land herself one. She later went into a crying spell wanting something we didn't want to give her, and i did the 1-2-3, and she 'stopped' crying, not 100% but with quivering lips and teary eyes trying to control herself, then she came up to me, hugged my legs and said "i'm sorry mommy".

This morning, she refused to brush her teeth after my count, so we left her where she was and ignored her. After 5 minutes, she came knocking on my door with her tooth brush "Mommy, brush teeth". :)
 
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