After my daughter had a little outburst this afternoon, I started to reflect on temper tantrums and the terrible twos stage. I will be the first to admit, I know very little in this area.  She just recently turned 18 months and we have had a few incidents now that I would call “tantrums”.  This is unchartered territory for me and it has me pretty spooked.  I know this is just the beginning and that we will have some major blow ups later on.  That is just part of normal development and something every parent will deal with at one point or another. I totally get that, but I can’t help feeling like there has to be a way to prepare.

I have read articles, books, and other blogs regarding how to deal with tantrums and there were a few common themes in all that I would like to share.  Mostly as a reminder to myself when times get frustrating, but also, because maybe it will help you out too!

1) Have realistic expectations. This greatly has to deal with your child’s age and developmental stage.  According to Early Intervention Support, “If you have unrealistic expectations of your toddler’s attention span, it can often lead to temper tantrums and other upsetting behavior.”

The average attention span by age group:

8-15 Months> 1-2 minutes (on a single toy or activity)

16-19 Months> 2-3 minutes

20-24 Months> 3-6 minutes

25-36 Months> 5-8 minutes (and can split attention between directions and activity)

3-4 Years> 8-10 minutes

I try to keep this in mind as well when running errands or going on car trips. I try to limit outings with my daughter to no more than 2 stops.  She can only tolerate so many things in one period of time.

2) Know your child’s triggers. This is a big one for me.  Since my daughter was only several months old, if you deprived her of sleep or food she would go crazy.  It is still true to this day. In fact the couple of times she has tantrumed within the last month were due to the fact that she was hungry.  Due to the fact that she still has limited verbal ability, she doesn’t always succeed at telling me things directly.  She gets frustrated, and when I still don’t understand, we go into full blown tantrum mode. I try my best to understand her, but there are always going to be those times where I just don’t get what she wants.  It helps to at least try and see if she is hungry or desperately needs a nap (even if it isn’t normal nap time).  Also, illness or some kind of major change also may be the culprit.


3) Don’t escalate things by reacting negatively. Obviously, shouting at your child or spanking them during a tantrum is only going to make matters worse.  Ignoring tantrum-like behavior works sometimes, but in cases similar to my daughter, it may make things worse.  For example, my daughter cries and gets upset because she is frustrated over trying to communicate something to me.  Ignoring her just makes her more frustrated.  If she could speak in sentences she would probably say, “Mom, you aren’t listening to what I am saying!”  So I would advise using the “ignoring” technique only if the situation calls for it.  Basically, you don’t want to make them even more frustrated.

Father Telling Off Daughter At Home

4) Pick your battles. You just can’t spend all your time trying to win a power struggle.  You will quickly run out of energy and become very frustrated yourself!  Now, don’t misunderstand me.  I am not telling you to give in to your child’s demands if they are throwing a tantrum.  But you might not always want to punish or give a consequence.  Sometimes, it is better to move on to something else.

I will use myself as an example.  I am trying to teach my 18 month old daughter to use her words, whether they be verbal, or sign language.  Basically, I don’t want her to whine or cry when she wants something.  Well she wanted something out of the fridge and I wanted her to tell me either “open” or sign “eat”.  But she just stood there and whined.  I kept asking her to tell me what she wanted, but she didn’t.  Then she started to cry.  I decided to walk away and ignore the crying.  Well it only got louder and worse.  Then I thought, I need to punish this tantrum-like behavior, so I put her in her room.  I was thinking this would get her to stop because she would want to be with me. In past situations, this form of a “time out” has worked fairly quickly with her.

This time? Nope.  Just got worse. She was to the point where she was scream-crying.  I was sitting outside of her room with the door open and she came to me and desperately wanted me to hug her. (How could I resist?) We had hit somewhere around the 15 minute mark at this point.  I had to make a decision at this point, stick to my guns and let her keep crying, or call it good and try to move on.  I did the latter.  I got her something to eat, sat her in her high chair, and she ate while recovering after all the crying she had done.

In retrospect, this was one of those times I probably should have picked my battle.  Or at the very least, known that she was probably hungry (which is a major trigger for her), and gotten her something to eat. I felt badly for letting her frustration get so escalated, but in the end, she won’t hold a grudge.  As moms, we need to forgive ourselves for those times when we maybe don’t do our best.  After all, there is no manual.  We learn on the job.  If we make mistakes, we just need to learn from them and move on.  Our kids certainly do. 🙂

5) Try to teach your child tools to use when upset/frustrated. So I am sure my family is tired hearing about the show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS. But I am sorry. I love it!  And so does my daughter.  Which is why I have seen all the episodes of the first season probably 5 times (thank you Netflix).  Anyways, I really like it because it is based on Mr. Roger’s Neigborhood, so some of the characters and stuff are the same, but the main character is this cute little tiger named Daniel who learns a lesson in each episode.  Instead of the lessons being “academic”, they are geared more towards building character and developing every day/social skills.  One of the things I like most about it is that there will be a little song that goes with each lesson.

Anyways, (sorry for the tangent) my point in bringing up Daniel Tiger is that the  little songs they have are tools that I feel help kids deal with situations.  My 18 month old gets frustrated because she has difficulty communicating sometimes, so I try to teach her as many words as possible. And when she can’t verbally say what she needs, maybe she can sign or gesture.  I feel that teaching her some basic baby sign has really helped her feel like she can be successful communicating.  For kids that are a little older, and more verbal, possibly having them take some time away and then learning how to talk about what they are feeling.  Again, often times these tantrums evolve out of frustration.  Helping them communicate is key. Children need to felt heard/understood. Try and give them that opportunity.

What are ways that you deal with tantrums?


This entry was posted in Advice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Temper Tantrums and the Terrible Twos

  1. Hey there, You’ve done an excellent job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they’ll be benefited from this website.

  2. SydneyDLadas says:

    Touche. Great arguments. Maintain the amazing effort.

  3. GradyDBovell says:

    I’m really impressed along with your writing skills as well as together with
    the layout on the weblog. Is it a paid subject or do you customize it on your own? In any case stay the excellent
    quality writing, it can be rare to view a great blog
    like this one nowadays..

  4. LamarOVanner says:

    Hey there I am so delighted I found your weblog, I really
    found you by error, while I was browsing on Yahoo for something else, Anyways I
    am here now and would just like to say thanks for a remarkable
    post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to read through it all at the minute but I have saved it and also added in your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the fantastic work.

  5. GenaRZelle says:

    This really is a topic which can be near to my heart… Many thanks!
    Where will be the information though?

  6. StanHAldas says:

    I feel this is one of several most vital information for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But want to remark on few general things, The website style is
    ideal, the articles is really great : D. Good job, cheers

  7. RaymondJBoes says:

    I needed to thank you for this great read!! I absolutely loved every tiny amount of it.
    I’ve got you book-marked to look into new stuff
    you post

  8. ThomasMValis says:

    Hello There. I came across your blog the application of msn. This really is an incredibly smartly written article.
    I will make sure to bookmark it and return to learn more of the helpful information. Thanks a lot for that post.
    I’ll definitely return.

  9. SamUNienaber says:

    Aw, this was a really good post. Spending some time and actual
    effort to make a very good article but what
    can I say I put things off a whole lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

  10. AbramBCatano says:

    I enjoy, lead to I discovered exactly what I was having a look for.
    You’ve ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day.

  11. OnaSDuerst says:

    You’re so cool! I don’t suppose I’ve read something that way before.
    So wonderful to locate someone with original thoughts on this subject.
    Seriously.. i appreciate you starting this up. This site is something
    that is required online, someone with a few originality!

  12. CasseySNanni says:

    Great delivery. Outstanding arguments. Maintain the amazing effort.

  13. SerinaVCravy says:

    I have to to thank you for this wonderful read!!
    I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you
    bookmarked to consider new stuff you post

  14. KatyPVasaure says:

    Valuable information. Fortunate me I discovered your web
    site unintentionally, and I’m shocked why this twist of fate didn’t came about
    in advance! I bookmarked it.

  15. LavetteBSeel says:

    I like the helpful information you provide for the articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and have a look at again here frequently.

    I’m fairly certain I’ll be told plenty of new stuff right here!
    Have a great time for these!

  16. ErnieGArmlin says:

    I was able to find good advice from your blog posts.

  17. JerryRMendia says:

    An intriguing discussion is certainly worth comment.
    I actually do think that you have to publish more about this issue, it
    may not be considered a taboo subject but generally people will not discuss
    such issues. To another! Best wishes!!

  18. BryonCHeppel says:

    I am extremely impressed with the writing talents as smartly as using the
    layout in your weblog. Could this be a paid subject or do you customize it on your own? Anyway stay the nice
    premium quality writing, it’s rare to peer a great weblog this way
    one today..

  19. GroverBMonks says:

    Hey there just wanted to give you a brief heads up
    and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly.

    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried
    it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

  20. AmeeRBiggs says:

    Firstly I wish to say awesome blog! I had a brief
    question in which I’d love to ask if you do not mind.

    I had been interested to learn how you will
    center yourself and clear your mind before writing.
    I’ve had trouble clearing my mind in getting my thoughts on the market.
    I actually do get pleasure from writing but it just seems like the first ten to fifteen minutes are
    lost just figuring out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Many thanks!

    • friendlymomdotcom says:

      I think sometimes it is good to have a brain dump in that first 10-15 minutes. Just write everything on your mind. You can always go back and edit later! 🙂 Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *