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Experienced moms, please help!

My son is 1 and half. I have been struggling with his behaviors. He will throw tantrums over the silliest things. He also hits, pulls hair, and throws things when he is frustrated and/or mad. I know this is typical toddler behavior. However, it has doubled in the past month because he is teething something awful. He can talk and sign well, but he doesn’t really know how to express himself other than throwing fits when he is mad. How can I help him learn how to express himself without hitting? How can I help him calm down when he is really upset? Distractions seem to make things worse. I have tried time-outs. It has been hit-and-miss with him. I don’t believe in spankings. But some days are so awful and I am at my wit’s end! Is he too young to start a reward system? (Or some sort of positive reinforcement.) Any ideas on how to make life easier, minus spanking! How can I teach him the right way to express himself?

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Asked by ShadesofGrey at 9:17 PM on Nov. 24, 2009 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 4 (51 Credits)
Answers (12)
  • He's too young for time outs but I like your willingness to try everything without spanking. At that young of an age I suggest showing by example. I'm a big one for laughing at things to show them "happy" rather than tantrums. It's ok to be silly with kids. If that doesn't work then get down to their level and look him in the eye and speak in a soothing tone, maybe even sing a song. At that age children respond more to your energy than your words.

    Answer by admckenzie at 9:23 PM on Nov. 24, 2009

  • Ignore him, or put him in a safe place to chill out. When my kids would start throwing fits, I'd put them in their cribs. Within 10 minutes everything would be fine, and it did not affect their sleeping in there. I fully believe in crib time outs, even though some people think it makes it harder for kids to go to sleep in the crib. If you're actively trying to get him to quit though, turning your back on him could be the best thing - go into another room and don't look back.

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:09 PM on Nov. 24, 2009

  • The best way to shut down a tantrum quickly is to make sure he is safe and walk away. If he throws himself to the ground, catch him, lower him to the ground, and then walk away. The more you engage him - trying to talk to him - the more it escalates the behavior. I would also caution against laughing at his behavior as it could send the wrong message. Sometimes when my son has a tantrum I will walk away and go get one of his puzzles or books and start playing or reading in his view without saying anything. He'll calm himself and come over and want to play with me. That's when I engage him in a positive way once that tantrum is over.

    Answer by beckcorc at 10:31 PM on Nov. 24, 2009

  • I totally agree with BECKCORC. When my son use to throw a tantrum I would ignore him and start playing w/o him; it wouldn't be long before he was ready to play instead of act up.

    Answer by heartfrommyson at 11:50 PM on Nov. 24, 2009

  • I agree with beckcorc and heartfrommyson. I took some child care courses when I was in high school, more years ago than I care to admit! lol One of the first things I learned about tantrums is "no attention for bad behavior" also, something you need to do for yourself is try to get a grip on your feelings. If you give into your anger, he will see this and in my opinion adds fuel to the fire. If he sees you're calm, maybe he'll be able to calm down too. Good luck!

    Answer by Robsmommy at 12:32 AM on Nov. 25, 2009

  • When my daughter would throw fits I would often tell her that she needs to calm down and tell me whats wrong and then put her in her bed and tell her that she is being crabby and crabby babies need a nap

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:48 AM on Nov. 25, 2009

  • Thank you for your advices! I have been putting him in his crib for time-outs. He seems to repeat his behavior once I let him out, though. I feel terrible putting him back every few minutes. I could be sitting on the floor, playing with him, he'll get mad about something I did and hit me in the face with his toy. He seems to target me when he gets angry/frustrated. Same goes for my mother when she watches him! I cannot understand this. It's hard to not react when he does things like that. I'll have to try to watch my reactions more. Maybe I'm doing something wrong! He doesn't do this with his father because he knows his father will not tolerate it for a second. But I don't like screaming at my child. (That's what his dad does.) Do you guys think he is too little for some sort of good behavior reward system? Like a chart with stickers, or little toys he has to earn? He's very smart, but I'm not sure if he'd grasp this yet.

    Answer by ShadesofGrey at 4:37 AM on Nov. 25, 2009

  • Is there any good books out there that might help me learn how to discipline and teach him how to behave? There has to be a way to get through to him, even with as little as he is. He has always had a strong-willed personality. I'm afraid that if I don't get it under some sort of control now, it'd be harder to help him contain himself when he is older.

    Answer by ShadesofGrey at 4:38 AM on Nov. 25, 2009

  • I'm sorry, but he is not too young for timeouts!!! And they will work if you do them correctly.

    If he's throwing a fit, he sits his butt in time out until he's done. You ignore him as stated by other posters...but he sits his butt in one spot (or stands...they tire quicker that way).

    No, he is NOT too young.

    Answer by Anonymous at 5:59 AM on Nov. 25, 2009

  • My DD is 15 months and I asked her pediatrician about time outs and she said she's old to associate bad behavior with a time out but only to use it for serious offenses (i.e. hitting, biting, hurting someone, etc.) She told me to put her in a chair facing a wall so that there was nothing pleasant about it. I started using it for her when she bites and it has stopped the behavior completely within a month. Good luck!

    Answer by anglgrl03 at 8:05 AM on Nov. 25, 2009

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