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What to do for a 2yr old boy with tantrums? Cries, screams, jumps up & down, once pulled his hair-otherwise is loveable & an angel. Wants do things for himself. Show one time & he can do something. How do we handle the tantrums?

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Asked by Anonymous at 7:48 PM on May. 9, 2011 in Toddlers (1-2)

Answers (9)
  • I always start throwing one with my daughter haha it works wonders.

    Answer by Heidikans at 7:49 PM on May. 9, 2011

  • IGNORE them. When he stops getting a reaction from you, he will stop.

    Answer by ObbyDobbie at 7:49 PM on May. 9, 2011

  • I do the same thing that my child is doing and he also will stop. But thats what my son does with my husband when husband works alot he wants his dad attention

    Answer by Manda725 at 9:38 PM on May. 9, 2011

  • Do you know (at the time) what is upsetting him? My suggestion would be to validate his feelings. You do this by getting (yourself) how the way he feels makes sense from his point of view, & you communicate this to him. This way, you are accepting his feelings rather than resisting them, & also helping his competence & resilience develop. Ignoring him communicates a message of unacceptability & can increase frustration & protest (because the message is that he is wrong.) I don't mean that you feed into his feelings, or try to make him "better" or distract him from his upset or compensate him in some way....just acknowledgment & acceptance & understanding. In this way, he has only the ACTUAL frustration or disappointment or loss (childhood is full of losses to grieve), & not the ADDITIONAL frustration of receiving a message that he is wrong & unacceptable. He also learns that big feelings aren't something to be feared/avoided.

    Answer by girlwithC at 6:56 PM on May. 10, 2011

  • (cont) Also, if you can extend the empathy/validation to your normal or usual interactions, it can help a lot. For instance (I have twins who are 2 years old), we are culturally indoctrinated to defend OUR validity routinely, rather than to connect to ANOTHER's validity. I try to be conscious of this & I STILL find myself defaulting to the tendency to negate instead of of my sons will approach me at the stove and say "Mama, pick me up." I am busy with cooking & need both hands for stirring/sauteing & I very kindly explain that I can't hold him, and why. He grimaces & says in frustration, "MAMA, pick me UP!" and his frustration likely escalates as I reiterate why I can't. He gets very upset, doesn't want to go to dada, etc. In the same situation with the same result (of me not picking him up), if my initial response is to see HIS validity (he is not just "wrong") rather than to explain & defend my own (I'm not

    Answer by girlwithC at 6:59 PM on May. 10, 2011

  • (cont) "wrong" either, of course! but that's not the point), & if I connect to & acknowledge his reality ("You want Mama to pick you up") then he has the opportunity to say "Yeah!" (because I get him.) True he doesn't get "what he wants" & he may have feelings about that, but not the extra frustration of being "handled" and essentially misunderstood. He has the satisfaction of being understood & accepted. It is stunning how many problems are of my own making (inadvertently & well-intentioned.) It is the legacy of having been routinely negated, ourselves. Another example of routine/unthinking (and unnecessary) negation is when he notices me doing something (grating cheese, cooking at the stove) & says "I do it!" or "Only I do it!" My tendency (if I am not connection-oriented in the moment) is to assess whether it's possible or not, & to answer accordingly. If I decide I just can't swing it or it wouldn't be safe (or just too

    Answer by girlwithC at 7:02 PM on May. 10, 2011

  • (cont.) much trouble/mess/delay in that context) then I let him know that mama is the one who is going to do it (and perhaps explain the why's.) This is all about MY validity & how my position & decision makes sense, but it engages him as the "wrong" party & sets him up to protest. BUT if I look at him with comprehension & recognize "You really want to do it!" & realize how it must look so interesting or exciting, then I see how his wishes make sense & are valid. I don't "make them come true" if the original reasons still hold, but at least I don't automatically & unthinkingly negate them. I find that sometimes this recognition ALONE is "enough" (my kids don't have a lot of built-up frustration or defensiveness at this point, though, so that helps!) but sometimes I might suggest the option of picking him up in one arm (obviously wouldn't work if I'm grating, but if I'm stirring a sauce or something, sure) & this connects him

    Answer by girlwithC at 7:07 PM on May. 10, 2011

  • (cont.) to what is going on & honors his underlying wish, which is to be meaningfully involved. In other words, if the focus is on why what he wants just isn't possible, a young child can get stuck defending the validity of his wishes against a negation of them. But if he experiences acceptance, that understanding & compassion gives him a lot of support in working through frustration & disappointment. Like I said, it's the "underlying desire" that is met when I accept my son & then hold him up so he can see. He also can recognize that the pan is hot, things are sizzling, etc. & he is not aggressive about trying to "do it himself" because he doesn't have to defend the validity of that desire & is focused on the joy of living & experiencing. This is what I'm talking about. This attitude/awareness goes a LONG way to transforming the experience of life with toddlers. It doesn't sound like you have a big problem & so validation

    Answer by girlwithC at 7:15 PM on May. 10, 2011

  • (cont) could really offer your child some support & understanding that could make things better for both of you. (When they tantrum, they are feeling helpless, frustrated, & needing a sense of dignity--which is usually denied or dented by whatever "went wrong" or didn't go their way.) Acknowledgment is calm & accepting. You can name emotions/feelings (angry, frustrated, mad) but it's enough simply to acknowledge what happened: "You wanted to stay in the pool and I said we were getting out. I knew what you wanted & still carried you out." We don't have to change reality for them (still, it's okay to reconsider something if you realize your "limit" wasn't a requirement & caused unnecessary frustration--a "yes" environment overall is helpful) but we don't have to send a message that their FEELINGS about that reality are "wrong" or unacceptable, or "control" them out of their emotional expressiveness by resisting it. Good luck!

    Answer by girlwithC at 7:31 PM on May. 10, 2011

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