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Uncontrollable Hissy Fits.

My son throws hissy fits whenever something he doesn't like happens. Sometimes it's just a small thing. Has anyone else's children done this? Any advice?
I've tried time out, bedtime, ignoring, and distracting... Anything I do makes him scream.
Please help!!

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Asked by Tink05215 at 10:24 AM on Jun. 7, 2011 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 14 (1,362 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • Have one yourself! I'm serious, do what he does, as loud and exaggerated as he does. If he screams louder you scream louder. So when he has his next fit ask/tell him to stop. If he doesn't then have a fit. I will often imitate my kids less than desirable behaviour and let them see how ridiculous it is.


    Answer by AmandaH321 at 10:38 AM on Jun. 7, 2011

  • How long are they lasting? is he hurting himself also? My son went through a mini phase like this and I just put him in his room.. it could take up to 20 minutes to get over, usually I would have to go in and try to calm him down again but if that didn't work I'd walk out again and by the second time I went in there he was able to be calmed.. there were 2 or 3 ones that he went completely nuts and we didn't know why and he wouldn't let us touch him and he was so uncontrollable and knocking in to his bed/dresser so dad and I formed a circle and just cried because it was so scary!

    Answer by maxsmom11807 at 10:40 AM on Jun. 7, 2011

  • Amanda-I'll definately try that!
    maxsmom-His last for a long time too. I've left him in his room before too and he just tries to leave or throws stuff. Sometimes they get violent, but not towards himself. He'll slap me. And that does sound really scary! Jack gets really mad if I try to pick him up or touch him when he's throwing a fit.

    Comment by Tink05215 (original poster) at 1:12 PM on Jun. 7, 2011

  • act same way & get them see how they look

    Answer by sassy21176 at 8:31 PM on Jun. 10, 2011

  • I have two-year-old twins. I stay present with them (physically & emotionally) when they have strong feelings (ie, tantrums. I give them my presence & acknowledgment and I let them know that their feelings make sense. Acceptance. They don't last very long (at this point) but that is because I am not resisting them & by this time, they know it. They also don't happen very often anymore, but I think that is mostly because I'm "okay" with it & not injecting a lot of anxiety/resistance or avoidance energy into our interactions. That has been a long time coming...I used to dread the upsets, you know?
    Do you mean that with your son's hissy fits you've tried responding (to the tantrum, specifically) with the things you listed? (time out, his room, distraction, ignoring...) Or do you mean those are things you do that trigger tantrums? I am thinking you meant the former but wasn't sure.
    I think most of those responses are likely to

    Answer by girlwithC at 9:21 PM on Jun. 10, 2011

  • (cont)
    escalate the tantrum. This is basically because kids experience those responses as negations or invalidations, which triggers counter-resistance (or the impulse to dig in and defend their validity.) Responding with punishment or with minimization (distraction) negates the child, & this attempt to control leads to a power struggle. The child is struggling against the suggestion that they are "wrong" for how they feel, and why.
    This is the way I figure it: if I encounter a conflict with a child and decide to hold a limit, I try to do so as "cleanly" as I can (I take responsibility for it.) A child is likely to have feelings in response to this, even with relatively small things. From the start, I take responsibility for the decision to set & hold the limit (this was my choice & I used my power & limited his freedom or denied him some request--often for good & valid reasons, often out of necessity, sometimes out

    Answer by girlwithC at 9:36 PM on Jun. 10, 2011

  • (cont)
    of simple personal preference...which also is valid!...but the bottom line is that the more clearly & explicitly to myself I can own my CHOICE about the use of power, the more I am able to accept the feelings that arise in my child as a result of the situation.) So I take responsibility for having held the limit & I accept his feelings in response.
    I have an orientation to him that sees his validity (his upset makes sense, he has suffered a disappointment, he has been thwarted in some activity or denied some request or challenged in some way) & accepts rather than resists. If I resist his expression, I send the message that he's wrong, his feelings are wrong or at least expressing them is wrong, and I give him a whole lot MORE grief to protest & rail against. When I can hold a limit AND give full empathic acknowledgment of his feelings, I give him the space (through acceptance) to HAVE the feelings & move through them.

    Answer by girlwithC at 9:48 PM on Jun. 10, 2011

  • (cont)
    In my experience, giving space & allowing feelings (without punishing them for the upsets or sending a message that they are wrong) tends, over time, to mean that their upsets at any given time are limited to feelings about whatever just happened. So they will be expressions of the grief or disappointment or rage of that immediate loss that they had to suffer/endure. There are times when a little upset will be a convenient way to offload some extra stress they've been carrying (so I try not to question the validity of ANY crying they need to do, even if it seems to me that they "shouldn't" be that upset), but mostly it is true that the emotions of the moment are about the moment, no longer all the "extra" baggage of frustration from being made "wrong." So they truly become feelings they move through more readily and cleanly, and tantrums are less frequent too because there isn't so much attendant frustration/resistance.

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:04 PM on Jun. 10, 2011

  • Many parents try the ignoring but just don't do it long enough. If you're going to ignore you have to totally ignore the fits! No words, no eye contact! The second he's quiet, you can look or answer him. Don't be surprised if it starts immediately again! Just ignore it again. Ignoring is difficult because it's hard not to look or talk! All of the parents that I work with have gone through what you're going through so you're not alone! If you have to talk, talk to a pet in the house or another person. Say something like, "When he's done screaming, mommy will be able to talk to him." That may relieve some of your need to talk. He'll soon get the message that he screaming and throwing fits doesn't get him anywhere. Remember, you can't ignore it for 15 minutes and then say something! That will just teach him to scream louder and longer!

    Answer by AlisonAstair at 8:26 PM on Jun. 12, 2011

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