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How can I get my 1yr old to stop biting and throwing temper tantrums?

My 15month old daughter is biting when she gets mad, she will also throw herself into fits of rage. She is very smart and knows when she is doing something wrong, but sometimes when I take something away that she shouldn't be playing with, or I move her out of the kitchen (children have no business in the kitchen in my opinion) she will get very angry and it scares me a bit, its literally RAGE that shows. She isn't as quick to bite me anymore, because I do believe in spankings and she will get a pop on the butt for biting me, but she will also bite herself, throw things and scream, and when playing with her cousins she will bite them for taking toys or being in her face. I am at a loss of what to do. If you do not believe in spankings, please don't respond with something questioning those methods. Compared to her cousins she is much more responsive to things I tell her, I am always consistent in her discipline and when she is throwing a drawn out fit, I set her in her playpen until she is done, and usually all I have to say is "are you done?" and she will stop her fit so she can get out and play. I don't know how well I explained this, but please... any suggestions will be appreciated. Other than fits of rage, she is a very good and happy child. Thank you!

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Asked by Anonymous at 12:23 AM on Jun. 27, 2011 in Toddlers (1-2)

Answers (15)
  • No one answered? Jeesh. I have the same problem, my daughter just turned two, and boy.... her attitude is serious. Shes 25 months, can roll her eyes, walk away when I say the littlest command and go stand somewhere I can see her cross her arms and close her eyes. I mean it's like.. Where in the hell did you learn this from? The other day I tried to go grocerie shopping with her and I let her ride in one of those car truck things you put the quarters in, and when I took her out. ALL HELL broke loose. I was so angry that she was cying and hitting me, of course I tried to do what the doctors tell me to do by not reponding to her anger, but she litterally smacked her face into the cart handle and made her mouth bleed (inside her lip or cheeck) to which she wiped and smeared across her face and it looked litterally backhanded the life out of her. Just wanted to share with you. I'm in the same boat.

    Answer by Ashleigh_17 at 2:17 AM on Jun. 27, 2011

  • It seems like you have a reasonably good sense of WHY she is doing what she's doing. When she bites, there are triggers such as her cousins taking toys or being in her face, & biting is her way of saying "Stop!", "Don't!", or "I don't like that." When she rages (and yes, I would agree that what you see probably IS rage, but I don't think that's disturbing or some kind of problem--it's an emotion!), it is in response to having her autonomy frustrated. Again, it's an expression of the feeling triggered by coming in contact with something she doesn't like: a limit that challenges, restricts or frustrates her. It is her way of protesting, registering her natural dislike, and struggling to defend her validity. You used power over her to take something away or to remove her from a situation, and she has a feeling in response (which she expresses.) This is all normal!
    She's literally "acting out" (think of it as playing charades) the

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:09 AM on Jun. 27, 2011

  • (cont)
    way she feels inside. And she is communicating fairly clearly her displeasure, her wish for something to stop, etc.
    So my first thought is to consider the possibility that these are not problems in themselves, and that really you just want to guide her toward ways of communicating that are less problematic for you & for others, but not just to "stop" the behavior itself because resisting something that is valid & makes sense is going to trigger counter-resistance & frustration in her, because she KNOWS she makes sense! (She KNOWS she's not "wrong.") So...if you, too, can know that she's not wrong, you have a much better chance of engaging cooperation.
    Biting is problematic because it hurts, & you need to keep her & others safe. But if you focus on stopping the behavior, you are invalidating (or ignoring) the needs & valid, healthy instincts behind it. If you first validate ("You don't like it when he grabs your toy!") &

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:16 AM on Jun. 27, 2011

  • CONT
    then provide guidance about what you DO want her to do at those times, you show her that you understand her rather than opposing her. It makes a big difference.
    At her age, it might be tricky to provide alternatives if she isn't yet very verbal. Her receptive language is probably quite developed, but it could be hard for her to use expressive language, especially under stress. Showing her a sign for "stop" or "don't" might help, if she can't speak those. Saying "No!" could be an easy one, but you would have to recognize that she is expressing herself (not making a punishable offense) if she cries NO! to you in protest when you limit her. (This actually is an improvement over hurting herself or others: she is verbalizing her upset. If you get used to the idea that she can have her feelings about things & it's not disloyal or disrespectful, you can feel less triggered. Her self-expression will become less "raw" as she gains

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:09 AM on Jun. 27, 2011

  • girlwithC Thank you, but she does say "stop that", and she is usually screaming it at the top of her lungs while throwing her tantrums. There has to be a way to stop the tantrum, and keep the words. I tell her, use your words constantly to try and teach her the correct way to respond, but her rage, and yes it is rage spirals out of control. My husband and I have been working with her, taking things from her to get a response and we wait until she is done with her fit to give it back. After 2 tries she doesn't get the toy back.

    Ashleigh 17 Your daughter is old enough to use the technique my father taught me, he raised my niece to 4 yrs old, and also raised 3 kids, so I have seen his methods work without a doubt, I can actually help you. Do you still have a play pen? If you do, when she throws a fit, CALMLY with no anger, pick her up slowly and bring her to her playpen. Set her in there until she is done with her fit.... CONT

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 12:11 PM on Jun. 27, 2011

  • her first couple of times going to "time-out" she may scream and yell for hours, but as soon as she quits crying, walk up to her, pick her up calmly and try the activity again if it something that can be done. If she throws a fit again, put her back in the play pen and put the activity away. Only give her one last try. If she is somewhere public like walmart or something, drop whatever you are doing and take her out to the parking lot, or the car and wait until she is done with her fit. The key in this technique is to show no anger, frustration or any negative emotion. The moment she knows she is getting to you, she has a reason to do it. Let me know if that helps!

    Comment by Anonymous (original poster) at 12:19 PM on Jun. 27, 2011

  • (cont)
    proficiency. Her verbal skills will increase and her emotional mastery will grow along with them, if you are able to recognize process in addition to content, or if in other words you can hear WHAT she is saying and not only focus on HOW she is saying it.)
    Recognizing that "she can have her feelings" & that they make sense, that they aren't "wrong," does not mean YOU are wrong for being the one who has frustrated her by holding a limit. (I do believe parents do well to reflect on the ways & reasons we exercise parental power, so that we are not frustrating young children unnecessarily & provoking rage in situations where it was avoidable. Our limits aren't reasonable just BECAUSE we decide something, so it's good to stay in touch with that because frustration & rage DOES leave baggage, which are strong feelings that need to be off-loaded.) But her valid feelings in response don't make you wrong; it's not either/or. But

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:30 PM on Jun. 27, 2011

  • (sorry, I keep typing & getting pulled away before finishing/posting, then coming back. Being a mom before a "cafemom," of course. lol)
    So I just posted what I had written earlier, and I see you have replied. I haven't read all of your response but it looks like your objection to her screaming protest of "stop that!" (which ARE words, & at least give you SOMETHING to focus on/understand that you wouldn't get from a COMPLETELY pre-verbal child's screams of protest) is covered a little bit in my process/content ("what" versus "how") comments. Part of being attuned to a child is accurately understanding a child & her behavior from the child's perspective, or accurately understanding her as she experiences herself (not through the filter what you decide about her behavior, or how you experience it or what feelings/beliefs it triggers in you.) This is challenging & it's possible you simply won't consider it. But I think

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:39 PM on Jun. 27, 2011

  • it could help you to have a LOT less struggle, from frustration on both sides, with her. (And 15 month old is so young!) A little reflective listening when she protests (rather than responding to discipline her personal expression which IS raw) could show her that you get it and that you acknowledge those feelings, which STOPS the vicious cycle of tantruming protests because it takes away the frustration of not being understood (being interpreted as disrespectful and wrong when you say how you feel.)
    Anyway, I'll post this & go back and read.
    And I truly do know how triggering and frustrating "raw" self-expression is...I used to have the hardest time "translating" some things for myself, from my 2-year-old twins, particularly when they (seem to) negate something that is MY personal, subjective truth (such as "I'm tired," or that I thought something was loud or startling, by saying "No!") It was so inexplicable at first!

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:48 PM on Jun. 27, 2011

  • Okay, I read your response. When I say "she can have her feelings without being wrong" (i.e., she is mad that you took something away or aren't letting her do something) and that it even could be okay (if you decide to consider it) for her to express her upset or complaint ("stop that," "give it back," "I want" etc.) however it comes out without it being "wrong" or a problem, I don't mean that "since she's not wrong she ought to have her way."
    It's not about giving in or her having her way; it's about recognizing that she is facing a limit & supporting her so she can process the resulting feelings. The whole time you are supporting her (by allowing her feelings & her emotional expression--which yes, is "allowing" her rage), you are giving her guidance and room to grow & learn. When you are resisting her by censoring how she can express herself, you are escalating the frustration which is why the rage spirals out of control.

    Answer by girlwithC at 12:56 PM on Jun. 27, 2011

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