Appropriate response to tantrums
#1
My son will be 20 months old this month. He likes to get into everything, and when his motor skills and language skills can’t express what he wants to do, he gets very frustrated and throws a tantrum. I’m not sure how to respond to this. Obviously, scolding him does not work. Sometimes I will put him in timeout, but that doesn’t seem to have any effect on him and he doesn’t seem to learn from it. Sometimes I will have to put him in timeout literally five times in one morning. I am not sure he is old enough to understand what it means just yet?

The worst part is when we are in public and he wants to walk by himself rather than sit in the shopping cart, etc. It’s gotten so bad that we cannot take him into stores anymore with us.

For the past two days I have not let him play with my phone or watch TV with me, and I’ve spent a lot more time reading books to him and holding him, and it seems to have made a difference, but of course the tantrums still crop up and I’m not sure how to deal with them when they do, especially when we are in public.


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#2
Kudos on cutting off the screen. We did the same with ours years back and it made a YUGE difference in behavior. We just started letting our youngest (almost 6) watch 30-45 minutes of tv a day, usually EWTNs "My Time with Jesus" in the evening to relax as a family after bath time.

20 months is a tough age. They know what they want, but they can't quite express it nor do they understand that it may not be in their best interests. As frustrating as it can be, I'd suggest giving him extra time to find his words, perhaps even coaching him. Ex: "Can you point to what you want from mommy?"

Time outs do work. He may be young, but he'll quickly make the connection between "If I do A, then I go to the corner." Just be patient and consistent with its application.

In regards to going in public, we got a backpack leash for our middle boy as he would randomly bolt in stores and parking lots. I know it sounds odd, but it allows him the ability to walk beside mom and dad, but mom and dad can still rein him in. Just a thought. Also, consider getting him involved in activities outside the house. For example: let him pick out food (obviously you show him which to grab) when shopping then put it in the cart. Being able and encouraged to help out gives him a sense of purpose and teaches him to help his family.
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#3
The public ones are the worst. First, we make sure the fit is not being pitched due to a need (hunger, thirst, dirty diaper, pain, etc.) Assuming it's just a "bein' a toddler" tantrum, we try not to "feed" the tantrum by reacting -- we just keep calm, and quietly leave whatever public setting we are in as soon as possible. Definitely don't reward the behavior by acquiescing to demands, but don't try to win by being louder either, obviously. Be stern and explain (after the fit has subsided if need be, and at a level appropriate to the child's understanding) that the time in public had to be cut short, and that the kid didn't get what he wanted, because of the way he is/was acting. Sit with him and be calm in a quiet place until he chills out (time out alone never worked for us either -- we always had to sit in the room with our daughter, just being patient and not reacting except with calm reassurances). Try to demonstrate sympathy with regard to the child's frustrations in being unable to communicate needs and desires.

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#4
When I'm about to throw a tantrum I like to hit the heavy bag.
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#5
We have a two year old son. If he screams during meals or tries to terrorise us into giving him only his favourite food articles, I take him to the adjacent room, close the door and continue eating. When he's quiet he gets to come back again.
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#6
All good advice. Maybe also offer up your frustrations as a petition for patience?

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#7
Our version of time out was sitting on the end of your bed.
Sitting upright with your legs over the side.
Not laying, flopping or otherwise occupying the space.
It worked. They hated it. A couple or three trips greatly improved behavior.
In public, we simply left. They got put in their seat and if they were unable to pull it together, we went home. I'd give them a few minutes to be done with their mess and if they were, we could try to return, otherwise home it was.
It does get better but I'm glad I'm mostly done with those days, although my grandchildren have the same rules.
Thankfully, I'm a bit better equipped now and they have known Poppy's rules from the beginning so they don't test me like my own children when I was learning on the fly.
"Civilization is always in danger when those who have never learned to obey are given the right to command."
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