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Old 08-30-2007, 02:18 PM
 
18 posts, read 78,281 times
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Default 2-year old with excessive tantrums

I'm well aware of the "terrible twos" and "terrifying threes", went through it briefly with my older son, who is now 5. But my younger one, who is 2, has literally exhausted me. I have one horrifying tale after another of temper tantrums and fits he's thrown. The trigger is simple: when he is told no or can't do what he wants (which is unavoidable). I've given him time-outs, but he refuses to calm down. My boy will scream and cry so hard, his veins bulge in his neck. His daycare provider is a woman I really trust and admire, and she realized that letting him be doesn't resolve it, so she addresses it immediately. She gets better and quicker results than I do, because when I try that, he still refuses to calm down. I've spanked him, also, but again, nothing.

When he finally stops to breathe for a second, he'll come right into my arms, and finally start to calm down. Then I'll pat him and rub his back, because he's so distraught. He'll whimper and be upset, but silent. But his fits can last upto twenty minutes, if I try to ignore it. And anything can set him off again.

Parents, I am exhausted, and besides myself. I don't know what to do, do I just wait and let him outgrow it on his own? What else can I try? Time-outs worked really well for my older son, for this one, not at all. Nothing seems to work, hard or soft discipline.

Any advice, well-intended and seriously given, will be appreciated.
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Old 08-30-2007, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
560 posts, read 1,481,261 times
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First of all, don't spank him when he is having a temper tantrum. I am not saying this because I am necessarily against spanking, I just think that it will just keep the situation more volatile. Try ignoring him. I know you said that doesn't work, but do you remove him from the rest of the family? I would have him sit in a place in a different room from where the rest of you are and if you have to return him 15 times just do it until he gets that he will not join the rest of you until he has calmed down. I am also a big advocate of positive reinforcement. Have a chart and each day he does not have a temper tantrum he gets a star. When he has 5 stars he can have a special thing. (extra 15 minutes before bed, etc.)
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Old 08-30-2007, 02:57 PM
 
Location: Between Here and There
3,684 posts, read 8,320,783 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NJmominVA View Post
I'm well aware of the "terrible twos" and "terrifying threes", went through it briefly with my older son, who is now 5. But my younger one, who is 2, has literally exhausted me. I have one horrifying tale after another of temper tantrums and fits he's thrown. The trigger is simple: when he is told no or can't do what he wants (which is unavoidable). I've given him time-outs, but he refuses to calm down. My boy will scream and cry so hard, his veins bulge in his neck. His daycare provider is a woman I really trust and admire, and she realized that letting him be doesn't resolve it, so she addresses it immediately. She gets better and quicker results than I do, because when I try that, he still refuses to calm down. I've spanked him, also, but again, nothing.

When he finally stops to breathe for a second, he'll come right into my arms, and finally start to calm down. Then I'll pat him and rub his back, because he's so distraught. He'll whimper and be upset, but silent. But his fits can last upto twenty minutes, if I try to ignore it. And anything can set him off again.

Parents, I am exhausted, and besides myself. I don't know what to do, do I just wait and let him outgrow it on his own? What else can I try? Time-outs worked really well for my older son, for this one, not at all. Nothing seems to work, hard or soft discipline.

Any advice, well-intended and seriously given, will be appreciated.
Oh the second child...I am a firm believer that the first child is so easy to deal with to trick you into having the second one.

I used to refer to my now 5 year old as the "Terrorist Toddler" from 18 months until he almost turned 4 and it was a title well deserved, believe me! I had the same experience with time outs not working, never spanked, but did do the ignore thing. Now when I did the ignore thing with my first he cried for 15 minutes realized I wasn't going to pay him any attention and then stopped and never did it again, literally never had a temper tantrum again. My youngest cried for 35 minutes the first time, and everytime after that, about 20 times before he learned the same lesson...Mommy ain't gonna deal with you unless you calm down and use your words. So persistence is the key. Even at 2 they can learn not to throw a fit...but some take longer than others to do it. You can't pay them any attention at all during this behavior (other than out of the corner of your eye to make sure they are safe) and believe me he will eventually learn. Praise him for calming down when he does, that will reinforce the lesson.

Talk to your pediatrician about this as well. Occaisionally some children can have delays or processing deficits (and boys developmentally can have more than girls) that will make this behavior worse and you may need a different strategy for this individual child. But if the pediatrician says there is no such concern, then go for it. Hold on to your seat and take your excedrin...because it could take a while but it will work.

Last edited by irishmom; 08-30-2007 at 03:14 PM..
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Old 08-30-2007, 03:05 PM
 
Location: Monterey Bay, California -- watching the sea lions, whales and otters! :D
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I will try with some feedback, too. My daughter is now 17, and she recently told me that kids (and teens) need structure and limits. (This is a teenager talking.) She said the out-of-control kids at school tend to have parents who let them get what they want (not saying you do that, but just as a generalization at her school). Sometimes the teens will even smash an older iPod or cell phone on the sidewalk to break it so their parents will buy a new one – my daughter is in total disagreement with that. So, my advice is based on raising my daughter (as a single parent), and also as a trained social worker. My hunch: the good news is you can make it much better!

You've already said the daycare provider nips it in the bud when your son has a tantrum. Find out exactly how she does that – she is doing something that calms and satisfies your son, or he wouldn't calm down.

Now, you're the mom. Kids know who's who. He's only two, however, I'm sure he understands basic words (and if he's nearing three, then he understands more).

Each kid is different, and what worked for your older son doesn't work for the younger. It could be that with the age difference, you are doing things for the older boy that look "good" to the two-year-old and he may want what his older brother gets, not realizing that certain rewards or activities come with growing older.

Simply, I suggest starting with this: start teaching him "choices." I used the mantra with my daughter for ages, "Good choices give you a good life; bad choices give you a bad life. It's that simple." She took that in over the years and now will point out kids who make "bad choices."

For instance, tell the two-year old that you know he is TWO YEARS OLD! And getting older! Soon he will be a big boy like his brother. However, even his big brother had to learn to "choose." Then teach him how to "choose." I'd do something like bring out an apple and an orange and say to him, "You're almost THREE years old, so I want you to learn that you have power in choices. I'm going to let YOU choose – which one do you want? The apple or the orange? It's up to YOU – not mom. YOU get to choose." Obviously, whichever he chooses will still be good for him, but he's going to start learning about making choices.

Then move onto bigger things. For instance, my daughter had two temper tantrums in her life – that's all. One time was in a supermarket and I had told her (she was about 2-1/2) that she could get some gummies. We got into that store, got her into the cart, and she started screaming! Typical tantrum stuff, but I was prepared. I explained that if she didn't stop, that she would get no gummies. Well, she just kept on going. So, I told her that each time she chose to have a tantrum or cry like that, that we would leave – and no "rewards" for her – instead the "consequence" would be she'd not get what she wanted and we'd leave. I gathered her up, carried her out, left the cart behind, and put her in the car, and explained again that she had the power to make her choices – but each choice has a reward or consequence.

She didn't do it again until 6 months later – I assume to test me. Again, same thing. Packed her up, left the full cart, left the store, and explained that she wasn't going to get what she wanted if she "chose" to act like that – the power was in her hands to choose which way to be. Suffice to say, it never happened again.

The catch is to not have any loop holes. Never, ever promise something you can't follow through on, and never ever say you will take something away, or not allow them to do something (like: "You won't go to the playground today if you keep screaming") if you intend to do it anyway. Only set limits that you know you can follow through on – that builds trust. The more consistent you are, the more the trust will build (he'll know that what you say is what you mean and conversely, when you say "I love you," he will also know then that you mean that, too – consistency is very important).

I would start before he has another tantrum. Explain that you have seen that he cries a lot when he can't get what he wants. Also tell him that there are times when we can't (for whatever reasons -- even mom and dad!) do what we want, however, he has the choice to get a reward or a consequence. Then….start with showing him how "powerful" he is and bring out two things to choose from (I suggest food first because toys can be very tempting). I used to use a piece of fruit and a yogurt and I'd ask my daughter "Which one do you want?" She'd look at them, couldn't decide, and I wouldn't prompt her, I'd just say, "It's up to you, it's your choice – you get to choose." And eventually she would and would feel quite proud.

Kids realize at some level that the adults "rule" their world, and I imagine they do feel powerless. By creating power through choices, it's a good way to have them start learning that life is actually about making good or bad choices.

As my daughter got older, if she started to act up, it got to the point where I didn't even have to do anything – I'd just say, "Do you want a consequence?" And she'd say "no," and shape right up (even if I didn't have a consequence in mind!). And sometimes the consequences were as simple as, "You can't have any gummies for two days." (And always, always follow through.)

Don't reward "good" behavior all the time – just once in a while – otherwise you'll be spoiling him. Make it random.

As for time outs – maybe you ought to just give him the choice – "Since you won't stop throwing your tantrum, or stop crying, then you have to go into your room to cry. OR you can make the choice to do……whatever….[such as have a yogurt, or show me what is the color blue….] It's up to you." And if he keeps crying, just put him in his room and let him cry it out -- as the other poster said, away from everyone else. When he calms down just say you're sorry that he chose to cry, however, it IS his choice, and mom can't stop doing everything just because he cries. And would he want to give another boy who is crying a "reward?" (Probably not.) And if he says "yes," then explain that although he might want to reward the boy, that no one else would do it – and the boy made a "bad" choice. Good choices can receive rewards, bad choices receive consequences.

Always come back to choices. Choices are power. And for kids who feel powerless, it is a great feeling for them to be in the position of making the decision. As long as you are consistent, and say what you mean, set boundaries and stand your ground, he will quickly learn that it's easier to get a reward than a consequence -- and more fun, too.

Anyway, since I don't know the details of your situation, I hope a little of this helps.
Good luck to you!
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Old 08-30-2007, 05:49 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
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Hmmm, sounds like your little one is trying to control you. I'm thoroughly amused by my kids tantrums. I find it hilarious (okay, not all the time). My little one also throws tantrums and I just walk out of the room (if I'm at home) leaving her there with no audience. If we are out I'll take her to the car or a bench outside and let her have at it. Her tantrums are now short and infrequent (she's 3). Ignore him (I know it's hard but do it anyway) - let it roll off your back because they want your attention whether it's good or bad. If he finds that you don't respond to this behavior he just might stop doing it.
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Old 09-01-2007, 02:54 AM
 
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To the OP: You should read the following thread if you are looking for a different point of view:
Advice Please 4yr.old tantrums
The reality for my family and many others is that the behavior you have described is from a "highly spirited" or "explosive child." Parents without such children have no idea what you are talking about (it's not their fault, they mean well, but they just don't have a child like yours and their advice fails in situations where an explosive child is involved).

I currently have a two year old with the same behavioral issues. Barring eventual diagnosis of a spectrum disorder (I pray to God every day that this isn't the case), the published descriptions of spirited and explosive children are right on.

If after reading the post I made in the previous thread you have any questions feel free to message me. I want you to know that the tantrums you have described are not your fault - parents of these types of children are usually very caring, nurturing, and empathetic (as demonstrated by your other child or children).
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Old 09-05-2007, 09:39 AM
 
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I don't want to sound preachy when I say this - so please don't freak out - but (barring any disabiltydisorder issues) tantrums are about control and reaction. Your kids will only do what you allow them to do at that age. They will try it all - they all do - but they will only regularly do what they can get away with. This is normal - all kids do it - but just because something is age appropriate does not mean that you can let it go. Whatever you choose - spanking, time out, walking away - be consistent. My husband I used to say that the children were like the raptors in Jurassic Park and they will test the fences to see where the weak links are. Not very flattering - but accurate. We do the 1-2-3 thing - our parents did it before us. When I say 1 they had better stop - when I get to 2 there is still a consequence - if I get to 3 all holy hell is about to break loose! If I say 1 my 16 year old son will laugh - but stop!!
My 9 year old step son has ADHD as well as an intellectually challenged mother and he gives her fits and is an angel at our house. His social worker works with us on how to deal with the mother - in this guys own words - it's the parents that need to learn how to deal with the children - you reap what you sow. 99% of children respond best to structure and rules.
I realize that this is very generalized and I am sure I will get 1000 replies back - everyone has their own story - but the above poster is correct. Children want and need rules and boundaries - children want to be perceived as good - it is up to the parents to define - very clearly - what is good and to enforce it.
I have said this before - my job as a parent is to raise my kids so that they won't need me. I am not helping them out by feeling bad for them and letting things slide! If you didn't care and love your children - you wouldn't care how they acted!!!!!!

Last edited by I love the Bears; 09-05-2007 at 10:34 AM..
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Old 09-05-2007, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Happy wherever I am - Florida now
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The first thing that stuck me is that he is getting love immediately following throwing a tantrum. He may perceive this [throwing tantrums] as a way to get hugs.

A better approach, that may or may not work with your particular child, is when the need to say no becomes necessary that you ask him onto your lap to explain why you need to say it in that circumstance and give him a kiss to reinforce his cooperation. This worked on my kids who were very independent and determined from birth.
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:43 AM
 
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Irishmom<
My youngest son was also the Terrorist toddler! 18 mos to 4 that is weird Aries maybe?
We did everything when sent to his room you could hear things hitting the walls. Thank goodness he never broke the window or lights.
He would go hysterical when ignored. Where he couldn't breathe ya know.
He loved to throw them in businesses too.
Nothing worked. consoling sent him over the edge, and reasoning was out.
I thought reverse psychology might be in order here.
When he would get to throwing one of his rants from h*ll (at home of course).
I started saying to him:
Your not loud enough...he would get a little louder.. then I 'd say kick your feet harder come on you can do it. He would get louder and kick harder and I's say oh come on you can do better.. This went on for awhile he is a stubborn kid which is good if it is towards something good a goal or something.
One day he stopped and looked at me, and I said your no fun I want you to kick and scream throw a fit. He said no mommie. I said oh come on you can do it again he said no mommie.
I said good. Gave him a hug. He NEVER threw a temper tantrum like those again.
He is 15 now and we talk about it and laugh and he is the sweetest boy you will ever come across.
Everyone loves him. He is polite and kind. He has manners he holds doors open for people at businesses especially our elderly citizens.
I have always been told how well mannered my kids are and how they are a joy to have around. That is still being said to me.
No they are not goody-goody as another said too. I also don't think that a majority of the population uses that word anymore either. We could be dating ourselves with that one! Ha ha ....
Maybe this will help with yet another way. AS parents we sometimes have to just plain ole get creative..
Ya know as a side note. I did not know if that was going to scar him for life or not back then. But he is a well adjusted great kid. Who talks to us and gives the scoop on all the kids.
My kids know they can talk to us about anything and they have and do!
We may not like, we have over reacted too but in the end we help them find a solution and give support and love.
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:47 AM
 
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I could never yell at my child until he was 4 because if he got upset and started crying and having a tantrum (rarely) - he was hypersensitive to criticism and he would get so worked up he would puke.

Everyone would think I was being ultra-permissive mom but I had no choice.
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