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Old 10-16-2012, 10:13 AM   #1
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Tantrums . . . uhm, what am I supposed to do?

Ok, first of all, I always come here with my newbie parenting questions, because you ladies are the best. I really appreciate it, and I have another question!

My baby is almost 21 months. She is generally a very happy child; however, she cries when she doesn't get what she wants. I'm not sure that I would really classify this crying as a tantrum, because I never let it happen. When she cries because she wants to be picked up, I pick her up as soon as possible. For example, I will pick her up as soon as she asks unless I am doing something like, draining a pot of boiling water. Then she has to wait as long as it takes me to safely do this, but I feel pretty crummy when she is crying! Like I should have involved her in some activity, in anticipation of my needing to drain the water from the pot to make sure she doesn't cry. I DO involve her in many activities while I am working in the kitchen, but you know, they get bored at exactly the time you need them to remain occupied!

Okay, here are some more, relevant examples. High chair - if she wants out, she puts her arms up to me, says mama, even if I am eating, I go over, pick her up, put her in my lap, and we continue to eat together. She does sometimes sit in an adult chair, and she will do the same thing re: being picked up. If we are headed upstairs, even if I am carrying something and can't carry her too, on some occasions (not all) she will stand at the bottom of the stairs, say mama and start crying if I don't come back down to get her. Soooo, I go back down to get her! And then carry her up, and all is right with the world again.

Someone at daycare mentioned that toddlers are testing their limits at this point, and apparently (acc'g to someone I work with), I am supposed to leave her at the bottom of the stairs (and let her "cry-it-out").

Uggh, so what am I supposed to be doing? I think I've trained myself to think she is never supposed to cry, but the game changes when they become toddlers???? Now crying is ok????

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Old 10-16-2012, 10:33 AM   #2
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Re: Tantrums . . . uhm, what am I supposed to do?

mama, I know it can be hard sometimes to see your LO cry, especially when it is for something like being picked up! I do think, though, that it might be good for her to start to learn that you're not going to just drop everything to satisfy her every whim. Obviously, if she were hurt or really scared, or something along those lines, those are cases (IMO) that it is appropriate to drop everything and get her. However, if she just wants up just because, you could say something like, "As soon as Mama is done eating/taking these things upstairs/fill in the blank, I will be happy to get you!". That way, she knows you're not ignoring her or "abandoning" her (as she might see it), but she can also learn to be patient and respect that EVERYTHING is not all about her the very second that she wants it...which is something that she DOES need to learn at some point, and I feel like it is easier to start out the right way, than have to go back and try to reverse behaviors later.

I definitely think that part of it is absolutely them testing the limits, which is normal for toddlers, and part of it is just them being used to being the center of things, and just assuming that you should cater to them. If you have a child that never cries, I think you'll be a wonder-family, lol! My 2yo very well knows that she needs to be patient sometimes and she doesn't always get what she wants, when she wants it...but, she will still come to my crying sometimes that she wants up while I'm cooking, which is a no-no. With her, I know that is almost always just her way of seeing how much I'll give in to her, because she's not an overly clingy child ordinarily, she can just see that I'm busy during those times. So, my opinion is not to be afraid to let her cry sometimes...growing pains, mama! You are not hurting or neglecting her by doing that (no matter how much your heart tries to tell you differently!)!
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:42 AM   #3
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Toddlers have tantrums because they cant communicate, accept and/or understand their needs, limits and/or situation. Toddlers also dont have much self control when dealing with their own emotions. Helping her to learn to communicate her needs and understand and accept limits has been the most effective way to prevent tantrums. Be consistent with rules, but sensitive to her feelings. "Im so sorry you are sad, but the stove is dangerous and you must stay sad."
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:46 AM   #4
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It helps me to rememberer that crying is the best language they know, so crying doesn't always mean being hurt or something tragic.

Now is a good time to instill a little independence in a toddler. She can go up the stairs on her own, most likely, and you can help her see that by making it fun and cheering her on. There will be times where she has to work through her emotions herself, with some guidance from you. She can start dusting herself off when she lightly falls instead of mom picking her up and fixing everything. You can help her find toys to occupy herself when needed. She has an imagination budding now, and free play with available toys helps her explore that.

I've found that teaching sign language for common things like hungry, eat, all done, help, cereal, apple (can you tell she likes her choices in snacks? ), etc. helps take away some crying, plus I recognize some words she is using before I normally would since they are paired with signs. If she can tell you what she wants or is feeling, she doesn't need to cry as much. Signing Time DVDs have been great.

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Old 10-16-2012, 10:46 AM   #5
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Re: Tantrums . . . uhm, what am I supposed to do?

Here is what I do:

1) This is VERY NORMAL for this age, and I think it's less about testing limits than a conflict between being more independent (walking, talking, etc), and not being sure they WANT to be more independent. They are in transition so to speak.

I'm like you, I hate to hear them cry, so if it's reasonable, I do the same thing you do. FTR, this has had no ill effects on my now 3 year old, who is the sweetest, most cooperative 3 year old I know, though some of that is her personality so I can't take all the credit.

I do one thing you are not doing. I give them tools to ask more appropriately. If they are crying to be picked up, I say "X, stop crying and tell mommy what you want. Do you want up?" If she says yes or nods, I pick her up. If she needs help and is crying (like stairs), I say "X do you need help?", she'll say yes or nod, and I'll say "Ask mommy for help instead of crying, say 'Help mommy'". After you do this for awhile the crying reduces and the appropriate requests increase. Then as they get older and develop the marvelous skill of WAITING, when they ask and you can't right away, you can ask them to wait, or ask them to try themselves first.
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:51 AM   #6
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Re: Tantrums . . . uhm, what am I supposed to do?

This parenting thing is not as cut and dry as some would think.

You have to figure out what works for you and your family, and it won't always be the same thing that works for another mama and hers.

I PERSONALLY agree with your daycare provider. It's a difficult balance, but babies as they are growing need to be encouraged to do things on their own and cultivate a small bit of independence, a little bit at a time. This helps them learn and explore on their own terms, test their own limits, and develop their own personalities. This is how I personally feel about that.

18-24 mos is a tough age for some. My DD is 19 mos and she is starting to throw little tantrums when she doesn't get her way. This can be from not getting a toy her big brother or big sister is playing with, or from being told "no" that she can't have something. She starts screaming and even hitting or throwing things.

What has worked for us (and this has worked for my other two as well) is telling her in a stern voice "NO. STOP that." Sometimes I offer something else after correcting her, like a toy, or something. Usually, that doesn't work and she just starts trying to hit me b/c she is angry. At that point, I tell her "NO. NO hitting." And I put her down and walk away. This usually makes a bigger fit, and she follows me around, pulling at my pant legs, screaming and crying. I ignore her until she calms herself down. Soon enough, she finds something else that is more interesting and it's over. If she keeps escalating, I put her in a (safe) room (sometimes her crib if she is REALLY going berserk) and I leave. When she calms down, I go back and say, "are you ready to play?" And she usually smiles and I pick her up, give her a hug, say something like, "I love you. We have to be nice." and we go on with the day.

I also have started migrating away from bending to her every whim, which is hard b/c I HAVE done that, even though I know it's not a good idea (IMO). She's gotten used to me picking her up, carrying her, getting things she points to, etc. and when I don't do that, she's hysterical. I don't like it, so I've started ignoring her bad behavior - sometimes "punishing" (as in, putting her in another room) her for it when it gets really bad.

I try to always be loving in the way I discipline. This is a tough age. Just when you get it figured out, it will get tougher. And so the parenting game goes!
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:52 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mibarra
Then as they get older and develop the marvelous skill of WAITING, when they ask and you can't right away, you can ask them to wait, or ask them to try themselves first.
Yes! They are capable of waiting for a short amount of time already. I've learned to use small phrases like ” one minute” to get my point across. Both my girls learned quickly this meant to just wait a second and I will addresses what they need. At this age though, more than one actual minute of waiting is pushing it. It buys you enough time to drain the boiling water though.

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Old 10-16-2012, 11:05 AM   #8
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I have found that the words "show me how..." have a great effect on teaching independence.

For example, crying at the bottom of the stairs I would say "I bet you can do it all by yourself! Show me how you can go up the stairs like a big girl!"

Or crying to be picked up when you're busy..."show mommy how you can go pick out a toy to play with all by yourself!"

Etc

I use a super enthusiastic tone and make the child feel like I have no doubt they can do it. I find it builds their independence because they're happy to show you how they can do stuff.
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Old 10-16-2012, 11:28 AM   #9
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Re: Tantrums . . . uhm, what am I supposed to do?

I don't let my son cry for the sake of crying, but I have had to push him to be more patient. As much as I adore him, he cannot be the center of everyone's world. He does fine at daycare but does not like for me to do anything he considers "fun" without him.

When he throws tantrums (and they can be doozies now), that is perfectly fine but he needs to sit in the naughty spot anyway. His naughty spot is in the center of our hallway so we can see him from every room on the first floor.

We keep reinforcing that using his big boy words will get him the response he is after. If he is throwing a fit because I didn't pick him up when he wanted (usually when I am cooking and have hot or sharp things in my hands), he needs to calm down and ask to be picked up. I acknowledge his feelings and tell him that "I understand that you want Mama to pick you up. As soon as I am done with the sharp knife, I will be happy to pick you up." That is often followed by suggestions for things he can do in the meantime or sometimes we try to sing a song to distract him. If he starts hitting or kicking to try to get attention, he goes to his naughty spot.

It KILLS me to hear him cry for any reason, but kids that are not only children do have to learn that they cannot have all of mom's (or dad's) attention exactly when they want it. Safety trumps everything for me.
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Old 10-16-2012, 11:45 AM   #10
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Re: Tantrums . . . uhm, what am I supposed to do?

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Originally Posted by juliasmom View Post
Toddlers have tantrums because they cant communicate, accept and/or understand their needs, limits and/or situation. Toddlers also dont have much self control when dealing with their own emotions. Helping her to learn to communicate her needs and understand and accept limits has been the most effective way to prevent tantrums. Be consistent with rules, but sensitive to her feelings. "Im so sorry you are sad, but the stove is dangerous and you must stay sad."
Yup
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