SHOP
Vic982 

What do I do when my 2 1/2 year old tantrums?! Quite often these tantrums seem to spring from nowhere. I have tried cuddling him but he says he doesn't want to be cuddled. I offer to play and he says he doesn't like to play, I offer food (if meal time/ snack is due) and of course he doesn't want that either. I ask him what he wants and he can't answer but pouts and cries real tears and slithers to the floor! I worry I give him to much attention but then I worry that maybe I should just be holding him as he works through it (despite insisting he doesn't want to be touched. He is not very cuddly at best of times!) Usually he comes out of it after about 40 minutes and will be as if nothing ever happened 'Oooo mummy, twinkle little star. It's a big star. Twinkle, twinkle big star!' I then feel like I'm treading on egg shells as never know if he is going to explode again. When not in a tantrum he is very argumentative (in a toddler sense) His dad was counting going up the stairs and at every number toddler would say 'no, it's not x' Everything is 'no, it's not!' I have played a game with this sometimes and if I then say a silly thing (like the fish is a tiger) he will smile and say 'yes, it's a tiger!' The whole no/ don't like thing is getting a bit wearing. Please tell me it's a short phase and perfectly normal....!

TOP RESPONSE
Let's Ask Livvy 
Hi there-good to hear you have had a couple of good days. This is a harder question to answer without speaking to you as there are many different "functions" for behaviours (the reason why behaviours happen) so you need to try yo work out what the function of the tantrum is- e.g. Attentoin seeking, angry, frustration, when a demand is placed etc as the strategy and its effectiveness will depend on what is maintaining the behaviour. At the moment if you feel like you are treading on egg shells it may help to put in place some clear boundaries to give you confidence to set the rules-some decisions we make are not going to make our kids happy, but it is important that they learn how to deal with this and also that we as parents learn how to deal with this. If he collapses and doesn't want to be touched - your response will depend on what made him collapse- e.g. If you ask him to put his coat on, he has a tantrum and collapses, and then because he is sad he doesn't have to put his coat on then he is learning that tanrtumming is a way of controlling his environment. But if he is collapsing no on the floor becasue he is tired and doesnt have the words to tell you what he wants- the function of this behaviour is different and so the strategy for dealing with it would be different. I am wary to recommend a specific strategy without more info as I would need to help you establish the function of the behaviour first.
ALL RESPONSES
Anonymous 
This sounds perfectly normal to me! Lots of emotions and developments going on at this age and it's too much to process without being stroppy, sometimes. Doesn't make it any easier for you though. There are some good answers on this previous thread that I remember: https://tantrum.xyz/parentingBrain/question/31
Mike Tantrum 
If you're looking for an alternative way to tackle tantrums, we had a magician dad explain how he used techniques from his profession to deal with them. Here's the link: https://tantrum.xyz/posts/a_magician_father_teaches_us_how_to_avoid_tantrums_199 Good luck!
Let's Ask Livvy 
Hi Vic982. As the previous person mentioned, the "no, don't like, don't want it" phase is very common - our little ones are realising and learning that they have choices, that their actions/ behaviour can influence others. It also tends to emerge around 2yrs-3.5yrs when our children's understanding of language exceeds their spoken language and this can lead to frustrations. Tantrumming is actually a really important developmentally phase (sorry!!) because it teaches our kids how to negotiate and learn how to get what they want or need - but it also teaches them about rules and boundaries and how to navigate through different situations. Finding that middle ground of letting our kids develop and be independent while still following our family rules/boundaries can be a tricky balance- so it is important to try and set some clear age appropriate and family specific boundaries and stick to them. This is not to say that we should just let our kids tantrum- it is important to teach them to use their words and to teach them alternative more appropriate ways of communicating. Tantumming behaviour is often maintained by the attention that it gets and in the case of tantrums this can mean both positive and negative attention- so be careful that your little one is not getting more attention for the tantrumming than for more appropriate behaviours. Praising the behaviours you want to see more of is a really good teaching strategy. Also giving him choices so he feels a little more in control, but give him choices from options you control- e.g instead of asking an open question like "do you want carrots" which elicits a yes or no response- you could say "do you want carrots or broccoli- you can choose" this way he feels like he is making important decisions but he is choosing from options you have given him. Let me know if more info would be helpful- tantrums and what is maintaining them can be complex and more info might be necessary to find the best fit strategy for you and your little one.
Vic982 
Thank you so much for the replies. We have had 2 calm and happy days but I know the next one could be just around the corner!When he does just collapse and makes no 'demands' and doesn't want to be touched do I just leave him to work it through? Any kind of interaction wether it be talking or touching seems to re-energise the tantrum. If I have just sat with him but any movement I make also seems to re-energise it but I have also read that they should know you are there for them. I tell him I'm here and although he doesn't show any comfort in this I wouldn't want to just leave him if it isn't emotionally good for him. I really feel like I'm trading on egg shells with these dark moods and frustrations descend....
Let's Ask Livvy 
Hi there-good to hear you have had a couple of good days. This is a harder question to answer without speaking to you as there are many different "functions" for behaviours (the reason why behaviours happen) so you need to try yo work out what the function of the tantrum is- e.g. Attentoin seeking, angry, frustration, when a demand is placed etc as the strategy and its effectiveness will depend on what is maintaining the behaviour. At the moment if you feel like you are treading on egg shells it may help to put in place some clear boundaries to give you confidence to set the rules-some decisions we make are not going to make our kids happy, but it is important that they learn how to deal with this and also that we as parents learn how to deal with this. If he collapses and doesn't want to be touched - your response will depend on what made him collapse- e.g. If you ask him to put his coat on, he has a tantrum and collapses, and then because he is sad he doesn't have to put his coat on then he is learning that tanrtumming is a way of controlling his environment. But if he is collapsing no on the floor becasue he is tired and doesnt have the words to tell you what he wants- the function of this behaviour is different and so the strategy for dealing with it would be different. I am wary to recommend a specific strategy without more info as I would need to help you establish the function of the behaviour first.
Mike Tantrum 
Wow. Great answers from behavioral expert and Tantrum Pro, Livvy (click on her profile to check out her site). Much better than my lazy practice of just posting a link.
Vic982 
All responses have been gratefully received thank you. The links were useful too. We narrowly avoided a tantrum last night at bedtime (he wanted to play with his cars) by letting hom have a choice over which car he could take to the bathroom (we had also given him a warning it was time to go upstairs soon) so happy that giving choices can help him feel in control. I have also noticed since the mother of all tantrums have stopped he suddenly has a bigger vocabulary and been counting with 1-1 correspondence to 5 correctly ( I didn't test him he just did it spontaneously!) could tge tantrums have been linked ( when he was a baby I read wonder weeks and it really seemed to fit with his temperament and wondered if this is some kind of toddler leap?)

Go to the Brain homepage

About us
terms & conditions
privacy