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I have posted before about DD's tantrums.  She is 2y 1m and is capabale of having the most massive tantrums at the drop of a hat, e.g. this morning she wnated to put a onesize real nappy on her dolly (which is about 2 inches talll!)  Obviously the nappy wouldn't fit, I tried to tie it round, but she wasn't happy with that so I suggested using a hanky instead, but that wasn't a nappy so she threw a paddy (screaming, tears, snot and head banging).  Is this normal?

After the advice of people her I have been letting her experience her negative emotion, rather than tying to distract it, and tend to try and let things run there course, but the noise is awful, I worry she will hurt herself and she can have 2 or 3 of these a day which means once she has stopped I spend 30 mins plus soothing her, and whatever nice things we had planned go out of the window.  Advice please?

I can definitely empathise as while we dont have too much of this now (6 & 7 yrs!) but we really had more than our fair share! i think its totally normal and i know that looking back i sometimes wish i hadnt spent so much time trying to pacify/distract etc as my youngest son who was the worst culprit still feels he should get a good reaction to any kind of tantrum and expects us to do something- so has not leant to work it out on his own. I personally believe that it cannot be avoided and glossed over and to some extent they do need to just deal with it in their own way.

I think the best course of action for at home is (assuming they are safe) tell them that you are leaving the room while they are making all the noise and they can come and find you or whatever when they have stopped. Its all much harder when you are out and my son frequently would end up lying on the pavement a spitting screaming ball of anger! it used to drive me to tears as it felt like i had so little control but i just found that i adapted and so didnt put myself in situations where it was hard to manage him etc e.g. wouldnt take him to the supermarket anymore, instead would go to a local shop so it was not too far to carry/drag him when he kicked off ::) and eventually the worst of it passed.

Not much helpful advice i know but its just trying to keep things in perspective i think as i sometimes feel as if its so awful etc and you need to remove yourself from the situation to see that its not so bad, iykwim?

Hope things improve soon!


I'm probably quite similar to others here.

None of mine have ever had lots of tantrums so i've only had to deal with the odd one.  Sam has had probably a handful of 'corkers'.  I normally stay nearby ignoring but available, iykwim.  I don't react positively or negatively to it.  Once it is over I take them cheerily to do something else while saying something like 'oh, you must have felt terrible' or something to acknowledge how upset they were.  Generally they have been genuinely devestated by some travesty (dad kissing them or something) so I don't like to make them feel 'naughty'.

I always find they are worse when very tired, ill or about to be ill.  In those situations I just don't put ourselves in stressful places like supermarkets or whatever.  I let them chill out at home.  Maybe that is why I haven't had to deal with many. 

I have also had it when i've arrived at the supermarket and Sam has started freaking out in the car, and i've just driven home.  I know a lot of parents wouldn't 'give in' but I don't feel it is.  Generally there is a real reason and they don't feel too good - it doesn't happen all the time and if I felt crap I wouldn't want to walk round the supermarket either.

When at friends or coffee groups when something has started to kick off I have given a warning that we will go home if they continue, and then I stick to it.  I did once have to carry a totally rigid screaming snotty 2 year old boy out in front of a roomful of people, but thank goodness it isn't that often  ;D

When you are dealing with a sneaky manipulative teenager you start to wistfully remember these uncomplicated times of straightforward tantrums!  LOL.


Mummy to four little ones

I think this really depends on whether they are 'normal' tantrums or something more. I always felt that my daughter had more than normal tantrums but was only really proved right in this when our son got to that tantrum age and is completely different. I mean, I know that children are all different but some children have the average tantrums over predictable things and can be distracted most of the time and learn to control it in an vaerage amount of time - other children start these things earlier, continue it later and have them more often, for much longer, more intensely and they disrupt the mooth running of the whole family and exhaust the parent to the point of tears. That's what my daughter has and it's a whole different ball-game needing different strategies and perspectives. As a parent I think you know the difference! And if you don;t know it, then you don;t have one like my DD!
If you think yours might be like this, feel free to pm me for a chat. I know Coconut (on this forum too) is also very understanding of this extra explosive child! She certainly helped me understand mine.

Liz grin x

Druid, boat-dwelling, home educating mum of DD1 (11), Aspie DS (9) and baby DD2 (2), & part-time step-mum to 2 stepdaughters, 9 and 7.

I think DD falls into the extra explosive category, she is very bright and determined and walked/talked etc early as a result seems to have alot of frustration in her own abilities, she gets cross at alot of things and does seem to have more/sustained tantrums than other children (she is my first so can't really compare).  She has a very clear idea of how the world should work and when is doesn't explodes, normal strategies sometimes work, e.g. disctraction or indeed leaving her to it, but other times she just can't seem to snap out of the cycle, and its these times I could really do with some pointers as to what to do??

IN my experiecne, by the time you've got to that point it's too late. The key is to learn to anticipate what will trigger it so that you can avoid it, to see it starting and intervene then with soothing, help, distraction or encouragement to use problem-solving. It is tricky when they are only 2 as their language skills are also a frustration to them and it's hard for them to express themselves and for you to reason with them.
Big triggers for us are: being tired, being hungry, being thirsty, too many people around, too much noise, having been out of the house for too long at one time, too much excitement (eg a party), being the focus of attention such as doctors, dentist, weddings, parties etc.. But it may be different for your DD. A longer term trigger was learning something new and then frightening herself - her intellectual and physical development outstripped her emotional development and she couldn;t cope. PLus she has an extra-vivid imagination plus nightmares, irrational fears and worries etc.
Some books which have helped me are 'The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron and The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. The former explained why our child was like this and the latter had coping strategies.
One thing to remember is that she is not deliberately doing this - it's no fun for her either. She is just lacking coping strategies for when things turn out differently than how she expected and for when her emotions overwhelm her. My DD started having tantrums easily lasting an hour or more when she was about 14 months and they ahve continued (she's 5 now). Some weeks we don;t ahve any, some weeks we have several a day. It's really variable. I think she is gradually learning some of the appropriate skills with our help, but it is completely counterproductive with a child like this to punish them or to use star charts or consequences as they are not capable of learning in the sort of stat they get themselves into. It's not that they don;t understand how to behave properly or that they don;t want to, it's that they are physically or mentally incapable of doing it.
I don;t know if any of that ahs made sense to you? Hope so. Maybe your DD will outgrow it before mine!

Liz grin x

Druid, boat-dwelling, home educating mum of DD1 (11), Aspie DS (9) and baby DD2 (2), & part-time step-mum to 2 stepdaughters, 9 and 7.

This makes alot of sense.  Thank you.  Will def see if i can get both books.

The triggers are similar (hungry and tired and too much noise/over stimulation big ones) and I totally agree that her physical/intellectual development has outstripped her emotional development.  I know she doesn't like doing it, she just can't stop herself.

What do you find are the best coping strategies, other than trying to anticiapte the triggers?

It's really difficult as once she's into full-blown tantrum there's not a lot we can do. Thinking back to when she was 2, I used to hold her fairly firmly so she couldn't hurt herself or anyone else or destroy the place and talk to her calmly in a soothing voice, just saying 'it's all right, it's okay', that sort of thing over and over again. Sometimes that worked eventually. Sometimes a big cuddle worked after a long while. More often, nothing really worked byt then, we just had to wait till she exhausted herself, then we'd do something relaxing like giver her a bath, put her in her pyjamas, give her something to eat and drink and read to her or something like that. She'd usually be shattered, as if she'd been ill or something. And so would we!! I remember one time when she was 2 she started screaming about something really minor on the way to the supermarket, carried on screaming for the 25 minutes it took to walk there, screamed right round the supermarket and only really stopped halfway home. That was not a fun trip. The worst time was when she bit me and drew blood and I slapped her, purely instinctively. I didn;t mean to and do  not believe in violence at all. It was shocking for us all.
Something that's really helped us has been 'lazy days' - after we've had a day or so of doing something exciting or being a bit busy, we'll deliberately have a lazy day where we don;t really try and do anything at all - we don;t leave the house, we don;t get dressed till lunchtime and we just chill out with lots of books and stuff. That helps my DD. Also audio books are really good - she uses them as a coping strategy when she feels the need to escape from a situation.
I hope you find something that helps you!

Liz grin x

Druid, boat-dwelling, home educating mum of DD1 (11), Aspie DS (9) and baby DD2 (2), & part-time step-mum to 2 stepdaughters, 9 and 7.

I DEFINITELY know the 'fine for weeks on end, then an explosion' child!  I think I'm similar to Becky - if we're trying to do something (shopping, gardening, online banking, talking on the phone) and it's causing niggles, we simply stop doing it.  I don't see that as giving in, because sometimes she's fine with us doing other things.  But if on a particular day she feels rotten about something, I try not to make it worse.

Being prepared always helps too - even at nearly 3 I always take a huge bag out with me:

-Potty (and baby loo seat for public toilets)
-Cup of juice or water (having 2 or 3 choices of little fruit juice bottles, apple, orange etc, and being allowed to choose which gets poured into the sippy cup, is always a good distraction for them.  Also lots of oppurtunity for 'what a big girl you are, choosing your drink and pouring it' type affirmations)
-Raisins, carrot sticks, grapes, celery, popcorn, crackers…whatever.  Yes, I advocate bribing (not with sweets or comics though)
-Crayons, pencils, paper
-Tiny toys she forgot she had (or didn't know she had), little cars, dollies, whatever

All that is good for trips out.  Also, I think just talking to a toddler helps; from an early age they can understand so much more than they can say.  "Mummy needs to just pop in the bank then we can go home and bake some biscuits" always gets a better response than just silently dragging her along.

And if all else fails, a big hug can do wonders.  I've got a great Miriam Stoppard book where she explains how frightening tantrums can be for children, all that energy and emotion they don't understand.  Just get on the floor with them, or scoop them up, hold them really tight so they can't thrash and tell them you're there and you love them.  Works for me.


my 8 yr old still has them and the youngest is getting there too-its normal but very dificult. What is important though is if the tntrum is because you have said no to something then try not to give in , however long and difficult it may be.

I'd go with the 'avoiding triggers' suggestions (and have done with my little one) aged two and a half,
especially keeping her blood sugar levels up with slow burning carbs (potatoes, wholegrain rice especially
good). Also having a time of relative quiet when she can process life, the universe and everything if things
have been busy - and accepting that at that age, they are working out their emotions.

Like some others, I only go to the supermarket with LO occasionally for a very short time and then make it
interesting. She also doesn't get many sugary things (apart from those the grandparents spoil her with, which once
a week is okay I figure) and I don't cook with much salt or sugar and don't buy biscuits or chocolates for home so
if she snacks it is always cheese, fruit and similar. Mainly organic, as much comes from the lottie.

I remember one time she had a really really bad tantrum was when we were on our way to the seaside last
year on the train. The train was delayed, and we had used up all the sensible snacks and drinks I had packed, so a kind parent offered a fizzy juice drink to us. It was hot that day and so I gave it to her, as I was worried she would get dehydrated and didn't know how long we would be - but about twenty seconds later she was howling like a banshee for ages - and there was nothing we could do as we were on the train. I'm convinced it was the additives in the drink, as usually
she is brilliant on trains (even with a delay) as long as there is someone to chat to. The only other time she had something similar was when someone gave her brightly coloured chewy sweets.

So I'd say, watch artificial colourings and flavourings. So many places you go (museums e.t.c) don't have anything to drink which is not bright green or pink in colour
and I feel that sort of thing (as well as being expensive) is best avoided altogether if you can.


I also just wanted to add that I think expressing anger/frustration/unhappiness/distress in the form of an explosion (tantrum) is just human smile  I do it sometimes, don't you? 

This article from The Natural Child Project website really has helped me understand and deal with my children's tantrums, i have copied and pasted it here as it really is so helpful!

When a Child has a Tantrum

by Jan Hunt

As John Donne wisely wrote, "no man is an island"; we are always responding to the world around us, as well as to all that is happening within us. Yet it can be easy for us to look at a child's behavior as though it is unrelated to anything else - as though the child is living in isolation from the world around him. Yet all of a child's behavior can be seen as a response to the circumstances present at the time. Those circumstances may be external, such as overstimulation, preparations for a move, stressful events, or sibling conflict, or they may be internal, such as teething, food allergy, lack of sufficient sleep, or a developing illness.

We all know there can be many causes of "misbehavior", yet it can be surprisingly easy to see only the behavior without regard to what may have brought it about. For example, one day when my son was two, we were about to enter our house when he wandered off to explore a neighbor's yard. This was frustrating for me, because I had numerous chores I needed to do inside. I tried to convince him to leave, but he was determined to remain there and continue his explorations. The more frustrated I became, the more determined he became, and we began to have a real power struggle. Then I reflected for a moment and remembered that this was a particularly stressful day for us all - we were moving in to a new house, and had just arrived there after a long trip! It seems amazing to me now as I recall the incident that I could have momentarily forgotten such a critical piece of information, but it is surprisingly easy to focus entirely on our child's behavior and our own frustration, even when there is a ready explanation. In fact, my son was actually doing a very understandable thing: getting to know his new surroundings.

When a child has a tantrum, we may feel sorry for ourselves and puzzled about the causes, especially if we have been diligent in meeting the child's needs in the past. Despite reassurances from attachment parenting books and advisors, we may easily begin to wonder whether the rest of the world isn't right - that children can become "spoiled" and that our child's behavior shows that we have been wrong to trust him to grow to responsible adulthood without punishment and disciplinary measures.

At those times, it can be helpful to stop thinking about all the reasons why our child shouldn't be behaving in this way - such as all the love and attention we've given him over the years - and focus instead on the present moment: After all, the present moment is where each child lives. What has happened that day, that hour, the previous moment? Just as I momentarily forgot that it was moving day, we can also forget such matters as: a toy being broken, another child getting more attention, a meal with too much sugar, a noisy environment, a lengthy shopping trip, a visitor taking up our attention, a poor night's sleep, teething, a cold developing that hasn't shown itself yet, and so on. We also need to consider the effect our own response is having - are we helping the situation through validating feelings ("You want to learn about all the new things here! Let's spend a few minutes now, and then come back soon."), or have we simply responded with our own frustration ("Come on! We have to go inside now! I said now!").

In addition to looking at the circumstances present just prior to a tantrum, we can also learn something from looking at the circumstances present when the child is happy and relaxed: what has happened prior to that behavior? Has he enjoyed a relatively quiet day following a restful sleep? Have the parents recently solved a problem of their own? Have there been no trips and few telephone calls that day? Has he had an especially nutritious meal? Has he just had plenty of one-on-one time with us?

It is all a matter of focus. We tend to focus on the entire history of our parenting ("I've been such a good mother. I've given him so much time, attention, and love. Why is he behaving like this?") But this type of thinking is unrealistic (no child behaves perfectly at all times - neither does any adult). It is also unhelpful, because it doesn't lead us to solutions. If we can focus on the present circumstances - the knocked-over Lego building, the noise, the fatigue of shopping, the numerous telephone calls that day, the teething - we are then able to answer the "why" question and move on to a helpful response of empathy and validation ("It's so hard for you when I have lots of phone calls, and now your sister knocked over your building! You must be feeling really frustrated by now!).

If we respond with anger, punishment, or rejection, this can only make things worse, as we then give the child even more reason for feeling angry and frustrated, just when he is least able to handle it. The very best approach is to express empathy while validating the child's feelings: "Oh, dear - the baby knocked over your beautiful Lego house! How frustrating!" or "It must be hard for you to have to share me with your sister. You wish you could have me all to yourself right now!" "Time out" may appear to work as a short-term solution, but removing the child from the rest of the family can give an unintended and harmful message of conditional love: "We love you when you behave, but if you misbehave you're no longer welcome in our family."

When a child is having a tantrum, the key word is "helplessness". A tantrum develops when a child feels that he has no control over his circumstances: he wants things to be different, but he is helpless to bring about those changes. And helplessness brings fear - after all, he is then at the mercy of other people's wishes. Helplessness also affects the child's self-esteem; when he feels powerless to change things, he may begin to believe that he is not capable or not deserving of having his desires fulfilled.

When a child continues to insist that his needs be met, in some ways, this is a good sign: he trusts his parents to listen to him, he believes in himself, and he believes he deserves to be heard and to have a say in the way his life unfolds. When a child is thwarted too often, he may stop asserting himself altogether. Unfortunately, such passive acceptance can be misinterpreted as a healthy response, when in fact the child has simply given up, while suppressing feelings of anger and frustration until he feels strong enough to resist - usually in adolescence. Thus in a way, tantrums are not entirely a bad sign - the child still believes in himself and in his own desires. He is still attempting to communicate the best way he can at the time. And he still believes that he deserves to be heard.

We should always remember that tantrums are a signal of helplessness and fear, even though they may give the opposite impression that the child is trying to be more powerful than we are. Unfortunately, because few of us were given understanding words and validation of feelings in our own childhood, it can be easy - especially when we are feeling tired, upset, or powerless in our own life - to focus on the behavior rather than the feelings. After all, that is the example so many of us have had. It can be especially difficult for attachment parents who "lose it" during stressful times, because we expect more of ourselves and of our children. We may in fact be expecting too much of ourselves, considering our own upbringing and current stress level, and too much of our children, considering their age and lack of experience. It may be most helpful at those times to consider that every parent does as well as he or she can, given all the circumstances of their life. The same is true of our children.

My DD, bless her, has now graduated to using language when she can't get her own way. When recently refused a colouring book in woolworths, she stated (at the top of her voice) 'Mummy, you OPRESS me' .... resulted in quite a few of our surrounding customers having a wee giggle.

How old is she, where on earth did she pick up the word "opress"? 

DD1 - Nov 04
DD2 - Aug 07

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