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« Q&A: people telling your kids they want to take them home | Main | Q&A: older kids sharing a room »



Wait, I'm confused. It's supposed to get easier at 21 months? My almost 22-month-old behaves almost exactly like Cynthia's 18-month-old. I rarely ignore his crying, because it just feels wrong to me, and it doesn't seem to help much either - usually he just gets more and more worked up. However, I'm not psyched that he's learned that his tactics of screaming louder and hanging on me more are effective ways to get what he wants. I'm afraid that by the time he finally is better able to communicate what he needs the pattern will already be established. Has anyone dealth with a similar situation?


Mine's 18-months, too. It is SO rough. The only time I employ the "ignore" method of handling her is when she hits me or hurts me in a way I've already warned her about. She smacks me, I hold her arm and tell her no or make her hand stroke my cheek "Touch soft". If she does it again, I put her down and don't look at her for a minute. It's upsetting to her, but only briefly. Then I immediately comfort her and act as if the episode is over. It always is.


I have 18-month twin boys so it is a little different because we can't always hold the fussing child. One of my twins would carry on like your 18-month old whenever we changed his brother's diaper or were otherwise tied up with his brother. He'd lean into our legs and start flopping around and I was really worried he'd hurt himself doing this. So I asked the pediatrician what to do - he said we needed to ignore him when he was acting that way - just walk out of the room and keep moving around (slowly) so he wouldn't have a chance to attach himself to us or if we were changing his brother just ignore him (no comments, cause he said our reaction to it was giving him encouragement that it was working). Anyway, the first day was rough - he'd go for quite awhile (especially for my husband who was the one that would typically "cave in" before we started doing this). It was amazing - after about 2 days, the behavior pretty much went away and he seems fine. The one thing that really motivated us was that the pediatrician said we really needed to do it now because if he felt it was working, he might escalate to more hard core flopping and really hurt himself if we didn't stop it now. Hope that helps...


Arghh...my 12 month old has just started this behavior. Does that seem early? Does this mean that I'm in for a full year of tantrums? The first time it happened I was so shocked that I literally just stared at her like, "What happened to my little girl's sweet disposition?"


Oh yeah, this is tough tough tough. It will be a lot easier a year from now to tell what's serious distress and what obnoxious manipulation. (I assume a year after that they will get better at disguising the latter as the former, but never mind.)

I got through this stage by re-reading Peneloope Leach, whose opinion on this makes a whole lot of sense to me. To wit: tantrums in themselves are scary and upsetting to kids just learning their emotions. If they're freaking out they need comfort. BUT, if they freaked in response to you saying no to something, or saying you're leaving or something, don't change your mind. Comfort the child and then go on with the course you originally planned. So the deal is, sweet baby, you always get comfort if you're upset, but you getting upset doesn't make mommy give you the lollypop.

We also added on to this a reward for calming down and dealing, but I think that was closer to 21 months. We kept a set of really special stickers handy and if we saw a tantrum coming we'd acknowledge her being upset and ask her if she needed a dragonfly sticker to (get out of the bath, let go of the filthy item, whatever). Usually she would shakily calm down and say yes. YMMV, keep it in mind.

The other thing is, even if they don't yet have a whole lot of expressive language, they can understand a huge amount. So, you can sometimes avoid the tantrums by talking to the kid in advance about what's coming next. (Tip from my daughter's daycare teacher around this age.)

Another general tip for this age: I developed a lot of street games to avoid tantrums over walking vs. being picked up when we were out and about. Some worked for inside the house--but you have to come up with "hey, can you find the blue spoon for mommy" before she comes up with "pick me up pick me up pick me up".

It's hard, but hang in there. You're not spoiling your kid.


Brilliant as usual, Moxie.

18 months, 21-22 months, both bad for us. 23 months, much better. Especially with the twins.

My advice is also: Comfort the distress. 18 months is still so young, so many systems are still developing.

And then try to figure out what skills/understanding she lacks that are setting specific events off. Coaching the skills (how to tell when I'm angry? what to do when I feel that way?), plus reassuring that these feelings are normal (modeling how you react when you're angry, in a way that is socially acceptable), is a big part of our plan at this age.

Also, we focus on communicating 'for' them if they can't (and helping with more signs if they need them). Verbalizing what's going on, and asking whether they feel X or Y (or Z - sometimes more than one feeling at once, so include a few options!), seems to make a big impact. A simple, 'you look disappointed that you didn't get a cookie' may turn a raging fit into a grieving fit, and I can comfort a grieving fit much more easily - I know what I'm comforting, and that helps!

Ignoring is a tactic that works well for some kids, but if it doesn't for yours, apply it with caution. One of my kids seems to have serious fears about being 'invisible' to us (funny, he's the middle child... though this has always been the case with him). I have to kind of split the ignoring process out very carefully with him. Ignore the behavior, but be very clear that I'm not ignoring HIM. I must continue to talk to him calmly, stay nearby, etc., as if he were not having a tantrum. I cannot walk away - from very early, he'd panic if I did. He clearly needed me there. But he didn't need my intervention, either. He'd calm himself down, but had to do it 'nearby'. So there are many possibles in the exact form of 'ignoring the tantrum'. If you listen to the responses you get from your child, I think you'll get a good picture of what works.


I agree that 18-months old is still so young. My son is almost 22-months and he is soooo much better now than he was at 18-months. He rarely has a tantrum and when he does, we are able to talk through it. The only times he does seem to get upset are transitioning from one activity to the next and that can be explained as we go along. He was also incredibly clingy and I often lamented his inability to do anything by himself. He seems to have matured so much in these few months and it has made a huge difference.

So, I guess I'm saying that at your daughter's age I feel that you should do as much comforting as possible and a lot of talking. You might need to change your tactics if she gets older and is still doing the same thing, but you will probably be pleasantly surprised that it passes as quickly as it came.


I know this is a bit of a late comment, but thanks for the post. My 16 month old is about to drive me insane, and it helps to know he is just being normal and not actually demon-possessed!


Thanks everyone for the advice. It helps to know I'm not the only one going through this!


Just like Jennifer, my 12-month old is also doing this and has been for the last 2 weeks. My husband and I can't get anything done. If we leave the living room, he starts screaming and going into hysterics. We've tried to ignore him, but it doesn't seem to help. The thought of a year of this is nauseating.


Once again Moxie - what would I do without you (and your fabulous archives)? Our son just hit 18 months and on top of that we had another baby 10 weeks ago. Just helps to know this behavior is normal at this age and The Dude's is probably worse since the Lil' Sis showed up just a couple months ago.

I am constantly thinking of the roller coaster scene at the end of the movie Parenthood...hey, whatever gets you through, right?

Heather Burton

I serve a family with a 18 month old that throws everything. His mom does not say anything to him about not throwing things. He has a 4 month old sister and I am worried. He tries to pull things out of your hands and swings his arms back and forth. I need dicipline that is age appropriate and I do not see him sitting for a minute in time out. I have spoken to mom about using redirection, any other ideas?


My 18 month old daughter is having tantrums more often now. She cries for long periods and constantly points to things that she wants. The problem for me is she won't calm down long enough for me to get the item (thing), I think she wants. Once she gets started with a tantrum.....watch out! It can last a long time. (It seems like forever)

Although she has these tantrums at home; she does not have any at daycare. Why? Is she bored, not stimulated enough?

It's hard dealing with this stage but this site has given us hope. I feel better days will come.




Something that works well for throwing objects is saying "No throwing. If you throw the blocks again we will have to put them away." If the kiddo continues throwing the blocks, they are taken away until the next day. If he throws every toy in your house - then he'll have no toys left to play with! (I've never seen it get that far but thought it might a couple of times!)


Your child throws tantrums with you but not at daycare because she is more comfortable with you and feels safe. It is not because she is bored. Your child knows that you'll love her no matter how she acts.


yay archives! i remember reading this when baboo was wee, thinking: for the 'later' file. and now, he's 18 mos, and IT .. IS ... LATER!!!! o boy o boy. The comments help so much because we do wonder if we should soothe his fits or ignore him. I have to ignore him for 30 secs if he's hitting me, like Holly above, but otherwise I try to get down to his level and make myself available to him in any way he needs.

I also battle between distracting him out of his fit or letting him experience and come out of it himself ... it's a tough one.


my daughter is 18 months now and has only started having tantrums after i had another baby 2 months ago. the trigger is usually saying no to something she wants - but the last few days she has been waking in the night crying and only settles down if we take her for a drive, but that's not something i want turning into a habit. any ideas?


I have a daughter that is now 11 months old and has been having tantrums since 7 months and these are full blown. She throws herself to the floor and kicks her legs and screams and cries til you give in to her. Any suggestions?????


I have a 18 month boy, and yes its been really difficult. I dont like the fact that he throws everything away. If he doesnt want something, he throws it. I really dont know how to control that. I gave him time out and test him to see if he learned his lessons, and still continous to throw everything away, even if we eating on the table he doesnt want no more food, boom he throws it all out, Gosh!!! I dont like when he does that. Any advices???


I have an 18 month old son who has a bad temper. When he is with me he acts fine, but with my wife he is a totally different kid. He constantly wines/cries/throws temper tantrums. Lately he has been waking up at different times during the early morning screaming his little head off, reasons that I can not understand.


Thanks for all the comments, new and old. I was really starting to think my daughter was a "difficult" kid, but is seems that she's pretty normal. I have an older son who was just a very easygoing toddler and had minimal meltdowns & tantrums. I guess he was the abnormal one! She does the whining, crying, flailing stuff and just this morning threw a spoon because I threw away the foil lid from her applesauce container. Like Garry posted above, my daughter has also started waking at different times in the early morning (anywhere from 2 AM until 6 AM) and will be hard to calm down. She'll want mom, but not dad. Or she'll want you to hold her and walk around but not sit down. Or she's fine to sit down, as long as it's anywhere but her bedroom. This kind of thing happens 2-3 times a week and has been going on for a month or so (she's 18.5 months). Letting her cry in her crib hasn't worked -- we've tried and after 10 minutes of louder and louder screaming, gave up. Since I don't know WHY she's upset, it's hard to just leave her there. I'd feel bad if she had a nightmare or something and then I just ignore her crying about it. We always start by trying to calm her down without getting her out of bed. Some days it works and other days it doesn't. With all that said, I think (hope) the night-waking thing is just a phase and I'm just hoping she gets through it soon.


Oh Boy. The post from Donna is way too familiar. My son is 18 months old and I can tell you just the same stories verbatim as what Im reading here on these posts. I'm at the point where I dont know what to do. Do I just ignore him and let him cry and cry and scream louder by the second while he is pulling on my hand to take me somewhere and when we get there he doesnt want anything in paticular? He also does the push between my legs thing with a whiney cry and if I dont pick him up, he flops himself on the floor calling for "mama" and I'm right in front of him. The worst is at night when its time to go to bed. Lately it has been every night with the waking up at 2am,3am,5am, etc...with screams for either me or daddy. Will we get past this? and when? I'm tired and I'm miserable from worry and sleepless nights. Help!!


I really enjoyed knowing that my daughter is not the only parent having these same difficulties, Sorry. Her 18 month old does all of the above and wakes all hours of the night for her consoling. I really wish that the parents from 2007, as an example, would have come back and given an update on their child. Although it's nice to know that you're not alone, it would really help to get some proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
She also has a newborn. And that limits her ability to react to tantrums that we believe are caused by the sleep deprivation.
Anyone know of any other helpful websites?


My daughter turned a year old on Saturday and woke up on Monday as a holy terror. She crawls after me everywhere, pulls on my pants, buries her head in my lap. I pick her up and she points where she wants to go... we go there and she doesn't want whatever it is. She's started shaking her head 'no' at everything and swatting things away. And all day long it's whining and crying, especially anytime the situation changes, I move from here to there, she loses a toy, etc. It's so hard to deal with because I'm supposed to be the problem solver for her, but I don't know what the problem is.

A general solution does seem to be getting down on her level and trying to interact or play. A lot of times it takes patience to calm her down because immediately she just swats away toys and shakes her head, like she knows I'm trying to diffuse the situation. It's also very hard to do when I have to get dressed or cook a meal, there are certain tasks I have to do without her.

No one ever mentioned this phase. All anyone ever says to me is "aren't babies great" or "it's such a magical time". What the heck are they thinking??

Tantrum Toddlers Researcher

I usually don’t know what to do when my niece throws tantrums… Until I’ve learned from Tantrum Toddlers Researcher. Since then, I survived in every situation.


Good to know I'm not a bad mother because my 18 month old daughter is just driving me insane. Lately I just keep wondering what I'm doing wrong and wishing to get a way from her as much as possible! Wasn't the tantrums supposed to come at age 2 "the terrible twos"? My biggest problem is when I am trying to get us ready to go or cooking and she just wants me to hold her. I only have two hands and she's 25 lbs! Sigh...

Ian Williamson

My son just turned 18 months and it was like somebody flipped a switch - immediately he became very clingy and has begun to have tantrums if he isn't picked up and held much of the time. Usually he wants to be held by me, sometimes by his Mama, and sometimes by either of us. I feel that he's really too young to be "disciplined" or ignored for this behavior; typically I will crouch down so he can come hug me, and if he wants to climb into my lap I'll pick him up for a while. I'm getting good at doing things one-handed or with a 25 pound boy in my arms. I think he's starting to understand our morning routine better - i.e. once playing, breakfast, and coffee are done, Mama and Papa have to change and go to work, and he wants us all to stay home and play all day. If only I could oblige! It can get a little annoying, but he's so damn cute, and I know I'm going to miss him at this great age soon enough - and he won't be clamoring to give me hugs forever.

Seham Bilal

My son turned 18months..and all the stories are very similar to what me and my husband are facing as this being our first child..his tantrums make us worry alot as when he cries he starts throwing up..he observes things very closely..he like cars and recently my husband bought toy car for him and he open and was asking to make him sit inside and when making him understand he went out of control..i hope he doesnt gt spoiled..


My 17 month old throws fits all day everyday over everything, being told no, me walking out of the room, not getting what he wants, toys and things his older brother has....ect. I'm at my end and sometimes I have to walk away and just cry. I have tried swatting his hand, comforting him, putting him in his crib. Nothing seems to work. He doesnt talk much yet and I'm scared if I don't find a way to detour his extremely strong will he will end up being a teenager who doesnt respect others or authority. His brother was nothing like this, easy going hardly ever threw a fit and was just such a great baby and he still is at 3.5yrs. I need help I'm going crazy.


I have an 18 month boy as well he is a good kid but lately when you take away something he has that can hurt him or moving him from a place where we know he can get hurt or when he is to excited playing he will either hit us in the face or throw himself on the floor rolling over or kicking his legs like crazy and he would throw hmself backward or forward to hurt himself. If I try to hold him so he wont keep doing it or hold his hands and explain to him that is not acceptable he keeps doing it so I try ignoring him for a few seconds and get him distracted with something, sometimes it works sometimes it doesnt. I guess is just a stage they go thru.


I'm continuing my comment....
My son doesn't talk much either maybe 2 or 3 words are clear the rest is just his baby talk so its hard for some of us moms to understand their needs. I am teaching my son sign language just basic stuff like eat, drink, play, want, more, etc. etc. and he started signing eat and more it helps me communicate with him. Search your cable channel for a show call "Signing Time" with Rachel Coleman. My son loves it when I play it, he likes the music and tries to sign. Hope it can help you. But be patient and consistent I practice every day with him for a month and continue to this day.


I feel like I have been going through this for 8 years! All 3 of our sons have been like this starting anywhere from 12-18 mos until well past 2 (and beyond! 4-5 yrs old has been a hard age for my boys too) Our youngest in now 18 mos and I must tearfully say, he takes the cake over our older 2 boys. He started with this constantly crying, unhappy behavior right from the get-go (bad colic from newborn-4 mos) and never fully eased up. 5-12 mos old was a little easier but right around a year things started getting very difficult again. Now at 18 mos he cries constantly, throws himself around like a rag doll, wants to be constantly held (but is still not happy), is not a good sleeper (still up 3x a night) and is just basically bringing the whole family to tears. (We DO all love him though - just can't wait for this phase to end) He doesn't talk yet, does know a bit of sign language...and definitely seems very easily frustrated. Like I said, we've never had an "easy" or laid back child, but our youngest definitely sealed the deal on being the last child in this family...could not survive this a 4th time! (it's been very challenging to our marriage) It does so help to know we're not the only ones going through this, although often we feel that way and feel very isolated and alone. Our other boys (4 and 8) are still strong-willed and quite high-maintenance but are are much easier now. I look forward to the day that we can actually all go out into the world (like out to dinner!)together.


Thank goodness for all these posts! I was beginning to think I was an awful parent bc once my daughter turned 18 months she turned into a tantruming nightmare.
Phew! It is a stage, wonderful.
My daughter is having a hard time taking naps and going to bed, she screams and cries out for me and some days she refuses to take a nap at all. Suggestions? I am aware she may be experiencing seperation anxiety but this behavior has lasted for a good month already.
I go in her room to console her once or twice but that is all I can do before I feel like jumping out a window. I feel terrible listening to her cry. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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my 8 yr old daughter whines and wants hugs and kisses following discipline; she's been doing this for a long time. i have two other children--one older, one younger--whom do not have this behavior.

my husband and i both are unsure how to handle her requests because it doesn't seem appropriate at the time. i tell her all the time that i love her even when she gets in trouble. any advice? thank you, lisa


he is an angel there. (they don't do time outs or punishments there). also fidenrs charlie's age that are not in daycare are starting to throw tantrums. who knows what goes on in their little [email protected] i know i need to limit his milk intake, but lately he's not even into milk and refuses milk too. a couple of times the past two weeks he's gone to bed after eating/drinking almost nothing the entire day. i use milk it as a last resort when he won't eat anything. feeding him is the most stressful part of taking care of him or maybe it's the tantrums!


"I can always judge how much he likes an attviicy by the length of the tantrum he throws when it has to end." In almost seven years of motherhood, it has never once occurred to me to view my son's tantrums in this way. Thanks! Also, very cute project. I always forget about spray paint, duh. I've been hunting for white picture frames for six months with close to zero luck.


I'm so glad you posted this. Our boy, who is just a few days yoegnur than Charlie, is going through the same exact thing! He's gone from having no tantrums to having several in a day. He's gone from being a champ at eating to not wanting to eat at all!If this is what the terrible twos is going to be like, I'm SO not looking forward to it.


Kirsty, I've heard your story so many times. I feel like we are the exception reathr than the rule. His therapists had to do all kinds of studying up because they'd never worked with a kid under 2 before! All the props go to my pediatrician, I always hear people saying their dr waved off their concerns, so I give all the credit to her.


The reflection kind of looks like a boy voirsen of Ava,haha.These pictures are so cute and I love,love,love his sweater!!!With his new thing with the lips,are you talkin about the thing Ava does all the time where there go ,brrr bre breb,haha....it is hard to explain isn't it?!Ava is getting VERY excited to see Dylan on Sunday!!She kissed his picture today :)Britni

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  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
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