Avoiding the tantrum land

Confession: I have a touch of the hoarding disease when it comes to memory cards.

If I have a picture of Liv or someone else in the family, I refuse to delete it in case something happens with my computer. Same goes for my phone.

Photo 4

This leads to the fact that in order to take new pictures, I have to go back and delete and non-family member photos. It also means that my entire camera and phone are filled with photos of Liv’s entire life, which leads to many late nights scrolling through photos with the Pilot. I need a new memory card.

Time to stock up on memory cards, eh?

On my iPhone, I also have a few pictures of Liv crying when she was teeny tiny and I was convinced she probably hated me (and even though it was sad, her little cry face was pretty adorable). Every day around 5pm, the angry elf would take over, and nothing would make her happy. She wasn’t hungry, she had a fresh diap, I tried everything to possibly distract her, snuggle or play with her, and no dice. Looking back, I’m pretty sure she was gassy, or maybe that’s a common newborn thing (?) but when Tom wasn’t home from work yet, he’d get a picture of Oliv red-faced and angry with a text saying, “Halp me.”

[Imagine red-faced angry elf photo here]

And then, she outgrew it.

My sanity rejoiced, and that, along with the passage of time and ability to get into a routine and adjust, made things a lot easier. Now, thank goodness, she’s a really happy, mellow baby.

That is, unless you take something away from her.

She threw her first tantrum a couple of days ago.

Whenever she tries to venture into something that’s unsafe, I’ll say “No, thank you” and tell her why we shouldn’t do that. The same thing goes if she’s playing with something and for whatever reason we need to take it away.

Example: her toothbrush.


You would have thought I gave her a magic wand. She was playing with it and I told her it was time to brush her teeth. We went into the bathroom, and I went to take the toothbrush from her to wet the bristles and she SHRIEKED at me and started crying. I tried to explain to her I was just going to help her brush her teeth, but there was no reasoning with the angry elf. I gave it back to her and did the washcloth thing to clean her teeth, but I’m not really sure what to do when she does that. Usually I can give her something else to distract her, but that trick doesn’t work so well anymore.

We don’t want her to grow up thinking tantrums and shrieking are ok.

Moms, what are your tips for teaching toddlers not to have major meltdowns? What do you do when your kid throws a tantrum?

Any book recommendations?

I downloaded “Happiest Toddler on the Block” but haven’t started it yet.

I’m excited to hear your thoughts and advice <3


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  1. Juliet @ From teacher to mom on November 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Hi! It’s definitely hard to get used to those situations. Im having my first baby in march but have worked as a teacher and specialist with children from birth to age five for five years so I’ll give you my two cents!

    By giving the toothbrush back to her, you are reinforcing that it worked for her to throw a tantrum so you may have inadvertently reinforced the behavior. If it were a child I worked with, I would have taken away the toothbrush and ignored her until the tantrum subsided. When she stopped tantruming, I would give her tons of positive reinforcement and praise! This is of course easier said then done, especially when you are tired or have a million other things to do 🙂 I also am not operating from a mom perspective, yet! Ill let you know if its any different once I have my baby!

    Your doing a great job and seem like a wonderful and loving mom!

    • Amy on November 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      I like this advice. It’s the “louder” way, but I think it is most effective.

    • Carly on November 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm

      My thoughts exactly! Well put. I work with young children (6 months to 3 years) and this is the best thing you can do in this situation, in my opinion.

    • Emily on November 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      I have heard mixed things about this approach, since it’s basically the same way you would condition and train a dog, for instance… whereas toddlers are more complex and may be confused why they’re being punished for things they think are completely reasonable. I have heard specifically that this approach isn’t the most caring one because it doesn’t acknowledge that the toddler is legitimately feeling a lot of emotions when they throw the tantrum. They just don’t know that their reaction is inappropriate socially. Dr. Karp’s method is to meet them at that emotion by mirroring what they’re feeling so they feel acknowledged, and they immediately calm down. I put a link below where he explains it more in depth.

      • Michelle on November 22, 2012 at 8:29 am

        What does it mean to mirror what they’re feeling? Specifically, what would you have in this situation with the toothbrush?

    • Jess on November 20, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      Totally agree with this advice. She is going to have tantrums it is inevitable; ignore them so the behaviour doesn’t get her any attention. (As long as she is safe etc). Sometimes my girls need a cuddle to calm down from the tantrum if they are really tired and worked up.

  2. Gina on November 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I’ll be checking back in to “listen”…we’re dealing with this right now and the best advice I’ve read is to distract/re-direct them…

  3. rita on November 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    no baby/tantrum advice, but i’ve been told that you should never delete photos off of your camera itself, they should all be deleted from your computer, b/c deleting off of the camera makes it more likely that your memory card could be compromised!

  4. Amy on November 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    My son used to be a totally happy, easy-going little guy. Around the 18-month mark, he developed a little attitude and tantrums. It’s really hard to deal with, especially because it is mostly out of my control. However, I will say that he is very verbal for his age, funny/goofy, and polite (uses please, excuse me and thank you appropriately), so at least I have some saving graces. Good luck. I think everyone goes through this… looking forward to reading other comments!

  5. Laury on November 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    SuperBaby by Jenn Berman! Awesome book! I use a lot of her tips with Ella and they have really worked! She stresses mutual respect. Always follow through with what you say, and take the time to explain things and treat your child with the same respect you want to be treated with. I was amazed at how much her advice was spot on! Recently, all I need to do is say “that’s so nice, can I see it? Okay, we have to put this back now, it doesn’t belong to us” Then she gives it to me and is actually ok! I always thank her and fuss over how nice it was.

    Ella LOVES stuffed animals. So when we are say at Whole Foods she really wants they toys there–but I’m not paying 20 bucks for a tiny stuffed dog that I could get at Target for 5 bucks, you know? We’ve been lucky, no real meltdowns over here. She usually does well with being distracted or me just removing her from being near what she wants that she can’t have. The only time it was semi-bad was when she was really tired and I had her at the KOP mall one day and she was playing with a 15 dollar key ring of a cat with a tutu and I had to put it back. I felt like the worst mother ever like i should have just bought it for her because she’s such a good girl. I just took her out of her stroller when we left the store and told her I loved her and kissed her and said I was sorry but it wasn’t ours to keep, and took out her toys we had with us and she calmed down after a couple minutes. It’s all a learning process! You find what works, and sometimes they are just going to have a fit.

    I can;t believe how big Liv is getting! I am the same with my phone. My memory is full and I can’t take any new videos…but refuse to delete anything!

    • Erin kl on November 20, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      I don’t have kids but I love Dr. Jenn Berman. I listen to her on Cosmo radio all the time. She doesn’t talk about children much there, it’s more relationship advice. I’ve gained a lot from listening to her and I will definitely get this book when I have children.

  6. Shaina on November 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Oh dear. I’m obviously not there yet but this makes me nervous haha. I’ll probably just send Patrick that same picture and a “halp me” text. What I’ve heard, though, is to ignore their bad behavior and praise them when they start acting like a normal human being again. I’m hoping I have the will power to do this. I’m definitely into the positive reinforcement route as opposed to saying no every two seconds. We’ll see how that goes…we’re at the 6 month mark on Sunday!! I can’t beLIEVE how fast its going.

  7. Courtney B on November 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I like her idea of backing up photos online and on a harddrive and printing. its so hard to delete them!
    Black Friday-best day to stock up on memory cards 🙂

  8. Emily on November 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Buy an external hard drive and back everything up! Or burn the images/videos to CD or DVD after you’ve put them on you computer, and keep them somewhere safe. Those little memory cards are too easy to lose!

  9. Leslie W on November 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I’ve worked in toddler/preK for years. It’s really hard, but the absolute last thing to do is give her the toothbrush even though your heart (and ears) tell you to PLEASE give it to her. 😉 Wait until she takes a breath or is quiet for a sec to reinforce the good and say Good girl, Much better, I like that sweet voice or whatever you want. I’ll go as far as to not make eye contact during it and pretend to do something else while closely watching them to make sure they don’t hurt themselves. Then, when they stop give them a big smile and hand that toothbrush over to them asap. Not engaging it let’s them know Mama No Habla Screaming! You’re awesome! Keep it up!

  10. Emily on November 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I heard Dr. Karp (the Happiest Babies guy) on NPR talk about speaking “toddlerese”, mirroring the emotions they’re exhibiting that moment rather than trying to reason or negotiate with them. The interview is about babies and sleep, but he talks for a good while about toddlers, too. Here is the link in case you want to listen:

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm

      awesome, thank you so much!

      • Emily on November 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm

        I also have a friend who works in infant mental health who is raising a toddler as well, and she reminds people all the time when he’s having a tantrum that toddlers have the same hormonal situation as teenagers– a lot of stuff is happening in Liv’s brain that she can’t control or make sense of just yet, so I love Dr. Karp’s empathetic approach. I would HATE having to ignore my baby to somehow ‘condition’ her that her response was inappropriate. That just seems cruel and unsophisticated to me.

        • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm

          yes, i think that respect is extremely important and something that i’ve endeavored to show liv, even when she was an itty newborn. she’s a person too, and should be treated as an equal.

          • Juliet @ From teacher to mom on November 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm

            Just to clarify my previous response about ignoring the behavior. That is just while the tantrum is occurring, trying to reason with a toddler during a tantrum doesn’t get you far. When the tantrum is over, I of course think its important to talk about the emotions and different ways of handling it and of course giving her feelings respect. They then learn that talking, asking for help, sharing feelings, etc…is the way to work through an issue and a temper tantrum is not. Then again, I’m also starting to talk about children older than Liv who isn’t even a year yet.

  11. Katie on November 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    my daughter (17 mo) does the same thing!! the toothbrush is her favorite thing! she loves to brush her teeth! and when its time to put it away there is always a tantrum! every night!! so i cant say it gets better haha we’ll see!!

  12. Melissa on November 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    A note about saving pictures. Have you tried dropbox? It’s free up to a certain amt and you can put you pics here and share with other people.

    On the tantrum – do what you think is best. Redirect, but not giving in is usually good but I use my mom sense based on the situation. Whatever method you choose will be the right one for you.

    Love all the updates! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

    • Amy on November 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      I was going to suggest dropbox too. I’m a writer, and I couldn’t live without dropbox. I’m waaaaay too paranoid to just leave manuscripts on my laptop and external hard drive. Dropbox is a great solution, because even if something terrible happens and everything in your home is destroyed, your dropbox is always there.

    • Lois on November 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      i second the dropbox recommendation. u can download the dropbox app on your iphone and u have the option to sync ur camera roll pics so u dont have to worry about transferring your photos separately at a later time … if you choose to do so, it should automatically save into ur dropbox.

  13. Shelby on November 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    We haven’t gotten to that stage yet so I don’t have any recommendations, just sympathy! She’s gotten SO big!

  14. Meghan on November 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    My son is a few weeks younger then Livi and throws tantrums when I say No and take something away. Cracks me up because I can’t imagine he picked it up at daycare.

    We need to start brushing his teeth, do you guys use a childs toothpaste or adult? He is up to 6 teeth and I haven’t brushed yet, whoops!

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      we just use water for now. a washcloth does the trick, too. the ped said we’d talk about using toothpaste at her year appt

  15. Olivia on November 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    While I certainly don’t disagree with the “treat a child with respect” angle, the “treat a child like an equal” approach makes me uneasy. I teach college students and find the majority of them don’t know how to handle authority figures and act too “familiar” with people in power positions. A lot of research suggests this is partly due to “helicopter parents” (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/jobcenter/workplace/bruzzese/story/2012-08-26/helicopter-parents-hurt-generation-of-workers/57292900/1) who have tried to be their “friend” instead of a parental/authority figure. Just something to think about! I agree with acknowledging their feelings like Dr. Karp suggests, that always seems to work. Everyone loves to have their feelings acknowledged!

    • Melissa on November 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      I’ve read a lot of Karp’s work and it’s very interesting. I agree that your child deserves respect, but she also needs to learn boundaries and that throwing tantrums isn’t the way to vocalize her needs. As her parent, you’re the one to teach her that not indulge her.

    • Kay on November 20, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Children are not equals to their parents, a parents position is an authoritative role. Yes, there are tantrums that children have where they really cant control their emotions and need to be shown empathy as the tantrum is their form of communication. But children are smart–they study their parents all day long, and there are manipulative tantrums that children throw in order to get what they want–and as a parent’s responsibility those reactions need to be addressed and corrected. And in response to your previous comment, Fitnessista, as far as respect for your daughter goes..what happened to respecting her privacy? Her pictures are all over the Internet, I dunno, but with a following as big as yours, that’s terrifying to me… to each their own, I suppose.

      • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm

        the amount of pictures i post is what we feel comfortable with, and no where on this site will you see a picture of her in her diaper or in the bathtub, or entire posts filled with her photos like on many other similar sites (some of which are far more successful than mine). if you’re saying that parents are the authoritative role, tom and i have made the decision to post some pictures of her, but keep them to a minimum. she is a part of my family (a huge part!) and i post pictures of family.

        there are many blogs out there that don’t post any pictures of their kids, or anything personal at all if that’s what you prefer.

        • Erin kl on November 20, 2012 at 10:05 pm

          I think most of your readers, including myself, enjoy seeing photos of Liv. I can understand the privacy aspect to a point but I don’t think you’ve ever crossed the line into anything that violates her privacy. Of the many blogs I read with children not one of then never post photos of their children. And I think you probably post the least of any daily blogger I’ve seen.

          Sorry, I just don’t like seeing parents judged like that when they are seeking advice about a completely different topic. Especially since I think you’ve addressed posting photos in several other posts.

          • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm

            thank you <3

          • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 10:09 pm

            i also think a lot of people fail to realize that we live in a Facebook age and everyone’s baby is ALL over the internet. just yesterday i saw a picture of one of my friend’s kids on the POTTY. no joke.
            it’s how these kids will grow up and it’s just a matter of being tactful about what you post.

          • Erin kl on November 20, 2012 at 10:13 pm

            You’re welcome.
            Facebook is crazy! I have seen several people post naked baby photos too!

          • Michelle on November 22, 2012 at 8:46 am

            I just wanted to add that I’m not bothered by the amount of photos of your baby on your blog, it doesn’t strike me as over done. But I also want to say that yes we live in the Facebook age, but not everyone’s baby is all over the internet. My husband and I both have Facebook accounts and we have chosen not to post any photos of our baby. We send plenty of photos by email to our family and friends, but nothing has made it onto Facebook or anyone’s blogs yet, I figure there’s plenty of time for him to have an internet presence.

            So all that just to say that, no, not everyone posts photos of their babies everywhere.

          • Fitnessista on November 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm

            “everyone” was a generality that i probably shouldn’t have used- i meant a lot of people do. it’s up to you to do what’s best for your family

        • Elizabeth M. on November 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm

          I agree with Erin, I can’t tell you how often I read a blog and think, your kid is going to HATE that you posted that on the internet when they’re old enough to care. I can safely say I’ve never, ever thought that of you and Olivia.

          Do you use the cloud on your iPhone? You can purchase extra storage to back up everything you take on your phone.

        • Anonymous on November 22, 2012 at 8:18 pm

          You are ridiculous! This blog is a joke. You’ve specifically mentioned that you are not going to post as many pictures of your daughter and want more privacy concerning her. When in fact, you’ve tripled the pics, here and on your main page. When someone points this out, you make excuses. You are the most defensive, narcissistic person when it comes to comments. Heck, you don’t even post mine when most people would agree with me. You just keep moderating and posting those who agree with you or those you can get passive/aggressive with. Because you KNOW I’m right, and have nothing to say to defend yourself.

          • Fitnessista on November 22, 2012 at 10:43 pm

            i haven’t moderated comments in over a year, so i’m not quite sure what you’re talking about…
            sounds like you’re having a very happy thanksgiving.
            if my blog is a joke, don’t read it. you and your toxic energy aren’t welcome here.

          • June on November 25, 2012 at 12:43 am

            Jeez…how can we get rid of ppl like this? Just stop reading the blog. Go try edit someone else’s life-

      • mary on November 21, 2012 at 11:25 am

        Why would pictures of any kid on the internet terrify anyone? It’s not like she’s in the witness protection program. Do you mask your kids in public? It’s a face, not a credit card number or home address.

      • Dayna on November 22, 2012 at 1:49 am

        I have to wonder what kind of satisfaction you get out of leaving a passive aggressive comment on a blog. To each their own- read a different blog and keep your two cents to yourself.
        Love your blog Gina and look forward to seeing new pics of Live. 🙂

    • susan on November 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      I don’t think treating childern as equals will hurt them, but the opposite. And I believe that by modeling good behaviour, not by inducing fear, parents will get respected by their children. Isn’t it normal for college-aged kids to question authorites? Fear is not the same as respect and even if parents are very “friendsy” with their children, that does not mean they won’t respect authority figures. I don’t quite see the connection. That being said, I’m not a fan of this whole “helicopter” parenting thing, and don’t think it would help them in the long run. Kids need to figure things out themselves (that includes failing sometimes), IMO. I just hope I’m able to let my son go, when the time comes. Thanks for sharing.

      • Becca on November 23, 2012 at 11:49 am

        There’s a definite connection! The students who are the biggest problems in classrooms are also the students who are “friends” with their parents and have never been shown boundaries. Children MUST learn to respect authority, and they MUST learn they cannot make demands of others or get their way. The world does not revolve around them. The students whose parents are “helicopters” (trying to intervene for their students when their students mess up) are the students who will struggle the most in life. They are simply used to being the center of everything; they’re used to having what they say go. That’s not how life works.

        • Fitnessista on November 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

          how old are your children? i’d love to hear what worked for your family.

    • Anonymous on November 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      I think treating a child with respect is fine. They are NOT equals. That is dangerous. You’re their parent, not their friend, and you have a responsibility to teach them. Not pacify them. They’re going to cry and not like what you say or do sometimes and that is ok and just fine.

      • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 9:15 pm

        i meant equals in the sense that she’s a person too. i feel like a lot of people treat kids like they’re not human, which is ridiculous to me.

        • Becca on November 23, 2012 at 11:51 am

          Okay, but trying to reason with a one year old is also ridiculous. It’s a fact that they don’t have rational capability at that point. I agree that we should try to develop it, but to think you can make her understand why every tantrum she throws is wrong logically is definitely ridiculous.

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm

      i didn’t mean it in the sense that we’re going to be bffs, but that she is a person too, and i’ve seen a lot of parents abuse their authority and don’t teach their kids with respect. almost like kids aren’t people, which is sad to me. i want to treat olivia the way i want her to treat others is all i’m saying, and she’ll know to show to same respect to parents, elders, teachers and authority figures.

      • Jennifer on November 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

        First, Gina looking in from the outside you are doing a great job as a parent. 🙂

        Second, I don’t think anyone here is telling Gina to stick Olivia in a room and ignore her. There’s a huge difference in ignoring the tantrum and ignoring the child. We can take away a tantrum related item (like the toothbrush or a toy) and still acknowledge the little ones emotions. To me the key is to make sure they learn that the tantrum will not result in keeping the item. Otherwise it becomes a situation of them ‘conditioning’ you.

        I know you know this, Gina but everybody needs the reminder – she doesn’t hate you when she’s screaming (she’s just preparing you for the teen years). 😉

    • Becca on November 23, 2012 at 11:45 am

      I’m a college professor as well, and I could not agree more. The whole “every child is an equal” is the attitude I see in the classroom where students believe they are MY equals and can tell me what to do or dictate how the course should run. In short, these kids are nightmares and will really struggle in life, which does in fact work in hierarchies. It’s fine to show kids respect, but it’s also important to be clear that they are NOT in control of every situation. I think kids who are shown too much “empathy” (for example, Gina, the way you describe always accounting for what’s going on in Liv’s brain. It may be true, but we still have to hold everyone accountable to teach a sense of responsibility) become the nightmares.

      It’s very important for children to feel loved and heard, but it is equally essential they know they are not the boss and will not always get their way.

  16. susan on November 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    This is something we are learning to deal with as well with our 14 month-old. A mommy friend of mine went to a talk by our public health nurses and she said that tantrums are an important part for toddlers development in dealing with their emotions and if they didn’t throw tantrums, something might be wrong with them. However, knowing this doesn’t make it easier when my son decides to start screaming and throwing himself on the floor in the supermarket checkout line.

    I also don’t want to be the mom who says “no” in every second sentence. Something we do is communicating and reinforcing positive behaviour and presenting him with safe alternatives to something he can’t have/do, plus telling him WHY he cannot have or do the other and if it gets too crazy I’ll just ignore the screaming for a few seconds and look away, for him to understand that this is not a way to communicate and get things. It’s hard. The toddler years scare me and we’re only at the beginning of them.

  17. Katie Heddleston on November 20, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    We are teaching sign language now to hopefully avoid some of the toddler tantrum episodes in the future. But I don’t think it’s too late to start with her!

  18. britt on November 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    i’m loving all of this advice tonight! my little guy has always been super laid back and then things gradually started to shift around 18 months but when he hit 2 years it was like a brick wall. then we just recently moved, right when he was around 26 months and that has magnified it even more. since the move, he has started acting up in public, screaming, and has thrown his first tantrum. believe me, i am counting my blessings that it took this long for all of this to happen but it happened overnight so i’m feeling so overwhelmed and a little sad that my sweet baby has turned into this little person i don’t even recognize sometimes. i am definitely going to be taking a lot of this advice and applying it ASAP.

  19. Hippierunner on November 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I’ve been a nanny to babies and young kids for years so I’m all too familiar with tantrums. The thing to remember is to keep calm and consistent. The easiest thing to do with a crying baby is to give them what they want but that’s not going to get you the respect you need as caretaker. It demonstrates that an absence of respect, disregarding authority is what works. I know you said above you want Liv to be treated as an equal but she hasn’t developed the skills necessary to know what she should be doing, that’s why she depends on you to take command. Equality suggests you are not in charge of her- probably not the message you want to send. Don’t think you’re being ‘mean’ when you tell her no, it’s showing love and doing her a favor in the long run!

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 9:47 pm

      i could have phrased that better. it’s not about equal as far as roles go, it’s equal as far as species go. she’s a person, too, and i intend to treat her as one, not like an animal. i’m not afraid to tell her no, i do it as needed all day, but am just looking for helpful advice for the new tantrums

      • Juliet@ From Teacher to Mom on November 20, 2012 at 10:09 pm

        What approach treats children like animals? This is out of total curiosity as I find respectful discussions about this topics fascinating, a large part of my profession is handling behavior issues in toddlers and I love to hear perspectives.

        Also, the fact that you are so thoughtful about this aspect of parenting puts you ahead of the game 🙂 I’m sure you will find what works for you.

        • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 10:12 pm

          thank you, i’m sure we’ll fall into a groove and see what works for us. it’s our first time, so everything is new and i like to hear what’s worked for other parents

        • mary on November 21, 2012 at 8:50 am

          ‘Behavior modification’ is the approach that is also used in animal training. This is the ‘reward the behavior you want, ignore/punish the behavior you don’t’ model. Just replying to the “what is used in animals” question.

  20. Michelle on November 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    No parent wants their kid to think they can throw tantrums. Unfortunately, it’s just not that easy. Pretty sure if it was, kids wouldn’t have tantrums. In fact, tantrums are NECESSARY.

    Kids need to learn how to test limits, and you need to learn how to push back and let them know who is in charge. This is a gradual process and over time you will learn what works best with her. For my kids, it helps to give them choices. They are MY choices (or my husband’s), but they don’t realize it. This didn’t work with either of them until they were at at least 2. At her age, the best thing you can do is redirect (saying no just means she starts telling you no sooner). Around 18-24 months it becomes a game of control. At 2.5-3 is becomes a strategy. By 4, they start to outgrow it – although, I can’t say my 6-year old doesn’t have him moments.

  21. Jamie on November 20, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I don’t have any kids, but it was an interesting thing to think about. I wasn’t sure what I would do, so out of curiosity, I asked my mom what she would have done with one of us. She said that she probably would have given back the toothbrush the first time to stop the crying, but then she would have gotten a different toothbrush (distinctly different so that she doesn’t get confused) for her to play with while you brush her teeth. That way, she has her magic wand that she knows she can play with and a toothbrush that she knows is not for playing with.

    • Fitnessista on November 20, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      i really like that idea- she seems to do well if she has a distraction. i’ll try that tomorrow 🙂

      • Allison on November 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm

        We do that with spoons and bowls at mealtimes….for some reason he loves holding onto something and banging it around. I agree with a previous comment about sign language…..our little guy is 14 months and the signs are a lifesaver. It has really helped us communicate, and while he definitely has his moments, we can usually tell what he wants or ask in a way that he can sign back to us. We started around 9 months or so, the best ones ( in my opinion) are more, all done, food, water, diaper ( he lets us know when we need to change him-this impresses everyone!!)….he knows a few others but we use those the most. I am guilty of giving into his tantrums….I would rather open the bunny crackers than let everyone in the store hear him screaming. Hoping he will grow out of that soon 🙂

      • Becca on November 23, 2012 at 11:56 am

        Just one more thing… I really dislike the distraction technique. It does not translate to real life. When a student in my classroom is upset, I’m not going to offer him a distraction. When an adult is upset at work, his boss isn’t going to say, “Hey, it’s okay, look over here instead!” It’s not a good coping mechanism. We should learn to deal with defeats, sadness, anger, and other emotions head on rather than having to push them down or transfer them to some other situation.

  22. Alyssa on November 21, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Hi fitnessista, love your family page. Were dealing with this with our 7 month old little girl right now. Were first time parents and have been completely surprised with how early tantrums and attitudes start. Our little girl is very strong willed, im sure she gets it from me. Well ive been asking my friends and my mom what theyve done in the same situation and ive noticed those with very well mannered/tempered children that are easy going and respectful have all been big believers in disciplining their children. They all say the same thing that its the hardest thing to do and that it can be exhausting but consistency is key. While were not spanking our 7 month old we do not give in the her tantrums. Many times a stern direct no can do it (especially from dad) or a little pat on the hand to get her attention. Since weve started this the last couple weeks weve seen progress. Babies have no self control and at this age we need to guide them. They rely on us to show them whats right and wrong and sometimes reason means nothing to their will. I feel for you bc im dealing with it right now too but we all do whats best for our families. I know this comment will not be popular but im not afraid to say im a believer of spanking. It worked for my parents it will work for me. 🙂 so dont be afraid to do somethingfor your child that you believe is right. With that said i really enjoy your posts and love hearing all that you do with liv, so this is not a directive just letting you know what were trying with our little girl. Yourea great mommy! Have confidence in your instincts. 🙂

  23. Kim on November 21, 2012 at 5:13 am

    I agree with the first comment – say “no thank you” and then ignore the tantrum and give tons of praise when it’s over. We’ve done this and it took a bit, but we’ve seen the difference. When we ignore Leo, he stops doing what he knows he’s not supposed to do. And now when we say no, he typically listens right away and moves on. (He’s 15mo.) In fact, now when he starts fussing we say “no thank you, Leo” and he stops and starts babbling to us in his sweet little voice. It’s the ultimate reward! 🙂

    • An on November 21, 2012 at 8:27 am

      Ha ha our 8 month old is called Leo too so that comment was funny to read!

      At the moment our method is to “distract distract distract” – if he’s cracking it we find him something else to play with eg another toothbrush like the previous reader commented – he’s only young so all the reasoning in the world is not going to make sense to him.

      If I think about it, generally we don’t interfere too much which what he’s doing so long as he’s not going to get hurt – I’m hoping that by not constantly saying no to him he’ll realise that when we do it’s for a good reason/justified.

  24. mary on November 21, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I think it’s usually just like the other thing… She’ll outgrow the tantrums. Don’t drive yourself nuts, just like there was no need to do so when she was colicky (the 5pm angries).

    I like Dr. Becky Bailey’s books. She’s very into respect.

    People can talk about the failings of today’s parents all they want (99% of the time it’s non-parents doing the judging) but each of us is imparting the traits WE want in our own kids. If #1 on your list is discipline, by all means be an authoritarian parent. If #1 is self-esteem, you’ll be more of a patient friend to your kids. But judging other parents’ parenting styles, especially when you’re not one, is just a bad path to go down.

  25. Robyn (GirlonRaw) on November 21, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Well, this is certainly a topic that is most definitely very gray and it’s about finding the solution that works for you and your family, I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way (unless you just didn’t care full stop and that’s clear you do!)

    In my circle of friends (first time parents) this is a discussion we have often as we all get to witness different parenting styles on each of our toddlers and how successful they are with each child’s temperament, The styles range from the trying to talk it out/reason with them, to the time outs, to the ignoring till done). I’ve no opinion on what’s best as I think there is no one way.

    Now I get what my parents used to say when they said we didn’t come with a manual.

    Everyone has a different approach and you’re will always find new science to come up with why one way is better than another. You’ll work it out 🙂

    For the record, Manus started throwing tantrums at 10 months and I worked it out that it was mainly due to being frustrated with his lack of ability to be understood. Then we got onto the baby signs DVD’s and all of of a sudden he started to tell us what he wanted (milk, ball, light, sleep, more, yes, no etc). Of course we still have our moments and we forever will be muddling through this thing called parenthood, but for us it did help. And even now at 20 months he loves watching them still.

    Good luck, you’re a great mum.

  26. Ilana on November 21, 2012 at 9:16 am

    For the one year old I watch, she’s very possessive and object-oriented (aren’t they all?) so I try my to let her make toys out of the things I know I’m going to have to take away – two spoons at the table are pretty much a must because she loves to have something to hold.

  27. Lissy on November 21, 2012 at 9:52 am

    that is a cute toothbrush, I can understand her frustration 😛

    pretty much everything I know about kids comes from your blog so I have no advice, but you seem to be doing a pretty awesome job at the mom thing 🙂

  28. Kristen on November 21, 2012 at 10:05 am

    It’s interesting to read through these comments. We have an 8 month old. We haven’t really crossed this bridge yet but I know it’s coming!

    I get what you mean by treating your daughter equal. I know you don’t mean “literally equal.” You’re not comfortable just ignoring her and walking away. That’s okay! I can’t say I’d want to do that either.
    I definitely wouldn’t just give it back next time but I like the above comment about getting her a new “wand” to play with. We did that with my son’s hair brush. He really loved chewing on the end so I just got another brush for his hair. NBD

    There is no carved in stone right way to raise a child. Not only is every parent different but every child is also different and responds differently to situations and actions. What works for one child may not work for the next. It’s all a continuing learning experience for parent and child. You and Tom are doing great!

  29. Emily on November 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

    We are expecting our first in June (yay!) and I just love reading your family page and the comments that accompany each post. I mostly agree with the commenter above- that every child is different and parents need to approach with different methods. I like the idea of distracting her, explaining why she can’t have the toothbrush she wants and reinforcing her positive behavior after the tantrum is over.

    Something came to my mind when I was reading some of these comments that I thought I’d share. I am 26 and look back on my childhood./teenage years with a lot of gratitude for the way my parents raised me. I grew up learning to respect authority at a VERY young age. My father was strict, and “never gave in” to my attitude. Maybe too strict sometimes, but hey I needed it I’m sure. However one thing I will never forget is later on in my early teenage years ( i was a huge brat!!) I remember throwing the most ridiculous tantrums and screaming and just being so angry at the rules we had. My father’s approach would always be to walk away from me. It drove me insane. I would beg him to just reason with me on certain house rules he enforced. But he wouldn’t. The rule was the rule and my tantrums (at 13!) never got reasoned with. And don’t get me wrong – 95% of my memories from living at home are wonderful and fuzzy and warm. But that approach my Dad used…I can only say it made me feel extremely frustrated and ignored. And because of that I know I will not ignore my child/teenager- I know the frustration it caused me.

    You’re a wonderful mother- keep up the good work 🙂

  30. Jen on November 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I have a 19-month-old daughter and when we first introduced the tooth brush, she wanted to brush her teeth when she saw us brushing ours. I just let her chew on the tooth brush for a few weeks (months?) to get used to it. Now, she brushes her teeth every night. She doesn’t get too upset anymore when I “help” at the end. Just introduce it slowly. It’s more about getting in the habit this young. If it’s a few weeks before she’ll let you brush them, I assure you her teeth won’t fall out.

    In terms of tantrums, I ignore them. She’s only had a couple tantrums. It was clear that nothing was going to make her happy so I allowed her to exhibit her emotions, then she was able to move on. She still gets frustrated (and stomps her foot, ugh!) but she is learning to handle those emotions in other ways. First of all, I agree with teaching sign language. It really helps prevent the frustration tantrums if they are able to communicate before they can talk. My daughter talks pretty well now, but when she’s frustrated, I often remind her to “use your words.” I’m also a big believer in positive reinforcement, so when I do ask her to use her words and she does, I make a big deal about how nice that is.

  31. Jen on November 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I have 3 kids…2 boys and 1 girl…the girl being the youngest. What worked for my boys (taking the toothbrush away an walking away didn’t work for my daughter…totally different ballgame) I honestly don’t know what worked becaue Catie, my daughter, did EVERYTHING different. I know alot of cuddles worked, I know alot of people wouldn’t do that but some kids have different needs. You know your child, your a good mom, you’ll find what works for you!

  32. Emily on November 22, 2012 at 1:27 am

    First off, I read your blog all of the time and I don’t think I’ve ever commented, so I want to say I love it! Secondly, you really seem to be an incredible mother.
    I have a daughter who is almost 3. She started throwing tantrums like you described at around a year. We have been really consistent in not rewarding the behavior (she doesn’t get what she wants when she throws fits). But the fact is that she still throws tantrums alllllll the time. Nothing will work 100%. When i say no she knows i mean no, but wven so this will result in a fit much of the time. i am definitely for exaining the reasoning behind you saying no to your toddler wen possible. some people say you cant reason with a 2 year old but i have found that this works with my daughter more often than not. I’d say at your daughter’s age though, what worked best for us was distraction. There are definitely times coming (2 and 1/2 years old or so) I’d say you won’t have a choice but to ignore her because the toddler fits get SERIOUS and CRAZY. Funny thing is that when I do have to walk away and ignore my daughter during a said episode, she oftentimes calms down and acts like nothing ever happened at all. Cracks me up! I think toddlers just need a moment like this sometimes and there’s not necessarily anything we can do to help.
    Anyway, the fact is that there is no one correct answer or way of doing things. You will know what feels right for you and your family when it comes to discipline.

  33. Jen in MN on November 22, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    The best behavior/discipline materials I have EVER come across as both an educator and a parent is this: Love & Logic. It’s GOOD stuff. Love & Logic For Early Childhood is an awesome book. I recommend checking it out. It’s very reality/consequences based, and is all about keeping your cool and showing your child who is really in charge by your calm demeanor. It’s all about getting kids to solve their own problems when the stakes are low, so they’ll be prepared when they get older, to make those harder, higher-stakes decisions.

    Anyway, Love & Logic. Not a ton of it is applicable *just yet* to a baby…..but sooner than you think, much of it will be. Especially with a fully-mobile toddler.

    You won’t be disappointed! (ha, sorry, I am kind of a L&L disciple at this point!)

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