My 18 month old has started these awful temper tantrums and hits other people when he is told no. What do I do??


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Chrystal - posted on 01/23/2012




My son is going through similar except he throws things when he gets mad after trying countless times to just tell him no he can't throw things I took a different approach so when I see him getting to that level I tell him "it's tossing time" and take him to his room and we growl and toss his stuffed animals around the room while I give him words to express how he's feeling within 30 seconds he's laughing and forgotten all about whatever made him upset. At this point he rarely needs to go into his room he can just show he's mad by growling and I just let him know that I understood he's mad even if that doesn't change that I've said no to something.

Krista - posted on 01/23/2012




"When he hits me or my mom I sit him and down and make him look at me say do NOT hit. Hitting gives boo boo's. He doesn't always look at me which makes me feel like I have no control over my son. I am not sure he understands exactly what i am saying either."

Don't battle too hard over him looking at you. You want to help him find alternative ways to express his anger, not engage him in a battle of wills.

And no, he might not understand, which is why you need to use REALLY simple language. Believe it or not, when they're upset, their listening skills go right out the window. So you want to eliminate any and all superfluous words, and start talking like a caveman. This improves the odds of him actually understanding you. So instead of "Do not hit. Hitting gives boo-boos", try "NO hit.Ouch!"

By the way, I didn't come up with ANY of this stuff. I got it from "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" by Dr. Harvey Karp. It's pretty sensible advice, and I think he gives a lot of good insight as to how better to deal with your toddler's emotions.

Denikka - posted on 01/23/2012




I agree with Krista.

Just saying NO doesn't work (no hitting, etc) when the kid is in tantrum mode. It's important to validate their feelings, and then give a viable alternative to make them feel better. Even something like hitting a pillow. I heard a story once about a father who had taught his daughter (about 4 or 5) to *roar like a dinosaur* when she got angry XD

At 18mo, distraction works wonders. Try to diffuse the situation before it gets to the point where he would hit. That's where distractions comes in. Instead of just saying something like *no, you can't have a cookie*, try something like *no cookies right now, but let's go draw a picture*.


He's hitting because it's the only way he understands to express his emotions. I think just about all kids go through that phase. What's why giving alternative means to expressing those emotions is so important. Screaming, hitting a pillow, etc.

With the looking at you thing, I wouldn't worry about that. He's little, just keep doing it and eventually he'll get it. I've been doing the same thing (look at mommy when I'm talking to you) since he was about 18mo old and even now, at 2yrs 10mo, it's still a work in progress. Sometimes I spend more time talking to him and trying to get him to pay attention than the time out took XD Just be consistent. It'll sink in eventually :)

Stephanie - posted on 01/23/2012




Thank for the advice. I will have to try that. When he hits me or my mom I sit him and down and make him look at me say do NOT hit. Hitting gives boo boo's. He doesn't always look at me which makes me feel like I have no control over my son. I am not sure he understands exactly what i am saying either. I don't want him to be the kid that no one wants to be around because he is mean and hits.

Medic - posted on 01/23/2012




Well I was going to post but as usual Krista said it perfectly....I do what she suggested and it works great with my 2 year old. With my 5 year old I just remind him to use his works that no one speaks whine, cry, tantrum.

Krista - posted on 01/23/2012




Usually when this happens, it's because they don't know how to express their frustration. So they get even MORE frustrated, and go completely primal.

What I would suggest is to give him ways to express himself. When he starts getting pissed off, you say, "You're really MAD that Mommy said no! Sam (use your own kid's name here, obviously) is MAD, MAD, MAD!" And while you're saying that, you can make sort of a mad face and cross your arms and stomp your feet.

First of all, he'll be distracted by your antics. Secondly, you're letting him know that you understand that he's angry -- that you GET it. That's huge. We all want to know that our feelings are validated. And thirdly, you're showing him how to express that he's mad -- by saying "Mad", by crossing his arms, by frowning, by stamping his feet.

You can do the same thing for his other emotions as well. Acknowledge what he's feeling, using VERY simple language (when toddlers experience strong emotions, they're no longer capable of understanding complex language), and express that emotion FOR him, using simple words and gestures that he can mimic. By helping him communicate what he's feeling, it lessens the odds that he'll boil over with frustration and start hitting.

If he does hit, you get right down to his level and say, "No hit. Sam NO hit. Sam mad? Sam mad, mad, mad?" Odds are that he'll nod tearfully, and you can then go on with that earlier part...something like, "Sam is MAD. Mommy said no cookie, so Sam is mad. Can you show Mommy your mad face? WOW -- you're REALLY mad! You want a cookie NOW! But cookie before supper, sweetie. We have supper first, THEN cookie. Can you draw me a picture of a cookie? Can we draw a yummy cookie together?"

It doesn't work 100% of the time. But in my own experience, validating his emotions and giving him ways to express them has staved off quite a few tantrums before they got fully geared up.

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