Toddler tantrum at getting dressed - advice needed

Liz - posted on 09/21/2011 ( 5 moms have responded )




My daughter is 20 months old, with a corrected age of 17 months due to prematurity. She has recently begun to have tantrums, which we were expecting and primed to deal with according to such techniques as those advised by the Supernanny.

During the last week, however, she's begun to have a regular full-on screaming tantrum, where she becomes utterly hysterical, simply at getting up in the morning. Whether it's being picked up out of her crib, being laid on the changing table cushion, having her diaper changed, washing or putting her clothes on, this is all suddenly a battle ground.

We don't wake her up and only go to pick her up when she's fully alert and clearly ready to be getting up. We've tried putting her back in her crib and walking away, giving her time to cool down, but even when she totally calms down and starts talking to her toys happily, the screaming starts again the minute we go to pick her up.

She plays happily all day, including in the days when she is at daycare and is generally healthy and happy, though she does have an ear infection at the moment that is being treated by antibiotics. She is happy to play with and interact with both of us and with her friends and still likes to be cuddled in the day time when she wants to be comforted.

I just can't work out what it is about getting up in the morning that has her screaming hysterically and trying very hard to throw herself out of our arms. Nothing has really changed since she was fine about all this!

Any help or advice would be very much appreciated, thanks!


Kelina - posted on 09/21/2011




does her crib change into a toddle bed? could she start getting herself out of bed in the morning? the ear infection could have something to do with it, kids get funny when they're sick. Also try to give her a little more control over her day. it's time to get dressed? what shirt would you like to wear? which pants should we put on today? When it's time to change her, i had some problems with my son too. He went through a couple stages where we had to pin him down to change his diaper. After a while he realized that the less fuss he made the faster it went, and with my daughter giving her a toy or the diaper to hold really helps. good luck! I'm also a lover of the supernanny methods. Positive reinforcement works to an extent with my kids, but timeoouts work better when they're not listening.

Jenny - posted on 09/21/2011




Try and stay sane, It should go back to normal once the ear infection is past. Kids are not themselves when they are sick. It explains why she has a tantrum for no reason.

Alison - posted on 09/21/2011




Is this about getting dressed? Generally tantrums, at the root, are a power struggle. Giving her opportunities to make some decisions, can give her a sense that she has some sort of control. You can try setting aside 20 minutes a day to play with her (uninterrupted), and let her guide the play and make all the decisions.

Maybe try giving her some water before you take her out of her crib. She may be thirsty and not really know it.

Have you tried having a cuddle time in the morning? (if your schedule allows).


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Liz - posted on 09/22/2011




Thank you for the advice, everyone.

We tried giving her a lot more 'say' in getting dressed this morning, including letting her walk about by herself instead of being transferred straight from crib to changing table. Not going on the table actually seemed to make the biggest difference. She hardly cried or fought at all when we just changed and dressed her on the floor instead.

She's obviously going to be one strong-willed little lady, which will be something to celebrate just as soon as we've got through the 'twos'!

[deleted account]

I absolutely despise the super nannys techniques. I find she does things without considering the feelings of the child. I think positive discipline without punishment is best for a childs development because it teaches children the important life lessons without degrading them or belittling them as a person.
Dr Sears gives the best advice on positive discipline. Here is a link to his methods, i hope you find it helpful.

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