Toddler tantrums

Wondering what people do about toddler tantrums? My daughter is pretty good but she struggles when we need to leave places- the park, a store, a restaurant etc. I’ll set a timer and tell her when it goes off we need to leave. She’s 20 months old. Despite the preparation many times she’ll get really upset throw herself on the floor, scream no no no and cry. I usually just stay calm and try to walk away but she really doesn’t care lol. So I’ve been picking her up crying and bringing her to the car and then we hug it out. Just wondering if that’s the right way to deal with it? If anyone has any other suggestions?

  • anonymous mom
    May 01

    I think what you’re doing is the right move. My daughter is 20 months and similar. Today I picked her up from baby school and her class was still outside playing and she didn’t want to leave just yet. So she threw herself across the ground and started screaming. I just tried the, “ok, bye. Mamas leaving!” And started to walk back inside and I kid you not she jumped up and smiled and waved and said, “byeeee mama! Love you!” And went to play with her friends. Talk about back firing. 🙄

  • Anonymous
    May 01

    Recently we took ours to the dentist. I talked to him before hand about how the dentist was going to look in his mouth. This did not help, he was screaming and tried to hit the dentist. He clung to me as I tried to comfort him, while simultaneously trying to tell him what he was doing was wrong. Finally the dentist asked me to leave ( just enough so my son thought I was gone. I could hear and see everything). My son settled down, and the dentist did the exam. After, the dentist came out and told me I was rewarding his bad behavior when I hugged him. I didn't like being schooled by the dentist, but he was right. So my only point to this is be careful with the affection you show her after she throws a tantrum. Because she will learn tantrums are a positive thing for her to do if you give her a ton of positive attention after. I clearly don't have all the answers, but maybe when this happens you can spend the ride home talking to her about how you love to do fun things with her, but if she isn't going to leave when it's time then you can't continue to do fun things. And that it's great to have fun, and it's okay to be upset when it's over, but when it's time to go it's time to go and you can come back another time.

  • Nana
    May 02

    Try saying something that you are going to go do. Like “Let’s go get your special snack in the car, it is time to leave.” “Let’s go home and we can play with ....”

  • Erika
    May 02

    Mine is the same age and doing the same thing. I try my best to ignore him and most of the time have to drag him to the car. I think what you’re doing is best, I don’t want my son thinking he’s the boss, it’s tough at this age cause he doesn’t understand when we try to talk it out. Hopefully this passes soon!

  • Jennie
    May 02

    At that age, keep up with the time limit even though they don't get it, they will soon. Just don't expect it yet. When a tantrum starts I find saying a simple correction once "I know you're sad to leave the park but you may not scream at me" and then stick to "you may notv scream at me" if you need to say anything else. If it's time to leave and they won't come, I usually say "do you want to come by yourself or do you need mommy to help you?" Then if they don't come, I help 😉 During tantrums, I don't say much, maybe "I can't talk to you when you're screaming" but I wait until they are done. But definitely having the same thing to say over and over, every time, helps for consistency.

  • Anonymous
    May 02

    Such a tough age! I try to keep his puppy and a snack in the car..... that works for now.... “ok let’s go get your puppy and eat your gold fish” “puppy is waiting for you in the car! Come on!”

  • Aje
    May 03

    I usually give my son a few warnings that it’s time to go and tell him what we’ll be doing next. There’s usually something enjoyable for him that I can reference when we are getting ready for a transition that makes it easier. For example if we’re leaving library we have to walk to the car and in the road we see lots of vehicles. So I’ll say ok all done it’s time to go let’s clean up great job now we’re going to walk to the car I bet we’ll see lots of trucks and cars on the road what do you think let’s go see or I’ll tell him we can read one of the books at home and show it to him tell him what it’s about etc.

  • Katherine
    May 07

    I like what someone else suggested: don’t focus on stopping something, focus on switching to something different. “Let’s go do this now!” Or “Let’s go see this person!” Works with taking away toys (or NOT toys) too. I also try to remember that at this age they’re learning how to process their emotions. They don’t know what to do when they’re mad or sad! Giving them a little time and space to understand how to feel mad/sad and learn how to calm themselves down is such a great learning opportunity. Helps make it a tiny bit better when you’re dealing with a screaming child in public!!

  • Gena
    May 09

    Personally I don’t believe in timers. It caused my son anxiety and honestly... can you blame him? They cause me anxiety too. It’s pretty age appropriate for a 20 month old to have a hard time with transitions. I would suggest saying “5 more minutes and then we are leaving” when you are going to transition. You could also follow up with what is next on the agenda. You still might have moments where you have to carry her out while she is crying. Stay calm, do what you are already doing and hug it out. When you are hugging it out Id say something like “You got upset because it was time to leave. You didn’t want to leave but it’s time to go” that way she knows that you understand why she is upset.

  • Anonymous
    May 09

    Ok, my son is a bit younger, but I figure it may help to tell you what I do? First of all, I read the book "How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen" and definitely recommend it. My son does the same thing where he throws his head back and lands on his back and just lies on the floor crying. I respond (with emotion!), "Oh no, Johnny is feeling upset that we have to leave the park. Oh, I wish we could stay at the park forever, that would be so nice. Yes, this is so disappointing, I'm disappointed, too, but we have to leave." Sometimes I have to continue on repeating how upsetting the situation is, but he usually just kinda stops and decides that, yes, mom understands how he's feeling, and then he'll just continue on with leaving the park or whatever. I mean, they're still just trying to figure out their emotions, so I think it's useful to identify the emotion and to let them feel it. But also, when I've had enough, I just pick him up and carry him to the car lol. And sometimes we have this conversation on the way to the car, because not every learning moment needs to be done in public.

  • antigrav_kids
    May 09

    Hugging it out is what I did in the same situation. I'd pretty often find myself walking through stores/BART stations/libraries, you name it with a screaming kid under my arm. When I was really good and remembered to do it, I'd talk with the kid way ahead of time about how we were going to handle things in places I knew they didn't want to leave. Id' say we were going to set a time, I'd mention that I'd give them a couple of heads up before the timer actually went off, I'd ask if felt good to them to get upset, and mention that it didn't feel good toe me to have to carry them out. If I was really good, we'd role play it with me saying OK< the timer went off, what do we do, and then the kid would pretend to leave the place we were headed later that day. I think this heled, but I didn't always remember/have time to do it. The hugging it out part reminded me of an article on ways to deal with kids with big emotions: http://happinessishereblog.com/2017/01/10-things-say-instead-stop-crying/

  • Jamie
    May 09

    We had trouble with leaving places and basically any time we had to transition from doing one thing to the next. We started talking about what we need to do when it is time to go or to stop doing something. We then give her a 5 minute heads up - “Okay, you can play for 5 more minutes and then we have to go!” When 5 minutes are up, we say “It’s been 5 minutes so it’s time to go! Say goodbye to everyone!” This has actually worked really well, even though I didn’t think something this simple could work! Also, the book “How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen” gives a lot of practical tools and what to say in different situations, which works great! Kids won’t always respond well to the same thing, so she tells you how to switch it up and use different techniques. I am not done reading yet, but I’ve started using the techniques and they are amazing! One of the big things is acknowledging the emotions. We tend to want to avoid the big emotions and try to make our kids stuff them down inside, but it’s important to give the emotions a name. Now my 5 year old will say “I’m just so frustrated!” She will more than likely grow up to be more emotional intelligent than me!

  • Lexi
    May 09

    Transitions are really tough, especially for toddlers who are testing out independence. They also dont understand the concept of time at all yet, so while setting a timer may work for some kids, it helps to have something more concrete. There are actual timer apps where you can see how much time is left in green and they learn to associate smaller green space=less time, but even that is a stretch for 20 months. If she likes music, try putting on a song or two and say, "after two songs, it will be time to go," then repeat after one song, and so on. If you're at a playground you could say, "5 more times down the slide then it will be time to leave" or something along those lines. Always remind them that that place isn't going anywhere and you will come back another time. Most importantly, FOLLOW THROUGH. If you say you're going to leave after this or that, or a certain time, do it. They learn to depend on your consistency. Keep it up mama! You're doing the right thing. Sometimes it just takes a while.

  • Marie
    May 09

    I love everything that everyone has said. They have given me several ideas. We went through the same thing. My son is almost 2.5 now and it’s getting easier. I set a time limit and then give him a 2 minute reminder. When the time is up I call his name and start walking his way. We are working on listening, so I say listen to mommy (I tap my ear) and then I say look at mommy ( I try to make sure he’s looking at me) and I tell him that time is up, so it’s time to go. I used to have him focus on what’s in the car or ask if he can help me clean up/pick up/put away or a snack. A distraction of some kind always helps. Now, when’s it’s time to go my son says “return later” or “ see you later park/slide/swing/etc. it’s amazing how they grow up and change in just a few months. Good luck!

  • Jason
    May 16

    So, our daughter is now 7 and continues with the “toddler” behavior. We work hard to be positive, respect her emotions, and sometimes ignore her. We’ve been hopeful she would outgrow it, but it is hugely draining.

  • Rob
    May 19

    We explain and explain and explain and end it with hugs and I love you’s

  • Kathryn
    May 19

    I’ve raised my 2 boys, 3 step children and 4 nieces. So, I have a question and some tips. Have your children ever seen you upset or crying? Do you lead by example? We want our children to be on their best behavior, be polite, kind and considerate. But do our children see us being our best. I think for the most part they do. Let me tell you how I broke my nieces from fighting, screaming, pitching fits and being mean to each other. Image this, 4 girls, ages 6, 5, 4, and 3. Everyone sitting at the table and one of the girls grabs a toy from another one of the girls and of course they both start screaming “it’s mine”. After that was resolved we were eating an I cream sandwich and I grab it out of one of their hands and start eating it. Their eyes popped out of their head. She said why did you do that. I said “I wanted it. It’s mine.” You could hear a pin drop in the room. Then we had a heart to heart talk about how we should treat each other. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. One time I even got on the floor pitching a fit screaming and kicking. Again, you could hear a pin drop in the room. It was funny afterwards but they understood. They even cried and asked each other for forgiveness. Parents, Think outside the box but within reason. Change their focus from what’s going on. It’s rewarding good behavior and replacing the negative/bad with better. Don’t con them but train their behavior to be a strong and successful person.

  • Kendall
    Oct 09

    That’s pretty much what I have to do too w my 23 mo old.... eventually I just scoop him up and bring him to the car. I try to be calm and understanding bc if you think about it- it really does suck being bossed around all day long. Sorry.... no great advice from me 😅 only thing that SOMETIMES works is keeping a snack or fave toy in the car. Like are you hungry? Let’s go get your gold fish! Or ohhh I think I hear buzz calling for you from the car, let’s go get him! Lol