Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lucy's First Temper Tantrum

About a month ago Lucy had her first temper tantrum. I had no idea what it was even about because she wouldn't talk and tell me what was wrong, she just started crying. I didn't know how to help, or what was going on, she refused to communicate, so I decided to just leave her alone and ignore it. About an hour later she finally fell asleep right where she was- on the kitchen floor with her bottom still up in the air. 

I snapped a few pics. and then gently put a blanket on her. She slept for about an hour and woke up relatively calm. 


The Aftermath

Unfortunately, this wasn't a one-time thing (darn) and it has been happening a lot lately.  Today I made it a point to make it a Lucy Day- thinking that she might just need some extra attention. I put distractions away and we spent the day going to the park, reading books, singing songs, playing in her room, as well as trying to go back to the basics of communication- her signing with words (because she tries to talk, but I don't understand the words that are coming out of her mouth) and asking for help instead of just whining and crying all. the. time.

She has been so emotional lately, and I think part of it is that she can't communicate (and has gotten out of the habit of trying) that she just starts whining with no explanation about what she is even upset about. I think it might take a few more days to get her back into the swing of signing/saying her words and asking for help. We'll see how it goes!

It is hard to know if she is just growing and not feeling well, or if she is sick, not getting long enough naps, enough attention, or if she is just at the age where she is testing every single boundary.

She used to wake up from her naps happy and talking to herself, but now wakes up crying and so emotional, even after I go get her she will cry for 15 minutes while I try to calm her down.

What advice do you have for emotional toddlers? How do you react to bad behavior and temper tantrums? Help!


  1. With Nicholas (he's 2 1/2 now) we've seen that he goes through cycles. I think a lot of it has to do with developmental stages and his frustration with the lack of control that he has in his life as well as frustration with his inability to communicate. But he seems to cycle through a few weeks where he's very emotional and cries about everything, and then he'll have a week or two where he's an absolute angel.

    Really, I think it is all just the age. The hardest part of being the parent is helping them deal with the drama without letting the drama get to's a tough one! Good luck!

  2. Who knows what it is? It could be anything or everything! Keep up the signing with the words, that will help a lot. Make sure she's getting enough sleep. Evaluate her diet. Is she eating too much sugar? Juice (which is another form of sugar)? Artificial colors (those make my kids crazy)? I find that my kids, of any age, get all out of balance when I slack on the foods and we start eating more 'junk' or not-as-nutritious as we could.

    I have no real advice other than keep your cool. It will only make things worse if you start reacting and then you'll feel bad about yourself. We usually said, "I can see you're upset. I want to help you but I can't understand you when you scream like that. When you are calm we can talk about it so I can help you." And variations of that. Just keep affirming that you want to help/you love them/etc. but that they need to be in control first. And sometimes they need choices, controlled choices. Let her pick one of two shirts or one of two snacks or whatever. Don't give unlimited options, but do let her have some say over what happens in her day.

    Poor little Lullubelle. I can't imagine her throwing a fit....or not being the best sleeper on the planet. Good luck!!!

    1. Haha. I know! Thanks for the ideas. I know I have been guilty of snapping a few times this week and getting mad at for her bad behavior, so I will try the verbal responses you suggested.

  3. With Lily when she started doing this (she was the only one...Amelia and Nathan never did this) we started telling her that if she was going to cry, she could go cry in her room. And she can come out when she was ready to use her words. Only once did she actually fall asleep like this. She still does it sometimes and I tell her that she needs to calm down and use her words and that usually helps. But if not, to her room she goes until she can calm down enough to talk. Oh and when she is crying and having a fit I tell her that I can't understand her and that I don't know what she is saying. So when she has stopped crying then we can work it out. And then, after she's done and we've worked it out, I acknowledge what happened and that she needs to remember to not get upset when things don't happen the way she wants it to. And that is doesn't make anything better to have a fit. She might not totally understand at first, but she will. And it always amazes me how much little kids actually understand. But this is what worked for us. All kids are different. ;)

    1. Oh, I like the idea of sending her to her room to cry until she is done. I'll have to try that. I think I need to take more of a minute to explain to her what is going on instead of just reacting. Thanks for the ideas!

    2. I love this idea. We've used it a lot. It takes 20 minutes for adrenaline to leave your system and a tantrum certainly brings on the adrenaline. Don't be surprised if it takes a little longer than you thought it would for her (or you!) to calm down.

  4. I agree with Becca and Kent - Madeline is 2 and does the same thing...cycles of crazy and then normal old Madeline.

    I too, think it's mainly the dreaded AGE(!!!) and the frustration with her inability to communicate the way she wants. haha...

    Good luck momma! :)

    1. Thanks, Tammy! Let me know if you find out any other tricks that work. :)

  5. I wish I still had an article I read regarding toddle temper tantrums. I get weekly parenting e-mails from Bethesda MD where Emily was born and it has some of the most credible articles I've read on parenting. This one basically said that toddler brains grow alternating one side at a time. This causes emotional instability and irrational behavior. The poor little ones don't know why they are upset sometimes and have a hard time controlling their behavior and emotions. It can be easier to comfort your little angel and have patience for their misbehavior if you remember it this way. Also keep in mind that you can't control anyone but yourself, not even your kids. You can hope to influence others by your actions and show your child how to deal with frustration. I'm guilty of losing my temper, but then I can't punish my kids for dealing with their own frustration by blowing up.
    At any rate, it is pretty effective to send my son to his room until he is ready to act right in any situation. Time outs should be as many minutes long as they are years old. (two minutes for two years old). It's easiest and pretty effective to let them just come out of their "alone time" when ready rather than timing.
    It seems silly, but lately with Jeremiah I have been taking him to the bathroom and looking in the mirror with him when he's upset. He see's how ridiculous he looks having a tantrum and will usually snap out of it. I'll ask him what the tears are and where his smile went. We'll give him some positive affirmation. Works wonders for his self esteem and makes him feel good about being a good boy.
    Hope this helps!

    1. I am definitely learning how to control my temper in response to her bad behavior. I love the time out idea, and have been having Lu go to her room and sit on the futon in there when she is crying. I leave the door open and tell her to come back out when she is done crying and is ready to be happy.
      I love your idea of using the mirror! I will definitely try that!
      Thanks for the ideas, Amy! :D


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