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I have a 19-month-old daughter. She is a very active child, and usually very well behaved. But in recent times I have noticed that she is constantly whining and also throwing temper tantrums - if she doesn't like something, if she doesn't get something she wants, she starts to hit herself. Very badly. Or she ends up hitting me, her mother. I have tried telling her she shouldn't be doing this, I have tried being firm, I have also expressed my displeasure. She immediately cools down, and her immediate response is to try and appease me because she thinks I am angry with her, but the behaviour continues.

I take her to the park to play with other children every evening. While she is great with kids who are seemingly older than her and enjoys playing with them, with kids her age or slightly younger, she tries to beat them and push them away. I end up constantly trying to control her, tell her she shouldn't be doing that.

I am at my wit's end as to what to do? How do I handle her whiny nature and her temper tantrums? How do I discourage her from hitting people? How do I explain to her that this is not acceptable behaviour? How I do ensure that she learns to say sorry? Please help.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

We've been reading the book Hands Are Not For Hitting to our 22-month-old, and using the phrases when he hits to remind him that we don't hit. He still wants to hit but we've noticed it's slowly improving (and his teachers at preschool report the same). The big thing is to use the same wording ("Hands are NOT for hitting!") and get down to his level to communicate it to him. He pays more attention when we kneel down and look him in the eye.

When we see that he's getting angry, we've also been using the Toddler-ese techniques suggested in The Happiest Toddler on the Block (a HIGHLY recommended book): get down to his level, look him in the eye and acknowledge his emotions. "Son is angry! Son wants to play with the dump truck! Yes, Mama hears that Son is angry, but we need to take a bath now and dump truck can't take a bath with us or it won't make noises any more." If we move fast enough, that acknowledgement usually gives him time to gather himself and we can go on with things without a tantrum.

If we don't move fast enough (a distinct possibility, juggling two small humans), then we just wait him out while he screeches and bangs his head on the deck. Usually the complete lack of reaction from us means he only does it for a minute or so before getting up, and then we can talk to him and help him calm down.

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Thanks for the link edit, @Beofett! :) –  Valkyrie Feb 28 '13 at 14:12
    
Glad to help :) –  Beofett Feb 28 '13 at 14:26
    
@Valkyrie, Thank you very much for the advice. I have tried to tell my daughter the very same things; she does listen at that moment but seems to forget immediately after. I will definitely get the books you have recommended. –  user163114 Mar 1 '13 at 9:42
    
Those of us in the trenches with you will keep our fingers crossed! :) –  Valkyrie Mar 1 '13 at 11:48

Our toddler is also at the age where he is throwing temper tantrums once in a while. We were so nervous on how to handle him at some specific locations, like out in the public, at the malls. But we are also doing the same things explained above by many parents. Sitting down to his level, and saying in firm words, not to do certain things, helps a lot.

Distracting him works sometimes too. I read this article on How to Handle Temper Tantrums and lot of it makes sense. You have to understand where your child is coming from.

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We set aside couch time. For US not them. We had specific times that we scheduled and told the kids that was our time.
While we were on the couch they could not interupt.
We strictly enforced this with (appropriate punishment) timeout etc.
It was amazing seeing what impact the respect of my wife and her respect of me had on such young children (and in such a short time).
Preserving our time for each other made them different!
I can't explain it and I didn't think of it.
It is an idea from Dr. Kevin Leman.

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