Sept. 7, 2020

Ask Margaret - My Two-Year-Old's Tantrums Are Breaking Me!

A listener is getting worn down by her toddler's frequent tantrums.

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Margaret answers this week's listener question:

"I’m struggling so much with my 2 1/2 year old's behavior. She can be really sweet and fun, but her tantrums and clinginess have become really hard for me to deal with mentally. It feels like everything is an argument, everything I say is “NO!”

I’ve tried ignoring her tantrums and she just continues to scream for upwards of 30 minutes and follows me around throwing herself at the ground. I’ve tried empathizing with her and comforting her through tantrums and she continues to scream. I make sure she is fed regularly, naps, has a consistent bedtime. I have ended up in tears multiple times this week just because I’m so emotionally drained dealing with her all day.

Am I doing something wrong? I’m having such a hard time being a stay-at-home mom when others seem to have it more together than me. Please tell me this gets better, I’m really struggling."

Tantrums are to be expected in toddlers, but frequent tantrums that are leaving both mom and toddler in tears? Not so much. A great technique is to verbalize what your toddler is upset about while otherwise remaining neutral. With this technique, consistency is key - making sure that you don't get into a dance with your toddler - and that tantrums shut down the "mommy machine".

In this episode, Margaret mentions Dr. Harvey Karp's book The Happiest Toddler on the Block.

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