I can’t cope with the tantrums

The terrible twos, it is something us parents dread, right? We see kids screaming on the floor, parents carrying them out of shops kicking and screaming and we pray one day that won’t be us. It is inevitable though, one day your baby will turn into a screaming, stomping, patience testing toddler and there’s not a lot you can do to stop it.

Leo has been having tantrums since he was about 16months old. At the beginning they were easily managed and only proved to be a mere inconvenience but, since he turned two, the tantrums have progressed to a whole different, horrendous, demon-like level.  I know other children have tantrums because I witness them several times a week when we go to toddler groups or when we are out and about. No toddler seems to have the art of the tantrum down quite as well as Leo though. He is the master of the tantrum; if there were such a thing, I would bet everything I own on him coming first in the worst tantrum ever competition. 
I love Leo more than anything in the whole world but, my god, that boy tests me and pushes me to the edge more than anyone has before, and probably anyone ever will. He can be the most adorable, loving little boy, showering me with kisses and cuddles, playing silly games and cuddling up for stories. However, when he doesn’t get his own way, is frustrated or angry then things can change pretty damn quickly. I know tantrums are a part of his development, he is pushing the boundaries to see what he can get away with and craving his independence but sometimes, even though I know this, I just don’t know how to cope. 
You see, Leo bites. When he is angry or isn’t getting his own way, he bites himself on the hand. It is never enough to make himself bleed, but enough to leave little teeth marks. Every time he does this I want to cry, I feel like it is my fault. I can’t stand seeing him hurting himself, I know he is doing it for attention or so I will give him his own way, but it still worries me. Biting is clearly his way of processing his frustration and anger but I am still unsure if this is normal toddler behaviour or not? I don’t know how to stop it or even if I should try to. Perhaps he will just grow out of it? Maybe by pleading with him not to bite himself I am simply just adding to the problem? 
At toddler group yesterday, just before we left Leo went into full meltdown mode and instead of biting himself, he bit me. I was so shocked and angry, it really hurt. His little teeth clamped down on my arm and there was so no way he was letting go. I had to pull my arm out of his tight, angry jaw and carry him kicking and screaming out to the car. As I was trying to wrestle him into his car seat, amongst the angry screams he lunged forward and went to bite my shoulder. What am I supposed to do when he behaves like this? I shout at him but it makes no difference: he cries, I feel guilty, he apologises but then does it again a few minutes later.
Leo has tantrums at home but they are fairly infrequent, he always saves the really bad ones for when we are out and I have no one there to help me. His behaviour is making me want to stay in more often than I should, safe in the knowledge that if he has a tantrum at least I can put him in his room for a few minutes to calm down. I am still trying to get to know people here in Hampshire but it is so hard when I am always having to diffuse an argument Leo is having with another toddler over a toy or comforting Leo when he crying about, well I am not always sure what he is crying about. I am just feeling a bit overwhelmed at the minute, I just don’t know what to do for the best. I say ‘no’, Leo gets mad. I try to calm him down, he gets frustrated and bites himself. I simply have no clue how to deal with this behaviour and, to be honest, I am fed up with being kicked, hit and, now the new addition, bitten. 
I know he is going to have tantrums, it is part of him growing up. What I don’t know is how you are supposed to discipline a child who doesn’t listen to a word you say.
This parenting thing is hard. The good times definitely out weigh the bad but when they are bad, they are really friggin bad.
Does your toddler have really bad tantrums? Do they bite themselves when they are mad? I would be really grateful of any advice you might have.
A Cornish Mum

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows


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  1. January 28, 2016 / 7:55 am

    I feel your pain lovely! My now 4 year old threw tantrums but compared to my 2 year old they were nothing. He does the same as Leo and wait until we are out to unleash the bad ones. I'm sure every time I see the mums from my eldests preschool, my youngest is always screaming about something! Your not alone and it will end as I found with my 4 year old. Hang in there mumma! #coolmumclub xx

  2. January 28, 2016 / 7:55 am

    I was lucky with my children, all 3 had tantrums and sometimes they scared me as they seemed out of control, but honestly they only ever had them a hand full of times. I know tantrums are very normal behaviour and that they are a childs way of trying to find out what boundaries are in their world. The world is huge and so confusing for a toddler and for children. But when they are hurting themselves or others it means it may be some time for a little extra help. I would have a chat to your child nurse if you trust their advice, if you don't like the local child nurse I would find someone you do like and trust to offer advice. I know you would already know this but I found it helpful to praise the good behaviour and never reward the behaviour you don't like. Make sure you deal with the consequences of negative behaviour straight away. If he has a tantrum tell him calmly in a soft voice that you don't accept this behaviour and then remove him from the space as calmly as possible. (I know this is hard), staying calm is the key, the more he sees it affects you the more he knows he is getting attention. Really praise him when he is behaving lovely. If he is playing well (it is tempting to keep cleaning or enjoying that glass of wine), but go over and get down to his level and say "I am loving this behaviour", smile and then resume what you were doing. Or pop over and say 'it makes me really happy when you are doing . . ." Reward him with loads of hugs and kisses, not treats. There is no point after an afternoon or morning out where he had a tantrum to get home and then tell him off, or put him in his room. This confuses a toddler as they don't really understand why they are being punished so long after what happened, so deal with it when it happens. Even if you don't want to leave somewhere, if a tantrum is beginning leave straight away. Look for signs of it starting. Is he tired? Hungry? Too much stimulation? Maybe make playgroup or play dates or trips to the shop shorter. Hope some of these tips help (I used to be a child care worker and a nurse). If they don't help, or you feel you need time out make sure you get it, Being a mum is so hard, it's 24/7 and it can really drive us to the point of going nuts somedays, so make time to nurture yourself. And know you are a great mum, you are! Tell yourself that everyday. Like you said he is amazing most of the time and affectionate which is because he feels loved. Take care of yourself xx

  3. January 28, 2016 / 8:40 am

    I hope this phase passes soon for you, it sounds so tough. I have a headstrong 15 month old who I suspect will be a handful at two (and beyond!) Good luck finding a solution that works for you and Leo!

  4. January 28, 2016 / 11:20 am

    My little boy is 17 months old and we are slowly getting closer to full on meltdowns. I usually just leave him to it as anything else I do makes it worse. I also have to walk away as I actually laugh. I think as long as you don't get so stressed out by it, and let them be, they will get over it quicker. If anyone stares, maybe consider carrying a sign around saying 'toddler tantrum in progress.' #coolmumclub x

  5. January 28, 2016 / 11:51 am

    Ouch! That sounds really stressful. I don't have any advice but he WILL grow out of it – for your sake, sooner rather than later I hope! #coolmumclub

  6. January 28, 2016 / 2:07 pm

    Oh bless you! I've been there, just like most parents have. I can't say they really get easier but the biting etc will stop but its the answering back that gets difficult as they grow. Bless you x

  7. Collette State
    January 28, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    Ouch! Terrible twos are awful. They can really really push you to the limit!! It makes it easier knowing that other people are going through the same thing (just). Hang on in there, It will get easier xxx

  8. Mrs G
    January 28, 2016 / 7:20 pm

    Argh, I can sense your frustration through this post. Tigs went through a short tantrum phase, and also a biting phase, at around 18 months. She was put on report at her day nursery! I actually have been known to cheer when they told me she got bitten – out of sheer relief she hadn't hurt anyone else that day. The only thing I can say is, it's a phase, one that'll soon be something you'll look back on and laugh about. Keep drinking the wine, keep trying to do what you think is right, and you'll soon be out the other side. On a more sensible note of advice as opposed to booze, have you tried chatting to your health visitor? Good luck x x Thanks for linking to #coolmumclub

  9. Janine Woods - Unhinged Mummy
    January 28, 2016 / 7:43 pm

    Ouch! I have no advice afraid as I'm still going through the temper tantrums and my son is nearly four. He doesn't bite but he does hot himself, hit me and band his head on the floor and the walls. It's awful. My two girls were not like this at all. That's not to say that I don't think girls have tantrums, I'm sure most do, but in my experience boys do seem to be worse than girls. I hope this a quick passing phase for you.

    Visiting from #coolmumclub

  10. yummymummystyleblog
    January 29, 2016 / 9:56 pm

    My youngest is nearly 11 months and I feel like you do now. God help me. I went through this with my oldest though and you will need to nip it in the bud asap. Introduce the naughty step and use it everywhere. On the stairs, on the ground everywhere, they will try and leave several times infact it will drive you mental but it works

  11. Sara HandyHerbs
    January 30, 2016 / 6:03 pm

    This can be a really tough time! I hope he quickly passes through this phase. The only advice I can give is to be consistent with what you say to him when he behaves in this way, making sure you say it as soon as he does. Also, despite how he is making you feel, be calm and controlled. Sometimes distracting him with something else may work. Good luck and don't despair! #PicknMix

  12. Agent Spitback
    January 30, 2016 / 11:31 pm

    Mine used to have full blown tantrums, with everything on it. He liked to hit and punch instead of biting. It was a really difficult time and the only thing I would do is to avoid/minimise places/things which would trigger them. Because when it starts, it starts! When he started speaking and able to understand, then it was easier to negotiate with him. It is very tricky. Mine is older now and he's learnt the art of counting when he's upset and that usually helps him in self managing his own behaviour. #KCACOLS

  13. A Cornish Mum Blog
    January 31, 2016 / 12:09 am

    I really wish I had some advice for you. My boys are almost 10 and 11 so the toddler years are a distant memory for me, like some others have said though it's really important to be consistent so that they and you know where you stand. I really hope things get easier for you soon.

    Thanks for linking up to #PicknMix

    Stevie x

  14. January 31, 2016 / 5:30 pm

    Bless you sounds very tough. My 5 yo had tantrums but never bit so I'm afraid I can't offer any solutions. Maybe speak to your health visitor. It will get better once he's able to communicate more as my sons tantrums reduced. #kcacols lifeinthemumslane

  15. Charlotte TheMummyToolbox
    February 1, 2016 / 12:30 am

    we are in the tantrum stage! and rather than bite himself he likes to lash out and hit others which is not ideal either! but I am told it's a communication thing that they will grow out of, if you get some useful advice I will look forward to a post about it 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday

  16. February 1, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    I think we're on the verge of entering tantrum territory with my youngest at 17 months and I'm dreading it, but having got through it with our eldest, I know it is just a phase, I'm sure that they all go through it, and they all come out the other side. You're definitely not on your own. Xx

  17. Mama, My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
    February 2, 2016 / 9:37 am

    Big hugs. We're getting into tantrums too.Our tot had a biting phase earlier but hasn't been back…so far. We read 'Teeth are not for bitng' every night for a while.
    I hope this is a short lived phase for you xxx


  18. February 2, 2016 / 9:00 pm

    Aww, sorry to hear you are going through it too. Leo gets upset when food breaks in half too and there is nothing I can do to un-break a biscuit, you know? Hmm, it seems like Leo is not the only one who tries to hurt himself when he's angry. It so hard to see, isn't it? I hope this phase passes for us all soon xx

  19. February 2, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    Thank you lovely! I hope we both come out the other (happier) side of the terrible twos soon!xx

  20. February 2, 2016 / 9:06 pm

    Thank you so, so much for this comment and your advice. I do praise the good behaviour but perhaps not as often as I should, I will make an effort to tell him more often when he is behaving well. Yes, I totally get the being out of control thing, sometimes I worry how angry and upset he can get over the smallest things. We are yet to see a health visitor since we relocated but if the biting continues I will be seeking some advice. I don't think harming himself like this should just be ignored. Thank you so much, I feel much better after reading this. I am also glad to hear this horrible phase will end at some point, hopefully soon!xx

  21. February 2, 2016 / 9:07 pm

    Thank you!!Finger crossed you and your little one only get a mild dose of the terrible twos xx

  22. February 2, 2016 / 9:08 pm

    I agree, leaving them to it is the best solution. I just find it hard to let him do that when we are out in public and there are lots of judging looks being thrown my way. Good idea, I definitely need that sign in my life!xx

  23. February 2, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    Thank you, I hope he does too. Yep it was a big ouch!xx

  24. February 2, 2016 / 9:10 pm

    Aww, thank you. I agree, I think most parents have to deal with at least one major meltdown at some point. I am not looking forward to the answering back but I will take that over being physically attacked any day xx

  25. February 2, 2016 / 9:11 pm

    Thank you, I hope it gets better soon. Yes, it is nice to know that I am not alone and I am not the only one with a very grumpy toddler xx

  26. February 2, 2016 / 9:13 pm

    Oh no, haha, I never though I would hear a parent say their child got bitten but I can totally see what you mean. I am always worried one day Leo will stop biting himself and start biting other kids, fingers crossed that never happens! I look forward to the day where I can laugh about this. I am considering a trip to the health visitor if things continue as bad as they are at the minute xx

  27. February 2, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    Oh no, poor you. It is so horrible seeing them hurt themselves, isn't it?I hope it stops for you soon, 4 years is a long time, you must have a lot of patience. I really hope Leo grows out of this phase soon xx

  28. February 2, 2016 / 9:17 pm

    Thank you for your advice. I think I will give the naughty step a try, he needs to start learning to listen and understand when he has done something wrong. Poor you having to deal with tantrums at 11months, good luck for the terrible twos xx

  29. February 2, 2016 / 9:19 pm

    Thank you! I hope he stops doing it soon too, it is so hard. I am trying my bes to be calm and consistent, sometimes it is really difficult to keep your cool though when you are being repeatedly kicked and slapped. Thanks for the good luck, I need it xx

  30. February 2, 2016 / 9:21 pm

    Ahh, poor you, the hitting and punching is as bad as the biting. It is hard because I want to take him out to do nice things but he gets so mad when we leave or if someone else tries to play with the toys. Leo does not do sharing one little bit. Ohh, I like the sound of this counting self managing behaviour thing, hopefully Leo will learn how to do that too xx

  31. February 2, 2016 / 9:22 pm

    Thanks Stevie, I hope they do too. I am going to try my best to be consistent with how I deal with his bad behaviour. Hopefully this will all be a distant memory for me one day!xx

  32. February 2, 2016 / 9:24 pm

    Yes, a few people have suggested speaking to the health visitor. I definitely will if the biting continues.xx

  33. February 2, 2016 / 9:25 pm

    Ahh no! It is soo hard knowing what to do, isn't it? If I come up with some a miracle solution then I will let you know!xx

  34. February 2, 2016 / 9:26 pm

    Eeep, good luck for the months of tantrums ahead, at least you have gone through it once so you can be kind of prepared this time?!Hopefully it will pass soon for both of us xx

  35. February 2, 2016 / 9:29 pm

    I need to buy this book! Hope your little ones tantrum phase doesn't last too long too xx

  36. Kristen Duncan
    April 21, 2016 / 6:12 pm

    Unfortunately mine is 3 and his got worse. Luckily the only time he really throws a tantrum is when he's super tired but he hits and cries and screams. I asked him the other day if he wanted to go to the store and he said yes. I took him up to the truck and he absolutely LOST IT! Screaming, flailing, crying, hitting. So I said no more going to the store right now and put him in time out. I think being consistent and making sure you are following through with consequences has been our biggest thing that's helped but at the same time, they are just so young that it's hard. They're normally just tired or hungry. It is very frustrating though. I wish you the best of luck. <3 #Familyfun

  37. Jade The Parenting Jungle
    April 22, 2016 / 8:02 pm

    I think it must ba a thing to do with the name Leo as my 4 year old of the same name has been tantrumy since he was 2, they get easier as soon as they can speak and properly explain what they want. Biting is usually frustration or fear. I remember the utter soul destroying feeling when everything you do does not work and you beat yourself up. I used to just say no once and if he was on the floor screaming pick him up for comfort but not give the negative behaviour lots of attention..it is hard as I just want to reason with them. Lots of extra focus on his good behaviour! Be kind to yourself xx #Familyfun

  38. lizzie ( firstooth )
    April 27, 2016 / 7:15 am

    I just wanted to say that you're doing a great job and I know how hard it is and how isolated it makes you feel. Not that it helps. My friend had a toddler that does similar and can be really violent when having a tantrum. My two have tantrums but aren't the violent type I have always been a fairly tough mum to them I'm not sure if that's made a difference at all, but when my son has a tantrum I say to him calmly that I will leave him for 5 minutes to work his situation out then if he hasn't calmed down I shout 'right that's enough' I sometimes threaten no bedtime stories that night but usually the shock from my shouting turns his tantrum into tears and then we calmly have a hug and I explain to him that it's ok to be upset and angry but he doesn't need to behave like he was. I would say keep taking your son out but when you notice him starting to tantrum, say to him quietly you'll take him To the car and he will miss out on the fun if he continues because we don't scream outside but if he needs to let his emotions out then let him in the car. If you don't have a car then try to take him somewhere quiet, people do understand that children freak out sometimes and won't think any less of you as a parent when your son is having a moment. One thing that works with my kids is ignoring and making them laugh. When I ignore my daughter (I do hold her though) and if my sons sees or hears something funny his screams turn into laughter it's bizarre. Stay strong and remember he's a lovely little boy, just drives you a little crazy at times. I hope things settle soon for you x #familyfun

  39. May 24, 2017 / 7:57 am

    This sounds absolutely horrible for you. My daughter used to hit herself during tantrums. I never worried about it and don’t think I ever said anything about it. Figured she’s just frustrated! My daughter usually has tantrums when she’s overwhelmed, so talking to her or getting cross with her makes it much worse! I usually will move her to a more quiet spot if we are out, and I just hug her for the duration, or sit with her whilst she lets it all out. If she hit me I’d firmly say ‘no, we don’t hit’. If she’s at home and laying on the floor screaming then I lie down next to her and just wait with her. Then once she’s done we have a big cuddle. She doesn’t get her way, she still won’t get that lolly or we will still leave the party! So I don’t think I’m being too soft. But once she’s released all of that energy and anger she’s more receptive! I think she also feels a bit more accepted and listened to so to speak. The tantrums have gotten less and less with me doing this. And I feel less angry during them!
    I think it’s finding what works for your child. For her and me this has worked a treat! Good luck, and I really hope it improves soon for you. It’s so hard.

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