"My 20-month son has the most explosive tantrums I’ve ever seen. I’m not a first-time mother, but my youngest has the most ridiculous temper I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong; he can be an absolute sweetheart cuddle-bug, but suddenly it’s like a switch flips, and the littlest thing sets him off.
He screams bloody murder, head butts, kicks, hits, scratches, and bites. He hurts himself, me, his older sister. Today he didn’t want his diaper on, and the simple act of putting his pants on and trying to keep them on set him off for 45 minutes.
Nothing that worked on my other kids is helping with him. I can’t soothe him. I can’t scold him. If I put him in his crib for time out, he climbs over or beats his head into the rails. At this point, I’m half expecting CPS to show up for a home visit.
I also have panic disorder, and these tantrums are extremely overwhelming for my senses, and I often find myself fighting off hyperventilation attacks. These tantrums are daily, and I’m absolutely beside myself on how to handle them.
Can any other moms who have dealt with extreme tantrums help guide me on how to navigate and discourage or soothe him when he’s like this? I know I’m not the perfect parent, so please, no comments about that. I just need to nip this in the bud effectively; I’m not looking for personal attacks and just trying my best. Thank you."
RELATED QUESTION: What Are The Best Ways to Handle Tantrums?
TOP ANSWERS (AS SELECTED BY MODERATOR):
“I have a friend who’s daughter did this and she has a sensory processing disorder that doesn’t require medication- just counseling and adjustments to her kiddos everyday life. Maybe pants feel awful? I’d start there if it were me. Also, PLEASE don’t listen to people saying you have a mental illness so he must too. Mama, you are doing a wonderful job and asking for advice is a brave step!”
“My son is the exact same way. He’s 3 now but has been like this since he was about the same age as yours… his pediatrician suggested behavior therapy and that’s what we’ve been doing. So far it’s helping!”
“Get him to a doctor. Could be medical or a phase. Your job is to help find out what it is. You’re not doing anything wrong, anyone would be overwhelmed. Good luck!”
“May sound silly… But does he hear well? (any history of recurrent ear infections? ) how about his language… Verbal and nonverbal? (Can he express what he wants or doesn’t want?) Because sometimes tantrums are from frustration… inability to communicate verbal or nonverbal.”
“I have one boy just like this now age 11, was diagnosed with autism and interment explosive disorder(kinda like bipolar but can’t use that diagnosis on children). We would try to redirect at this age and music helped a lot. Any kind of music he loved it all.Along with running my hands through his hair. Still works to calm him down today.”
“Sounds like possible SPD/autism… reach out to his pediatrician and if they don’t listen find another one until you find one that will help you. Even if that isn’t what’s going on you need a behavioral specialist and some support. OT could help wonders but its a process to get started. Look into SPD support groups on FB. They will be a tremendous help for you!!”
“If you can figure out what the triggers are start there. If it’s diaper show him two diapers ask which one he’d like to wear. Same with pants. Helps him feel more in control of the situation. He might feel he’s being made to do this and that, especially with older siblings. I noticed with my youngest options helped a lot of unnecessary meltdowns. Also ignoring his tantrums can lessen the extreme of them. As hard as it is act like nothing is going on. The fact that you are reaching out for help means you care, you are a good mom. If we didn’t feel like we were failing at time we wouldn’t be doing it right! Also, bring it up with doctors on the next visit, they might give you other directions.”
“My oldest did it (he’s just fine now) and now my 20month old is doing it, I agree with cutting our food dyes and picking your battles. The only other thing that has worked is simply walking away from his tantrum and I don’t give him attention until he stops screaming, throwing things, and head butting the floor, me, whatever he can. I walk right past him like he’s not even there… tantrum’s used to last 45 mins now we’re down to 10-15 minute tantrums and I will say no and walk away and he gives up a lot quicker.”
“If you can try and hold him, it’ll help him calm down. Also let’s him know no matter how bad his day is momma always there. I know it will be rough on you trying to hold him and calm him at the same time. Just take a breath. It’ll work out. Nothing like the terrible 2’s coming on early. Bless your heart and his.”
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