Monumental meltdowns

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DunyaWolf's picture
Joined: 07/25/08
Posts: 223
Monumental meltdowns

Ok so I know that tantrums are normal for this age, but the past week or so Kieran has been worrying me. He has these huge, explosive meltdowns that last way longer than a "typical" tantrum- he'll carry on for 10 or 20 minutes, crying, screaming, throwing himself all over the floor. Nothing calms them- DH basically holds him on his lap (so he doesn't bang his head on things while throwing himself around) until he stops... and when he decides he's done he goes right back to normal. The way he cries, its like he's genuinely sad/upset about something- not just being a turd over being told no. They're often superficially triggered by the same things, telling him no for something, redirecting him from something he shouldn't be doing, but the intensity and length of these episodes worry me that something else is going on. But I don't know what, and being almost totally non verbal he can't really communicate what the issue is either...

The only thing I can guess and I don't know if it makes sense, is that its somehow centered around DH. The first few days these happened, it was within minutes of DH coming home from work. A couple times, nothing more than that triggered it- DH walking in the door, and Kieran just lost it. I'm pretty sure its not because Kieran hates him, lol- "dada" is the only word he says, and he often asks about him throughout the day. And when I say that daddy's at work and will be home later, he gets a kind of sad/dismayed look and makes a noise. And he always loves playing with him. I wonder if he's going through a "daddy phase" (they do that, right? go through phases where they prefer one parent over the other?) and misses him during the day, but doesn't know how to express his emotions so it comes out in one big explosion? That's my best guess, but they aren't totally limited to DH either.

Has anyone elses' kid had huge meltdowns like this? Do you think there's a specific trigger or can it be normal for kids this age to have huge tantrums like that?

harmonybear's picture
Joined: 06/06/07
Posts: 639

Oh, goodness. If there's something wrong with kids who have tantrums like that, then A is a very messed-up child. She's been having tantrums like what you described since she was about 10 months old. Back then, I think they were mostly triggered by two things: 1) she was still on dairy, and she always has more tantrums after she gets dairy; and 2) she couldn't communicate with us. Sometimes those tantrums would last over 30 minutes. There was a time or two when I felt like I had to do something to snap her out of the tantrum - I felt like she just didn't know how to stop it. A friend of mine said her daughter did the same thing every now and then, and they put her in a cold shower to snap her out of it.

These days it's a bit different. She is not eating dairy and she is very fluent. So her tantrums these days are almost always because we tell her no or because she's overly tired or hungry. Just recently the style of her crying during tantrums has changed from absolute despair to anger. This one worries me a bit, though I'm sure it's probably normal. She hits things, bites herself, roars in anger, scratches herself, bangs her head against things, kicks me/DH, etc, and she keeps it up until she makes herself gag. I tried to leave the room the other day when she started this, but she grabbed onto my clothing and I had a hard time getting her to let go.

But my understanding is that this is normal for this age. Pretty much anything tantrum-wise is considered normal at 2-3 years old. It's when they get older and the tantrums either get worse or don't go away that you start to worry - toddlers don't know how to properly control their emotions, but older children should have matured past this. At least, that's how I understand it. I'm certainly no expert in child psychology.

April777's picture
Joined: 10/01/08
Posts: 579

We don't have a ton of these, but we do have some lately. And I'm also one of those parents who has gotten so worried I've gone to a "drastic" means to stop it because it freaked me out a bit. Last week, I took Zoey outside in her t-shirt onto the porch and stood there in the 20 degree wind for about 30 seconds to snap her out of it. It worked pretty quickly, thank goodness. That day in particular there were just a weird series of events that left me full of worry over her, and the tantrum pushed me a little over the edge and just concerned me a lot. I know, I need to toughen up. Wink

Like Harmony said, I do think it's normal. It's, nonetheless, difficult at times to not be concerned about it because when it goes on for such a long period it's quite distressing for everyone.

I would be willing to bet Rowan is playing a role in Kieran's behavior. From what I've read, this age group tends to have a bit of trouble adjusting to a newborn. I'm really not looking forward to that stage, which will quickly be upon is, too. But I've also read that in many circumstances, these outbursts are short-lived. I also think their overall age has a lot to do with it, too. It's rather typical toddler behavior unfortunately.

Interestingly, Zoey's been going through a major Daddy phase too and if he so much as has to use the bathroom for 20 seconds she has a complete fit and takes a long time to recover from it. She asks for him all day long and when he's here, she will cry if I try to play with her. She adamantly tells me no and asks for Daddy. I recall at her 6 or maybe 9 month appointment mentioning to my pedi. that Zoey had a hard time being with DH and always wanted me for everything. The pedi. just laughed and told me to wait until she hits 18-24 months--then I'll be wishing she wanted me for something. So, it may very well be a normal developmental thing for this age as well.

Good luck. It's hard. I'll surely be coming to you in 2 months to ask you for advice on how you deal with this sort of thing with a little one around! Wink

woelfelyojo6's picture
Joined: 01/15/09
Posts: 52

We have the EXACT tantrums you are talking about. They began when Eloise came home. The cry is almost like he is in pain and for awhile I thought he was mimcing her newborn cry because it was so loud/screamy. I feel so bad for him because there seems to be nothing I can do until he is done with it - and like you said, he just goes right back to normal.

Sometimes they are triggered by disciplining but mostly it is random, which makes me think it is because he is tired since I see no external stimulus.

I figured it was developmental - but I am glad you posted this because i feel less worried about it. He does not usually want to be comforted during these tantrums, so I just tell him that I love him and that I am here for him all throughout!

woelfelyojo6's picture
Joined: 01/15/09
Posts: 52

"April777" wrote:

We don't have a ton of these, but we do have some lately. And I'm also one of those parents who has gotten so worried I've gone to a "drastic" means to stop it because it freaked me out a bit. Last week, I took Zoey outside in her t-shirt onto the porch and stood there in the 20 degree wind for about 30 seconds to snap her out of it. It worked pretty quickly, thank goodness. That day in particular there were just a weird series of events that left me full of worry over her, and the tantrum pushed me a little over the edge and just concerned me a lot. I know, I need to toughen up. Wink

Like Harmony said, I do think it's normal. It's, nonetheless, difficult at times to not be concerned about it because when it goes on for such a long period it's quite distressing for everyone.

I would be willing to bet Rowan is playing a role in Kieran's behavior. From what I've read, this age group tends to have a bit of trouble adjusting to a newborn. I'm really not looking forward to that stage, which will quickly be upon is, too. But I've also read that in many circumstances, these outbursts are short-lived. I also think their overall age has a lot to do with it, too. It's rather typical toddler behavior unfortunately.

Interestingly, Zoey's been going through a major Daddy phase too and if he so much as has to use the bathroom for 20 seconds she has a complete fit and takes a long time to recover from it. She asks for him all day long and when he's here, she will cry if I try to play with her. She adamantly tells me no and asks for Daddy. I recall at her 6 or maybe 9 month appointment mentioning to my pedi. that Zoey had a hard time being with DH and always wanted me for everything. The pedi. just laughed and told me to wait until she hits 18-24 months--then I'll be wishing she wanted me for something. So, it may very well be a normal developmental thing for this age as well.

Good luck. It's hard. I'll surely be coming to you in 2 months to ask you for advice on how you deal with this sort of thing with a little one around! Wink

I read in Dr. Spock that around the age of 2 children shift focus from their primary caregiver to their secondary caregiver (in terms of "favorites" or attachment)...Liam is SLOWLY turning over. He asks about Daddy and talks about him when he is gone, but he wants absolutely NOTHING to do with him when he gets home. Like if DH picks Liam up he screams for me "My Mommy, No No NO Daddy!! Git Dowwwwwn!!"

UGH! I am so looking forward to the non-eventful early elementary years...those exist, right??

ekcanada's picture
Joined: 05/06/09
Posts: 1707

Jessica, I am sorry. It is tough to deal with trantrums especially when you are struggling with Rowan right now. Does DH greet Keiran right away and focus all his attention on him or does he do a quick greet and move on? Maybe he needs DH's undivided attention for several minutes as soon as he gets home... Just an (uneducated) thought...

I hope things improve.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

DD's 2 y.o. tantrums have nothing on her 4 y.o. tantrums. Generally, I tend to ignore them. I make sure they're not in harm's way or that the other kid not having the tantrum isn't at risk of getting beat on by the tantrum-er, and I just go about my business.

I would guess that Kieran's doing it as an attention-grabbing thing because up until recently he's never had to share your attention. IDK why, but kids would rather have negative attention than no attention. I was lucky that DD wasn't jealous of Ben when he was born. She was a great help and loved on him like crazy.

babyJtime's picture
Joined: 05/23/05
Posts: 682

Maria has been doing these too. I thought I had a sweet little girl (sweeter than her older sister was.. haha) but alas, she shows her true colours too!

Here's a picture of a tantrum from last week:

This was because I apparently didn't give her enough soup. She kept saying 'Lotssssssssssssssss' and then when I put it down on her little table, she threw her spoon and began her show. It lasted 13 minutes. Then she just stopped crying and ate her soup!

Yesterday she had another one and I have NO idea what it was about. We were sorting clothes and all of a sudden she started screaming. Could be that we were sorting her stuff too, who knows!!

It seems it's developmentally normal at this stage. I don't pay any attention to her when she has the tantrums, the only thing I say at the beginning is that when she calms down, we can figure out what she wants.

ClairesMommy's picture
Joined: 08/15/06
Posts: 2299

DD's biggest tantrums are when I inadvertently do something that she wants to do herself, like shut the water off after brushing teeth, or turn off the tv with the remote, etc. She fah-reeks out!!!! She starts screaming "I CAN DO IT!!!!" and throws herself onto the floor, kicking and screaming.

marymoonu's picture
Joined: 03/15/08
Posts: 2183

Sean has them occasionally. It's weird... Most of the time, his huge meltdowns are right when he wakes up from his nap. He had a horrific one just like you described on the day we brought Calvin home from the hospital. I was distraught over it. I will say his tantrums (all tantrums, not just the huge meltdowns) have picked up since we had the baby, and I don't know if it's related to that or if it's just his age, or maybe a bit of both..?

MichiGal23's picture
Joined: 09/19/07
Posts: 152

Sounds like you've gotten some good support from everyone already Smile I just wanted to add that izzies new tantrum moments occur at bedtime and in the middle of the night. She screams and cries and shouts "all done sleepin!". Her screaming sounds horrific at 2 in the morning. However, if we go into the room to comfort her, she only gets worse. I think it could be her finally "lashing out" about her brother now that he is in the room with her. Oh well, they'll all get over it, right? And then in a year and a half we get to do it all over again with their little soblings Smile

ekcanada's picture
Joined: 05/06/09
Posts: 1707

I have been noticing that Hayleigh's are the worst when she is hungry. She will respond immediatelt when i offer food but can't seem to vocalize that she is hungry.

JackieJ1's picture
Joined: 02/18/09
Posts: 24

"ekcanada" wrote:

I have been noticing that Hayleigh's are the worst when she is hungry. She will respond immediatelt when i offer food but can't seem to vocalize that she is hungry.

I've noticed this too with Maddie. Last night I almost posted on facebook what she was saying "wachee" to see if anyone could figure it out for me. She did it again this morning and was REALLY happy when I fgured it out and handed her some CHEEZE! LOL!

:bigarmhug: Jess. I'm sure it's even tougher to deal with when you have a newborn!