Inside: Tips on how to handle one year old tantrums with your little ones.
1 is so so hard.
One year olds?
They are trying to grab knives and fall off chairs and walk onto roads and do all manner of life threatening things. Reminds me of this infographic I made one time that went viral numerous times.
This is the age where babies grow into toddlers and begin to find their place in the world. They are a bit less dependent on mama (although, of course, still wholly dependent on you) and their personalities start to emerge as well.
So do many different types of behavior.
At this age, unless baby is exhausted or extremely over-stimulated, tantrums shouldn’t be too severe or exaggerated. It’s a great time to set some expectations and boundaries around various family rules. If we do this well, the next few years won’t be nearly as tricky.
What does a one year old tantrum look like?
- Arching back, bucking, and fighting in the high chair or car seat.
- Throwing themselves down onto the ground in protest
- Hitting, kicking, or fighting
- Refusing to do what you’ve asked
- Running away from you instead of coming to you
That’s just a sampling, but most one year old behaviors you don’t like will be included in those above.
Nip One Year Old Tantrums In The Bud With These Tricks!
Here’s what you’ll find in this post to help your little one dispense with the one year old tantrums.
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Square one: sleep and routine and eating
There are two things to ask yourself before you fear your little 1 year old is a destined rebel.
- Has he had enough sleep?
- Does he have a predictable routine?
- Is he eating enough nutritionally dense foods? If not, is he snacking all day?
If the answer to these questions are no, no, no, and yes… start there.
- A tired baby will be fussy and out of sorts. A baby who doesn’t know when to expect what and experiences mom showing up and asking him to do something “all of a sudden” will not respond as pleasantly as a child who is used to the daily flow.
- Your routine doesn’t have to be to the minute, but find a predictable daily rhythm (even if all the days are slightly different) and stick with it.
- Watch how your little one eats. If you find your child snacks all day, but rarely eats enough to be full and fights more nutritious foods, start there. Have set snack times and try to encourage baby to eat well at meals. This will help sleep and behavior.
Wait it out or keep moving?
With little ones, it’s not a good idea to get into a negotiation.
Or to try and reason with a child.
When your one year old is throwing a tantrum, she is not thinking with her cerebral cortex (logical thinking brain). She is feeling with her amygdala (emotional brain).
Don’t expect your one year old to be reasonable and logical. Instead, expect them to gradually come to understand and follow your family rules.
- If you’ve asked your little one to come to you and they do not, simply go to them, pick them up and bring them back to the starting point. No need to yell, get angry, or make a big fuss. Simply model for your child what you expect of them.
- 1 year olds can often react strongly if you don’t give them what they want. That’s okay. The direct goal is not that your one year old doesn’t react, but that they learn to cope with getting what they get. If you were not going to give them something, don’t give it. Giving a child something after a tantrum teaches your child that if they throw a tantrum they will get something. Then they will continue this. It’s not manipulation, it’s good sense. If I could cry to my lender and avoid paying my mortgage – and that worked – then I’d do it monthly.
- Just because your child is pitching a fit doesn’t mean you need to actually do anything. Sometimes, doing nothing, is exactly the ticket. If they’re fussing because they want you to do something you aren’t going to do, then let them get on with their fit. It’ll pass.
Say What You See® with one year old tantrums
A good rule of thumb to show your child you see them and understand, is to Say What You See®. Say What You See is a Language of Listening concept and is a bit like narrating what is happening, without adding any judgment or value to it.
Your 1 year old is in the high chair and is refusing to eat. She is throwing her food onto the ground.
You might say something like, “You don’t want to eat that! You are done.”
Then you take the food away.
Your little one might start arching her back or banging on the high chair, trying to get out.
“You are ready to get down NOW! We get down when dinner is over.”
You are simply saying what is going on. This helps your child understand that you are aware of what is happening. At this age that is quite important since many 1 year olds are pre-verbal and not able to fully explain themselves.
Don’t “parent to emotions” while your one year old is having a tantrum
One mistake that’s so easy to make at this age, is to make your own choices based on your child’s whims.
The problem with this is not that you are taking into consideration your child’s wants, but that giving the burden of parenting over to your one year old is simply unwise.
They want candy.
They don’t want naps.
They like to run away from you in crowds.
They will climb too tall tables and try to jump off.
They’ll touch the oven.
You get the idea.
Families need boundaries and rules and these are decided by the parents. If your child reacts emotionally or has one year old tantrums in response to these rules, that’s okay!
This is normal.
That doesn’t mean you change your rules or boundaries. You simply help your child do what’s expected of them.
If you change your mind on what you expect your child to do or not do based on their reactions, you will always be tossed to and fro by baby’s whims. And baby’s whims will change based on their mood, their irritability, and their current mood. You can’t make your own decisions based on their moods.
You don’t need tons of rules, but the rules you do have, keep them whether or not baby momentarily likes it.
Control the environment
Don’t expect your 1 year old to have a high and consistent level of self-control.
They just aren’t old enough.
Can they learn self-control? Yes!
Can they learn to follow your instructions? Of course!
A common mistake I see with moms (and that I see in myself) is giving our children too much freedom then expecting them to have the self-control to make good choices in the face of temptation.
- If you don’t want your child to make a huge mess with toys, don’t let them have free reign over a lot of toys.
- If you’ve got certain rooms that are off limits to little ones – and they can’t take a hint – child proof that door.
- Want them to eat healthier foods instead of junk? Don’t keep junk food visible.
- Have a child who frequently runs away from you in public? Keep them in a stroller.
So, preventing behaviors beforehand by managing the environment is the easiest and simplest way to prevent one year old tantrums.
Know your boundaries and keep them, it WILL get better
Last but not least… (maybe I should have done it first?) is this… know your own boundaries and keep them.
Especially not in the face of one year old tantrums or toddler or preschooler meltdowns.
But, it’s basically the only way.
- If you constantly change your plan based on baby’s mood you will soon have a mood to rival baby’s. Breaking your own boundaries over and over creates anxiety and depression. True story.
- Baby can be disappointed and upset and cry and all of that is okay. If you are providing a loving nurturing home with food, times for rest, and a safe bed then you are doing good. Baby will not be happy with all your choices and that means they are learning what they like and don’t like. The goal is not to make them “like” something, but help them learn to follow the family rules.
- Be consistent. 100% is not necessary, but if baby sees that you are consistent with what you allow and don’t allow, they will get the hang of it. Our preschool recently had a meeting and reminded us parents that the kids are all capable of learning the school rules and keeping them. It seems to be the parents who forget!
Need sample routines for babies 6 weeks to 5 years?
By now, you know how to handle the newborn days, but what after? The good news is this: you’ve set your baby up for a foundation of success.
Now all you need to do is continue to find routines that work for you and your baby as they grow up and begin getting bigger and bigger. Sob. After having had 5 babies with 5 different personalities, I know a thing or two about finding a good schedule.
This is why I’ve created a book of sample routines and schedules for babies ages 6 weeks up to 5 years.
The book includes information on how long to let baby stay awake, how much play time is good for each age, what to do with baby when baby is awake but not quite mobile, and even how to manage toddler and baby joint routines.
Chapters covered in Rhythms, Routines & Schedules include:
Section One: Sample Schedules
- 6 Weeks to 3 Months Old
- 3-6 Months Old
- 7-9 Months Old
- 9-12 Months Old
- 12-18 Months Old
- 2-3 Years Old
- 4-5 Years Old
Section Two: Tips and Tricks
- Tips for Managing the Day With Multiple Children
- Daily Rhythms for an Only Child Ages 1-4 Years Old
- Daily Rhythms for Multiple Small Children Ages 0-5
- Sample Bedtime, Mealtime, and Playtime Routines
- Tips for Keeping Kids Busy Throughout the Day
For more sample routines, mom tested and approved schedules for babies ages 6 weeks and up, check out Rhythms, Routines & Schedules right now.
I’ve created a free email series just for you! If you have a little one aged 1 to 8, this series will help transform your home environment. No, that is not a joke or false claim. You can let your kids express their emotions without raising back talkers who meltdown at the drop of a hat or throw a tantrum every time they are unhappy with something. After this free email series:
- your child will stop throwing tantrums for attention
- you’ll know how to validate and affirm your child’s emotions
- you’ll feel more in control of the atmosphere of your home and will be able to operate out of a place of love, not frustration
Click here to sign up for my free email series or simply click on the image below.
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