If you are having some mega one year old tantrums or meltdowns in your home, these tips will help your little one have peaceful days.
1 is so so hard.
The baby phase is just so precious and sweet and cute and – if they are sleeping – not too difficult. Emotionally it might be difficult, but behavior wise, nah.
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.
Read: Is Your 1-Year-Old Wearing You Out? Try These Simple Activities
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.
Read: How To Be An Empathetic Mom Without Being Soft On The Rules
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.
Start brainstorming rules to make your family life more peaceful, connected, and strong!
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.
Read: The Tried-And-True 1 Year Old Sleep Schedule
Emotions are a H U G E part of a young child’s life. These “I Am Feeling” cards will reduce tantrums, meltdowns, and help your little one learn emotional awareness.Learn More
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.
Read: A Brilliant Tip for Moms Of Littles to Follow… The 10-Year-Rule
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.
Next, 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.
Read: Trying to Stop a Temper Tantrum? 7 Things You Might Be Missing
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.
Or they like to run away from you in crowds.
They will climb too tall tables and try to jump off.
And 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.
Strong and happy families have carefully crafted Family Cultures. They don’t let guilt drive them, rather they spend their time and energy digging deep into a few key family areas that pay off in spades.Learn More
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.
Read: 3 Simple Keys To Understanding Your Child’s Emotional Needs
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.
It’s not easy keeping boundaries.
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!
Read: Boundaries: The Only Way To Stay Sane In Motherhood & Life
Get my cheat sheets and find your family’s groove. Chore, independent play, meal, nap, bedtime, and MORE routine ideas!
FAQs about 1 year olds
Yes! Depending on your baby’s personality, some one year olds have more temper tantrums than others. If your baby is used to having their daily routine and habits led predictably by mom, they are less likely to throw fits. If they are overtired and overstimulated, they are also more likely to throw a tantrum.
1 is a little young for underlying anger issues. However, there are quite a few that can cause your toddler to be unsettled and angry. Pain, teething, hunger, overtiredness, and overstimulation can all be overwhelming to your little one and cause them to act angry.
As mentioned above, the best ways to deal with tantrums are to manage your baby’s day well, to keep them well fed and not too snacked up, to make sure they are not overtired or overstimulated, and to have clear ground rules that you help your little one follow.
Absolutely. 1-year-olds can understand a great deal and the concept of “no” is one of them. You can begin to help your little one understand this more and more by saying it and then letting your child respond. If they continue to do what you’ve said no to, you remove them from the situation to communicate that message, then try again later.
Oh my god, thank you so much for this article! I have a very strong-willed 14-month-old at home and the struggles you listed above (what tantrums in one-year-olds look like) are 100% us. ? Due to me having had chemo therapy for almost half a year now, Babyboy was at his (thankfully so loving and caring) grandparents’ a lot, so routine and boundaries blurred a loooot as you might imagine. We’re easing back into it now but sometimes I just doubt if this is ‘normal’. He’s not terrible, actually we have a lot of good days and ‘successful’ moments but you know, in the not so good moments you doubt. Reading your article, where you (once again) put everything I feel right and true but just can’t sum up, into words, is so reassuring and helpful. I’m currently working on getting him back on track with a good routine and some ground rules that I can pass on to the Grannies for when I have to undergo surgery and will be unable to take care of Babyboy on my own again in the next few weeks. I wonder if you have any specific tips on the snacking-all-day-issue. Willi often doesn’t want to eat full meals at mealtime, he seems to just fill his belly enough to just be good to go again for the next hour and then wants out of his high chair IMMEDIATELY – if not helped then on his own ? (Did I mention he’s not only strong-willed but also bursting with energy and amazing with motor skills? ?). Any tips would be welcome!
Anyways, thank you also for your post on diaper change fights. There might’ve been more people asking about it but I remember having asked you for advice on the topic in another comment some time ago and you said you’d think about it and put it into a separate article. The struggles have come and gone and come. I still haven’t found out what it is that makes him suddenly get back into fighting diaper changes again. I did realize that he doesn’t like me holding his ankles too tight, which apparently I sometimes do automatically when there’s a big poop and I’m already scared he might kick and then smear it all over the place. Understandable he doesn’t like that and fights it, so I try to be more careful there and it sometimes helps. I’ll still try some of your other tips that I haven’t thought of, so thank you for ‘keeping the promise’ ? (Gosh, that’s long, sorry. I hope you don’t mind that and putting comments on two articles into one here!)
Such great tips!
I’m so glad I found this. It’s so simple but so hard to know you’re doing it right in the moment. I keep coming back to this post for a refresher lol!
Dei Lake says
Great article! Definitely going to utilize some of your tips!