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Toddler » Discipline and Guidance

One Year Old Out of Control

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Dear Susan:

I work with the department of human services as a counselor. One of my clients needs help with her one year-old daughter. The child walked early, seems bright. The problem is destructive behavior and temper tantrums. She requires constant watching to avoid tearing up and breaking things. Daycare is complaining. The mother is very protective, having lost one baby. She wants me to help her but I don’t know what else to do. This has been going on for a while. There is no father in the home. There is a male partner who appears devoted. Thank you for helping me help this family.


Dear Riley

One year-olds are rarely as angry as you describe, unless there is very inconsistent parenting going on. One year-olds who walk early and are “in control” of motor functioning are smart, figure out early that they can get attention by acting out, and they don’t care whether they get good attention or bad attention. They just want attention They have an over inflated view of what they can do. Parents who yell, or bribe or give in or give the child what she wants, are always going to get more tantrums and bad behavior than those who set up a schedule, and stick to a pattern of praise and encouragement. Good routines that include reading to a child, playing with a child, giving a child lots to look at, hear, touch, play, etc, will help calm the child down! Set limits and boundaries with the parents and teach them how to help the child control himself, and how the parents use limits and boundaries to be “in charge.” Punishment and harsh treatment only give the child the encouragement she needs to compete with her parents for control. No one year-old can be in charge. Adults must nurture and teach good habits during the second year of life. There are many “tricks.” Tell me more and I’ll send them to you.

Thanks again,

Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

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