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One Year Old Tantrums

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Dear Susan:

I live in Staten Island, NY. I am a working mom with a 1 year old daughter. I wish I could stay home with her but I can’t so she stays with my mom. Sasha, my daughter, has lots of tantrums to the point that neither I or her father can control her so we give in to whatever she wanted in the first place. How can I show my daughter what’s right or wrong without using the word “no” all the time and what can I do to stop her from constantly throwing herself back. I give my daughter all the attention once I get home, how can I get her talking going. I read and talk to her all the time but the reading part I kind of slack off at times - I need your advice and thank you.

Paula and Rodriguez

Dear Paula and Rodriguez:

Thank you so much for writing me! You have a very normal situation because Sasha has the good fortune to spend time with your mom while you work. It is natural for her to act up when you come back to get her after work and even when you drop her off at your mom’s. She is testing you! She feels very happy with both situations, but what she really wants is attention so she can get what she wants. Try to ignore her when she throws fits and do not talk to her. Just put her in a safe place and talk to the wall or another person and just say, “Sasha is so glad to see us and she wants attention!” When she looks at you and stops screaming, then tell her how nice it is that she stopped and that now you can pay attention to her. Do not give her any attention or food, or toys, when she screams and throws a fit – wait until she gives a sign (like a deep breath) that she is not yelling. Then praise and hold her. Tell her you are happy she stopped crying. If she starts again, then ignore her again, put her down on a couch or floor and do not give her eye contact or attention.

If she does this out in public, pick her up and put her in the car seat, and do not talk to her – go home and put her down and wait until she gets back at least a little control and then give her attention.

Think of this – when she is not cooperating, you do not give her what she wants – ATTENTION! Instead of “NO” just make a noise like “uh-oh” or “ugh-ugh”.  Be sure you do not feed her and spank her or yell at her. She is being very normal – 1 year olds have trouble separating from one parent and then a grandma and then going back to Mom or Dad and then the next day, doing it again.

Tell her a story at night about a little girl who is so lucky to go stay with a nice lady who “cooks”. The story is really about what she does at Grandma’s house. Then tell another story of what she does at your house – your rules! It is not too late to tell her how you want her to behave but do it when she is comfortable and held.

Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

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