I was in involved in a conversation a few days ago about “disciplining” a 17 month old. When it comes to raising children, everyone has their own opinions and their own ways of bringing up kids and with the internet you can find any amount of information that will tell you what you’re doing is wrong or right. When it comes to letting your child cry it out there are some studies that suggest it is bad for your child due to high cortisol levels and there are some studies that suggest the opposite. The same goes for spanking/hitting your child. Some people will tell you it scars your child forever and other people will say they were hit and turned out okay and therefore it can’t be such a bad thing.
Personally I don’t believe in raising a hand on a child, whatever age they are, however naughty they may be. I believe there are other ways you can teach a child good (or better) behaviour and this certainly is true for children as young as 17 months old.
Do you think a 17 month old understands why he can’t climb onto a glass table? All he sees is his mom stopping him from doing something he finds fun.
Do you think a 17 month old understands why he can’t pull a dogs tail? He sees this thing wagging, enticing him to grab it.
Do you think a 17 month old understands when you say he can’t touch something, especially if it’s down at his level? It’s easier to move the object out of his reach.
Do you think a 17 month old understands when you tell him he can’t play with a kitchen knife? It’s better to keep knives in a place he doesn’t have access to.
If what they are doing is dangerous then a firm NO (don’t overuse the word) should be effective. Or take them away from the situation.
For children this young, it’s important to show them what you’d like them to do instead. So if my son is hitting someone, I’ll take his hand and show him how to touch them gently and say gentle gentle instead (this has worked for me a lot of the time).
So what causes children as young as 17 months to throw “tantrums”?
1. They have so much they want to be able to express and say but they can’t, usually until they can speak.
2. They are trying to assert their new found independence.
3. They are overstimulated.
4. If they are tired, sleepy or hungry.
Methods to deal with it:
1. Take them away from the situation or distract them. If S is throwing a tantrum (sometimes laying on the floor kicking and screaming), I pick him up and take him outside. He loves being outdoors, the sights, the sounds and 99% of the time this quietens him.
2. Speak to your child. Get down to their level and speak to them, giving them the words they don’t have.
3. Be dramatic. Pretending I knocked my head or saying owww.. owww.. often has S in hysterics.
4. Be consistent. I realised this today when I propped S up on a table to put his shoes on when usually I say he’s not allowed to be up on the table.
5. Plan ahead. If you’re going out and your child needs a pacifier to sleep, take one. If your outing is going to clash with a meal/snack time, make sure you have something for them to eat before they get cranky.
6. SING!! My son absolutely loves music and so if I’m changing his nappy (he’s going through a phase of hating it), or he’s cranky in the car or he’s just having a grumpy moment, I sing for him and most of the time it calms him. Sometimes he expresses to me exactly what he thinks of my singing though!! haha
Children get to a point where they do understand and then “disciplining” can start but as 17 month olds I don’t believe they’re out smarting us or tricking us or have us wrapped around their little fingers. I just think they’re exploring, pushing boundaries and it’s important for us to give in to their curious natures (while of course keeping them safe).
**I’d just like to say again that all opinions on my blog are my own and I am by no means a parenting expert. Just a mom wanting to share her parenting advice, opinion and finds.
A book I’ve heard a lot about is “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” by Harvey Karp. I haven’t read it yet but I’ll be sure to let you know what I think when I do.
What are some of your parenting tips and tricks for dealing with tantrums?