Development FAQ: 24+ months – Tantrums

I have started having a problem with my 26 month old regarding tantrums. I have recently had a baby and she has been totally fine with it. The problem seems to be with her daddy. She doesn’t see her daddy at all during the week and so he trys to make weekends really special. The problem I have is that if I try and get her to do anything she doesn’t want to do, she has a major tantrum and clings to her daddy. This morning she didn’t want to leave a restaurant we were having breakfast in as she wanted a cup of tea (her daddy had already given her one). Normally when I ask her to do something, she may grizzle but is very good and easily diverted. Today she threw a terrible tantrum, literally lying on the floor and screaming like she was being murdered, then she wanted her daddy to carry her and wouldn’t walk; it was so awful I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I know it’s probably due to the new baby and the fact she misses her daddy but how do we stop this escalating? Monday to Friday she is a totally lovely, good happy child. At the weekend it is a nightmare…

Everyone is over-compensating the fact that a baby has arrived and she may be feeling slightly jealous. And possibly her daddy feels guilty that he doesn’t see her during the week and he possibly overindulges her at the weekend. She will be feeling jealous, but she is also feeling confused; why is she now getting away with much more than she used to? It is important that you and your husband are consistent and in agreement over how to deal with this behaviour when it occurs. She does need lots of cuddles and affection but she needs her natural boundaries restored.

As you have pointed out her behaviour changes only when her daddy is around on the weekend. Explain to your husband that it is important to take control of the situation when it occurs. If she has a major tantrum when daddy and you are trying to do something with her, don’t deny her the tantrum, she is after all very cross about something, but your husband should walk away, saying that once she has calmed down, he will come back and give her a nice cuddle.

I would not at this stage suggest daddy or you leave her entirely on her own as this will just add to her feelings of jealousy, but sit nearby until her tantrum has finished. At the end of the tantrum, when your husband gives her the cuddle it is also important to tell her why he walked away. ‘It makes daddy very sad when you scream and shout at me’.