The “Mini-fit”: Responding to Young Tantrums

What to do when your child has a mini-fit. How to solve the early tantrums your pre-toddler and toddler have. Strategies to stop tantrums.

Toddler crying on the floor

The mini-fit.


The first time Brayden, my oldest, threw a mini-fit, I think my heart started to race. My mind started to race.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to react.

Sure, I had read about how to react, but reading about it and actually facing it are two different things.

What was I supposed to do? Where had I gone wrong?

Little did I realize this was just a mini fit and not a full on tantrum.

Mini-fits are almost comical when compared to a tantrum. The mini-fit is likely to creep up somewhere around 9-10 months, though some have them sooner and others later.

If you have an older toddler, this post is not for you. Toddlers have real fits. Tantrums. See How To Stop a Tantrum and Tantrums and Discipline for help with toddlers.

Like I said, Brayden’s first mini-fit sent me into a panic. I wondered what had I done wrong? Why was he acting this way? What was I supposed to do?

His first mini-fit happened right on schedule. He was pretty textbook about things. By the time he was 12 months old, he was really good at obeying me because we had a lot of practice with me correcting him. The mini-fit did still make me nervous at times, though–especially in public.

With Kaitlyn’s first mini-fit, I didn’t even bat an eye. I actually had to suppress a smile. Her mini-fit came at 14 months old. I just thought to myself, “Sorry, girl, you have a 3 year old brother. That mini-fit is not going to phase me.”

I am guessing a lot of people are curious what her mini-fit was all about. She was in the wading pool, but wanted to play with the playground gravel.

She liked to put the gravel into the pool or the sandbox, which are both no’s. I told her she couldn’t play with the gravel while she was in the pool. Well, she lost it. She cried and cried.

I took her out of the pool and held her. I said she could play with the gravel once she calmed down. She wiggled and tried to get down to the gravel and continued crying.

I told her she could play as soon as she stopped crying. She was mad. She cried for a couple of minutes and then stopped. Then I let her play with the gravel.

A Mini-Fit is a Pre-Tantrum

If you are a first time parent, you will probably see your first mini-fit as a huge deal like I did. The mini-fit is really a pre-tantrum and is a good way to practice your resolve.

This is the first version of the tantrum. Tantrums come later in toddlerhood. Bad tantrums will come later–closer to two.

These min-fits will slowly intensify (or suddenly intensify). Many toddlers get a bit jump in their “fit” abilities around 18 months.

We know tantrums happen. And please recognize that it happens.

The mini-fit does not mean you are a bad parent. It doesn’t mean your child is a bad child. No child is going to make it through life without ever throwing a fit or tantrum.

It is normal.

That doesn’t mean you accept the behavior, but it does mean you can move forward without harping on yourself and wondering how you have failed.

Sometimes the fits will come more often if you give in to them or have other gaps in your parenting. Adults also throw fits, but we get better at both controlling our emotions and dealing with those emotions. We need to teach our children to do the same.

How to Deal with Little Tantrums (a mini-fit)

It happens. The mini-fit is normal. Normal doesn’t mean acceptable. It doesn’t mean we allow it to happen. We want to teach our children how to react differently than a fit. How do we deal with the mini-fit?

Do Not Give In

I would number one never give in to the little mini fit. At first, the mini-fits aren’t long enough that you really even consider giving in. They are over as quickly as they start. As your child gets older, the mini-fits will get longer. Just don’t give in from the beginning.

Don’t give in even if the child’s desire is okay with you.

Take Kaitlyn’s gravel fit. She wanted to play with the gravel. That is fine with me. It isn’t fine with me for her to do so while she is in the pool.

I told her no and was about to offer options when the fit broke out. I could have lifted her out and on to her towel in the gravel and she would have stopped her fit.

But I didn’t want to teach her that a fit gets her what she wants. She needed to work through her fit first.

Offer Choices

Offer choices. You might think your child is too young to understand you, but they understand much more than you realize. “You may not play with the gravel while in the pool, but once you get out of the pool you can. Are you all done in the pool?”

Be Empathetic

Be empathetic and understanding to your child’s frustrations.

I would tell her “I am sorry you are upset (or I know you are upset), but you are not allowed to play in the gravel while in the pool.”

I would then let her have her expression of frustration. Just don’t give in (reiterated!) while the fit is happening.

Sometimes we just need to let our emotions out. These pre-toddlers and early toddlers are just now experiencing these emotions. It is hard for adults to deal with them, so don’t expect your child to be a pro.

The things that are trivial to you are your child’s whole world. The gravel is very important. If she needs to have a little crying session, that is fine. She will learn to deal with that emotion if you let her. Suppressing it is not the answer.

Teach Appropriate Outlets

Along those lines, teach her the appropriate outlets. It is okay to have frustration; they don’t need to have a meltdown every time they are disappointed, but I do think it is normal to have some expression of frustration every now and then.

As Brayden got older, we had a designated chair for him to go to if he was too upset. He was allowed to have his crying session in that chair. He couldn’t sit at the dinner table and cry, he needed to sit in that chair.

One day when he was four, he was about to lose it and I asked him if he needed to go sit in the chair. He responded “Yes” and left the room to the chair. He was there for about a minute.

He came back just fine. He had collected himself. He was ready to be mature about things. Teach your little one where she can express her emotions (somewhere that isn’t disruptive to the family) and how. Set some ground rules for these outlets.

Teach Communication Skills

Teach her to communicate. Many of these min-fits come as a result of the child not knowing how to express themselves.

I think this is one reason Kaitlyn’s fits came so much later. She didn’t have communication fits because she is so good at communicating. It is a real talent of hers. I also started sign language at a very young age with her (see How To Teach Your Baby Sign Language).

With Brayden, he had a lot of fits around communication. I started teaching him sign language around 14 months old and his fits really decreased.

If you find a common trigger for fits, help your child learn to communicate to avoid those fits. For example, if your child throws a fit in order to get out of the highchair, teach her to sign all-done. Then she can ask in a way other than a fit.

As they get older and the fit lasts longer or they persist, I say “even if you throw a fit, you can’t do it/can’t have it.” I am re-reiterating: Don’t give in.

Stay Consistent with Rules and Expectations

Stay consistent with your rules and expectations. Don’t confuse your child by giving in sometimes and not others. Don’t switch the rules on them. Of course, if you realize a rule needs to be changed, do it, but don’t go back and forth like a ping-pong.

As you continue on through your parenting, this will all become second nature to you. You won’t have to think through. You will be consistent and gain confidence in yourself and your child. You won’t worry so much while in public.

Mini-Fit In Action

One day when Brayden was four, we were at the park with about 12 other moms with their kids. Brayden went running off with a friend while carrying his drink. I like the drinks to stay on the blanket so they don’t get lost in the oblivion of the park. I called after him to leave his drink with me.

He wanted to take it with him. I told him no, he needed to leave it with me. He started to insist upon taking it when I gave him my mommy-look and he brought back. This isn’t a shining example in first time obedience by Brayden, but is an example of me sticking to my rules even with lots of moms watching.

It is a risk to insist upon obedience in front of people. If your child refuses, you know you will look really bad. You know there will be some understanding mothers, but you also know there will be mothers who start to think about all the things you are doing wrong.

As Brayden brought his cup back, I realized that in that moment, I had basically blocked out all the other mothers. In that moment, it was me, him, and the cup.

I gave an instruction and insisted upon his obedience, and he obeyed. I was happy to know that I am confident enough in myself and in him to not worry about what others are thinking.


Once again, I implore you to not give in to the mini-fit. Trust me when I tell you those mini-fits will get a lot worse in intensity and happen more often if you choose to give in.

Tantrums will get even worse if you give in.

If you set ground rules and expectations now, future tantrums will not be as bad. They will still come, but will come less frequently and with less intensity.

Related Discipline Posts on This Blog

How to respond to the mini fit

This post originally appeared on this blog July 2009

52 thoughts on “The “Mini-fit”: Responding to Young Tantrums”

  1. Our son is 21 months now and we’ve seen several mini-fits…usually when he’s tired, hungry, overstimulated or really wants his way and doesn’t get it. We just got back from a 2-day trip to see the grandparents and it was a good test for the 3 of us. He did ok despite all the overstimulation, late naps, late meals, etc (we went to Sea World one day and the beach the next) plus being doted on by grandparents who had not seen him in nearly a year. We brought back his short morning nap and made sure he still got an afternoon nap too even if it happened late. While at Sea World, one thing we found that helps is to tell him it’s naptime, lay him back in the stroller and put a light blanket over it to block out the light. He’ll sleep for at least 2 hours that way, even with all the noise and stuff going on around him. In fact, the stroller is his second crib if we’re out and about.With our son, holding him until he stops crying doesn’t work. He’ll just cry harder and for an hour or so until he’s completely worn out. He’s pretty stubborn! We have to remove him from the situation, tell him to stand somewhere that he can cry it out for a minute. Then we ask, “Are you finished?” He’ll sign “All Done” and then he’s fine and can focus again. I’m thinking of teaching him the hand-folding technique soon too!

  2. I have a question unrelated to this post: I recently (about 5 weeks ago) potty-trained my 28-month old daughter. An intense 4 days, and she does not have daytime potty accidents except during naps sometimes. But pooping is entirely a different story!! Any advice on this?? She will hold it for 2 or 3 days and then have an accident during naptime or right after we put her to bed.

  3. Great timing on this post! My almost 9 month old is starting to have fits when things are taken away from her. Yesterday we were in Target and I took something from her, just to fix it, and she had a melt down. I told her she could have it back when she stopped crying. I felt people watching me and I thought they were probably thinking I was crazy trying to tell that to a baby, but I stuck to it and knew I was doing the right thing. Being a first time mom I can get a little self conscience about my parenting in front of others, but I think over time and with the help of BW and this blog, I am getting more confident.

  4. Great post & comments. It is easy to become self conscious with others observing, but all in all, we know our children best & when we are consistent with what works for them, it really doesn't matter what others see. I also agree with the caution in today's post, that we must keep a close watch on our authority/discipline & not let our expectations exceed our children's ability.

  5. Noelle,That is a hard situation. That is just how Brayden was. I will do a post on that. For now, keep in mind the foods that interfere with pooping (like cheese). Try to avoid those foods as much as possible and push the foods that help with pooping.

  6. IzzysMama, Good job doing what you needed to in public. If your child knows you will be the same in public as at home, you will save yourself a lot of major fits in the store during toddlerhood.

  7. Hi Valerie,Hopefully you will see this question since I know it has been awhile since the post was written. I was really thankful to read this today because just this morning we had our first major “mini-fit” while shopping at WalMart. It was not the first mini-fit, but definitely the most intense and tantrum-like. Sadie Beth is 10 1/2 months old now. She is teething big time. While at WalMart I gave her an item to chew on that I was going to purchase. I realized after a few minutes it was not holding up as well as I expected with the chewing so I told her I was taking it and gave her a safe item that I had brought along for her…one that she found neither as interesting or as satisfying as the first, and a major melt-down ensued. I was “that mom” with the screaming child at WalMart. I did several of the things you mentioned in the post…I empathized with her, recognizing her sadeness, repeating “I know you feel sad, but Mommy needed you to have something safer to chew on” and “It’s okay to cry.” several times. However, on and on she went, only to stop when she managed to grab another item out of my hand as I was putting it in the cart. (We are getting ready for a plan trip and I was picking out some $.88 toys for that…she took one of these as I was placing it in the cart.) Here I wasn’t sure what to do…should I have let her see the new item? She wasn’t getting the item that “originally” started the tantrum, but in a way I felt like I was giving in, like she was being “passified” by something else. Should I have taken the new item and put it in the cart? Under normal circumstances, I would have been FINE with her playing with the new toy but I didn’t want to “reward” the mini-fit screaming by giving her a new toy. I also know that the other WalMart patrons were probably tired of her screaming. Any ideas on how to handle this and similar future situations? I know they are coming!

  8. Blair,I think you did the right thing. This would be one of those situations BW talks about where you give some room for error being in public–for the comfort of others in public. It also is a situation where she is in pain and needed some comfort. It wasn’t the unsafe toy. Knowing what you know now, in the future I would have a few options to turn to. I would also offer her the new stuff you are adding to the cart so if she does want it, it is your idea rather than hers.

  9. Hi, my daughter is 1 year yesterday! WOW! She is beginning to have “mini fits” when she doesn’t get her way. I am doing isolation for a minute, with no luck. I have also been just walking away from her when she has a “fit”. I feel like she doesn’t take me seriously when I say “no”. For example, during blanket time, after 15 minutes, she is done. She crawls off, even after me saying no and replacing her on the blanket. Any suggestions?

  10. You know, while you are working on figure out what works for her, I would do one of two things. One would be to get her off blanket time at 14 minutes so ending is your idea and not hers. Another would be to tell her she needs to stay on the blanket and just put her back on over and over and over and over…and remain consistent. She will be mad, you will be frustrated, but after some time you will hopefully see some improvment.

  11. my son is 9.5 months old and these “mini fits” are coming with more frequency and more intensity. They usually start when it’s time for his diaper to be changed, when he can’t have what he wants, or when he’s tired. How do we correct the issues like sitting up and rolling on the changing table? I’ve heard of saying no, holding them down, squeezing their hand or leg (but how hard), and popping. What do you reccommend?What about shouting from the high chair? We can’t figure out if the shout means i don’t like that or i’m done. he signs more, but signs more for anything. we’re working on all done, and other signsAlso, when they have a fit regarding something that is a no, do you hold them until they calm down (not a cuddly hold, more of a restraining hold) or do you walk away?

  12. For the changing table, I would lay him back into position and tell him “that’s a no, you need to hold still” firmly. Also, be sure to give him something interesting to play with each time he gets on the changing table.For the shouting, ask him if he is all done (while signing it), tell him to use an inside voice, etc.For the fit, you can do either. See what works best for your LO.Time and consistency are necessary for fixing this. You won’t see it be fixed in one day–it might take weeks before you see significant improvement, but it will come.

  13. thanks for the help. have you guys used “time out” and how did that go? we were trying to figure out how to use time out and have those consequences be immediate, but the time out place is downstairs. what behaviors warrant time outs, etc. we’re trying to get this one figured out in our heads before implementing it.

  14. I never used time-outs for Brayden until he got older (close to 3) and then it was used as a place for him to gather himself emotionally, not a place of punishment.For Kaitlyn, I have used it in a couple of instances. One is at the dinner table. She liked to throw her food off the tray when she was done eating rather than saying she was all done. This was around 13/14 months old, and had been saying all done for quite some time, so I knew she was capable and knew what was expected. When she would throw her food, I would remove her food from the tray, push her high chair back, and tell her she was going to have a time out because she threw her food. I then set the timer. It worked well. I also use it if she hits her brother. She goes to the pack and play immediately and I set the timer for two minutes. This has also worked well.Not all kids need time outs. If you think it will be beneficial for your child, you will have to decide what to use it for. I would do only the most serious offenses, and not everything. Be sure to see the post “teaching your baby no” which will be beneficial for a baby the age of yours. (linked in the post)

  15. Hi there and thank you so so so much for this blog. Here is my issue (among many) with my 6.5 mo daughter. On top of having some major separation anxiety and flipping out if I’m not holding her pretty much all the time, she is throwing fits almost nonstop in the evening. This is not simple crankiness, though it begins that way and quickly escalates into meltdown after inconsolable meltdown. They begin about 20 minutes after her 3rd feeding and don’t really stop unless she takes a little catnap…but she has been self-weaning off the 3rd nap and has no interest in taking a it at all. Occasionally she will doze off in the swing or car if we are out at this time and is usually happy when she wakes up. She takes a long afternoon nap prior to the 3rd feeding, so I know she is rested and happy when she wakes. I don’t know what to do. Nothing satisfies her for these 2-3 hours. The crying definitely intensifies when I try to put her in her exersaucer, etc., and she is struggling w/all sorts of solo play because of the SA. She won’t even sit in the highchair or walker w/me in the kitchen while I get dinner ready. I have read just about everything on this whole site even remotely pertaining to her and I realize she will just have to grow out of the SA. I can handle that, but this is beyond exhausting. I feel like I am battling her at every turn and am so wiped out by the time my husband gets home! Can you offer any advice, great guru? BTW – I have been working on sign language with her for a few weeks, but she is certainly not willing/able to use it yet. Thanks again!

  16. Very good post! Thanks! I have a question though… I’ve read most of your blog and can’t find your thoughts on spanking. What do you do if your child directly defies you? For instance, Kaitlyn in the pool wanting to pick up the gravel. If you told her no, and she deliberately continued the act after she saw your “mommy face” and heard your direction of “that’s a no”, what would you have done? You talked about her fit, but what if she would have directly defied your command to her?Another example: My 8 month old son has just learned to pull up. He pulls up to the coffee table and pulls off the magazines, or pulls the CDs off the entertainment set. I will try to make eye contact and tell him no, followed by redirection to other toys. At times, he will turn right around and go straight back to what I’ve just told him he can’t do. I just repeat what I’ve done until a point when I think he is directly knowingly disobeying me. What would you do in this case? And what do you think about spanking?Thanks SO much! You’re so helpful!

  17. Katie,If she had continued to defy me, I would have taken her inside and she wouldn’t get to play in the pool/gravel any more that day.For your 8 month old’s situation, I would also move him if he didn’t listen.As far as spanking goes, I am honestly not a fan. I do not spank my children. I think there are ways you can do it (the Growing Kids God’s Way) that can work, but I also think there is always an alternative to spanking. My children are both really obedient without any spanking at all. Neither my husband nor I feel comfortable with spanking, so it is just naturally a good choice for us. Let me know if you have more questions on spanking 🙂

  18. Hi! I never heard back from you. I know you’re very busy, so I thought I’d repost. Thanks!!__________________________________Very good post! Thanks! I have a question though… I’ve read most of your blog and can’t find your thoughts on spanking. What do you do if your child directly defies you? For instance, Kaitlyn in the pool wanting to pick up the gravel. If you told her no, and she deliberately continued the act after she saw your “mommy face” and heard your direction of “that’s a no”, what would you have done? You talked about her fit, but what if she would have directly defied your command to her?Another example: My 8 month old son has just learned to pull up. He pulls up to the coffee table and pulls off the magazines, or pulls the CDs off the entertainment set. I will try to make eye contact and tell him no, followed by redirection to other toys. At times, he will turn right around and go straight back to what I’ve just told him he can’t do. I just repeat what I’ve done until a point when I think he is directly knowingly disobeying me. What would you do in this case? And what do you think about spanking?Thanks SO much! You’re so helpful!January 9, 2009 1:40 PM

  19. Hi!so after reading this entry I realized that my 12 month old has been throwing mini fits for a couple of months now, and i dont think i’ve been dealing with it in the best way. I think i try to figure out what he wants and then I just try to give it to him if it is ok to have, or do, whatever…but he has been becoming increasingly cranky, like he is constantly whining and i dont know what to do 🙁 lol, so i took the advice about independant play time and we now do that for 30 mins in the afternoon, he does fine with the exception of whining a little at the doorway of his room occasionally.but I am still confused, even after you example, of what to do with the mini tantrums…like when he starts having a tantrum in his highchair…what do i do?I believe a lot of his frusteration comes from not being able to communicate, so i also tried to start doing a few signs, i can’t see him using them but i’m going to pray he catches on!!!thanks for all your help, oh, and how is your pregnancy? i hope it is well 🙂

  20. ckim56, I would see the Discipline Methods post from this past Monday for ideas on this.Signing is a great idea. Keep working on that.My pregnancy is good, but my pregnant body is uncomfortable :)Not too much longer!

  21. I was readin this post over again and I wanted to let you know how funny the begining is. I was laughing at your response to Kaitlyn’s first mini fit!

  22. Here’s my question. I think that whining and fits/tantrums should be treated differently. I am generally trying to ignore my son when he whines(and I usually first tell him not to whine and to point to what he wants/signs etc) but I’m not sure what to do when the whining turns into a fit (or even at what point that happens..when he starts to scream like crazy?:)I agree with your guidlines for fits bc I think at this age children are unable to control themselves and need some guideance and help to control their emotions or even realize what their emotions are. But my son thrives with any attention so if I even look at him when he is whining or having a fit/tantrum he gets worse. I’m trying to figure out what else to do but I don’t really like the option of ignoring him or putting him in time out or by himself at this age (especially bc he’d be going there 20 times a day for this). Any other ideas?Kind of on a side note bc I’m trying to get an idea of what to expect: I feel like I’ve told my son not to do many different things a thousand times over. I only do time out for serious things like climbing the stairs bc I don’t want to be doing time out 100 times a day (seriously!) Often times when I see him doing a no no and tell him not to do it, it will take me a few times to get him to not do it so we’re pretty far from first time obedience with most things. He’s 14 months old. Am I suppose to be expecting better from him. I mean, should I be more firm with him with obedience at this age? Am I suppose to be doing more time outs to get him to obey more readily and consitently, especially when he is down right defiant? Sorry so long! I hope it made sense!

  23. Rachel, I know it is funny! I think it is so funny how things just don’t phase me that freaked me out with Brayden.

  24. Rachel,For whining, one of my good friends who is a BW mom would just say to her son, “Jack, look at me, don’t whine” and shake her head. She had no emotion in her voice. It was just matter of fact. That worked for him, BUT at the time I am pretty sure he was about 2.5. I would imagine he is getting this since he is the only child, but be sure he is getting good one-on-one time with you each day. If he is doing things in order to get attention, then he might “act out” less if he had all the attention he needed. Also, I would try to focus on the positive. Praise him for everything he does right and pretend to not notice the wrong things (unless they are a danger). Try this for a day or two and see how it helps him. Brayden needs praise like crazy, and if you start to nit-pick, he starts to get progressively worse. Nate is the same way 🙂 Even as an adult, he is better with praising the good and overlooking the bad. I don’t think you want to do the same discipline all day. Evaluate if time outs really help or not. They do nothing to improve Brayden’s behavior, so I have never used them as a tool in that way. They are good for him to calm down if he won’t stop crying. With Kaitlyn, though, they are quite effective in stopping behavior. Even so, I still have only used time outs with her less than 10 times in her life. I believe the percentage given in TW for obedience for that age is 60%. That really isn’t much.Basically, I would have expectations that he will obey you the first time. Kids know what is expected of them. But at the same time, I wouldn’t freak out when he doesn’t obey you. Try different things to see what really works for him. You need to find the balance between knowing it takes time and consistency for obedience, but also recognizing that a certain tool just isn’t effective, if that makes sense.When he is defiant with something you have told him to do, pick him up and move him somewhere else. Kids hate to have their “freedom” and ability to do it themselves taken away. So you say something like, “are you going to move away from the stairs, or do I have to move you?” or “if you don’t move, Mommy will move you.” Then when he doesn’t move, you pick him up and take him away from the stairs. He will get mad and you will say “I’m sorry you made that choice. Next time you will have to move yourself if you want to.” You might benefit from reading Parenting with Love and Logic. There are some weird things in there, but I think it was really beneficial for Brayden (you know, me reading it, not him 🙂 ).

  25. Thanks! Good ideas. I’ll try them out. As a new mom I just don’t know tons of different ways to deal with behavior beyond what BW says and a few ideas I’ve heard elsewhere. Hopefully as I get more comfortable with discipline (and read that parenintg with love and logic book) I’ll be able to be a bit more creative. Thanks again!

  26. You are welcome. It gets easier, but you still have to think of new things with subsequent children since they aren’t all little robots. I think it is good to read all you can so you have a lot to pull from when you need it 🙂

  27. My daughter has started having mini-fits in her car seat (at 7 months) if she’s in there too long (which is often- we live in Chicago and are often stuck in traffic). I’m getting ready to take my first road trip alone with her, and am very nervous about how she’ll be on the highway for 7 hours. Any tips on dealing with a mini-fit while traveling in the car? In her defense, the last time it happened, she had a major poopy blow out and was probably just very uncomfortable, but I’d still appreciate any tips!

  28. For something like that, it is usually best to try to distract.See the blog label “traveling” for tips on traveling. Be sure to stop as often as reasonable to allow her to get out and stretch and get a diaper change. Do you have a car mirror? If not, I would get one. I like the fisher price mirror. It lights up and has songs. Get some new toys for her for the trip so they are new and interesting. That is a hard age because there isn’t much they can do themselves. Good luck!

  29. Hey Val!I’m trying to read EVERYTHING you’ve ever posted on discipline and parenting and tantrums and fits-and there is a lot. I’m starting to feel like a bad mom when I read your posts because my kid acts up so much compared to yours!Scooter at 1 year of age now, 13 months, and is doing the tantrum thing. Example:Last night in his highchair he wanted more watermelon. He knows the sign for more and so I asked him to tell me if he wanted more. He just whined and cried. So I didn’t give him any. He looked over to dad-so already trying to pit parent against parent. Cam did the same thing and Scooter refused to sign so he didn’t get any.Scooter leans over and bites Cammon’s finger. Our consequence for bitting is 2 minutes in the crib. After that we put Scooter back in the highchair and he signed more. We gave him some-he finished and then wanted more again. Again he refused to sign more-just whined. After Cammon and I were done, 30 mins later, we took him out of his highchair and by then it was time for bed. Should we have left him in the highchair and let him whine and ignore him while we ate, should we have taken him out of his highchair and put him in his crib/pack n play while we finished dinner, should we have let him out of his highchair-but then he would run around and play and the learning moment lost?On your one post about how Brayden use to get upset with toys-scooter is like that too, he gets frustrated in an instant and throws things. I then pull him on my lap and hold him there with his hands folded. We stayed like that for 20 minutes yesterday before he calmed down-is that too long? After he calmed down though he was too clingy and I had to stay with him for the next hour. Each time I tried to get up to do something- still in sight-he would scream and come running over to me. I get frustrated with correction because it takes at least an hour to get back to where we were before the incident.He is VERY strong willed and I am getting very frustrated-I feel like it is a battle with everything. Even learning sign is a battle. I’m afraid that our days are turning into correction/consequence routines-I don’t like it like that, but I fee like he is challenging me all the time.He is definitely a SUPER spirited and touchy baby. He is only an angel/textbook when it comes to sleeping.Anyone have any suggestions?

  30. I have a question regarding squealing/screaming. I am a nanny of a 13 month old girl and I've tried to get mom on the BW bandwagon, but she doesn't seem interested. I myself have a 4 yr old child and followed the BW book. Anyways, the 1yr old has started screaming/squealing. It first started with delight, but then she quickly noticed that she can make a new noise and kept doing it all the time. A little grating on the nerves but not unbearable. However it has now progressed into a whiny squeal that the slightest inconvenience brings out. Things that didn't bother her before (like trying to get up off the floor but her foot is on her dress so she is stuck) bring out this awful squeal. I'm unsure how to deal with it. At first mom and I discussed ignoring it, but it didn't work. Then I started saying "stop". I knew it wasn't going to help but my nerves were shot after hearing it for 10 hours a day! Then I started saying "shhh" quietly "use your inside voice" and she repeated the "shh" back to me, which I thought was great because I thought, "Oh cool, she's repeating me so this will work". Ya it only worked for half a day. I'm at my wits end with this noise and I don't know if there is another tactic, time out or something? I haven't used the time out yet so I don't know if it will work. I started the timeout at about a year with my child and it worked. So any advice?

  31. Hey Lorri,Don't feel bad. Things always look better on paper :)One thing to bear in mind is that discipline takes time and consistency. You won't see an improvement right away. It will take you time before he starts to improve.I think a book that might be of use to you is Parenting with Love and Logic. I have a post on it (so you have probably seen it). I don't agree with everything, but there is some great stuff.Remain calm. Show empathy, not frustration. "I am sorry you choose to not ask for more nicely. I would have liked to have given you more, but I can't when you don't ask nicely." And try to not sound patronizing :)Another thought, the -wise series has a new book out titled "pre-toddlerwise" (On Becoming…). It is for ages 12-18 months. In it, Ezzo says to try to just not lose ground during this time period–don't try to gain ground. By maintaining your ground, you are actually gaining ground.At dinner, I think I would have told him to ask nicely and sign. If he didn't, I would remove him from the highchair (while not being frustrated) and that would be it. My guess is that he sometimes gets "more" even after whining for it, otherwise he wouldn't be doing it. I would look at him and tell him to sign more and show him more. Remember to remain emotionless (or you can be positive and happy, just not frustrated). I would then not give him more until he signed for it. If he started to throw a fit, I might set the timer and tell him he has until the timer goes off to ask nicely, otherwise he will not get more today.

  32. Sarah, you can try a time out. I find its effectiveness is really dependent on the personality of the child.Remember that these things take time and consistency. I would at first try just telling her "you don't need to scream" each time. The inside voice is a good idea. She might not know what an inside voice is, so demonstrate what an inside vs. outside is. She likely doesn't even get what "shh" means. Kaitlyn only recently got it. I shh-ed her for a long time, but until I took the time to explain and demonstrate what it means, she didn't get it.If she is screaming in frustration, she likely has some difficulty in self-soothing. This can displa itself in moments like that. So ignoring her might help over time because she would have to learn to figure it out for herself.

  33. Is there such a thing as a mini-fit (or full-blown one, for that matter) for a 4-month old? Yesterday our family was on a road trip. My DS sleeps erratically on the road, so some crying is normal, but he usually stops and falls asleep after 10-15 minutes (10 minutes is normal even in his crib). When he didn’t fall asleep after about 25 minutes, we pulled over and walked him to sleep. After being back on the road for about 40 minutes, he woke again and screamed for 20 minutes (or so) until we found a place to stop. After nursing, changing, and a Target stop, we resumed our trip, only for him to scream again until we got home and got him out of the car (~50 minutes). We have a mirror, tried toys, tried talking to him (often pacifies him), tried me sitting with him, and he stops crying when we take him out of the car, whether he is still in his car seat or not. We were tempted to let him wear himself out and sit in the car as long as it took, but we didn’t because he is so young! I know he was tired, but he’s been tired before and in similar situations did fine. I’ve read your tantrum and travel posts, but the ages seem off or we’ve already done what was recommended. What would you have done in our situation? Is there something I’m missing? Thanks so much!

  34. Stacey-My son did something similar a couple times when he was young and we were on vacation. I think it was because he was so overtired and overstimulated. He started crying uncontrollably for no reason that I could find and wasn't consolable. Eventually he fell asleep and then was fine after that.

  35. stacey,I would say that1-he was very overtired/overstimulated like Rachel said2-he had gas pains (my daughter gets them while in the carseat)3-gone are the days he will sleep well in the carseat (well being relative)4-all of the aboveI wouldn't call it a mini-fit.I think what you did was fine. I would try giving gas drops. I would try a pacifier. I would try a parent sitting by him. Over the summer, we took a long drive to go camping. For the last 45 minutes, McKenna had had it and screamed. I did what I could to console her, but she wasn't having it. She didn't calm down until we got there. Then she was an angel 🙂

  36. Hi! Our 11 month old daughter has now started mini-fits every time we lay her down to get her diaper changed or get dressed. Obviously, these are things we must do, but she arches her back and kicks and screams. It really sounds like she is in pain!! (Which we've ruled out it's not!) We've tried giving her a toy, anything on the changing table, singing, making goofy sounds,etc. She continues to throw these fits. She also sometimes throws the same fit if I put her down after holding her. In that case, I don't pick her back up, and she stops soon. I've also tried to make eye contact with her and say "That's enough. All-done." Sometimes that works.Any suggestions for our young spunky girl? Thanks!

  37. Jessica,It sounds like you have done all I would do for the changing table. I would add to look at her with a face void of emotion and say, "I know you don't want to lay here, btu we need to change your diaper. You hold still." Then as she moves repeat, hold still over and over :)I think you are going to just have to be consistent. If you aren't teaching sign language, work on teaching her words you think would help curb the mini-fit. A lot of these fits are because the child can't communicate feelings, so letting the child know you understand and also helping the child learn to communicate help.Just be patient. It will take time. Be sure to see the blog index and the discipline section for lots of ideas.A good thing about fits at this age is she will be trained young not to have fits, and you will be trained young how to handle them 🙂 Good luck!

  38. Hello All!Our son recently turned 1 and the mini-fits are on the rise! He is also teething and is at the end of a cold so I think they have intensified his fits. We have been signing with him since 6 months and although he hasn't reciprocated any signs he certainly understands most of them especially "no." Most times he will give his incorrect behavior a second thought when we say/sign "no" but lately he is becoming more defiant. For instance we have been potty training him since he was about 10 months. We ask him not to touch the toilet roll. This is an ongoing battle but most of the time he listens. The first no is generally followed by a redirecting light squeeze on the hand which is followed by holding his hand at his side until he is calm then his attention is redirected back to our book or special potty toy. However as I said his fits are on the rise. He is now arching is back when placed on the potty to which I set him down and hug him and ask him to be calm. He usually settles after a few seconds then its on to books and potty toys. We have also had issues with diaper changes to which he wants to roll and play. WE generally try to give him a toy to stay busy when we change the diaper and contain him until he's calm. So these are my questions. IN the morning he is either starving or extremely impatient as he whales if food isn't shoveled in fast enough! We generally try to ask him to be calm and wait until he stops crying. When do we move to isolation, time out? Also, we don't want him pulling up on the oven incase it's hot. After the initial "no" should we put him in isolation for a minute. (REally if your isolating isn't that the same as time out?) Val-I really like your "emotion chair" not sure what you actually call it. We feed Ollie at the table with us for dinner in a booster but have a high chair in the kitchen where we usually have breakfast. Should I make one of these a place he can work it out until he understands he needs to "stay put" when being disciplined?The same goes with holding. Sometimes if I go to set him down to play he starts having a fit. How should I deal with this? Sorry I know this is a lot. We really want to be consistent.

  39. Jenna,With breakfast in the morning, this si what I would do. Have his food all ready before you bring him to the high chair. Then feed him as fast as you can. If he gets upset, talk calmly and say things like, "I know you are hungry. Just a minute. I am hurrying." That is if it is the "hurt feelings" cry. If he gets angry, I would look at him firmly and tell him "that's a no" and "you do not scream." But I don't think I would do much beyond that right now if he is hungry.For the oven, I would tell him "that's a no." If he did it again, I would pick him up and move him somewhere else. I would also give him something else to play with. Here is a toy, a book, etc. If he kept going back, I would put him in his high chair and you could either do isolation by turing it to the wall or you could give him a toy to play with and explain that he doesn't get to play on the floor since he can't obey. When you are setting him down to play, my reaction would depend on the exact situation. If it is time for independent play, I would stick it out, tell him to have fun, set a timer, and walk out. If he is nervous and having some separation anxiety, I would be more careful about it. If he just doesn't want to entertain himself, work on independent playtime being happy. You can also try blanket time. Then just give him something new and interesting to play with, talk to him, etc. and act cheerful as he plays on the floor by you.Good luck!

  40. Hi! So thankful for this post : ) Our daugher is almost 1 and has started these mini-fits. Usually when we are changing her clothes or she is frustrated. She has started arching her back and throwing herself back. Thankfully, she sucks her fingers and will calm down after a bit. Right now, I'm saying consistently "that's a no" or "mommy's hurrying, that's enough" while we're trying to change her clothes quickly. When she throws herself back on the floor – would you ignore and walk away to give her a minute at this age? or would you just give eye contact, consistently say "that's a no, we don't act like that or that's enough" and hurry through changing her clothes as fast as we can : ) Any suggestions are appreciated!

  41. I think both could be appropriate.If she is doing it to avoid the diaper change/clothes change, I think I would most often just say "you don't need to throw a fit" and do the changing. But sometimes I might let the fit happen and wait patiently. I would be interested in a book or something other than the fit (at least look like it 🙂 ). Then when she was done, I would say, "oh good! You are done with your fit. Now we can change your diaper" and do so. When McKenna protested the holding still for such things, I just put her back down over and over and over again telling her to lay down and hold still. It took a while–probably a couple of weeks–before she gave up and just held still. Every so often, she tests it, but one "lay down" is enough for her to concede these days.

  42. Ugh, thank you so much for this article! My son is so like your sweetheart at 14 months (he also did not like fruit but loves veggies:)! Thats when the mini-fits started and I love having a name for them and a clear way to handle them that is age appropriate. This helped me realized I was handling some fits not well and definitely not consistently, also that he definitely understands a lot more than I think. Letting him have his fit and express himself after I try to acknowledge and state expectations seems to help. I love the once you are done crying and ask nicely then you can have whatever, that helps me know what to do and him to calm down and sign what he wants. Mostly this helps me be ok with the fits and not flail about trying to figure out what I did wrong or how to work to change his behavior.

    Funniest mini-fit he had yesterday, I was busy with food at counter, he wanted my attention, so he presses on my leg trying to turn me to face him. I don’t move cuz I have to finish what I’m in the middle of, before I can even acknowledge him, he starts screaming and flailing. After 30 secs I turn to see him moved to the soft kitchen floor mat and carefully lowering himself down backwards to flop on the floor. I chuckled, washed my hands and by then he had composed himself and was gesturing to be picked up, which I happily obliged. Later that day he again moved to the soft mat to flop down on the floor.

    One thing I’ve tried when I need a minute before I can get him, like when I’m pouring hot pasta water in the sink, I tell him I will pick him up in one minute (he usually starts crying and flailing) so I start counting in a fun kids tv show way, which usually distracts him to make him smile. Hopefully soon he will figure out the counting means soon Mommy will be able to pick you up or help you. Thanks again for the article, I’m currently pouring through your other toddler articles! Love this stage but it is tricky to manage sometimes!


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