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One-Year-Old Temper Tantrums

Question: “How should I handle my 13-month-old screamer? She screams and throws tantrums anytime the slightest thing doesn’t go her way…What can we do to keep our sanity? Help!”

Top 7 Answers:


1. Jennifer Dodson  Our little one was like this for a few weeks. At this age, they get so frustrated because they know what they want but don’t have the communication skills needed to tell you. We started teaching sign language and she picked it up so fast. With just 3 words learned, the tantrums almost completely stopped and we have our sweet girl back. We started with please and then moved to milk. She still throws fits but instead of one every 5 mins it’s maybe 1 or 2 a day.

  • Editor’s Note: Don’t stress about how to teach your baby the “correct” signs. It really doesn’t matter! You can make up your own. As long as you – and she – know what they mean, that’s all that matters!

2. Ashley Bumgarner Grice For us, consistency is key! Decide how you will respond and then respond that way every time, no matter what. For us, it was ignoring the tantrum… don’t give in until our son calmed down, even leave the room if you need to. Eventually (over the course of WEEKS, not hours or days of being consistent) he learned that tantrums didn’t get him what he wanted. We reinforced “asking nicely” (saying “please”) and he also learned that if (for example) he drops his sippy cup, well… it’s gone until after dinner. Mommy and Daddy don’t play fetch. This is just what worked for us. My husband and I were on the same page and supported each other and stayed strong, and eventually our son figured out that tantrums don’t work! [Editor’s Note: This is SO hard to do in the moment, but SO worth it!!]

3. Pamela Webb Elliott I would check out The Wonder Weeks. She is likely going through mental leap 9 “Principles” where they are “yearning for rules”. You don’t need the book, download the free app. It might give you some insight and guidance on how to make it through this phase. It will definitely make sense of the behavior for you and make you feel not alone.

4. Carla Keller Pick some form of appropriate discipline and stick with it every time. Consistency is everything. I personally would put her in her crib for one minute on a “time out”. She’s just at that stage, which is hard but normal, so try not to stress. Not taking her out in public is probably doing more harm than good. Never fear a child or their behavior… or anyone’s reactions for all that matters. I have three children, two are autistic. I know it’s hard. Keep going. Don’t be afraid to be firm. Don’t fall into the trap of “they’re too young to receive a consequence for their behavior”. Babies are smart and catch on quick. It will pass. Usually onto something a little more taxing, so stay ahead of the game. XX

5. Caitlin Kilgore Whatever way she communicates (speech, sign, etc.), require that she use some form of communication before you give her what she wants (for instance, you said she screams to be picked up…tell her calmly to say/sign/etc. “up” and do not pick her up until she does!). If you pick her up when she is screaming, it reinforces the screaming. It is tough at first but be 100% consistent and soon she’ll realize, “Hey screaming isn’t working for me anymore!” Best of luck!

6. Susie York I bet she’s getting a tooth or two!! My son, who’s about the same age, goes crazy…Doesn’t act like himself at all for a few weeks.. Then bam! A tooth! And back to normal.

7. MichaelandShanon Dodds It passes, but pick a way to react that works for your family and stick to it. When my daughter would throw her cup down and scream for it back, we waited until she was calm enough to sign that she wanted her cup back (whether it was the more sign, help sign, or her trying to say cup). I think she was really wanting the reactions more than anything. Playing fetch with mommy and daddy had gotten fun, but now she rarely throws her cup unless she is really excited or really tired. She is almost 15 months.

See all the answers here.

Related: 10 Discipline Principles from Dr. Sears

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