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First Tantrums

Your baby used to fuss when she was hungry or sleepy, but around 18 months, when tantrums hit their peak, get ready to see her jump, writhe, and wail simply because you won't let her eat gum off the sidewalk. "Toddlers are curious  -- they want to touch this, taste that, but they can't reach it or ask for it," explains Harvey Karp, M.D., author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block. Fortunately, there are ways to fix their fits:

Acknowledge your child's feelings. When she screams, "I want cookie!" don't say, "But you'll spoil your appetite"  -- a concept she can't grasp. Instead, echo her request in a tone that matches hers: "Cookie!"

Explain and distract. Once she calms down a bit, get to your point: "Mommy knows you want a cookie, but no cookie now. Cookies are for dessert. Now let's go watch dinner cooking!"

Just walk away. If that doesn't work, try saying "I'm sorry." Then turn your back for 15 seconds  -- take a few deep breaths yourself  -- and when you come back around, give your child a hug. Says Karp, "Sometimes toddlers just need us to show we care."

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