My son is 18 mo old, so I know what you're talking about!
He too started having tamper tantrums around the same time - around 14 or 15 months old. Both my wife and I are against force in bringing up a child, and we both understand very well that the most essential thing about raising a child is - giving him support so that he becomes an independent, mature, confident person one day.
Here are a few things to consider:
- as much as we all love to watch our babies' cute little finger, toes, beautiful soft faces, and kiss them all over, we must not forget that every baby is quite possibly a future company president, or some artist or famous actor or a teacher or whatever; meaning - our job really is to make sure that we know every time we talk to him, we are talking to a person in the making. It is cute for us to think of our son as a baby, but for the baby, there is nothing cute in being way smaller and way too dependent on some "grownups" for his survival. It's kinda delicate, and doesn't mean we are not cudling with him and kissing him (probably too much), but it is good to remember that every baby will be an independent person soon. When I talk to him, even if others think he can't possibly understand, I always keep those things in mind. I talk to him like to a grown up - only using simple words, but I always tell him the truth.
- Correcting child's behavior I've noticed that there are certain rules: if you just say "No" because he shouldn't do something, then naturally he will want to do it. Why? Because you didn't give him a reason, and even if you did, it was not really a reason - e.g. "Don't climb on the table!" is not a reason. It's an order. And babies are not good at listening to orders. And that's good because that's how they develop their independence. They HAVE to be able to experiment and interact with their environment. So for instance, most of the time, we let our son climb up on the table (when there is no hot food on it, or when we are not eating, although he can prepare his own banana split with our help while sitting on the table so that he can reach everything; and for that banana split he's the one who will turn on the mixer, add Sugar
and later take it with a spoon and add on his banana split - so now every time he has his part in it, and he gets rightfully angry if we forget about that). What's more, we even encourage him to participate in as many house things as possible: when we are making pancakes, we let him pretend he's taking them out with a spatula, or when taking dishes out of a dishwasher he does that, and passes them on to us to put them in cupboards, or when putting laundry - same thing and so on (naturally he will do those badly, but we don't mind - that's how we all learn; for babies we have to have patience! That's our job, just like God has unlimited patience with us). When he wants to do something which we may not like at first, I first try to see if there is a way to let him do it, while making it safe and not too costly. So for instance he loves to play my keyboard, and I let him do it, but he is not allowed to bang on it. And he doesn't do that. He also loves to participate in making food, so we let him add ingredients into the frying pan for instance, or if he wants to climb up no the table, I let him, but I sit with him ready to catch him should he make a wrong move. You should see how brave he is as a result! What's even more interesting, he is incredibly good at maintaining balance and climbing without falling. The other day he went to the other room, and I noticed he was unusually quiet - he managed to climb up on the backrest of a dining chair! He was balancing with his little feet on the backrest, while barely touching the wall and I could see that he got really scared because he didint' know how to lower himself on to the seat again (and I was REALLY petrified when I saw him like that!). I came to the rescue (which was also a lesson in - how quickly kids can get into trouble). But most importantly he didn't fall, although it was an incredible balancing act; I didn't yell at him at all, just took him and he squeezed me really hard he was so scared - it was the first time I saw him scared). And also he is incredibly independent - he pretty much feeds himself, he could drink anything from any type of vessel since he was less then 12 months old, and so on; but to get there, we had to let him try to drink on his own 100s of times, and that means just as mane changes of his clothes which are all stained (one trick in removing stains: instead of using harsh chemicals which may create allergies, use 3% hydrogen peroxide, and soap. Wash with your hands, and then rinse and put in the washer. It is perfectly safe, and there is no residual chemicals!). Most of other kids his age seem much younger because he is ready for anything while others are not.
- How to correct the child. This is very tricky. I've noticed that my wife makes many mistakes in that respect. She will tolerate some little outburst of anger or frustration on his part, but then snaps at him for doing something relatively normal. Point is - we ALWAYS have to be rational with our kids. Restraining is close to torture so I would advise against it. If it seems that you have to do that, then you're doing a lot of other things wrong. That's why he's acting up. I notice how my wife can make him quite unruly in a day or two, while when with me, he can be pure gold! Difference? I let him do more things then my wife does (with me he can even go up on the countertop and open up cupboards and explore what's inside! - meanwhile I am beside him with my arms around him so that he cannot fall down.) Or he can even sit with me on the front seat of our car and play with windshield wipers, heating switches, flashers, lights, and so on. The other day he learned how to stop the engine and take out the key, and just today he learned how to put the key in. But, when I say it is enough, I say it calmly, and I have in mind why it's enough - like time to go to that store, it can't wait any more. And then I put him on the back seat with his mom. And he doesn't object any more (he did in the begining). But I don't forget to let him sit with me before we leave, and often when we come back, even if I am in a hurry, or tired, or grumpy. Or if there is no time, I tell him that we will do that when we come back home - and he jumps at the opportunity as soon as we park in front of our house! So he understood exactly what the deal was!
A few times it has happened that he would start screaming when not given what he wants. Then I tell him "No." and I am DEAD SERIOUS when I say that. I even explain to him that screaming is not nice and we dont' do it to him, so we don't allow him to do it to us. He knows what that means, but a few times he tried to force the issue and scream even more. Then I would yell just once but really loud as to even scare him a little but - like "NO! ENOUGH!!!" And he stops immediately, but feels hurt and like I wronged him in some way. If he's truly hurt, I'll pick him up, or comfort him in some way, but that doesn't mean I will alow him to scream. But that's how it has to be with things that are dangerous or really bad to do. Just be carefull not to scare him so that he gets stressed; of you see you overdid it, console him until he's 100% OK. Kiss him and so on, while telling him why you had to yell or warn him - gently and with understanding.
With some other things I let him "hurt" himself a little but when he doesn't listen. Like every time there is a chance he may pinch his fingers, I tell him to "watch out", and he may still test me, and in that case if I see that he won't get injured only a touch of pain, I let him feel that pain that he's causing himself. He doesn't cry, just realizes where the pain came from and never does it again (then I may tell him "see, that's 'watch out'". I tried using the words "NO, HOT" to warn him of hot stuff like stove, heaters, hot water, but he didn't care for my warnings, until he burned himself (just a tad, no injury) a couple of times (when I didn't notice), and immediately after I would repeat calmly, as if I am explaining - "see that's HOT." or "VERY HOT". or just "HOT". So now, he believes me when I say "HOT" he doesn't even think about touching it any more which is great as I don't have to worry that he won't listen. When I say something is hot, he goes around it in a big circle :-) (but I never abuse that - I NEVER lie to him, like tell him that DVD player is "hot" just to keep him away - he would very soon see through my lies and then he could really hurt himself when something is really hot)
- Irritability. Our babies cannot tell us what is bothering them. Just wearing diapers all day must bother the hell out of them. But teething I think is the biggest problem. I noticed that our son is horrible for a few days at a time when his teeth are coming out. All you can do is make sure his attention is directed at sometihng really interesting - like walks in the part, going to a store and letting him explore, taking him to some new places and so on. But imagine how many things can bother him: teeth, diapers, rash, itching anywhere, scratchy throat, seems on clothing, tags on his clothing, lack of sleep (due to teething), and so on... So always be ready to give him a little benefit of a doubt. However, do make a distinction between irritability, and pure meanness - when he knows that he can manipulate you by being terrible - like crying with no tears...
- Make sure his time is filled with activities. Baby's brains develop so fast, that they do need a lot of stimulation otherwise they will turn to agression to satisfy their needs for interaction. They have to have a lot of body contact (he loves to "wrestle" with me, and I love it too, even if that means tons of scratches on my face, and him even trying to bite me which I tolerate only when we are wrestling, but not otherwise). You should just see how he doesnt' care that he's 10 times smaller then me! He just goes for it, and intends to show me he's the stronger one :-)
Or I will let him play with my mouse and keyboard on the PC, which he loves; but I never let him hit it, or do something too rough. If he was to overdo it, I'd take him out the room with the computer and lock up the room. He may cry, and I tell him - I gave you opportunity to use the computer, not to BANG it and destroy it, so now there is no more computer for you. ANd next time he is more careful. Now, he is always careful. He'd rather not loose his computer privileges :-)
Since I have my own business, sometimes I take him there, and he loves to interact with people there (usually after hours, so that he doesn't bother them too much).
In any case, many people are surprised with all the things we let him do, but at the same time they noticed that he is a much better behaved kid then others! And that's without any special punishments or restraints (except he's in his high chair when eating -every time). In the evenining we still go all together in bed, he sleeps in our room, his bed connected to ours so it's one huge surface (his bed + our king size), but he loves to be between us, so whereever we put him, he will wrestle with me a little and then always end up between us. And he sleeps really well. We also have a little camera so that we can see him when he's sleeping, as he is in total darkness, but is not afraid of the dark as we always know when he wakes up and we enter the room within seconds. (we go all together to sleep, but when he falls asleep we get up and go to the living room to enjoy a few minutes together).
In essence, never forget that you have a little man on your hands, not a toy, and that if you treat him with respect, like a grown up who happens to be in a small body, he will know that and will respond likewise - he will treat you with respect.
Lots of luck to you and the baby! Never forget that it all goes by quickly, and we can only enjoy this period once in their life!