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Help with 5 y.o. tantrums who never had them before

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

My dd is high needs, as defined by Dr. Sears, I guess. Very perceptive, verbal and smart. She has always been very attached. After the birth of my son 20 months ago (dd was 3.5). We didn't have terrible 2s or 3s. Although demanding energetically, she has always been a delightful person. Her personality changed after ds was born, and she became much more demanding and loud and seeking affirmation and attention from other people. I get this--competing with her brother, but recently, within the last 6 months, she's started freaking out completely out of proportion to the purported cause, and by the time the tantrum is done, the cause has changed to something else, usually, that me or her dad are not responding appropriately. (Sometimes that is true. Its frustrating!)

 

I've read a few threads here that some people say that is normal developmentally, and some people say there could be a problem that it is NOT normal. Its not normal for her...and it is so intense that I feel bad for her. She is completely out of control of her emotions and says often that once she gets started crying, sometimes she can't stop and doesn't know why. DH is fed up. It can be about socks--they are the wrong kind, or about her hair, its got a tangle, or about protecting her room from her brother. The screeching is unbearable. We aren't a yelling family, generally, so I'm thinking its just the only way that a little person can get their point across, but I'm not sure where to go from here. It doesn't seem like reasoning is going to impact when she can say she sees herself out of control sometimes and has no dominion.

 

There are possible environmental factors too numerous to name, but just trying to get a baseline...is 5 an age known for this kind of thing or what?

post #2 of 3

I absolutely could have written every word of your post.  Our son was born when our 5 year old daughter was 3 years and 5 mos old.  Our son is now 21 mos old.  Recently, only when he asks to nurse, she asks to cuddle.  She could have been happily engaged in something for an hour (like this weekend) while her brother was asleep . . . but when he got up, and asked to nurse, then suddenly came the requests to cuddle.  And then the complaints that he always comes first.

 

The age is apparently like a mini puberty with the ranging hormones that go along with it.  Another thing is that she is becoming more and more aware of concepts, thinking more and coming out of a state of consciousness that had no basis in abstract thought. So, for us, that means a lot of whining, "But I don't understaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnndddddddd!!!!!!"  Yeah, I know you don't.  And I can't explain it because you're not capable of understanding.  It must be difficult for her.  The melt downs around her hair, clothing, food, not being able to put some article of clothing on a doll or stuffed animal "just so".  It is very draining for us right now.

 

What helps is trying to get her out of her head and back into her body.  Physical play.  We've added a dance class and put up the bounce castle we bought - oh, a year ago.  And, to the extent she is wrapped in her thoughts, I'm trying to bring them back to things more rooted in fantasy.  She also has a problem with getting up multiple times a night.  We co-sleep with our son, which is also a problem for her and she'll comment that she came in the room at night and saw how happy we were.  Clearly, that's her perception of snoring, sleeping people.  Happy.  In any event, last night I read her some fantasy stories about gnomes and fairies and another about an angel that created animals through her songs.  She got up only once.  I think this is a step down the right path. 

 

Of course, the morning was a disaster though.  So, more work to do.

post #3 of 3

Just curious, but has your 5 y.o. recently given up napping?  I found that this triggered more tantrums with DS1. 

 

I do tell him that he is too told to have tantrums, and if he is having them, it must mean he needs more sleep.  He gets an early bedtime, not as a punishment, but so that he is better-rested.  I talk through his feelings and let him know that the feelings are okay, but that he needs to be in his room, away from others, if he cannot control how he expresses those feelings.  That approach works for us.  He'll go up, cool down a bit and come down when he is ready.  I'm always impressed that he seems to know how much alone-time he needs to take to get himself under control. 

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