I am writing because DS1 (4) has been over the top with tantrums lately, and I'm just not sure if it still falls within the range of normal. He has always been high on the intensity, persistence, and sensitivity scales (highly spirited as Mary Sheey Kurcinka would say). And, another factor is that he is in the middle of transitioning from 1 to no naps. He has been getting a nap about once or twice a week only for the last few weeks. So, I recognize that sleep may be an issue. Also, we have had a new care provider for the last two weeks or so, and he is having trouble warming up to her. I understand this may also be contributing.
But, here is an example. Yesterday, we were going to go to a favorite store that also happens to sell ice cream. He was excited, and said, "can I get ice cream??" I said, maybe he could have a hot dog first (some food/dinner/protein). He said, "no, I just want ice cream." I said before we could go, we had to finish putting things away. I said his job with his brother was to put away the cotton balls they had strewn all over the floor. He said, "no!!" I offered to help, said we would do it together, and emphasized that we had to finish cleaning up before we could go. All this time, DH and I were putting things away/cleaning up while talking about it. That's when the tantrum started. He did not want to help, he just wanted to go. He cried and was sad and angry. Then, his dad kindof made it worse by asking him to do something once he was already so upset, and of course he did not comply, and then dad yelled that we weren't going anywhere. Tantrum worsened. I tried a couple of times to go up to him and say, you seem very sad, to try to connect, but he was not reachable. DH did the yelling again. Then, DS2 (15 months) approached him, and he lashed out and apparently hit baby brother (I didn't see it, DH did). DH took him upstairs for an "automatic time out" for hitting. Crying continues. DH is in the room with him for the time out. By this time, he had worked himself up considerably, and was very, very upset. I give it about 4 minutes, ask to come in. I then take DS1 out of the room and rock him in a rocking chair, telling him it's okay. He did not want baby brother in the room. He drank some water, and finally calmed down. I'd say the whole episode must have gone on for about 25 minutes or so. We then talked about what happened, and I asked him how he felt when his dad yelled, and we talked about patience. Then, we talked about being helpful. He then stated calmly that he still wanted to go to the store, and I asked if he could think of something helpful to do that would convince his dad to go. He couldn't think of anything, so I suggested a job (cleaning up markers that baby brother had dropped all over the floor). He did that nicely and then told his dad. Then, we went to the store, he got a hot dog, and then ice cream.
That is just one example, but it is pretty typical. Huge tantrum over a very small thing. Tantrum over me saying he can't play games on my phone, over the babysitter picking him up from school, etc. Basically, we have at least one tantrum a day, varying in intensity. Sometimes there are multiple tantrums, in the morning, and in the afternoon (apparently he does well at school and with the babysitter, though the first week with the sitter he did a lot of whiny/snappy talking with her).
This has been going on for quite a while -- I believe it has been longer than since we got the new sitter and started dropping the nap, though I guess now that I think of it, they are pretty closely related. Is this just a rough patch that will work out, once he adjusts?
And, by the way, he really does not like the new sitter much, and keeps asking to stay late at school instead of having her pick him up. We can do this a couple of times a week, but not every day, because it gets expensive! In the past, I might have given in, though, and had him stay late at school -- if he really feels uncomfortable with the sitter, then maybe she's not a good fit. But, she's great with the baby, she is trained in early childhood development, and while I wouldn't probably pick her as a friend myself, she is a good, trustworthy person. So, DH feels strongly that he has to learn to deal with it, even if he doesn't like her all that much. Now that he's 4, I think he may be right.
Anyway, so is a tantrum a day normal in your household, particularly for highly sensitive/intense/persistent children?