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how do I keep my 11 month old safe while my 3.5 year old tantrums

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

So, my big spirited girl is 3.5  She tantrums maybe 2-4 times a day, but they're big freak-outs. Hitting, pinching, pushing, screaming, throwing things, flailing. Mostly aimed at me. What used to work best was picking her up and holding her until she calmed down, and physically (gently) stopping her from doing those things. I've read just 'bout everything, and mostly things are going way better. I think this new round is being caused by DS becoming more mobile and into her stuff. The biggest problem I have, though, is that when she's in the midst of it, she wants to be ON TOP of me, flailing and screaming at the same time. Meanwhile, my 11 month old mellow DS is scared by his sister's behavior, and usually starts crying and wanting me also. It doesn't seem fair to put him somewhere to contain him (much less, how to accomplish with a whirling dervish on top of me at the same time) when he's scared, and it's her behavior that's scaring him. But, I don't really have anyplace where she will stay, either. She will not stay in time-out. She can climb out of the playpen (easily). She will not go someplace until she calms down. I have tried to get her to stay in her playroom, have used baby gates, etc, but realistically, there's no way to contain her. What's ended up happening is that I'm holding him out of her reach, while she flails at my feet, or, like today, I have one tucked under each arm. None of this ends up feeling gentle. I work really hard to minimize her disruptions, and we talk a lot about calming breaths. No tv, no sugar, plenty of sleep, lots of warning when we have to do things a certain way, etc. What I really need some ideas on, though, is what to do when she's screaming and attacking me, and her little brother is right there. 

Sorry if a bit of a ramble, it's been a crappy day.

post #2 of 8

I totally know what you mean, went through the same thing, at around the same time! I think you are following your instincts and doing the best you can. Are any of these tantrums possible to tame? Probably most of them not, given what you have described, but something that works for us sometimes is putting my eldest DS in the carrier. He's now 4.5, and I did this just the other day. He was flailing and out of control and I told him that it was going to make him feel better. Within a couple of minutes, he calmed down. Now, I used to wear him a lot when he was a baby, so maybe this brought nice associations for him, but I have been amazed at how it can work. Other times I have been able to calm his tantrums by rocking with him in the rocking chair with his calming music on, but that doesn't always work. Still others, if you distract with the right thing, at the right moment, it can work (starting to play with a toy he wanted to see, for example).


As far as keeping the 11 month old safe, if older DD is in your arms or a carrier, and baby is okay with not being in your arms and just playing, then baby is safe. But, if, like the other day happened to me, if baby starts crying too and wants to be picked up, it can get hard! I had my 4.5 year old on my back and the 19 month old on my front in two different carriers the other day. The good thing is, it is only for a little bit (maximum 15 mins, probably less), and they can both be calm. In fact, they started playing peekaboo with each other around me the other day when I did this and looked in the mirror with them. And all this after a huge tantrum from DS1 and crying from DS2.


So, don't know if that helps at all but just something that has worked for me!

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for responding! And, yes, that does help. I'm thinking throwing her up on my back might throw her off enough to snap her out of it, if that makes sense. She loves to be worn, but doesn't get to as often anymore, since her little bro generally takes that place.

Unfortunately, I think it really scares him when she gets so out of control, and he is usually wanting me also :(  I know this won't last forever, though, right....? It does help to know that I'm not the only one out there dealing with this, though. Everyone I know IRL does things just a wee bit differently than we do in our family....

post #4 of 8
What if he were scared and you took him and yourself and removed yourselves from the situation? (Like your bedroom or something). If she won't stay in time out or go somewhere, then maybe you go somewhere with your ds? I think instinctively that's what I would do. Protect the one who is scared and explain to your dd after why you felt you had to do it that way?
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Kuba's Mama,

Thank you for this. It's good to read, because this is actually what we did do, a few nights ago. We ended up in the bedroom with a locked door in between us. DS and I on one side of the door, him, while she pounded and screamed on the other side :(  I kept reassuring her that we were there and she was safe, and as soon as she could calm down so that we could all be safe without kicking/hitting, I would open the door. I told her I could hear how mad/frustrated she was, but we cannot kick or hit, etc, etc.  It was horrible, but....even though there was a locked door between us, I was right there. It took half an hour for her to calm down enough that I trusted she wouldn't start kicking/hitting again (she was pounding/kicking/screaming that whole time). But, the little guy was safe, and that's my biggest concern, that a well-placed kick could really be owie for him. We talked more afterward about calming down and taking deep breaths (for the 8 millionth time) and what she can do instead of kicking/hitting, and why I have to keep DS safe. And then we all went to bed, and mamma fantasized about a good stiff drink :S

post #6 of 8

I just wanted to chime in to say that I've had the very same question.  Nice to know I'm not the only one with this dilemma!

post #7 of 8
Goodness- we are in a similar situation. My 4 yo will go off for what seems like minor reasons (today, it was whether or not a particular dinosaur roared), and when his brother disagreed with him, 4yo threw toys (legos, hard!) at his 2yo brother. None of our doors lock, so if he won't do anything to calm himself down, I have to carry him to his room, and sit with my back to the door until he calms down. Often, 2yo is happy to have time to play with toys on his own. I just hate giving the attention to the one who was hurting all of us.

One thing that helps, for short periods of time, is to have a family meeting, scheduled ahead of time for when everyone will be calm and present. We don't do it regularly, but it is easier to talk about anger and appropriate responses. We do a lot of 'hitting people hurts. if you need to hit, hit the couch, a pillow, or your mattress' type of discussion.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Darn it, I was hoping we'd be over this by 4- lol.

I like the family meeting idea. We do a lot of the talking out, but maybe something slightly more formal would work better for her. The hard thing is that she totally gets it, understands, feels bad about her behavior, expresses what she could do instead, and then, bam, there we are again.  I guess I just need to get it through my head that it's a long process.

Thank you...it helps so much to know that I'm not the only one out there dealing with this.

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