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4 Year Old Tantrums- How to Handle?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Yes, its me again. The same mama who posted about 4 year old bedtimes and 4 year old rudeness. Can you tell we're going through a rough time around here?

For the past month or so, my daughter has revisited the tantrum. She throws one or 2 every day, lasting from 2 minutes to 45 minutes. Something will set her off and she starts crying and screaming and sometimes writhing on the floor.

Last night she couldn't find the stuffed cat she wanted to sleep with. Dh and I both stopped what we were doing and looked everywhere for that cat. We couldn't find it (I think its in my friends car), and dd just flipped. I calmly told her that she needed to go to bed (tiredness was definitely one issue here), but she wouldn't calm down. Her screaming woke the baby, her father lost it and really yelled at her. I got everyone calmed down and into bed, but we all felt emotionally terrible.

The thing is, these tantrums are so draining on the *whole family.* I feel like we are all happily cruising along, until dd throws these bombshell which drains us all emtionally for the next hour or more!

Last night I told her she couldn't watch her video tonight because she woke the baby. But really, what kind of message is this? "You were unkind to me, so now I'll be unkind to you?"

So, my question is- how do you handle a tantrum in an older child? When she was 2, I was sympathetic. Now, although I do feel sympathy, I also feel anger and exasperation and resentfulness at the effect it has. I'm also worried about her.
post #2 of 11
1) Look at her- if she cannot verbalize what is going on inside her, tell her what her body looks like (you face is all scrunched up like this, your hands are balled up into knots, etc)
2) tell her what you think is going on
you seem very frustrated, we couldn't find your stuffed cat and you really wanted to sleep with it
chances are that now she will be able to say aomthing to you about it
3) tell her what you hear (I hear you saying that you're sad and frustrated at not being able to find your cat
4) comfort her (if she wants it), and now that she is thinking rationally, she may come up with a game plan (I think I'll sleep with my dog instead- tomorrow can we call and see if your friend has the cat? etc)
post #3 of 11


(I'm beginning to feel like the Bach spokesmodel!) :LOL

DS, also four, played Jenga happily with his sister during an 1.5 hour social today. Time to go, plenty of warning, he *melts down*: he wants to continue playing (though he just put the game away cooperatively), then he wants to take the game home, then he doesn't want to leave, then he's just crying and carrying on, not knowing what it is exactly what he's upset about... I grab my RR, squirt myself first so I'm calm to deal with this, and into the bathroom we go. He's really upset now, he thinks he's here to get "the talk". I tell him he needs his calm medicine and we'll talk about the game. I squirt him in the mouth and he spits, I squirt, he spits, I squirt myself, then I squirt him in the belly button. We walk out and he's still upset, but I can see it subsiding... by the time we made it to the door he was Hayden again and we talked about returning to play the game next Friday. The witnesses were SHOCKED and impressed He's been fine tonite. For those *outta control* moments, there's nothing like it ~ not for him and not for me!!
post #4 of 11
First, try to figure out what her triggers are so you can avoid tanturms. (I know you already know this )

I hate to sound like the mean mommy, but I have put my four year old in her room and let her cry it out. (I never let her CIO as a baby, but this is different.) There isn't any punishment or anything later. Once she is calmed down I wipe her face with a cool damp cloth, and rock her or sing to her. She is doing pretty well. She started loose it last week and I could see it coming, so I sat down with her and talked to her and told her that she had to pull herself together or go to her room. She pulled herself together, and I helped her ease back into life with a glass of juice.

I think that at 4 they need to learn that they aren't going to be happy about everythings that happens, but that it isn't OK to scream and yell.
post #5 of 11
Oh, heck, its hard isnt it. Sometimes I would like to lay down and have a fit right along with my 4 yr old dd. A couple months ago she went through a lovely phase of biting. *sigh* When we discussed how that was NOT OK she decided spitting on everyone was the thing to do. Alright, its better then biting but, talk about rude! You know my MIL used to tell me that she didnt mind 2 yr olds, it was the 4s that got her. I couldnt understand why until ds turned 4, lol. Now the spitting has ceased, but we still get the tantrums...it's usually when she has been either understimulated (ie at home all day not going outside) or overstimulated (at the babysitters for too long). Its generally about something totally unreasonable, or really about nothing at all she just works herself into a frenzy. And she is certainly spirited. For the most part I am good about it, a lot of the time she responds to snuggling together and talking it out. Other times she needs to wrail at the world by herself for a bit before she is able to be with us again, especially when she is spitting or biting. I do have a "happy spray" that consists of essential oils and flower essences that I spray on her. It works just fine, especially when she is just gearing up to freak out. She likes it and will ask for it if she sees it out (I carry it in my purse- hey I need happiness too) 4 is just a funny age- they are able to begin to understand reason a lot of the time so when they lose it and have a tantrum its like why? I know you can be so great... Dh is not so understanding, he really gets upset by her tantrums. Especially when she is screaming like a banshee that she hates her daddy. Well I guess Im just rambling along here...khrisday had some nice NVC inspiration for you.
They do turn 5 sooner or later
New moon
post #6 of 11
just a note: beware of glass droppers and children. I was trying to give my son something calming that came with a glass dropper, and he bit clear throught it!
Luckily he spit it all out, and therev were no problems, but it was scarry and a close call.
post #7 of 11
khrisday, that's some scary warning about the glass droppers ... never would've thought of it ...

I've gotten to the point where I tell DS#1 (also 4, also huge tantrumer) to go into another room and come out when he feels like behaving. I'll tell him I love him but not his tantrum so don't want him in the room with me when he's having one.


- Amy
post #8 of 11
That is why it is so cool that Rescue Remedy comes in a spray bottle now ~ which gives me the idea that you can put it in a perfume atomizer for your purse ...
post #9 of 11
This may sound like a silly question, but what is Rescue Remedy?
post #10 of 11
my description: A homeopathic remedy to aid your psyche, instead of your physical symptoms.
It was discovered and created by an MD turned Homeopath in Holland who found traditional medicine did not address the underlying issues surrounding physical ailments. Basically it is the essence of different flowers used to treat different a very wide variety of psychological symptoms. Rescue Remedy is a blend of essences specifically designed to deal with shock or what I call *meltdown*
Here's a link to get the low down from the direct source:
(read Cherry Plum, every mother should be given this at the birth of her child, in the gallon sized tub!! )
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you!

thank you, thank you, thank you to all the mamas who posted on this thread- your ideas and suggestions are helpful, but your empathy and understanding are truly wonderful.

It's funny, but a simple phrase like "oh heck, its hard, isn't it" can just make me feel understood and not so alone! (so thank you New Moon!)

I am still thinking about these tantrums, what triggers them, how to handle them.

But for now, I just wanted to say thank you. For taking the time to share your stories and your ideas.

And also thank you goddess, because my dd did NOT throw a tantrum in front of 87 year old great-grandma this weekend, LOL! Although Great-Grandma had 10 kids of her own, and if anyone could understand, it would be her!
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