Hi there good folks,
Tantrums comes up a lot in the search results - but I'm wondering if anyone has experienced what we are at the moment....
My daughter (very nearly 3) has just been ill for the first time ever. We are still unsure what caused it (either a reaction to biscuits with quinoa seeds in, or maybe a gastric bug) - but she became very ill for 24 hours a few days ago, then recovered relatively rapidly. During that time she vomited, only twice, but was not at all herself, had a very high temperature and was almost completely lethargic.
As I said, she bounced back pretty quickly (though it scared us no end!) and the second day she was well enough to eat her dinner, and the third morning she seemed back to 'normal'.
However, since then (i.e. the day she felt and seemed better, and ever since) she has suddenly been having these raging, wailing, hitting (hitting me mostly), super-sad, MEGA-tantrums! About all sorts of things, and so frequent that it feels like the last three days has been a constant tantrum.
The things is - she NEVER did this before. We had the odd little meltdown...but these are very different - and she seems like a completely different little person. I'm at a complete loss.
We have a lot of other things going on (we are both very busy gearing up to move into a new house) - and her Nana is visiting, and sometimes this causes me a little bit of stress...so it could be rubbing off on her a little. However, both these two things have been happening on and off for some time and have never caused giant stress in her, or meltdowns such as we're witnessing now. There is a chance that she might not be sleeping well at night too...but in the past, overtiredness has not caused this kind of thing.
I have two questions:
1. Does anyone have any experience of SUDDEN tantrums occuring after an illness? If yes...should we be doing something special to reassure her, or....? (really, am at a loss - as all other things are normal).
2. If this is the beginning of a new developmental phase (oh, please no) - I'm very confused about the advice out there about how to handle these raging type tantrums. Ignoring her escalates it beyond belief. The best I've come up with is just to get down to her level, or pick her up and wait for it to finish (eventually). The confusing thing is she's tantruming about everything - wanting something, not wanting something, something is not right, something is not in the right position....going out...staying in....etc etc.... It seems 50/50 anger and overwhelming sadness, every time. She's getting herself very worked up. It's breaking my heart.
Anyway, I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts.
Am hoping it's just a crazy phase brought on by a wee illness (that may have scared her deep down) - rather than the start of a whole new permanent thing.
Thanks for reading.
sometimes when they go through the halves (ie 2.5 years, 3.5 years) they will go through a period of transition. they seem to vacillate between stages of calm and balance and then period of imbalance...i think it is developmental - which includes emotional growth.
all i did - albeit after raging or doing things to escalate the situation - was to sit down and hug. so things get crazy and out of hand, and i just pick them up and soothe them. and then it passes.
this will continue for a bit and then completely disappear.
good luck! ;))
(must mention that for a while i have been wondering about cranio sacral therapy that my elder one underwent, and whether or not that resulted in an escalation or expression of emotional states: she used to be a very calm baby and toddler and then went into the raging three and a halves; stopped, and then is currently going through a raging 5 and a half).
Thanks for replies.
Am confused as well, because she has 'developed' rapidly just recently....so the tantrums are very oppositional in nature.
She is not yet three...so she is not quite in the 'halves' stage - or maybe she is? It's just all been so sudden....
PANDAS - omg. That is some VERY scary reading. Shudder. She doesn't have tics. Though she is a little OCD (not out of normal toddler obsession range I don't think?) - and...well, I don't think she had strep throat? (She never went to the doctor - we just rode it out, since the fever broke the next day.)
Thanks for thoughts though. (PANDAS....brrr....shudder).
As for how to handle the tantrums, you know her best. If ignoring escalates them then do what you're doing: get on her level and give hugs and reassurance in the moment. With my girl, I get down to her but she needs a few minutes to get the most intense part out of her system before she is ready to accept love and reassurance. Basically if you commit to being gentle and empathetic then you will find the optimal approach for her in time. I tried a few things before I found what helped my girl most.
It's not easy but remember that for whatever unfathomable reason, she is very upset/angry/sad about a particular mundane thing or situation. By staying calm, you model that strong feelings are ok and that people have difficult feelings sometimes but we can deal with them and learn from them, and then go on with our day. I think you're doing a fabulous job, we are all figuring out what makes our kids tick each day. And of course once we find what works, they grow and we're back to the drawing board lol
This is completely just based on my own recent experience, but after my son had a stomach bug, he also seemed much more, I don't know, sensitive. Thinking the virus and disrupted eating may have messed up his gut flora, I increased his probiotics pretty significantly. It either helped a lot, or he coincidentally shifted his development, because things got better. The big meltdowns aren't gone, but feel fewer and milder. Good luck!
I read about that in a series called your 2 year old, your 3 year old, etc. My son does this very much, just on a different schedule. It really helps me to remember that it cycles!
OP - see my post from yesterday, what is UP with my son?! Or something like that. We had an out of control morning yesterday. At very nearly 3 we seem to be heading into the severe part of the cycle again. I normally stay near my son when he's like this. Sometimes he wants me to hold and cuddle him and sometimes I get hit just for sitting there (like last night. sigh). I just wait it out most of the time and he'll reach a point where he crawls into my lap for cuddles. I'm guessing he needs reassurance and love after letting go like that.
If you don't already know about it, A-Ha Parenting (there's a newsletter, facebook, blog, and actual book) is a fantastic resource.
Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
Thanks everyone. I appreciate the advice on the tantrums, and stages. We're on day four now....and truthfully, I'm just horrified at what seems to have happened overnight to her. She has some sunshiney moments still during the day...but in between, she is just a mess. Everything is setting her off. It's really horrible. The smallest things.
She has had a very full nappy in the mornings since she got sick, so my other theory is that she is waking up a lot at night (without disturbing us) - and thus is insanely overtired. She has taken okay-to-long naps for the last four days...and yesterday was marginally better after a particularly long nap.
Still, it just seems so weird. So much of a coincidence that she's suddenly changed like this. I just wouldn't have thought that it was possible in the scheme of normal developmental phases.
(The PANDAS things is still haunting me - but I'm quite unwilling to go down that road just now....I think we'd have to give her a week or so to see if anything changes....)
As I type, she is playing a game with her Daddy that she normally loves - she is on the verge of wailing every few seconds because he is not doing it right. This is pretty much totally out of character.
Am feeling very worried.
And here she is - crying....
Got to go....
My son very suddenly changed his behavior around that time. I thought "terrible twos? whatever!" but the threes are so much more intense. he rages now. frquesntly. loudly, and meanly sometimes. whew. It's a lot to take sometimes.
Mama to a 3 year old awesome kid, Rowan (aka Mister Boopy) and TTC another at 43!
Herbalist, Acupuncture student, Mama, Blogger!
She may need a lot more quiet rest or sleep to recover from her illness. My first thought is that she is extremely tired and tantrums tend to be worse when tired or hungry. If you weigh her you may also find she has lost weight. Fever and illness burn through calories and the energy stores. She may need to eat more often if she has lost weight. In other words she may be very hungry or tired as she recovers from her illness, either may prompt a tantrum.
I do appreciate everyone's opinions - and if this is a permanent change, well... (so help me) I'll have to find ways of dealing with the tantrums/emotional excess. All tips on that are very useful, thanks.
However, this reply is the one I guess I was hoping to hear (was hoping there would be more anecdotal stories about other people's experiences of the same, that made it feel a) temporary, and b) a normal reaction to an illness....).
That she is knocked back a little...that after a few days (?) even a week or so (?) she might return to 'normal' again. She has had another very long (for her) nap today...and has thus far only melted down twice this afternoon - i.e. is a bit more her usual self. This morning however, she was diabolical from first waking for over two hours....I'm still wondering if she is waking all night, but short of staying awake to spy on her on the monitor (couldn't possibly do that, too tired myself) - I'm not sure how we can tell. Apart from the full nappies.
She has also been eating like a horse. We didn't weigh her any time recently, so can't check if she lost weight - but the day or two after the illness she certainly felt lighter...and now feels normal again.
She is also being uber-clingy to me. Daddy can't do anything, can't do anything right...can't lift her...or even talk! She was a bit like this before...but not horrendously so, as now.
Got to fly again....
Mine seem to swing into "rages" at the year and half-year marks, so every six months. They happen suddenly, overnight, and they're intense. Basically I hold on for the ride and know it'll mellow out in a couple months.
SAHM to DS BuggaBoo 12/07, and DD Doozer 03/10. Sharing life with The Hubby since 01/05.
I wanted to give a quick update on what's been happening....one week post-illness.
3-4 days of huge moment-to-moment tantrums (with the odd sunshiney bit)
Then a couple of days of only tantruming after each sleep (argh).
Yesterday, a HUGE hour-long catastrophic meltdown of epic proportions (I ended up crying with her - she was so unreachable/unhelp-able) - then the rest of the day was fine.
(The night before she'd woken up twice in the night, needing attention - which has only happened twice this YEAR so far, so a bit of an unusual night, and obviously tired yesterday because of that.)
Yesterday afternoon, I had a discussion with her about being ill. She said many interesting things (amazing what they do say when you ask them slightly grownup questions)...one of which was that she didn't like the sick bits coming out of her mouth. And also she was 'worried' about being sick again (her word). I don't know if it helped to talk at all....maybe though...as...
Today - box of fluffy ducks - funny, cute...back to normal then some. Not a single tantrum. (But she also had no nap...so is now a bit tired...but still dealing okay).
Also of note is the huge amount of eating. Which I hadn't really noticed until a PP brought it up...but really she's been eating a HUGE amount for the last few days. Yesterday, her stomach was like a balloon. Today her eating seems back to normal levels.
Will see what tomorrow brings - but looking at the pattern, it seems as though it has been illness related a little?
But then again, maybe development, as she's been doing/saying some extraordinary things in the last week. E.g. from out of nowhere, she's decided to call us Mum and Dad, instead of Mummy and Daddy!? So weird, it's like living with a teenager suddenly! Amusing, but very very strange to listen to!
Will post again in a few days...let anyone know who might be interested, if we're still having 'problems' or whether it's faded away.
NEXT DAY EDIT: I spoke too soon! Hmm. Not a good day.
We are now 11 days out from the first day of her short illness.
For the last three nights she has woken up twice a night (10-11pm, then 4-5am). Wanting out. Wanting food. Wanting all the lights on.
She is normally a very good night time sleeper. We have never let her sleep in our bed, and she wouldn't anyway. Has only woken three times the whole year so far needing parental attention.
We are so scared of creating bad habits....lights, food, water...looking at the stars (!)
Am *still* hoping that this is lingering effects of the illness. Am *still* hoping things will go back to normal.
The trouble is, it doesn't seem to matter if we leave the lights on for her - when she wakes up the second time, she's still upset and wants something else.
She has been taking longer naps since the illness - but I wonder if she is somehow undertired at night? Or maybe feeling insecure for some other reason. I'm trying to give her lots of attention during the day, and even try talking about it all...but can't get to the bottom of anything specific.
It's winter here, and when we leave her door wide open (we normally pull it closed when she's asleep) it's hard to regulate the temperature of her room....maybe she's cold.
Last night her Dad got her up and fed her a biscuit! ARgh!!
At least her behaviour during the day is not reflecting the night time madness at the moment. She seems happy enough the last couple of days. Famous last words.
Colour me multiple shades of 'in denial' but I just find it really hard to accept that my relatively well-behaved, good-sleeping child could do a one-eighty on all those things, overnight (!) just because she's nearly turning 3? (does that really, really happen?)
I will no doubt be proved wrong.
My current dilemma is how to handle the night-wakings, as already after 3 nights we seem to have started some terrible new habits. I was willing to be more gentle and forgiving than perhaps usual, because she has been potentially thrown for a loop with the illness....but now I'm thinking that I have to treat the night-wakings as if that wasn't a factor? i.e. bit a bit more determined to have her stay in bed, and not give in to all the new demands.
Funny, my DD had three months of AWFUL just after Christmas this past year, and it started with her having a really REALLY bad cold over the holidays. At first I thought she was just still recovering, but then it just kept going, and going, and going....screaming and crying half of the day, tantrums at the drop of a hat, it was really hard. Then she just - BAM - snapped out of it, a month before her third birthday. So, I guess I don't know the answer to your question, about whether or not it could be from the illness, but I did have something really similar happen. I will say that after a little while I learned new ways of dealing with her behaviors, so even though it seemed completely intolerable at the beginning, it was manageable once I learned how to deal with it better. Isn't it weird to have these little beings in our lives that will completely change all of the rules overnight?
Me: Sarah, married to: J, mommy to: C (8/10) and E (11/12)
Wow. You said it!
Weird, terrifying...stressful...fun...hilarious...(but mostly stressful at the mo - maybe I'm doing it wrong?)
Last year when we had a panicked time because she was waking at night...we rode it out, she got over it...etc... I'm just so tired / paranoid / anxious about everything these days, that her changing the rules, is not just not fun...but somehow devastating.
I look forward to.....ummm....something being calmer/easier. Me, her - life itself?
Meantime - will continue on, best I can I guess.
(I'm an older mother, so maybe it would be different if I was ten years younger - but massive KUDOS to all with more than one child. I just can't imagine how you all do it. Honestly.)
I find my son is ALWAYS more particular and prone to tantrums after an illness. I remember my siblings being the same way and we always attributed it to being spoiled and taken care of while ill. When DS is sick, he gets lots of attention, as much nursing as he wants, cuddles all day, ect. It's hard for him to get back to normal I think! He is always grouchy from recovery and the loss of "poor sick boy, I'll give you anything you want".
There is this aspect too I guess. She spent one whole day on the couch watching movies in a daze, and getting lots of cuddles/attention. (She's never watched whole movies before...had no idea that Nemo went past the boat bit, or the ten minutes of happy ending we let her watch! heh heh).
We are in dreadful trouble here now.
Whilst the day time tantrums have abated significantly in the last 2-3 days, nights have been unbelievably atrocious.
Four nights in a row we've had multiple upset night wakings. Last night she only got about 5 hours broken sleep, after waking about 7 times.
We've resorted to giving in to all her night time requests....something we've never had to deal with before....as she's never had any. Lights on in the hallway (they are very bright, and are not helping) food (!?), water...endless cuddles etc.
Attempts to do gentle walk in, walk out etc - ends up with a very hysterical child.
At a loss.
Just spoke to a nurse on the phone who suggested getting her fully checked out as maybe she didn't have a stomach bug, but a urinary infection that is lingering...or something like that.
We can't do that until next week though as we live so far away from the doctors.
I just wish my good-sleeping girl would come back...things are a real mess.
I want to update, just to share our particular situation - in case it might help someone else.
Tantrums (wild, raging one's anyway) have abated.
After the horrendous night of being up all night with a 1000 demands, and crying - a chat with her Dad - we decided we needed to either take her to the doctor, or get things back on track with some sleep training concepts.
We booked an appointment for the doctor. I monitored her for a couple of days, took her temps etc - and we concluded that she is not still ill. So.....we went forward with the sleep training - which involved visiting her for reassurance to start with, then increasing the time, then leaving her to it. (She is one of those children where intervention makes things much, much worse...so we have to, at some stage, leave her to work it out herself - she has always been like this).
She was a bit unhappy the first night before going to sleep. But since then has more or less gotten completely back on track. We've now had three nights of good sleep again.
She is also taking later naps, or shorter naps, or skipping naps again - rather than taking the very long one's she just recently has been having. Thus, this has returned to 'normal' too. Back to stressing about her ending her naps! Eeek.
I should also add that her appetite, which was a bit out of control there for a few days (I swear she was eating double what she normally does - she had a stomach like a hot-air balloon for a week!) has returned to normal too now.
My conclusion is still that both her behaviour, and her night wakings were related to the illness. I really think it threw her for a loop emotionally. Her behaviour during tantrums, and even at night seems in retrospect to be an angry/confused cry for attention or reassurance. I've been trying to give her lots during the day, and she seems much better.
To those who said she was turning three, and thus to expect more of this - well, you may be right, somewhat - we are having more issues with unwanted behaviours...but these protests and mini-meltdowns, seem 'normal' compared to the insanity of the previous tantrums - so I think they are two different things.
Crossed fingers, things are relatively okay now.