Tantrums in 4 yo, better way to handle? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-17-2010, 01:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am trying to change how I react to 4 yo DS when he has tantrums. He has been having a lot this week as DH is working way more than normal.

Here is what went on this afternoon. Daddy went to work, we ate lunch and DS said he wanted to go for a walk. I thought it was a great idea to get some exercise before nap time. So it takes us 15 minutes to get the baby ready, strapped into the carrier and we are walking out of the house and he starts screaming and fake crying and won't leave the yard. I try to coax him into going but it didn't work. So I say. "I see you are tired, lets read, snuggle and take a nap." NOOOO, AHHH, keeps on screaming. We finally get up to the bedroom and I start reading, he is not paying attention at all and starts wrestling DD (9 months), wrestling is too rough and is one of my pet peeves because DS does it all the time. So I end the reading session and tell him it's bed time, no more reading because of his behavior. Screaming begins again in full force. I walk to his room and wait for him, all the while he is screaming and fake crying ( no tears). After letting him do this for several minutes I start trying to calm him down, "take a deep breath, I see you're upset. Do you miss Daddy? It takes several minutes to work but then I get him into bed and I am lying next to him, holding him. He says he wants to snuggle for 10 minutes (we have times snuggles or he would snuggle the whole afternoon/night), I say I can stay 5 more minutes. At this point DD is needing to be put nursed and put to bed. The screaming ensues and I am really frustrated. I feel like he is 'working' me. After 10 more minutes of screaming (during which I am trying to sooth him) he is semi normal but still whimpering I give him his usual hug and kiss and go off to take care of the baby. He got to sleep after that. But he had been having a tantrum for over an hour by that point.

In the past, I would have yelled and left him in his room to CIO alone. If DH had been home he would have carried him roughly upstairs and yelled at him. I am trying to change my ways, but today seemed futile. He had another tantrum tonight right before bath time. I was at the end of my creative thinking and I simply told him he needed to treat me with respect, if he didn't he would not go to his Tae Kwon Do graduation this Friday. It worked immediately and then we talked about what respectful behavior looks like.

How could I have better handled the situation? He has been having a lot of tantrums this past week around me, is it because I am letting him get all these pent up emotions out, or because DH has been gone a lot?

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Old 02-18-2010, 05:30 AM
 
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Hey there,

I totally feel you. My 4yr old DS does the same exact thing. Its like ages 3-4 were better than 4, its really weird. But there is one positive thing...4 year olds can talk. I find it helps to sit in his room alone with him, with the baby in another room, safe, even if hte baby is crying, and sit with him, with the door closed and make him realise that I am giving him extra time and even sacrificing time with the baby for him.

I sit and hold his hand and make sure we have eye contact and simply ask him, Hey, whats going on, dude? Whats with the hostility? Whats making you upset? And then.....lo and behold....he tells me. Its usually something totally ridiculous, like...oh my brother touched my toy or I don't like eating lunch with my brother , etc. We sit and chat for like 10 minutes and by the end of it, he is calm. I think most of the time they just want your full attention. Then I explain that I can't help him when he throws tantrums because it confuses me and I dont know what is wrong.

But sadly, I'm learning that kids just don't have the cognitive skills to understand reason, not until they're like 5 or 6. In the meantime, all you can do is make them feel loved and show them that you care. Of course, all whilst biting your tongue from the frustration.......i know how it is. Its hard.

hang in there.
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Old 02-18-2010, 06:56 AM
 
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Honestly I think you need to focus on dealing with emotions instead of punishing him. By making the threats you are (not going to taekwondo/ Not reading etc) you are teaching him to treat people disrespectfully and not helping him find ways to deal with emotions that for a 4y/o are very overwhelming.
By calling them tantrums and fake crying you are saying his feelings are fake and manipulating. Which in turn will make you more frustrated/resentful about his feelings

What happend between the time he expressed a desire for a walk and the start of his meltdown? I'm a bit confused about the timing of all the events because you say you had lunch then tried to go for a walk and after that he went to bed?

Also you say you feel he is working you but what about your DD she is working you by crying to get what she wants right? and I'm sure you ds was allowed to do the same at that age, so what changed?

I have 2 highneeds boys so I now the frustration of these types of situations all to well

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Old 02-19-2010, 12:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by mum21andtwins View Post
Honestly I think you need to focus on dealing with emotions instead of punishing him. By making the threats you are (not going to taekwondo/ Not reading etc) you are teaching him to treat people disrespectfully and not helping him find ways to deal with emotions that for a 4y/o are very overwhelming.
By calling them tantrums and fake crying you are saying his feelings are fake and manipulating. Which in turn will make you more frustrated/resentful about his feelings

What happend between the time he expressed a desire for a walk and the start of his meltdown? I'm a bit confused about the timing of all the events because you say you had lunch then tried to go for a walk and after that he went to bed?

Also you say you feel he is working you but what about your DD she is working you by crying to get what she wants right? and I'm sure you ds was allowed to do the same at that age, so what changed?

I have 2 highneeds boys so I now the frustration of these types of situations all to well
You make good points. I DO need to adjust my thinking about crying and meltdowns. He started his meltdown as soon as we went outside, even though it was his idea to go for a walk. I guess at age 4, meltdowns have slowed way down so I don't expect them to happen, especially not when we are doing something *he* asked to do. I realized then that he was tired and I tried to move into our pre nap routine and he was fighting me all the way.

Transitioning into Gentle Discipline is no easy task. Rewards/punishments is much more black and white. There are times when I have no idea what to say to him, how to handle difficult situations. How do I set boundaries, handle inappropriate behaviors, motivate him to do daily activities like dressing/brushing teeth, making his bed?

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Old 02-19-2010, 02:37 AM
 
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For melt downs like this, I have a special area. It has pillows, stuffed animals and a radio. When my daughter is upset, I ask her if she needs some "calm down" music. She goes into her little area and regroups. Then when she is calm we are able to talk about her feelings. Sometimes it takes half an hour, sometimes five. She isn't in the area crying, but just sitting there, thinking and listening to music. Sometimes she will come up to me after a frustrating day and tell me that she needs calm down music.
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Old 02-19-2010, 06:24 AM
 
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WAit is he still taking an afternoon nap? OMG how lucky you are!

What happend though between the time he asked for the walk and you went. you said it takes you 15mins or so to get everyone ready and out of the door. had he started a new activity, maybe one you wheren't aware of. Ds1 likes to shoot things he doesn't use anything but his imagination he'll sit on the stairs seemingly bored out of his skull and he's actually shooting stuff, if I go out then without helping him go from shooting to out the door he has a meltdown.

I think we often have this idea of how things should be get stuck on it and are unable to look at each situation with fresh eyes. then there is outside pressure of how things should be and how they should be dealt with.

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Old 02-19-2010, 07:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think we often have this idea of how things should be get stuck on it and are unable to look at each situation with fresh eyes. then there is outside pressure of how things should be and how they should be dealt with.
there is a lot of mainstream pressure on parents to get their children to behave, ie. Be 'good', quiet. The old phrase 'a child should be seen and not heard' is still prevalent in our society. Some days I feel like the entirety of my brain power is spent figuring out what to say/respond to DS.

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Old 02-19-2010, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It also doesn't help that I am exhausted from being up several times at night sometimes for several hours (like right now!) trying to help baby fall asleep.

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