I need to discuss tantrums - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 03-11-2010, 12:50 AM - Thread Starter
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We are at a loss... I have been reading this board for 4 years now. My daughter is about to be 3 and her tantrums have gotten really out of control. I have tried to apply every suggestion I see on this site...and we have been looking for good reading material, but nothing seems to apply. My daughter's tantrums are unpredictable - i totally understand what happens when she's hungry or tired. I do not understand why when she's had an excellent night's sleep and a balanced breakfast, she would go into an uncontrollable rage over something so ridiculously small that I cannot even remember what it is by the time the tantrum is over. Something that would normally not even cause any issue at all.

We've always felt like she was high needs - needs to be held, sleep best with us, etc. When she is tantruming she wants to be near us...she will not allow us to put her in another room - door open or closed. And she says she wants us, but when we try to hold her she kicks, and flails and screams. We try to be calm, but the only way we've managed is to close the door on her...we feel awful about it, but I have a baby to take care of as well.

The tantrums end when she is broken...i mean that she is so exhausted. We always end up holding her while she is tantruming and she eventually just wears out. But, then she is sad for a long time.

I've read here that a tantrum is an emotional release and kids will feel better afterwards. This is not the case here. The tantrum beats us all up. The day always recovers...but this can literally set us back hours.
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#2 of 5 Old 03-15-2010, 11:55 PM
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I don't have any advice, but I am right there with you. Dds tantrums can go on for hours. She does not flail, but she screams and cries so loud that I cannot even hear myself try to talk to her. She screams for us to hold her but even then continues to scream. I have a 3 mo. baby, too, so I am not available a lot to hold her, either. It is very frustrating and tiring. I hope yours works itself out soon.
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#3 of 5 Old 03-16-2010, 12:01 AM
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Does she have sensory issues? This reminds me a lot of my 3.5 yo DD's sensory meltdowns. They appear somewhat like a tantrum but really stem from sensory overload.

SugarMama to Chatterbox Zoe (almost 4) and Locomotive Miles (2)
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#4 of 5 Old 03-16-2010, 07:46 AM
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Kids learn things through tantrums. They learn about their emotions, they learn about love being constant despite strong negative emotions, and they learn the concept of futility - that no matter how much everyone would like something to happen, it sometimes just plain won't. When they've learned all that, they tantrums start to die down.

Not quite 3, and the whole age of 3, is still a very normal age for tantrums, and it has nothing to do with you and your parenting, so don't beat yourself up over not being able to stop them. I don't it's our job as parents to stop them, it's just our job to help our kids get through them.

I think the only things that can help them get past that stage is to help them learn what kids learn through tantrums. Naming emotions, as in "you sound very angry (or frustrated or whatever)." Letting them know that our love is still there during and after a tantrum. "I'm here when you need me" and then snuggles when it's done. And helping them understand futility by empathizing and wishing with them, letting them know we are on their side. "I wish we had more stickers too. I wish we had a million stickers!" But it takes time, and 2 to 3 is still very young.

What helped me was to separate myself from the tantrums and understand that it wasn't about me and they weren't my fault.

My dd didn't always feel better after a tantrum either. Sometimes one would seem to just be an emotional release, but often it was an issue of her not understanding futility. Like a store would be closed but she'd REALLY want to go there. Or a friend wouldn't be home, or she would have accidentally broken something, or something like that. She never felt better after those kinds of tantrums. And they reasons might seem small to us, but they do seem huge at that age.
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#5 of 5 Old 03-16-2010, 09:56 PM
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The time from 3 to 3 1/2 was very difficult with my DD1. So far it hasn't been so hard with my other two, but with DD1, that was a time when she was melting down at least three or four times a day, over things that seemed very insignificant to us, and the meltdowns would last literally until she was collapsing with exhaustion.

It helped me a lot to remember that she owned her own emotions. It wasn't my fault she was screaming. It wasn't my job to stop the screaming. Only she could stop, when she made up her mind that she was ready to stop. My job was to stay calm, and not get caught up in her emotional outburst-- to be a rock that the waves could wash over, so to speak. To show her that no matter how out-of-control her behavior and emotions became, that I loved her unconditionally.

Often, the tantrums arose out of her inability to understand and accept the unavoidable limits of life-- that I couldn't in fact make the rain stop just because she wanted it stopped, that I couldn't make a popped balloon come back to life, I couldn't make her brother and sister not exist just because she was tired of them, or that nobody could make a toy do something it wasn't designed to do. She learned a lot from the experience-- for example, she learned that no matter how hard she screamed, some things just couldn't be changed. It's a hard, hard lesson, but one that every child must learn.

What I would do, when I saw one coming, was to sit quietly nearby, close enough that she could find me if she needed me. I wouldn't try to get directly involved in helping her stop, though, because that just infuriated her and frustrated me and led to me getting caught up in the drama. I would get busy doing something else, something quiet like reading a magazine or folding laundry, and just wait, very calmly. Sometimes I'd wait a long, long time. When she was finished, I'd be a shoulder to cry on, and we'd talk through what happened. Often she wanted to sleep when the tantrum was over, or lie in bed for awhile. If she got aggressive with me-- hitting, etc.-- I'd quietly walk out of the room.

It gets better. Slowly, over the next few years, the capacity for logical reasoning develops, and some more sophisticated language and more sophisticated emotional control develop, and it gets much easier.

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