4 year old having meltdowns/tantrums, please help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 10-13-2010, 11:21 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't know what is happening to my son, or how to best handle the situations.
They are happening more and more throughout the day, and I am at a total loss.
We are at zoo having a great time. Out of nowhere he walks up to younger sister says, "I hate you" and hits her. I calmly say to him, we don't say things like that, and hitting hurts. He then goes into a 10-15 minute meltdown screaming, BE HAPPY< YOUR MAD BE HAPPY BE HAPPY,
WHat do I do? I am not acting mad, although I am obviously not as cheerful as I was a few minutes before. I ask if he wants a hug, to hold my hand. I tell him I love him. But he won't calm down.

At park today my daughter grabs his friends shoes and runs away with them. My son runs up to her and pushes her down HARD. I comfort Kate first and then walk up to him and say in front of his friends and the parents, "C- I know you were trying to help your friend by getting his shoes, but you can't push your sister down, that hurts" He looks at me and screams "I Hate YOU, YOU ARE STUPID" I ask him to come to me and he won't. I go to him and ask if he needs a hug or time to cool off, ask if he wants me to chase him or play with him, he says: " Leave me alone, I don't want to play with you, I want to play with my friends"
Maybe I should have scooped him up and left right then and there. I was shocked and embarrassed that he would say those things to me in public. It has been a few weeks that he has been acting like this, but never in front of others.

At dinner he asks for milk. I get up and get him milk and he says "punk head". I gently say that I don't like being called names. He melts down again (for like the 15th time that day) Screaming, crying, glaring, telling me to be happy.

Basically he does something that is NOT ok, like yelling at us or his sister, or hitting, or name calling. I gently explain to him that that is not ok, and he becomes unglued that I am mad at him. I have tried validated his emotions, ignoring him, putting him in his room. Nothing helps.

The problem is I feel like I can't walk on eggshells with him. I can't just let him YELL at us whenever he wants, without at least modeling for him how we talk.
I am sure it is a just a stage, but am feeling like I won't be able to handle it at all.
If you can shine any light on this situation or tell me what you would do in this situation, I would greatly appreciate it.
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#2 of 3 Old 10-14-2010, 09:33 AM
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I think verbal kids learn two main things through tantrums: the concept of futility, and the concept of unconditional love. Futility is the concept that they aren't always going to get what they want, and that it's OK to not always have things go how you'd like. But this sounds like he doesn't understand the concept of unconditional love yet, as that's where he's testing you.

It's a more complicated concept than it seems on the surface, since it comes so naturally to us, but it's really hard for little kids to understand that they continue to love us even when they're angry, and that we continue to love them even when we're angry. They aren't feeling loving toward us when they're angry, and the idea that we continue to be in love even when we don't feel those loving feeling is something they have to specifically learn.

So I would work from that angle. "It's OK to be angry with people you love, and we keep loving each other even when we're angry." And maybe during specific situations, when you say he can't push people and that, make a mention of the fact that you still love him even though you don't like what he's done, or that you know he still loves you even though he says he doesn't like you, or whatever is applicable.

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#3 of 3 Old 10-14-2010, 10:20 AM
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I only have a younger DD so I can't say I have experience with this stage, but I want to applaud your gentle response to him and agree that you can't just let him YELL at you whenever he wants. I don't know what the issue is exactly, maybe PP's got it right, but definitely keep on gentle correcting. I probably would have left the park though after the pushing and name calling, that would have been enough for me.

And you are handling it, even if you don't feel particularly graceful. We can't control their reactions and feelings. Just keep them safe and let them express their emotions. I try to think about how I want to model how I'd want DD to react if one of her friends did the same thing to her, assertive but polite.

Mama to DD1 4/08fly-by-nursing1.gif and DD2 10/10 bfinfant.gifcd.gifcat.gif
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