Tantrums & Anxiety - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 11-26-2010, 06:32 AM - Thread Starter
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It's been about 2 weeks now that we've been seeing this behavior.  Thinking back to what could have made the change, daylight savings time or extended family were in town... but the behavior continues.  AND I NEED HELP!


Our 3 year old son (recently turned 3) has been anxious when we leave the room...appears to have some fears of the dark or being alone in a room, but not all the time.  So if I go to brush my teeth, he has to come along.  It then started to expand into wanting to do things over.  If I left and did something without him, then he realized that he wanted to come along, I had to do it over again...not just do it over again, but he wanted me to undue what had been done so he could do it with me.  This is not always possible and even when it is, it is not something I want to get started doing.  The first few times we did, but as it became a pattern, we try to explain that we can't always have do-overs even if it causes a tantrum.


Additionally, he seems to be very attached to Mommy at this point.  Frustrating for me because it's difficult to do anything without him.  I thought as he got older, I'd have more space, not less.  He also seems to be nursing more than ever.  Which I generally allow, but it is getting frustrating and we are trying to set more and more parameters - not while I'm eating, no more until bedtime, etc.  But it is one of the few things that calms him in the midst of a tantrum.  


I'm really not sure who to deal with the tantruming.  Should there be consequences?  Typically I hold him or stay in the room with him, but I really have no idea what to say.  In my head I think he is being irrational, but I understand that 3 year olds aren't always rational.  I attempt to explain that I understand that he is sad, but that mostly just upsets him more.  He eventually does calm down, but this happens several times throughout the day and I'm just starting to feel like a bad parent.  Does he need more structure, am I not spending enough time with him, is it just a stage and normal 3 year old behavior?  How do I respond so that I'm not encouraging the behavior, but also supporting him emotionally?  


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#2 of 4 Old 11-26-2010, 06:58 AM
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I don't really have any suggestions but just wanted to mention that DS is turning 3 in March and he's just recently started doing the temper tantrum thing too...and crying about stuff because he wanted to do it and makes me undo it so he can help.  It must be a phase.  He also has very little patience right now and gets upset at me if I'm not meeting his request fast enough.  I'm pretty sure he's going to grow out of it so I don't really make a big deal out of it.  I know that's probably not very helpful, but I think sometimes...kids really  just go through things that they grow out of quickly.

Mom to 6 kiddo's (C 01/05, K 11/05, M 11/06, A 02/07, T 03/08, J 12/10) and happily married to best friend Big T.
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#3 of 4 Old 11-26-2010, 07:07 AM
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Oh, the 3s.  The age of 3 can be like that. IME you really can't do much until the tantrum has run its course except be with the child.  I found it helpful to talk when my children were calm about how upset they were and how scary those big feelings can be and to brainstorm other ways of handling problems in the future. I made sure my kids were eating and sleeping properly and that life was predictable for them - I'd warn them in advance of changes to routine, etc, as much as I could.


 ETA When my little one was in a tantrum, I found that verbally reflecting their feelings back at them was the fastest way to help them get through it.  ie "You are very sad and very mad with mommy.  You wanted the green cup and you are very upset that your brother is using it.  You want it right now and you don't want to wait for him to be finished....next time you want the green cup first" etc.  I think this is true of upset people at any age.  You can't reason with tantrum feelings; they *are* inherently irrational.  You can only communicate that you hear and understand what the upset person is trying to say..


I wonder if you can address the basic fear -- "You are afraid that mommy will do things without you.  You feel scared without mommy."  or something like that, and work on a way for him to feel reassured about this separation anxiety when he is feeling calm?



One thing that really helped my youngest and most tantrum-prone was the Bach flower essence Rescue Remedy.  They sell it in drop form or gummy form for children at most health food stores.  I don't know how much of it was the distraction of being offered a "tantrum gummy" to chew and how much the actual homeopathic remedy itself was helping, but it stopped the tantrum in its tracks most times.  He never asked for a gummy when he wasn't tantruming or tried to fake a tantrum to get a gummy, and we only ever went through one tin of them, so I don't think it was a candy bribe at work.

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#4 of 4 Old 11-26-2010, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
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abmom - It's always good to hear that someone else is having the same issue.  I work full-time and am not in the "mom's circle" so it's nice to hear others stories of similar behaviors.


Aubergine - thanks so much for the suggestions.  I try to mirror his feelings, but it often makes it worse.  I'm not sure if I'm not doing it with enough enthusiasm (think Happiest Toddler on the Block) or if it is just a reminder of why he is upset and it makes him cry/whine more.  Everything you are saying though makes tons of sense.  Funny how you know things, but when you are in the midst of them with your own child, you are at a a loss.   I think that maybe getting to the root of the problem and mirroring the feelings might be the ticket.  I've also thought about Back's Rescue Remedy the yesterday, but didn't actually follow through with trying it.  Did not know that they have it in gummy form, so that is very helpful!  Thanks for all the suggestions.  We had a toddler get together with friends tonight and it was good to see/hear that everyone else had similar issues.  Good to also have the reminder that just being with them is enough and that I just need to ride out the tantrum and talk about it later.  This too shall pass and I am not a bad parent. ;-)

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