Is shutting a 4 yr old outside during a tantrum okay? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Is shutting a 4 yr old in a stair well or outside the house during a tantrum a wise way to disciplin
Yes, but only until the child has calmed. 5 100.00%
Absolutely not, this is unsafe and is abusive. 2 40.00%
Call CPS! 0 0%
They need parenting classes to learn a better way to deal with the tantrum. 8 100.00%
This is psychologically and emotionally damaging and not wise. 6 100.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 5. You may not vote on this poll

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#1 of 22 Old 09-19-2013, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My nephew and his wife have a willful 4 yr old girl who throws tantrums frequently. One of their ways to control her is to push her into the basment stair well and close the door, or shove her outside the house and lock her out for a few minutes. I would like to hear your feedback on this type of treatment / discipline. I feel it is horrible.

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#2 of 22 Old 09-19-2013, 01:37 PM
 
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I get that they're frustrated but locking a child out of their home is unacceptable. How do they supervise her and keep her safe? What if she starts running and gets into traffic? While tantrumming, kids aren't safety conscious in the least, and something utterly horrible can happen in the blink of an eye. This also sends the message that as soon as the girl gets upset over something, she's no longer wanted. I get that intense tantrums are difficult but even if we ignore the emotional/psychological aspects of it, locking an upset child out of her home is a very dangerous and unkind thing to do. If she's hitting/throwing or being a danger to siblings otherwise then I can see taking her to a safe room where she can't injure others or herself but it needs to be a safe place she knows and likes, not a dark stairwell or outside her house. I think this needs to change now!
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#3 of 22 Old 09-19-2013, 01:56 PM
 
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The last thing you want is a tantrumming child at the top of the stairs.  The basement stairwell is a terrible idea.  And outside alone isn't a lot better, and is really weather dependent. 

 

(FTR, I frequently find it helpful to take flipping out kids outside - mind tend to calm down in fresh air - but taking your screaming kid onto the back porch to calm down is different then shoving your kid out the door and locking it behind them.)

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#4 of 22 Old 09-19-2013, 02:00 PM
 
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No.

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#5 of 22 Old 09-19-2013, 03:15 PM
 
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LOL...that seems weird to me.

 

Not only does it sound dangerous, I doubt the neighbors want to hear it.

 

I'd tell them "that sounds like an odd way to handle it, I'd be afraid of the neighbors calling the police...maybe we can brainstorm another idea".  Then try to be helpful.

 

Sometimes they just need ideas, and just can't come up with anything better.  Dumping her out the door is easy, so it works for them.  Go easy on them...they probably aren't trying to endanger her, but maybe they would listen to your gentle advice.

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#6 of 22 Old 09-19-2013, 03:39 PM
 
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I have a now beyond this stage child with Aspergers.  There were a few occasions when this was the sole solution to a meltdown. Ideal- nope, but having her step out into the fenced back yard or go sit on the front porch rocker was a sanity saver for us and allowed her total removal from the situation to reset.  No nearby neighbors at the time though, so if anyone heard her complaining, it was the local livestock. 

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#7 of 22 Old 09-19-2013, 04:00 PM
 
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Rainbow Asylum, a fenced backyard or a porch on a quiet country road are one thing. I imagine you'd be aware of her whereabouts at all times and running into traffic wouldn't be an issue. I just pictured a 4 year old locked out of her house in my decent but very urban neighbourhood and cringed. I also don't picture you locking her out but letting her out. I just got a different feel from the OP.
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#8 of 22 Old 09-19-2013, 04:33 PM
 
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I am hoping they wouldn't be putting a child outside alone in an urban area.  When we lived in an urban area, I can't imagine having let a 4 year old outside alone to begin with, but a distraught 4 year old?  Never. 

That crosses into the realm of child endangerment for me.  

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#9 of 22 Old 09-19-2013, 08:37 PM
 
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I did this as a last resort a few times and still regret it but also didn't have another safe option at the time. I was at the end of my rope and it stopped the tantrum incredibly quickly which is what needed yo happen at the time. Reading better techniques and not getting emotionally invested in stopping the tantrums really helped me and I found better ways. I don't think it is awful or cps worthy but I do think the parent also needs to learn better ways of parenting.
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#10 of 22 Old 09-30-2013, 05:54 PM
 
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Oh my gosh that is so wrong!! Poor girl.


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#11 of 22 Old 10-02-2013, 05:26 PM
 
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I've had times where I've locked myself in the bathroom for a few minutes so I could calm down. But, it scares me to think of a child, alone and out of control and probably scared, outside alone and locked out there, or locked on the basement stairs. When I was a child I was terrified of our creepy dark basement stairs and avoided them at all costs. My parents weren't always Parents of the Year, but they never locked me on the stairs or outside and I would never do anything of the kind with my own children.

 

I know there are other more appropriate ways of handling tantrums.

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#12 of 22 Old 02-10-2014, 11:31 AM
 
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When I was younger I grew up in the middle of now where and going outside was "my time to cool off" Even at a young age it was the best way to keep my anger in check and get away from my mom. Now that I have kids, my 4 year old daughter has a terrible temper (like her mother) and does not share the same surroundings as I did. I have to get her to stay in her room in time out with the door closed until she can snap out of her fit. I live on a military base and if I did anything like what is mentioned above someone would turn me in. I wish she had the same amount of room I did right now, it was nice just to walk down into the orchard and calm down.

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#13 of 22 Old 02-15-2014, 12:07 PM
 
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I agree with the OP & PP's, it seems horrible! It's possible that the reason her tantrums are so frequent is that she's resentful but crying out for help and attention, after feeling hurt and shunned by their unwillingness to accept her when those "messy" emotions arise. Kids can't articulate these kinds of emotions!

 

I recently spoke with an acquaintance who just adopted a 2yo baby girl from China - she told me the little girl will have total meltdowns, and the only thing she can do is lock her in a room until she calms down. This seemed bad to me - let alone locking a child OUTSIDE or on a STAIRWELL!  Often, tantrums are a cry for connection...the child feels powerless, upset that they can't do what they are attempting to (for whatever reason), and needs reassurance that it's ok to feel this way, that they're still loved.

 

I told this lady that perhaps a better way to deal would be to try "time-ins" - where you take the child to a quiet place and sit with them, talking soothingly until they calm down. Toddlers and preschoolers need to learn how to work through those strong emotions while feeling loved, accepted, and supported by their parents. She was really appreciative, and enthusiastic about trying it...I saw her the other day, and her daughter already seems much calmer and more attached.

 

Example: Child throws a tantrum over not being able to grab the hot cookies you just took out of the oven. Total meltdown ensues. Parent takes child to a safe, quiet place (outside if fresh air helps, or the bedroom, couch, anywhere that feels peaceful), and sits with child on their lap. Sometimes if they're thrashing around and fighting, it's necessary to hold their hands and watch out for kicking and head-butts. But the whole time they are letting it all out, the parent speaks soothingly, positively and lovingly, validating their feelings and finding a solution: "Yes, I know you're upset. You couldn't touch the hot cookies and it made you mad. Mommy doesn't want you to get hurt. I love you, you are so special to me. It will be ok, you can have a cookie when they're cool and you are calm. Shh...it's ok, honey."  You get the idea. Usually they will calm down fairly fast, and then you can talk about a nicer way to deal with those feelings in the future.

 

I do this with my kids - DS2 is notorious for his temper, and will freak out at the slightest thing. Time-outs make it much worse. Time-ins are sometimes fought against, initially, but if I give him a little space, such as sitting in a quiet corner holding his hands while talking, he calms down quickly and then is fine, much more able to reason and make good choices.

 

Another thing you could do is direct them to the website www.ahaparenting.com - GREAT resource, and describes these kinds of things much better than I can. :) It's also easier to swallow than "I think you should do this" kind of advice can be perceived.

 

Good luck with this - please approach carefully, as no one likes to have their parenting skills criticized! ;) Let us know how it goes!


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#14 of 22 Old 02-18-2014, 09:29 AM
 
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I do something similar with my daughter. It works well for us, and is not harmful/dangerous in any way in our case.

My 3.5 yo daughter's tantrums involve her trying her darnedest to hurt me and/or DH: hitting, kicking, biting, scratching, you name it. Holding her down or moving ourselves to another room does not help at all - she just escalates and comes after us.

If we're downstairs, I put her outside in the fenced in backyard and lock the door. I tell her to let me know when she's ready to stop hurting me, which she does in about 1-10 seconds. Then I let her inside. If she tries to hurt me again, repeat until she stops.

This practice sends a clear message that "I will not let you hurt me," which I think is an important message for her to understand. There is zero danger in our fenced in backyard. She stays right by the door, and we have lots of windows so that I can see her super clearly.

If we're upstairs, I just lock her out of the room I'm in until she's ready to stop hurting me. Can't do that downstairs due to open concept house design, so outside she goes.

I'm guessing those who are are adamantly against this practice haven't thought up other scenarios, and/or are reacting to a specific concern in the OP, such as the stairs issue someone mentioned.

In our family, putting DD outside when she's trying to hurt us is the best technique we have found (and we're tried everything under the sun - except spanking). I'd challenge anyone who postulates that this is harmful.
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#15 of 22 Old 02-18-2014, 12:02 PM
 
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I don't think it's okay to shut a 4 yo outside or downstairs.  While it may be appropriate to put the child in her room or another safe place or better yet, have the parent move to a different place so the *parent* has an opportunity to calm down to avoid violence or harshness, young children need help processing their big emotions, especially anger.  If you haven't noticed it already, be prepared that your kids will start to reflect you and your spouses shortcomings- which means parents who shut their kids out of the house shouldn't be surprised when the kids do the same thing to them one day and they find themselves on the outside looking in during a time of anger.  Just plan on it!  Better to work on dealing with your own emotional health and your child.  Calm yourself first- then you can help calm your child.

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#16 of 22 Old 02-18-2014, 12:15 PM
 
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imagine an angry child is hurting you. makes sense to put up a barrier between you and said child.  the child is not going to "process her emotions" until she has calmed down.  and if offering a hug is not your child's style while enraged, and just amps her her more, then a barrier makes more sense at that moment.  hugs come after she stops trying to hurt me.

 

why would it matter exactly what the barrier is as long is the child is safe and the barrier is temporary? you said "it may be appropriate to put the child in her room or another safe place." so it sounds like you're okay with locking a child in her room, since just "putting" her there will not stop the violence if she comes after you through an open door.  just like moving yourself will not stop the violence if she comes after you.

 

so a barrier is a solution.  doors are good barriers.  i lock myself in a room when we're upstairs, and lock her outside in the backyard when we're downstairs.  just the lay out of our house.  neither option is better or worse in terms of her emotional health.  just a simple barrier to send the message that i won't let her hurt me.

 

you may have just not had a kid like my daughter before.  nothing else works for her, and i refuse to spank.

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#17 of 22 Old 02-18-2014, 12:56 PM
 
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I would suspect that there are plenty of kids like yours, Pamplona, with parents who have had to find different solutions because they face different constraints.  What's your plan for your DD having a tantrum downstairs during a howling snowstorm, or when the temperatures are below zero?  Plenty of people have had kids like yours and found other, non-spanking, solutions. 

 

My neighbors would call 911 in a hot second to report a pre-school aged child howling on my back porch, and I don't blame them.

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#18 of 22 Old 02-18-2014, 01:18 PM
 
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If I was worried about the temp or weather, I'd just close her in the downstairs bathroom until she was ready to stop hurting me. But normally outside is more pleasant and calming for her.

If our neighbors had been worried, they would have called CPS dozens upon dozens of times since DD was born, since she has plenty of meltdowns indoors and outdoors when I'm with her as well. DD has always been very spirited. When I lock her outside, she's only there for 10-60 seconds at a time. Not exactly CPS material. smile.gif

Agreed that parents need to find what works for their child and their family. I wish others' techniques worked for us, but they don't.

But I'm glad I have found a non spanking, non harmful way to teach my daughter that I will not let her hurt me. She has been way better about not hurting us over time since implementing this technique.
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#19 of 22 Old 02-18-2014, 02:10 PM
 
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pamplona-  My posted response to the OP was in no way meant to be personal to your situation.  If a child is aggressively coming at you to try and hurt you during a tantrum then, yes, you do need to defend yourself and/or put space between them and yourself.

 

I don't happen to like the idea of locking a child outside the house.  It feels super personal *to me*.  I had relatives I stayed with as a young kid who did this anytime they cleaned the house- not as punishment but it was a rule we all had to be outside (felt like hours on end but was probably 1 or 2) and it happened regularly when no one was emotional or upset.  I hated it, I felt abandoned and I didn't feel safe.  I can't imagine how I would feel having someone do this to me at a time when I already felt out of control.  Maybe it's just me but I think this would intensify my emotions not diminish them.

 

I've committed that locking my loved ones out of the house is one thing I will never to do my kids or husband.  Now, if I had someone hunting me down with a weapon- you bet I'd lock them out, or myself in- but there is a lot more going on in a situation like that then a simple, childish tantrum.  Your situation is certainly different than mine.  I've never had to lock anyone anywhere in order to control their behavior.  If I sent my kids to their room (or brought them there to cool off) they generally stayed there- but I've stopped that practice recently because it fails to deal with the heart issue.  I'm strong enough that I can absorb some anger without internalizing... and merely being with my kids through their anger, listening, repeating what I hear them saying and sympathizing with them has gone a long way in diffusing tantrums/handling anger in my house.  Maybe I have a hard time understanding your perspective because I'm not in your world- maybe if I was, I might think and behave differently- but I stand by my opinion that I don't like it and I wouldn't do it.

 

I'm not sure where the "hugs" comment came from (it wasn't me).  I agree that hugging a child who is enraged can exacerbate the problem and intensify the emotions.  While I think we need to strive to teach kids not to give full vent to their anger, it's equally important to give them permission to have and express their feelings and know that it's okay to feel angry (sometimes anger can be a very positive emotion)- now here is the appropriate way to deal with it.  I don't know about you but I was taught that anger was unacceptable and my parents *did* spank, though not that often, mainly because I was compliant.  I think because of this though, I've spent a lot of time unwittingly trying to "shut down" my kids whenever they got upset, "stop crying, stop yelling, stop gritting your teeth, stop fill-in-the-blank" or I would send them away from the family during misbehavior.  I do think there is a time to draw a boundary and say, "I'm not going to allow you to hurt/spoil/ruin" whatever's going on for everyone else but I've found it far more productive to meet that child where they are at and work through the problems by connecting more intensely and helping them express and work through their frustrations while in relationship with the family.

 

For instance, offering appropriate dialogue that encourages them to be specific about what triggered them while taking responsibility for their own feelings.  I might tell them instead of saying "my sister makes me so mad!" I might suggest (if I was present during the moment and knew) "when my sister ripped my crayon out of my hand, I felt angry!" and then I might say, "I understand, it's not right to take things without asking and I can see why you got frustrated with her."  Now I've listened to and validated the injustice that's happened, the person who felt angry is calming down and starting to relax, and I can work with the two kids to help them repair their relationship.

 

It's helpful to evaluate the triggers- what happened before the tantrum started?  Was the child provoked or ignored by you, spouse, or another sibling or friend?  I generally start trying to peel away the layers to get to the bottom of what is causing this child to lose control.  Often times, simply giving some of my energy to become more aware results in fewer escalations and incidences.  With my own kids, I've also found that if they feel I'm not listening, it will cause them to escalate even faster than if we're trying to communicate and merely having a difference of opinion.  Different people are going to have different reasons for the depth of their emotional response to various perceived injustices or whatever is underlying.

 

If you feel good about how you're handling your child's tantrums, that's probably a good sign that you are on the right track with your child.  You are certainly entitled to have a differing opinion from mine.  Maybe now you also understand a little bit better my perspective and where I was coming from when I made the original comment to the OP.

 

Sincerely hoping you can make peace and progress in relationship w/ your daughter ~ I've got 3 and it's no easy task!

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#20 of 22 Old 02-18-2014, 04:59 PM
 
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thanks for the kind and lengthy reply, Research Baby - i appreciate that!  yes - you and i both come at this issue with different histories and with different kids.  i also cannot predict how i would react in your shoes either, and agree that that is a-okay.  :)

 

what a strange phenomenon your relatives had going when they locked you out for 1-2 hours at a time while cleaning!  i guess they didn't want a kid in the way, but that's fairly extreme!  as i mentioned, when i lock my daughter outside, it's completely different than your scenario. we can see and hear each other the whole time through the glass door and windows.  after 10-60 seconds max (i'd say average 15-20 seconds), she says she's ready to stop hurting me, and is welcomed back inside.  i would be willing to bet the farm that she doesn't feel abandoned or unsafe, but she does get the message that i won't let her hurt me.

 

you said, "If I sent my kids to their room (or brought them there to cool off) they generally stayed there- but I've stopped that practice recently because it fails to deal with the heart issue.  I'm strong enough that I can absorb some anger without internalizing... and merely being with my kids through their anger, listening, repeating what I hear them saying and sympathizing with them has gone a long way in diffusing tantrums/handling anger in my house.  Maybe I have a hard time understanding your perspective because I'm not in your world- maybe if I was, I might think and behave differently- but I stand by my opinion that I don't like it and I wouldn't do it."

 

yes - you may well have a very hard time understanding my perspective, because my daughter does not abide by being sent to or placed in her room. maybe when she's older? when she's in attack mode, she is physically attacking me, and nothing else works besides creating a physical barrier.  she's a strong and tough 3.5 yo - it's not just about "absorbing anger." my husband has frequently had visible scratches on his face, and she came very close to pushing me down our stairs the other day.  so not always minor damage.  i'm sure i wouldn't understand if i was in your world, and did not have a child as spirited and tenacious as my DD.

 

you also said, "While I think we need to strive to teach kids not to give full vent to their anger, it's equally important to give them permission to have and express their feelings and know that it's okay to feel angry (sometimes anger can be a very positive emotion)- now here is the appropriate way to deal with it."

 

i fully agree with this, and i emphasize quite a bit every day to my daughter that feelings, including anger, are absolutely okay. I strongly encourage her to share her feelings with me verbally.  we also discuss appropriate and inappropriate responses to our feelings, including feelings of anger, etc etc.  so that aspect is not an issue in our house - it's just my daughter's strong temperament.   

 

and you said, "It's helpful to evaluate the triggers- what happened before the tantrum started?  Was the child provoked or ignored by you, spouse, or another sibling or friend?  I generally start trying to peel away the layers to get to the bottom of what is causing this child to lose control.  Often times, simply giving some of my energy to become more aware results in fewer escalations and incidences."

 

yes - we do this everyday as well.  i'm sure some or even many tantrums have been avoided, but there have still been numerous, numerous tantrums to get through from probably age 15 months until now (age 3.5).

 

and thanks for your comments about hoping things continue to get better.  as i mentioned, she has severely reduced the frequency and intensity of violence towards us since i started putting a door between us when she gets physical.  it's definitely working well for us, and i'm glad to have found a good way to curb her violence without using violence ourselves.

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#21 of 22 Old 02-25-2014, 11:28 AM
 
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I didn't read all the responses but ummmm NO! This is not even safe!! I pick they need parenting classes lol

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#22 of 22 Old 02-26-2014, 01:27 PM
 
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She sounds like two of my granddaughters. Out of control tantrums, until their mothers eliminated gluten and dairy from their diets! It was like they had turned a switch and suddenly had (almost) angels.

It would be worth it to find out if this little girl has food intolerances. And no, allergy testing usually won't identify intolerances. The best way to figure out what these are is by an elimination diet.

I expect that they don't shut her outside her FRONT door, but in her own backyard. While that is still not what I would do, it IS safe.

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