I have a 3 year old little girl that is starting to take control. I need some help!! She has some raging temper tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants. She can turn it on and off like a light switch.
I tried ignoring the temper tantrum until she can talk about what she needs rationally... I have tried 2/3minute time outs. I've tried holding her in my lap and explain why she can't have something. Just nothing seems to work. She will whine for HOURS about almost EVERYTHING. If I could just get her to calm down and relax, and use to her words to ask it would be awesome.
Anyone else having these issues?
Tantrums are really hard to cope with, and there's no magic solution. But it's sometimes helped for me to talk to the kid--consciously using my calmest voice, kind of quiet so he might quiet down to hear me--about Big Feelings. Sometimes our feelings are just so big they don't fit inside us and come exploding out. It feels awful. It's scary. It's especially hard when you are just a little person and you don't yet have much practice with big feelings.
Often it's necessary to address my son's behavior ("Stop kicking the door.") or to reiterate that he cannot have the thing he wanted ("No more TV. It's time for bed.") but I try to avoid saying anything that sounds like he is not allowed to feel the way he feels. It's especially important not to say he's being silly, even when I think so!
When a tantrum is over and is followed by calm behavior, it's important not to hold a grudge. Reconnect and show that you still love your child, even though you are not going to give in on that particular issue. Look for a different, acceptable way in which you can be kind.
If there's no calm behavior but more like long spells of whining between tantrums--gah, that's annoying!--active listening can be useful: "I don't liiiike this; it's too gooooey!" "You like casserole better when it gets more firm." "Whyyy does it have peeeas in it?" "Today we had peas in the freezer and no broccoli. Sounds like you prefer when we make it with broccoli." "It's supposed to have broccoli. Peas are stuuupid!" "Hmm, it just doesn't seem right to you with a different vegetable." This is really hard to do when it goes on and on and you feel like just snapping, "Eat the dinner I worked hard to make, you ungrateful brat!!!" but what you're doing here is showing that you heard and understood what your kid said, and ultimately that can help her feel better. You might also learn something, like, "It would be okay with carrots, just not peas."
That said, there's a level of whining that you shouldn't respond to as if it's speech, because it's so aggravating that struggling to tolerate it will make you flip out; then everybody's upset and you have a much worse situation. Only you know where your whining threshold is. Identify it, and when you hear intolerable whining, respond with, "Oow, that sound hurts my ears. Please use a nice voice so I can understand what you're saying." Try to stick around like you really are interested in what she wants to say. Don't withdraw ("I need to go in another room, away from that sound.") unless/until it's persistent.
I hope this helps!
Mama to a boy EnviroKid 10 years old and a girl EnviroBaby 1 year old!
I write about parenting, environment, cooking, and more.