Does your 4 yr old still tantrum? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 11-19-2012, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dd will be 4 very soon, and while I definitely know better than to expect her "terrible threes" behavior to suddenly end just cuz her birthday is coming up, I also am wondering where the line between "normal" 4 yr old boundary-testing/tantrums and "concerning/not age-appropriate" tantrums is.

I know it's hardly a cler line, but I would really like to hear some wise mama takes on this.

These days over the course of a regular week, DD averages one mega meltdown a day. This is usually triggered by saying no to something she wants (like more of a food when she hasn't finished what she already has) or tonight it was me saying she needed to put her toys away before her bath.

While some are tiredness and understandable crankiness, others are out of the blue, everything's fine then suddenly Bam! Little Monster Girl jumps out!

Tantrums involve screaming, stomping, thrashing. Usually she seems quite in control, then eventually you see her cross over to "no longer in control". I try so hard not to let her get there (speak in calm tones, try to hold her, tell her to calm down, e plain whatever triggered her from my end, etc) but she usually goes over edge and then we just have to wait the tantrum out.

How normal is this for a 4 yr old? When do behaviors really raise major red flags? What coping/disciplinary measures help you with your child?

Thanks everyone, appreciate your advice!
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#2 of 11 Old 11-19-2012, 08:12 PM
 
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My DD is almost 4.5 years old and still tantrums.... I can't say every day, but she has some bad days where she will tantrum many times in a day.  She will have at least 3 a week for sure.  

 

I think it is normal....


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#3 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 12:16 PM
 
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I'm having similar concerns re: my DC, can anyone else weigh in on whether you think this is normal or not?

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#4 of 11 Old 11-20-2012, 12:47 PM
 
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It would be normal for my dd who is 4.5 - she is hot and cold sometimes. She is a wonderful child, bright, compassionate, loving. She has a need to be in control. I share that need so I can relate and I work very hard at helping her have control over almost every aspect of her life in an age appropriate way. Although her tantrums may be triggered by many things I think the underlying cause is the control. If I'm out of control will I be okay - it feels bad to me - if I can't have the power to be in control I will seek passive power. It is very hard for me to stay calm with her. There have been many times when I have yelled at her, threatened, tried to 'make her' behave, etc. I am now at a place where 99% of the time I can stay calm and be with her while she recovers. I find one of the best things I can do is tell her that it is okay and I will take care of her, it is okay to be mad and I will love her no matter what, no matter how mad, sad, etc. The other 1% I have to walk away when she is in a safe place. Her room at home, buckled in her car seat if we are on the go, or with her dad if he is around.

 

The bottom line is that she is very difficult for me to parent. Her tantrums are less often now but it got hard around the time she turned 1 and lasted until a few months ago. She has a keen awareness of people and interactions around her, she is quite sensitive to emotions and also has a few minor sensory issues as far as clothing. I would say she is a sensitive child.

 

For my ds daily tantrums would have been out of the normal realm. He is just very different than his sister.

 

I will also mention that anyone 'outside' would never see this behavior from my dd. Our home/being with me is her safe place to show these emotions. She is a dream in Sunday school, preschool, play dates, grandparents house, etc.

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#5 of 11 Old 11-21-2012, 11:11 AM
 
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Like pbjmama, I also have a wonderful-but-challenging DD, and I think her tantrums were probably the *worst* around 4 years. (She's 8 now.) She's very strong-willed, very verbal (i.e. a great negotiator!), and can be hot-tempered. It made me miserable back then, but if I could go back and do it again knowing what I know now, I would simply leave her (in a safe place) and let the tantrum run its course. It may be that some kids get more upset and take longer to calm themselves than others -- I know that I had a problem with it when I was little, too. Unfortunately, any of my attempts to calm her or stop the tantrum were counter-productive: she wasn't able to be receptive to me until the tantrum had passed.

 

The tantrums *did* pass, though! There are some new problem behaviors that we work on now, of course, but overall she's a charming, funny, imaginative girl. Oh, I should add: I don't remember when I started this (probably later than 4, but just because I hadn't thought of it then), I've taught her to take deep breaths and concentrate on letting her upset feelings out when something bothers her. She still likes me to do it with her, but I've found that very useful. And hugs really help her; I've told her that no matter how angry or disappointed I feel over something she's done, I will always love her, and I will always give her a hug when she wants one. Oh, and one more thing! My DH is really good at defusing situations with humor -- it's great when you have someone like that to "tag team" with.

 

Good luck, I promise you'll get through this!

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#6 of 11 Old 11-22-2012, 07:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks you guys! I want you to know these posts are really helpful! Can't help but wonder though if we aren't indeed in the minority because there are so few responses? Not to hijack OPs thread but my DP is pressing for us to take DC to a child psychologist and his mom (who is an elementary school principal) is agreeing with him that her tantrums at this age are problematic.

I guess we'll at least start by asking our Ped about her behavior and take it from there...
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#7 of 11 Old 11-24-2012, 07:21 AM
 
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My almost 4yo DS has a bunch of friends who are 3-5 years old and they do all still tantrum occasionally (and sometimes daily, especially if they aren't feeling well, or having a mental or physical growth spurt or something).

I wonder if what you're describing is a typical tantrum or not.

I ask because my DS does something that is NOT a tantrum, and not "normal" (i.e. he is in therapy & getting an neuro evaluation soon), but that sometimes looks similar to a tantrum. I call them "outbursts" for lack of a better descriptor. He is not necessarily angry, and there is nothing apparent that provokes it; it appears to be some kind of sensory issue. Heavy work is the one thing that sometimes stops it, but it's not 100% and he's not always willing to even try it, and sometimes it has the opposite effect. Anyway, when he has these outbursts, he becomes violent & destructive & totally out of control. You can't just leave him in a safe place 'til he calms down -- he knocks down large furniture, breaks things, climbs to 6' high heights (a stark contrast to how cautious he normally is), lashes out at me -- hitting, biting, etc. When he is not having an outburst, he is generally cooperative, gentle, cautious, etc. He does sometimes have regular tantrums too, the whole kicking-screaming-embarrassing-you-at-the-grocery-store kind of tantrums, but they don't happen all that frequently, and he doesn't become so out of control, and it's nothing like these other outbursts. Things that traditionally work for tantrums do not work for the outbursts.

Hopefully that's not what's going on with your DD, but since you seemed concerned I just thought I would mention it, I'm happy to elaborate further & share what's helped & what hasn't if this hits home at all...

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#8 of 11 Old 11-24-2012, 07:30 AM
 
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My older child still had tantrums at 4. Frequent ones. They're still learning that everything isn't always going to go the way they want at that age, and it's not a fun lesson and a lot of kids rage against it. It's normal and most kids do eventuallly learn that they don't always get what they want, and that the world is still a great place even though you don't always get what you want. I don't personally think tantrums are anything to do anything about, but more something to endure and something to support them through as they're learning that lesson.
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#9 of 11 Old 11-24-2012, 03:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drumcircledad View Post

Thanks you guys! I want you to know these posts are really helpful! Can't help but wonder though if we aren't indeed in the minority because there are so few responses? Not to hijack OPs thread but my DP is pressing for us to take DC to a child psychologist and his mom (who is an elementary school principal) is agreeing with him that her tantrums at this age are problematic.
I guess we'll at least start by asking our Ped about her behavior and take it from there...

 

I would take her straight to the a good child psych. IMO all the in between steps are useless. An experienced child psych is going to take a good evaluation of your kid, find that while slightly unusual they are still w in typical variables and send you on your way.

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#10 of 11 Old 11-24-2012, 11:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you again everyone, these all are so helpful! Particularly appreciate the point about them still figuring out at this age that they're not always going to get their way and railing against that. That makes a lot of sense and fits what usually seems to be happening when tantrums happen. But we may still take her to the child psych too - I know our own adult anxiety may be making this worse and an expert "calm down, she's basically fine" might really help.

Thanks all!
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#11 of 11 Old 01-07-2013, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello everyone, just want to update that, 1 1/2 months later, everything has turned around for the better! It took listening to you guys and also doing additional research on the net to keep trying things. If I were to try to boil down what worked best to really turn it around, I'd say a combo of much less talk and more immediate consequences, refusing to engage her while she's crying/screaming, always reviewing what happened and what the consequence is when she calms down, and as soon as she goes from screaming/flailing to crying and whimpering picking her up and just holding her and rocking her.

Today is 1/7/13; her last all out tantrum was 12/21/12! Tonight when I came home DH had her in the bath. They were telling me about their afternoon and DH said "She was very good today. She did cry a little-" and DD interrupted and said "I did cry a little..." then she broke into a big smile and said proudly "...but I turned it around!" This is a girl who was going averaging a major meltdown/day, sometimes 2. We've been poring on the praise, and it's amazing to watch her work so much harder to not flip out at little things. The most upset she's gotten is when I had to leave over holidays to work for a couple of days, and of course I didn't get upset about that crying (it wasn't a tantrum at all).

So again, thanks!!! And for those dealing with tantruming 3, 4 or 5 yr olds, it really can get better, you have to keep trying to find the consequences and communication that works.
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