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dealing with 3.25 yo tantrums

397 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Magella
We are finding the 3s are much more difficult than the 2s with our dd, which I know isn't too uncommon, so I was just wondering how other mom's deal with older child tantrums.

Her tantrums tend to revolve around having to do things, she is a homebody and would prefer to stay home all day and pretend play, but we have to do things (buy food, walk the dog) and I enjoy doing other things with her (go to the library, park). I try to only leave the house once a day and that has seems to help.

We don't do time-out. We have tried and she gets too worked up. I would have to physically restrain her or put her in a room and keep the door closed. This scares her and makes her more upset and it doesn't feel right to me.

Typically I try to get her to calm down and use her words, as well as offer to hold and rock her (rarely does she just calm down on her own, she usually asks me to help her calm down which I do by holding her and rocking). If she is unwilling to do those things I'll tell her she is hurting my ears and I need to be in another room. She will usually stay where she was and cry for a while. Every minute or so I will come back in the room and offer to try and calm her and encourage her to use her words. Eventually she will calm down.

She has never been an easy kid, but still pretty normal.

Most of my friends in town don't seem to have tantrum issues with their kids, so if any one has any suggestions or similar stories I would appreciate it! I saw a book called First Aid for Tantrums, anyone heard of it?
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I don't think I have any advice...ds was exactly like this as well and I think what you are doing is exactly what you should be doing. I try to think of it as it isn't my job to *stop* the tantrum but to help ds work through it and learn a better way. And at 5 yo now it has been getting better for a while. It was very tough for a couple of years t here! Hang in there and I think you're doing an awesome job.

I have read lots and lots of ideas of things to try in books like The Highly Sensitive Child and others and, of course, find the best course was prevention. But as to what to do once you see your child has passed that point of no return...nothing worked with ds (well nothing I tried anyway). At 3 she is still very young but I also try to talk to ds when he is calm about better ways to handle things and what he actually might be upset about. But I still wonder how much really gets through at 5 yo. I think the key is just to keep trying.
If transitions are difficult for her, planning ways of making transitions easier for her might help. Involve her in this process: you can say something like "Sometimes when we have to go to the store, you don't want to go. Sometimes we have to go, so we have food to eat. Let's try to think of ways to make going out easier for you..." 3 year olds can come up with some good ideas! But even if she can't, keep going back to the drawing board. Some things that help my 3.5 year old are: warnings that we're going to leave in [x] minutes; making a plan for the day in the morning ("today we need to go to the store, so I think we'll play first, then have snack, then go to the store. After the store we'll [insert fun thing here]. What do you think?" I ask for input when possible, b/c sometimes the kids would prefer to go to the store first then play-and if it's possible to accomodate their preference it makes for an easier trip to do so); planning trips around "good" times of day-it's often easier to get my 3 year old out the door right after breakfast or by mid-morning at latest (in the afternoon, she's more likely to really resist and tantrum); plan for something fun to follow something she doesn't like so there's something to look forward to (for us we might plan our trip to the park for after the store, or I might remind dd we can read stories/other when we get back, or we might get a treat while we're out some days, etc.). Prevention really is the key.

Once they're past the point of no return and having a tantrum, it's really okay just to listen to their tantrum. It's just the expression of intense feelings, when the feelings are too intense for them to express another way. It's not necessary to try to stop it, and IME trying to stop it is really an exercise in futility. Once they're calm, you can talk about the situation and model other ways of communicating feelings ("were you really mad? You didn't like that I said we had to leave?"). Try this article from Mothering Magazine: Cry For Connection: A Fresh Approach to Tantrums
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