Mothering Forum banner
1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,133 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My ds will be three next month, and we are reaching a new level with tantrums. Over the past few weeks, his tantrums have been excalating a lot. It's no longer enough to just lay on the floor and kick and scream; now he searches out the nearest person or object on which to vent his fury. That means if I"m nearby, even if it was dh who "made" him angry, I"ll get hit, kicked, etc. He has even resorted to trying to bite (he hasn't succeeded yet--and he KNOWS that biting is not acceptable).

This morning I got up and went outside to get the newspaper. Ds was really upset because he likes to go get the newspaper. Of course, in retrospect, the whole incident could have been avoided if I'd had the presence of mind to wait for him and let him get the paper. But, I didn't. Ds came unglued. He wanted me to throw the newspaper back outside so he could go get it. I was really torn about whether or not I should do this. In the end, I decided not to. I do think it's important for kids to learn that sometimes they don't always get their way--sometimes there will be disappointments in life. I'm still not sure if I handled that right, though.

Anyway, he threw a huge fit. I tried to stay near and validate his emotions, and talk him through it. When he started going for me physically, I went into the other room, (after reminding him that he needed to use his words to tell me he was angry and not hit or try to hurt me). He came into the room with me. We had newspapers on the floor from the day before--he started throwing them all over the room. He took one newspaper and started ripping it up. He found some empty toy buckets on the floor and started throwing them across the room. Then he came over to where I was and started to try to hit and kick me. At that point I took him up to his room. I don't like to separate him when he's having a tantrum, but I also feel that he cannot stick around and hurt people or destroy things. I reminded him that it was okay to be angry and upset, but not to hurt mommy. I told him that when he was ready to calm down, he could come down. He came down a few minutes later like nothing had happened. I gave him a big hug, he sat on my lap for awhile, and all was well.

Today's tantrum was really over the top, but there has been a trend lately for him to get really angry and just lash out physically at us. It's like he's feeling so angry and hurt that he wants to hurt the nearest person as much as he can. I think that we do pretty well with letting him express emotions. We talk a lot about emotions. We talk ALOT about how we use our words to say what we want, to say if we're angry, etc.. But it doesn't seem to be sinking in much. Dh and I are pretty calm people--he definitely isn't seeing this kind of behavior modeled by us. There hasn't been any major upheaval in our lives lately--this is just his response to routine disappointments and not getting his way.

So, is this normal? Is this just a passing phase? What on earth do we do about this? The only "consequence" we've put into place is for the hitting or otherwise hurting--we have had him sit on a chair for a few minutes. ("You hit, you sit".) It still feels like time-out to me, but I honestly don't know what else to do. I try to stay with him during the tantrums, speak lovingly to him, help him identify his feelings, etc. But I just end up getting clobbered or kicked.

He is otherwise a very happy, sweet, cuddly boy. (Though also very active and verbal.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,246 Posts
I would have thrown the newspaper back. Kids learn about disappointments without any trouble - they don't need help. And their parents should be one place free from unnecessary disspointments IMO.

My dd has had violent tantrums, though she's pretty much outgrown them. But when she was in full tantrum mode, I was afraid she was having seizures they were so bad. She would bite me and even try to gouge my eyes out. I don't punish, so I have never given her a time out, and I particularly wouldn't for a tantrum. A tantrum is a point where the child is out of control - that's the whole point. The child is unable to control his/her emotions. Punishing in an attempt to make the child get control won't work unless the child is purposely out of control. I don't think that's what a tantrum is. I think a tantrum is a case where a child is overwhelmed by emotion and feels insecure.

I used to hold my daughter on my lap so she couldn't hurt me, and I'd remind her that I love her and that I was there, and I'd empathize and talk about how she sounded like she was feeling.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
512 Posts
Many things influence tantrums and their explosiveness. A child's ability to handle frustration is a major influence in tantrums. Personality and age both effect their ability to handle frustration. They need to know it is ok to be frutrated. They need good models for handling that frustration. Emotions can be overwhelming for children. They need to know what they are feeling is real and ok.

Food can effect tantrums. Check into Doris Rapp's Is this Your Child?

Also, TV can cause violent behavior. Even if the shows they are watching are "innocent", TV inhibits a child's imagination and creative thinking. It also is a sedentary activity that keeps them from burning off extra energy that may come to the front during a tantrum.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,051 Posts
My ds (3.5) seems slowly to be outgrowing those horribly violent tantrums. There was a period over the winter when I was at a loss.

The only thing I could do was to hold him down - either squeeze him on my lap with his arms pinned down or even lie on top of him on the floor or bed - and tell him over and over that I loved him and that I'm not going to let him hurt me or himslef because I love him.

Yeah, just ignoring the tantrum doesn't work because he either doesn't stay where I leave him or he will destroy something or hurt himself.

I sure felt awful holding him down and I don't know if that was the best thing to do, but it really was the only thing I could do.

Best of luck and remember, this too shall pass...

Take good care,
lilgreen
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,133 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by mamazee
I used to hold my daughter on my lap so she couldn't hurt me, and I'd remind her that I love her and that I was there, and I'd empathize and talk about how she sounded like she was feeling.
It sounds like this is what a lot of you do, but I am finding that my son really hates this even more. He seems to want his space when he's feeling so angry. It seems like my presence, especially at that close a range, escalates his fury even more.

Even so, I still try to hold him and talk to him empathetically whenever he's having a tantrum. I still try to do it, and it seems like I always end up resorting to just giving him his space--the reason it ends up being in his room is not because I think his emotions are "unacceptable", but just because it seems to be the safest place for him and us. I am not viewing it as a punishment, but just as an opportunity to cool down. I don't know that he views it as a punishment--my sense is that he's too mad to view it as anything. I would still like to find a better way though.

I would like to find some better ways to help him get his rage out. Obviously talking about it and "using words" aren't working for him--he's just too mad in those moments. Maybe I should get him a punching bag or something else safe that he could hit? I really do want him to understand that hurting other people isn't the way we deal with being angry, but I do understand that at age 3, he doesn't have that impulse control when he's angry. It's such a quandary! I feel like there needs to be a consequence for hurting others, but what kind of a logical consequence is there for hitting other than being separated so you can't continue to hit?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,246 Posts
The reason I thought you were talking about punishing is because you said that you "took him to his room" which is different than just moving away from him to keep from being hurt. I think moving *yourself* away from him would not be a punishment, it would be perhaps a necessary action to get yourself out of the rage zone. But physically picking him up and moving him when he's in that state is at best a power struggle out of control, YKWIM? I'm picturing picking up a child who is trying to physically hurt me and it sounds like it would be scary for both of us, and would probably escalate the tantrum.

I don't personally think there needs to be a consequence for hitting others in the case of a tantrum, because kids seem to grow out of that kind of hitting without anything else. If the consequence won't make the problem go away sooner, what's the reason for doing it?

I hope you don't take what I'm saying the wrong way - I'm not saying I think you're wrong, I'm just trying to help you brainstorm by saying what I would try to do differently. Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,133 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by mamazee
The reason I thought you were talking about punishing is because you said that you "took him to his room" which is different than just moving away from him to keep from being hurt.
I did take him to his room, but it was because the room we were in was not a safe place. He had been throwing toys, newspapers, and other objects, which were all over the floor in that room (I'm embarrassed to admit it was such a mess
). In his room, he could safely tantrum on his soft bed, and there was nothing in his room he could use to hurt himself or me .

Don't worry, I'm not offended!
I appreciate all the suggestions. I also appreciate everyone listening to me as I try to work through what I think and how I feel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,633 Posts
personally i think extreme tantrums like ur sons migth be diet related. some children do have a hard time dealing with their emotions. i wish i could help u with the diet thing but i have never needed to look into the situation more than usual so i hope someone will help u out there.

sometimes they have it so rough that just another incident could trigger it off. so the newspaper issue wouldnt be the main problem. but the last straw on the camels back.

i think u can work on avoiding the anger with some more physical activity adn something that works with my dd - providing age apporpriate challenging chores round the house. sometimes other people question if i should trust my dd with doing some specific thing. but i say let her try. and she is so happy to achieve success.

but i do notice i have to keep her well fed, and not let her get too tired and give her lots of rough activity to keep those tantrums at bay.

dont know how much of help i have been.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,959 Posts
I do agree that it would have been best to throw the newspaper back out. I know it feels like "giving in" but I really believe exactly as mamazee said that kids have enough opportunities to experience frustration that aren't "artificially imposed" by their parents. This isn't meant to be a criticism, lord knows I've BTDT and hindsight is always so much clearer...just a suggestion for next time. You have to give yourself permission to just "let it go" and not listen to those voices in your head that say "no! I can't let this screaming tyrant have his way!".


As for the tantrums, they sound scary! I'm betting he's a bit scared, too. I would have suggested the holding thing, though I have no personal experience with it. It just seems more loving than putting him in his room (but I totally understand why you have to do that, too). I just don't know....maybe you could set up an "angry area" with nerf balls and things he *can* knock over to get it all out?
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top