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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.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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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?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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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.
 
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