Screaming uncontrollable tantrums

(13 Posts)
savoirfaire Tue 25-Jun-13 20:35:51

DS is 3.10. I thought we were well past the terrible twos (hitting them with DD right now - oh joy) but last couple of weeks the tantrums have returned with a vengeance and I am struggling to cope. This evening, I got his sister ready for bed before him. Queue massive seriously uncontrollable tantrum. Screaming, hitting, 'go away I hate you' type language, tearing things down off shelves and throwing stuff around the room etc etc. There's been something similar every day recently. Tiredness was definitely the trigger - I was trying to get him (and his sister) into bed quickly, as he was obviously really tired. He hasn't napped in a year and is at pre-school anyway so napping is very tricky unless he's really keen to do so. It took 45 minutes for him to calm down to a point where I could get him into his PJs and eventually - another 15 minutes of sobbing later - into bed. I have tried (tonight and other nights), offering compassion and cuddles ('I understand that you're sad that I have done XXX, let's have a cuddle and do Y' - I get told to go away, go away, leave the house!), ignoring and walking into another room (I get screamed at to come back, come back), time out (simply won't stay and screams blue murder), distractions (never had much success with this, particularly since he's been 3), shouting (sorry - I know I shouldn't), talking in a very calm nursery-teacher voice (he just tells me to be quiet and listen to him! which I do but he just wants to continue to reiterate the original complaint). Essentially this evening he wanted me to undress my daughter, get him changed and then put her back in her PJs. I'm not prepared to do that sort of thing - it's not fair on her. There are some other occasions when I would give in to ridiculous demands but not that sort of thing

20 month old DD was also knackered and had to sit and watch all of this which can't be much good for her (she will be learning from an expert!!).

I know it's a phase, it will pass and all that good stuff. But today he really did have 'the rage' and it scared me - I wonder if there is an underlying issue that I may need to get help with. I found myself getting incredibly frustrated, cross and sad - which leads to me shouting which I know isn't helpful.

He goes to school in September and I'm worried about him causing problems there too. He has been known to have this sort of tantrum at pre-school but much more rarely than at home.

any advice?

savoirfaire Tue 25-Jun-13 20:38:51

Reading that back, it sounds like I often give in to him - and if that were true I could understand him continuing to behave like this. I just meant in a 'pick your battles' type of way. Generally when I have said 'we are doing XX' then I'm pretty firm (DH thinks too much so at times). But sometimes I do think 'sod it - it doesn't matter if he walks home without socks on' (of whatever) because I can't be faffed with the argument. If that makes sense.

Similar age to my ds. Do not underestimate how tiredness affects him! My ds is like a demon when knackered. I make bedtime very very short - not even a bath (I also have an 18 month old dd).
When he flips I give him a cuddle or stay near him until he calms down. Don't bother with time out if I know he's tired.
Did he start pre-school in September last year? It could be that he's coming to the end of the year now and it's all catching up on him.
We've been working on helping ds with his feelings so he can articulate things.
Oh and at around 4 there's a testosterone surge which could be where the rage comes from. Our preschool suggested teaching ds what to do with his anger eg using a cushion to hit which works. So if he's cross, I tell him to hit the pillow.
I've also noticed that sugar messes with him too - so if he's had any chocolate or biscuits etc he starts to flip out a bit. Same with the tv. If he's watched too much, he goes loopy!

savoirfaire Tue 25-Jun-13 21:58:09

Thanks Creature. He'd not had any sugar this evening, or TV - that's quite normal for us. He's been a pre-school since xmas and is definitely more tired at the moment. I definitely need to try and get him into bed earlier I think. He's not getting anything near to 12 hours at the moment (10.5-11) which I guess could be making it worse.

Am interested to know more about what you're doing on articulating his feelings. Could you say more about that? Thanks.

When he's angry, I will say to him "I know you're angry" or if he's annoyed because he cant have something I'll say "you're annoyed because of x", that sort of thing. Then we can talk about what is wrong - he'll tell me he's cross or angry. I then give him a way of dealing with it. Eg if you're cross, then instead if screaming, tell me you're cross and ask nicely.
I also try and give him advance warnings if I know he'll be angry eg when he has to stop doing something. It usually helps, but not always!

savoirfaire Tue 25-Jun-13 22:52:11

Thanks. I really have tried all of this. Including the expressing his feelings to help him do so. It just doesn't seem to have any effect. Perhaps I'm doing so too late.

ellesabe Tue 25-Jun-13 22:58:56

How about giving two choices so he feels like he has some control?
"Would you like to put your pjs on or would you like mummy to put them on for you?"

savoirfaire Tue 25-Jun-13 23:19:04

Thanks Ellesabe, yes I do do that, but by the point tantrum kicked in DD was already in her PJs and there was no going back! We then tried choices on books: this book or that book; you choose, DD chooses or I choose; you read it, I read it or DD reads it (she's 20 mo so that wasn't perhaps a very likely option!); these PJs or those PJs.... etc etc. Once he is wound up there just doesn't seem to be any way of winding down except time - waiting for him to calm down and it can take an hour. Is this normal?

WandaDoff Tue 25-Jun-13 23:31:31

From what I remember of my boys & their friends, they all went through a shouty aggressive stage round about four.

I can remember having group conversations with other mothers at playgroup at pick up time, about how they tell you about the terrible two's but not the fucking awful four's.

As CreatureRetorts mentioned above, it will most likely be the testosterone surge boys have around this age. I suggest wine & as much patience as you can gather or valium

As the Mumsnet saying goes, 'This too shall pass' & it will, until the big testosterone surge at puberty where he turns into a big hairy teenager who only speaks in grunts & facebook, like my two. Innit. wink

The thing is, he was tired. So no point in trying to parent as you would when he's not. So if ds gets like this at bedtime, I'll just tell him he's tired, speak very neutrally, give him a cuddle and get him into bed.

The labelling feelings thing happens at other times when he's more receptive. But when he's tired, there's no point! I don't let him get away with murder, I just get him to bed grin

MigGril Wed 26-Jun-13 06:43:56

Me and my friends all found the 3's worse then the terrible 2''s. So I think it's quit normal. Tiredness is a trigger defiantly, when tired I wouldn't try and discipline just coddles and get him into need as soon a possible.

It'll probably happen when he starts school to we had some right meltdowns at bedtime in the first term. Try putting him to bed a bit earlier.

savoirfaire Wed 26-Jun-13 19:36:34

Thanks. Going to try moving bedtime forward by half an hour as a rule and see how we go. Most helpful thank you.

I was just about to post a similar thread. My DS is same age and is so bloody WHINGY then tantrummy and unreasonable. I got soooo cross with him earlier. He then walked in the house and fell asleep on the sofa shock he was obviously knackered. I felt awful.

No advice really. Just watching with interest. He only goes to a cm 2 days per week. I'm thinking of preschool so he can hang out with some peers...

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