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temper tantrums in a five year old

(10 Posts)
giddly Mon 13-Jun-11 12:00:03

Was wondering whether anyone has any advice. My DD1 has always had the odd temper tantrum when tired, but this seems to be getting worse, and is always when there are consequences or punishment for bad behaviour. I think the consequences are usually in proportion - an example would be if she refuses to clear up her toys, I'll say I will turn off the television until she does, or she can't have pudding unless she sits back at the table. I'll always try asking her nicely, joking , making into a game etc. first and usually that works, but if not I'll give her 3 warnings of what the consequences will be and then I'll carry it through. I try not to be too controlling about it - for instance with the television example I'll say she can do it after her favourite programme - but this rarely works. The problem is she digs her heels in and then has an almighty temper tantrum when the consequence happens. I tend to ignore this, but she'll up the ante and start hitting, at which point I take her to her room and things continue to escalate and she gets very distressed. When she calms down we have a cuddle and all is well again, but she has started doing this most days.
Otherwise all seems well - she is happy at school and doing well. She's very sociable and has plenty of friends. Eats and sleeps well. She is sometimes quite tired but she goes to bed at 7-7.30 so I don't see what I can do to really make this better. I've tried talking to her as to whether anything is upsetting her, and didn't get anywhere. She doesn't behave like this outside the home.

The reward type approach doesn't really work for her any more. Any other ideas? I find it particularly difficult to deal with when she starts hitting and lashing out. It all feels horrible.

giddly Mon 13-Jun-11 13:10:31


GooGooGadget Mon 13-Jun-11 13:16:00

My DS has started this, he's 4. He has started to hit once you tell him off a bit. He gets into a kind of spiral. I have to pull him out before he gets too far in. I stop and ask him to think about what is the right thing to do.

We have a chart, with a 'treat' at 11am and 3pm if he's good. If his behaviour is good over the day he gets a star. He knows that if he hits he will not get a treat, or a star and the end of the day. stars equate to a small toy at the end of the week.

He has been better. I have to catch him before he kicks off properly. In our case he does behaviour that has the sole intention of winding us up. The chart means that he thinks a bit more about whether it's worth the entertainment value of making mummy furious.

giddly Mon 13-Jun-11 13:20:20

Thnaks for this goo goo. Charts used to work for us, but she's recently lost interest. Sometimes reminding her or what has happened before will work, but often she just flares up so quickly she's beyond reason. I don't think she's really trying to wind us up - she gets very upset. I hate the fact it's turning into a bit of a power struggle.

GooGooGadget Mon 13-Jun-11 13:24:29

all you can do is hold your nerve smile

giddly Mon 13-Jun-11 13:32:32

Thanks! It's hard, isn't it?

violaswamp Mon 13-Jun-11 13:33:23

Just pick your battles and with the things which are important to you, stand your ground and ignore the screaming, even in public. She is pushing to see if you will crack, and personally I believe that children feel more secure if they see that the wall will not fall over no matter how hard they push against it. If you're going to say yes, say it right away and not because of whining or pleading. Rewards don't work for one of my dcs either, we don't really use them at all. I just find that they want bigger and bigger rewards. I find that if I can stay calm when they are kicking off, it doesn't give them the "reward" of seeing me lose it. Good luck, don't feel bad about standing firm.

culturemulcher Mon 13-Jun-11 13:34:39

It sounds as though you're having a tough time and that you've done all the things I'd usually try.

A few months ago I read 'How to talk so kids will listen and how to listen so that kids will talk' book. One of the things the book suggested for single-issue behaviour problems was to choose a time when neither of you were too busy, tired, emotional and grab a pen and paper.

The suggestion is to tell your DC why you're concerned (without labouring the point or making them feel guilty) and that you want, together, to come up with a solution. The idea is that you both come up with suggestions and write them down together (no matter how silly/inappropriate on DC's part).#

E.g. when she starts to tantrum dc will be sent to run round the garden 3 times / sent to her room for 15 mins / given a big hug / given a huge bowl of ice-cream.

When you've got a list together, you both go through the list vetoing the ones that you each think won't work and explaining the reasons behind the veto. You've got to end up, together, with at least one suggestion that you can both try.

The idea is that the DC already knows that you don't like whatever the problem behavior is, but by coming up with ideas on how to tackle it together, they feel they've got a stake in making it work.

Haven't yet tried this method myself, but I thought it might be worth a shot!

giddly Mon 13-Jun-11 13:42:56

Thanks Viola. And an interesting idea culturemulcher - it might make her feel a bit more in control. Will have a chat to see if she has any ideas.

Tgger Mon 13-Jun-11 19:22:20

Reading with interest, as my 4.5 year old DS seems to be having daily explosions at the moment. They are short lived but I really would like them not to happen!

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