Advanced search

Hugs during tantrums?

(28 Posts)
slowlycatchymonkey Fri 25-Jan-13 22:17:15

My dd is 5 and is generally completely lovely. Like all kids though she has her moments and tiredness is usually the thing that will tip her over into tantrum mode. She used to have pretty awful tantrums during the usual 2-4 age group, but is loads better these days. The thing that gets me though, is that when I'm cross with her and she knows it ( ie, she is on the step) she will be shouting for a hug, begging and pleading that she just wants a cuddle. It breaks my heart and makes me feel awful for punishing her, but I don't give in until the behaviour has been dealt with. She had a paddy tonight and so I put her on the step and then eventually to bed, because she refused to go to the step so had to be 'manhandled' there and then proceeded to shout and roar at me from the step. When we finally got to talking about why I was initially cross with her, she couldnt remember (genuinely) and just kept asking to be cuddled.

What do I do here? She never seems to remember why she has been told off or sent to the step/bedroom, which makes me feel terrible that she is so upset - and yet doesn't know why and doesn't understand why I won't cuddle her until we talk about her behaviour:/

Does anyone else's kids do this? Is she trying to distract me from the matter in hand or at 5yo does she really not get it?

TreadOnTheCracks Fri 25-Jan-13 22:36:43

My DS is 6. After a time apart (similar to your naughty step) I will ask him to apologise and state what he is sorry for . So he might say "I'm sorry for throwing my breakfast on the floor Mummy."
I reply "I am glad you have apologised DS, that shows me you know throw your breakfast on the floor was the wring thing to do".

After that I would offer a hug as a way to make up.

My initial thought is that she can remember what she did wrong, she just doesn't want to. She knows shouting for hugs pushes your buttons?

Of course he is still a total PITA, I'm hoping it's just his age. Wish I had a magic answer for you. Watching this thread with interest.

Goldmandra Fri 25-Jan-13 22:38:50

Have you tried just getting her to sit down where she is to calm down rather than having to move her to another place?

What are you trying to achieve with the time out? Is it a sanction or a calming down tool?

Could you skip the step and move straight to talking about it?

Could she calm down a different way?

slowlycatchymonkey Fri 25-Jan-13 23:15:15

I guess the step is the time out- yeah. Sometimes when she has descended into screeching mode I have to have her away from me because I can't seem to zone out like other parents and so a time our really helps me as well as her. ( thinking about it the time out drives her bananas, so maybe it's more for me?!)
Sometimes it's about letting her think. Yesterday for example she told a lie and so she went for a time out to think about it and it was fine, no shouting or tears, and after 5 min she said she was ready to talk. When she is in full on paddy-mode though, she just screams and shouts at me that she wants a hug/ why can't I just hug her?/why do I not want to hug her? etc. She literally will NOT discuss the reason for the punishment and just repeats herself over and over ( I need a hug). If I do manage to get her to think about her behaviour, its for a split second and she just keeps throwing herself at me to be cuddled- therefore no real lesson is learned.

SamSmalaidh Fri 25-Jan-13 23:17:50

Instead of making her go away from you, why not give her a cuddle? Sounds like the withdrawal of affection is the punishment - is the lesson learned that if she is naughty you won't cuddle her?

steppemum Fri 25-Jan-13 23:32:40

I wonder if using the naughty step when she is having a paddy isn't working here. A couple of thoughts occur to me.
I would use naughty step for a specific offence only. eg your example of a lie. Remind her when she goes why she is there and remind her when you go back why she is there. Then get her to repeat what she did.

If mine are throwing a paddy I don't tend to use the step. What I will do if I need them to calm down, is to say 'you are very angry and need to calm down, so i am going to put you on the stairs/in your room/on the sofa until you have calmed down. Put her there and walk away. If necessary walk away and close the door.

Once she has calmed down then give her the hug and cuddle. THEN talk about it. I think she can then begin to learn that when she is really angry/upset that she need time to clam down and then you and she can start again.

For example my 5 yo went through a phase of throwing a paddy as we left for school. I tried step, getting cross, counting to 5 etc etc, nothing worked and mornings were getting awful. Then I changed tactic. She started melting down over nothing (eg I want to wear my trainers not school shoes) and instead of doing the normal things, I knelt down and hugged her and held her. Then I spoke very quietly 'I know you want to wear your other shoes, but you can't today because you have to go to school, lets put them on together' suddenly she was calm and co-operative.


Goldmandra Fri 25-Jan-13 23:37:22

When she's in 'full-on paddy mode' she may well not be capable of thinking or listening. At that point the aim of whatever you do should be to help her to calm down. Punishments are pointless.

Time out at those time doesn't need to be in a punishment place. It needs to be in a calm place. She needs to find a way to calm herself or be allowed to run out of steam. Then she can have a hug while you acknowledge that she has been upset and angry. When she is truly calm an over it (up to 40 mins later) you can have a conversation about what happened, why she let rip and what would have been a better way to deal with it.

You don't need the hugs to wait until after the apology and explanations.


steppemum Fri 25-Jan-13 23:41:06

agree with gold, they are beyond reason when having a paddy, and they can find the extreme emotion distressing to themselves too. It is fine to reassure and hug. It doen't mean you won't follow up.

Zappo Fri 25-Jan-13 23:43:52

I would love it if my DD wanted a cuddle mid tantrum. She is more likely to kick/push me away.

I don't use time-out and my mistake is trying to reason with her/talk her out of a full on tantrum- it never works.

Yesterday I just waited for her to say what she wanted to say, tried not to let her words bother me and at the end asked her for a cuddle.

I don't think time out works for your DD. If you are crossed with her, maybe try walking away yourself saying mummy is feeling a bit sad/cross right now and needs a cup of tea. Then when you have collected yourself sit down and tell her why you are feeling upset. You can never hug your daughter too much.

I have a DD who doesn't like hugs (i wish she did)

slowlycatchymonkey Sat 26-Jan-13 00:06:59

Thanks for the suggestions- all helpful. Just want you to know I do give my dd lots of hugs, I'm not deliberately withholding affections by way of punishment ( and I am now worried that it seems like that to my dd). It's just that she screams for me to come to the step because she 'wants to say something', so I'll go out and when I get there she will say 'can I have a hug?' but she will still be hysterical. what I'll do is ask her if she can calm down, tell me why she was sent to the step etc and then we can have a hug and forget about it. She won't do that though- she just repeats over and over ( trance like) that she wants a hug. If I give her the hug and then try to revisit the issue at hand when she is calmer- she says she doesn't want to talk about it and 'let's forget about it mummy'.
I don't want my dd to think I'm withholding affection, (that's emotional abuse isn't it- oh god:/ ) - I'm just trying to make her see that it isn't a way of avoiding dealing with bad behaviour.

Zappo Sat 26-Jan-13 00:15:12

Not saying you don't give your DD lots of hugs but timeout doesn't seem to be working. When they tantrum they are in a sort of mind altered state (beyond all reason!)

Does the timeout cause the tantrum or are you sending her there because she tantrums.

steppemum Sat 26-Jan-13 00:20:10

I have used time-out with all of mine, but to be honest it worked much better for some than others. I think I would say can you find another way as time-out is not working the way it should. There should be a time to calm down, think and then talk in there somewhere, whereas you dd sounds as if the process is causing more winding up.

BUT I do remember having a similar conversation with a friend whos ds did this too, and when we talked further it became clear that he did anything to get her to come back, and basically negate the time-out. He was aware that she wouldn't stick to it if he made enough fuss and it became a battle of wills.

She tried a timer with him. She explained ahead of time, that when it was time-out he had 4 minutes to calm down, and for mummy to calm down, and that she was not going to come until the 4 minutes was up, no negotiations, no drinks, no talking nothing until the 4 minutes was up and the timer rang. He was really good at pushing her buttons and she was getting really upset and angry and SHE needed that 4 minutes as much as him.

The timer worked a dream, it took one or two goes to reinforce it, and she was careful to say, mummy will come as soon as it rings. He stopped the crying and shouting to get her back to the step, it all calmed down and the issue had really been that she wasn't consistent and he used that. He was much happier when she was consistent.

So, not sure which one is for you and your dd!

slowlycatchymonkey Sat 26-Jan-13 00:21:03

Time out for general bad behaviour, including tantruming, admittedly though they escalate the tantrum because she just roars and roars from the step.

Jeez, I thought she would have grown out of this by now! grin

Letmeintroducemyself Sat 26-Jan-13 00:23:36

I dont use naughty step and nothing works mid tantrusm, I tend to go for cuddles myself.

slowlycatchymonkey Sat 26-Jan-13 00:27:10

Step- when she was about 3,5 I used a timer, but at the time we lived in a tiny house where the step was practically in the middle of the living room and it was ineffective because she could see everything that was going on. It might work better now as well that she is older. She definitely tries every which way to get me back to the step- it's just the 'hugs' one bothers me the most because if you heard her there screaming (literally screeching) away on the step for a hug, it's torture :-/

slowlycatchymonkey Sat 26-Jan-13 00:31:27

Oh the other thing is as well, is that my dd has the will of an iron rod. She won't ever 'calm down' whilst in time out. She will just scream and scream, so if I give her 5 minutes on there, she gets off it in the state that she went in and I always warn her that she needs to have stopped it before she comes off, but she doesn't. Tonight for example, when she came off it, and went back to her film, she continues to screech on the sofa drowning out the film she was so desperate to see!

steppemum Sat 26-Jan-13 00:40:30

From what you are saying, it sounds as if this isn't the punishment that is working for her.

But to go back to one of my other posts, I wouldn't put tantrumming in the generla bad behaviour group. If they have massive tantrums, then they are out of control in the tantrum, and CAN'T calm down and being told to doesn't work and 5 minutes isn't going to cut it anyway. it takes ds a good 30-60 minutes ot calm down from a major wobbly.

So I would be tempted to ditch the step for tantrums, but maybe change it to a calm down zone (cushion in a corner) keep the step for other things and the deal is that when she has stopped screaming she can come out and get her hugs and cuddles. Have you tried hugs and cuddles first?? That could work too, obviously depending on what has caused the tantrum

ds is 10 - still has tantrums, dd1 never does, never has done, dd2 is 5 and has some. Think it is personality that breeds the tantrum!

Goldmandra Sat 26-Jan-13 09:01:56

I think you're seeing the punishment and the calming down as both happening at the same time.
Calming down needs to be your first goal. You can help her do that or you can teach her that she needs to learn to do it herself.

If you need her to learn to be away from you and self-soothe use the timer idea so she knows that no amount of screaming for hugs will make a difference.

If you can help her learn strategies to calm down that will probably work better. Concentrate on that and not the action you are punishing.

Once she is calm don't give her a choice about discussing it. If you need to introduce a sanction that is the time to do it. I wouldn't make that sanction time out because that is close to a calming down strategy. Make it something different, perhaps a job which helps make amends.

Praise her when she starts to learn to calm herself. You can reward that while still addressing the original unwanted behaviour. We have a jar of beads and DD2 adds one every time she controls her temper and uses good strategies to calm herself down.

Remember to keep the two things separate. Sanctions for unacceptable behaviour and strategies for calming down. Try to keep it clear in your own head and in your communications with your DD?

Also remember that children cannot process language properly when they are in a rage. Use simple clear language. One word at a time.

Chandon Sat 26-Jan-13 09:10:29

I always did lots of hugs AFTER the tantrum, as we both really needed it.

never used the naughty step, but would send DS to his room to calm down (not really as punishment, more to give time and space to calm down). then talk once he was calm.

You cannot communicate anything to a person in a tantrum. I would leave her alone until she is calm.

Tantrums do go away, eventually, which is great (looks at 10 yr old and cannot believe the trouble we used to have! not had a tantrum for years and years)

slowlycatchymonkey Sat 26-Jan-13 09:11:18

Thanks for these ideas, they are really helpful! I think you're right that I've been mixing the two things up. What do I do when the sanction causes a meltdown though? So if for example she has had something taken away for behaviour (like tv time etc) and she has a tantrum because of that, how do I separate them?

Chandon Sat 26-Jan-13 09:14:37

you just reiterate the punishment once she is calm and you have talked about the behaviour.

I found the best punishments were small but immediate (ie NOT "no tv for a week" but "no more tv today" or "no pudding" or "no more playing outside this evening". Nothing that carried into the next day. But that's just me. All kids and parents are different!).

slowlycatchymonkey Sat 26-Jan-13 09:51:44

Thanks so much - great advice! Will hopefully have a better result than I'm having right now!grin

SamSmalaidh Sat 26-Jan-13 11:43:28

I would completely forget time-outs as a punishment. If she has a tantrum it sounds like she is unable to calm herself down, so hug her until she is calm if that is what she needs.

If you have taken something away as a punishment and she has a tantrum, it's fine to hug her and empathise ("I know you are very angry and upset about losing TV time, but the rule is if you don't do X then Y happens"). If she says she doesn't want to talk about it you can say that's fine, but Y is still happening because of your behaviour.

Time out/naughty corner etc don't work for all children - the aim of a punishment isn't to distress the child, it's to give them a consequence to bad behaviour. So if time out is very distressing for her and she is feeling it as a rejection by you then don't do it anymore.

steppemum Sat 26-Jan-13 22:17:28

I think goldmandra has hit it on the head, expressed much better than I could!

Goldmandra Sun 27-Jan-13 08:29:54

Choose sanctions which can wait until she is calm. Natural consequences of the unwanted behaviour are best, e.g. You will have to take everyone's plates through to the kitchen sink because you made such a fuss about taking your own I now don't have time to do it or as you have put the toys away in the wrong boxes you will have to tip them all out and sort them out properly.

If she loses it concentrate on helping her manage the anger but do not back down on the sanction.

Once she is calm remind her that she still has to do it.

This may trigger another meltdown. If it does, just repeat the calming down but still expect her to do the job once she's calm. Repeat as many times as is necessary.

If you need to go out she can do it when she gets back. She is old enough to find out that tantrums don't make people back down or forget things you don't like.

Keeping yourself calm is the key. Remind yourself that this isn't personal. She is just finding out about boundaries and learning how to manage the responses of others. The outcome of her experiment needs to be that if I get really angry Mummy will still love me, support me and understand that i am upset but she will also still expect me to make amends when I have done something wrong.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now