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Tantrums and cuddles... confused

(19 Posts)
MrsOB Fri 07-Mar-14 14:57:34


Just looking for a bit of advice regarding tantrums really please...

My DD is 3.5 years old and, whilst always being 'spirited', had never really had any tantrums.

However, a few weeks ago, she spent almost the whole of a Sunday afternoon having a major tantrum... it lasted from around 12 until 4 in the afternoon.

Since then she has had another 3, and I have no idea how to manage them.

Basically, during the tantrum she screams, throws herself on the floor, hits etc etc - but then she will switch to doing all that but at the same time asking shouting for a cuddle....

What do I do when she screams for a cuddle? Do I give it to her? I've been ignoring the screaming etc, and nicely asking her to calm down, but she doesn't seem to be able to unless I cuddle her... I feel that by cuddling her I am telling her that her behaviour is okay, which it isn't.

This morning she had one from 06:45 until I bundled her into the car, minus her shoes and socks (which was why it all kicked off) at 08:15. She was quiet all the way to nursery (exhausted) and had barely any voice when she spoke due to the shouting.

So I guess the long and short of it is : is it okay to cuddle a child when they are having a tantrum or am I excusing her behaviour by cuddling her.

Sorry for the ramble ......

Forgettable Fri 07-Mar-14 15:01:03


yes cuddle her if she wants but sometimes that ain't poss - if you are out and about, or if she's doing that lashing out thing

sympathies, one of mine was a champion tantrummer (thankfully long in the past now) - the best way for us was to ignore because talking/interacting just ramped up the agony for everyone

hmmmm, not a helpful post really, ho hum grin

Twobusyboys Fri 07-Mar-14 15:03:40

I sonetimes find a cuddle is what they need to calm them down. I would say ok as long as you are not giving in to other requests?

HillyandHally Fri 07-Mar-14 15:07:17

I would cuddle. When my 3 yo dd tantrums she either doesn't want anyone near her or she screams "I need you" (drama queen! ) and cuddling will calm her down.

I think tantrums can be about emotional overload (and tiredness) rather than "naughty" behaviour and little people can't handle it and need you to anchor them I suppose.

Haven't you ever lost it and just needed a cuddle from a loved one to calm down? I'm dead strict too so don't think it's about discipline more about helping them manage their emotions iyswim?

Hope that makes sense!

MrsOB Fri 07-Mar-14 15:23:48

Yes Hilly, it does make sense... to be fair, she is generally fab - like I say, spirited, but never really had tantrums. I think she is tired at the moment, and she also really needs a poo - she has problems going (e.g. won't push it out) and I think it has got to the point where she just needs a big s**t to make her feel better (as well as a cuddle).

So, say for example she is doing the screaming thing, and I'm ignoring, but then she switches to "I WANT A CUDDLE" ... I just give her one? Do I then speak to her about her behaviour and get her to say sorry?

Thanks for all the advice..... thanks

dollysocks Fri 07-Mar-14 16:01:51

I see what you mean, if she's displaying poor behavior a cuddle doesn't seem right. On the other hand if what she really needs is a cuddle it seems silly to hold it back.

My dd is 4 next month. She is 'spirited' or people say 'highly strung'. But she started having tantrums at about 18mo. When she gets in a right muddle the only way to untangle her is to cuddle. And sometimes she doesn't technically deserve it.

I say give the cuddle, 3.5 isn't really very old is it? And we all have off days.

HillyandHally Fri 07-Mar-14 17:06:21

I know what you mean but you don't have to give in (for want of a better phrase) to the tantrum by giving her a cuddle you're just helping her manage her emotions.

So my dd might have a tantrum because I've turned the tv off say, so whilst she might get a cuddle to calm down there's no way the tele's going back on!

Hopefully she'll realise eventually there's no point having a tantrum because she's not getting what she wants (I hope! )

Hard though isn't it?

TheGreatHunt Fri 07-Mar-14 19:16:55

I always cuddle mine because I think they find tantrums scary. So I cuddle and tell them that they're tired/hungry/upset etc. But I don't give in if the tantrum erupted over them wanting something.

NiceCupOfTeaAndASitDown Fri 07-Mar-14 19:29:24

watching with interest as DS is certainly spirited and has had huge tantrums since about 14 months and at 3.1 they're worse than ever. I am (now) of the opinion that a cuddle is the right way to handle it (if as pp have said it's possible and safe and wanted) as I have tried ignoring (actually makes it worse sometimes) and shouting (definitely doesn't help) - DS also yells "I want a cuddle" although often adds a "!" - up until recently I was thinking 'you're not having a bloody cuddle if you demand it like that' but then it suddenly dawned on me that in the throes of a tantrum a child's vocabulary is lost just the same as an adults when they're really angry or upset, they just don't have the ability in that moment to be polite. my thinking (after getting it wrong imo many times) is that your child knows a cuddle as comfort and that's exactly what they need in their time of need. tantrums are just as horrible for them if not more so, giving a cuddle doesn't mean the same as giving in - it's more a "I said no (or whatever) and you're really angry, I'm sorry" or "its hard to stop playing" etc. sounds like she needs help dealing with overwhelming feelings and she trusts and needs you to provide some comfort and reassurance smile

PurplePidjin Fri 07-Mar-14 19:34:08

Maybe "I need a cuddle" really means "I know I'm being really horrible and I'm worried you won't love me because of it" or it could be "I've lost control and need your help to get it back"?

ChazzerChaser Fri 07-Mar-14 19:38:17

What hilly has said. They're tiny dealing with big emotions. They're not being 'naughty'.

notadoctor Mon 10-Mar-14 15:37:52

Another one for cuddling! I tend to accompany it with saying something like 'I know you are very cross and upset, let's have a cuddle to calm down' - as others have said, I think tantrums are about them being overwhelmed and unable to cope with their emotions.

Lemonfairydust Tue 11-Mar-14 11:46:30

My little boy has also just started doing this and I've been in tears numerous times over it! I've found asking him to apologise for his behaviour before giving a cuddle usually does the trick and often a cuddle is the only thing that calms him. eg - 'I know you were upset because.... but that behaviour was wrong and I'd like you to say sorry and then we can have a cuddle'.

NellyTheElephant Tue 11-Mar-14 20:49:44

Definitely cuddle (if you can). The thing about tantrums is not to give in to the root cause of them, whatever that may be (e.g. I want to watch 10 more minutes of CBeebies), but to offer support and safety while the emotional overload dies away. My DD1 was a terrible tantrum queen and DH and I were useless at dealing with it. We'd get cross and lose all ability to deal with her. People said to cuddle her, but she was liable to bite me (and certainly kick me) if I tried. Eventually I started (if we were at home) carrying her kicking and screaming to her room and giving her her comfort blanket and teddy and saying as calmly as possible that I'd come back when she was feeling better. I'd go out and listen (sometimes crying myself!) to the screaming until I heard the tired change of pitch and THEN go and cuddle her until she calmed sobbing etc. It soon started to help and the routine of not being cross, but allowing her to work out the tantrum really helped us both. She became much calmer after a while of consistent and calm treatment. If out and about it depended on where I was. If I could I would try and let her work out the worst until she was calm enough for a cuddle, if not sometimes I just had to forcibly pick her up and remove her. The trouble of course is time, when you are in a hurry you don't have time to let the tantrum work itself out (but sometimes you just have to wait).

DD2 is a sulker so no tantrums there. DS was just like DD1 but we dealt with his outbursts so much better it being our second time around with it all. Sometimes I had to let him scream it out - one memorable and embarrassing time kicking and screaming whilst lying on the floor in the aisle of a supermarket (around Easter time as I wouldn't let him help himself to all the easter eggs stacked at child height that the store had very thoughtfully arranged to drive those of us with small children insane) while I just stood and waited for him to finish, with disapproving looks all round (as well as many supportive and knowing smiles). After about 5 mins I was able to pick him up and cuddle without being kicked too hard and he relaxed into clinging to me and sobbing and we were then able to finish the shop (no recriminations from me but no Easter eggs either). A lot of it is about patience and waiting for the tantrum to pass. You need to be fairly passive and not add fuel to the fire (don't give nice coherent reasons as to why they can't have or do what they want, its unlikely to help and will just make them more angry - you can maybe have that chat later when they are calm again). The cuddle is the way out of the tantrum, it's not condoning the bad behaviour it's offering them a way out and a release from the emotional overload. Once you get to the cuddle stage you are nearly home and dry.....

grazedknees Wed 12-Mar-14 21:30:51

DS is a similar age to your DD and a bit tantrum prone. I've done the ignoring, the shouting back - not my proudest moments and trying to reason with him. The first occaisonally works, the second inflames things, upsets him more and makes us both feel terrible, and the last is actually the worst of all, because no matter how many times I try to patiently explain/reason with him, well he's 3, so it just prolongs things.

I tried hugging recently when he had a meltdown at bedtime and it was amazing. He carried on screaming for a minute but kind of slumped into the hug, and then stopped tantrumming really fast. I said something a bit wanky to him like 'wow, those are some big scary feelings you're having aren't they?' and he just said 'yes' and kind of sobbed with relief. It was a bit of a lightbulb moment actually. Have to admit, not been totally consistent with the hugging through a tantrum thing, partly as have been worried about 'giving in' and him throwing a tantrum for cuddles too. I think I'll keep doing it now I've read this thread and see what happens.

Hope things calm down for you soon OP - tantrums are draining to deal with.

ProfessorSkullyMental Wed 12-Mar-14 21:37:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ItStillLooksLikeRainDear Wed 12-Mar-14 22:24:37

Unless it is in defiance I would cuddle. Acknowledge out loud to your DC that you know they are feeling cross/angry/sad etc & without pressing her or talking at her too much, try to get her to verbalise why. Just knowing that you understand her feelings may open her communication to you.

Good luck.

Glasshammer Sat 15-Mar-14 07:27:36

Mine does this. He asks for s cuddle when feeling out of control and so I cuddle him and then talk him through the problem. It seems to work.

mewkins Sat 15-Mar-14 19:05:02

I have one the same. She can get so worked up that I think it scares her. She usually ends up by sobbing 'mummy I just need a cuddle' and she calms right down. I've also heard that empathising without condoning the behaviour works well eg 'I understand that you are so frustrated because. ..' helps as it gives them the words to help them understand their feelings, which hopefully they will learn to do themselves once they are a bit older.

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