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Is this really normal??

(23 Posts)
harman Tue 23-Mar-04 11:56:18

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emmatmg Tue 23-Mar-04 12:05:15

Yes harman, DS1 would do that over the most silly things and like you it used to drive me mad. Funnily enough he would also calm down after DH gets involved, with me he'll just go on and on

He's be 5 next month and although he doesn't tantrum as more he can still be a real pain. His latest thing is if I'm telling him off for something he laughs at me!!!

Sounds quite normal to me but I haven't got a answer for how to solve it, I only with I did.

jmg Tue 23-Mar-04 12:08:49

Harman - I hope it is normal and I dearly hope it is just a phase because my usually sunny natured DS has just started melting down at small things like this.

Last week he chose an orange drink while we were out but then changed him mind and started screaming for a blackcurrant one. No explaining that we had opened the orange one and couldn't take it back would stop him.

On Saturday he chose a little toy while we were out, and as soon as I had paid for it changed his mind for another one he had seen. I couldn't be arsed taking it back and changing it - so again we had half an hour of screaming round Bluewater.

On Friday at nursery he sobbed his heart out because he wanted to give news at circle time and hadn't been chosen.

So please, please, please let it be a phase, my sanity and his depend on it

jmg Tue 23-Mar-04 12:09:18

By the way my DS is 4 on Sunday!!

Crumpet Tue 23-Mar-04 12:11:13

Hi harman, my dd is 14 months so no recent experience, but about 10 years ago I au paired in Italy with a little boy of 3-4, who had the most amazing tantrums. Your post reminded me of one incident (of very many!) when I gave a drink to him and his younger sister. Because she couldn't manage the fruit juice bottle easliy, I poured half into a cup for her (and put the 1/2 full bottle on the table to top up with), and gave him another bottle with a straw. He screamed for at least 45 mins because she had "2" drinks and he only had one. So I'm not sure it is that abnormal if that helps... BTW he is now a delightful 14 year old!

harman Tue 23-Mar-04 12:11:33

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secur Tue 23-Mar-04 12:18:10

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Rebi Tue 23-Mar-04 12:21:50

hi harman

Sorry to hear you are having a tough time. I was on yesterday getting advise about the 'terrible twos', so I can totally empathise!

What I wondered when I read your post, was could you ds be coming down with a bug or something? Just the fact that he has been whining all morning?

Anyway not much help probably, but just a thought. I can always cope better if I think there is a reason!

frogs Tue 23-Mar-04 12:45:35

Yeah, sounds normal to me.

My ds (now 4.5) has spent the past year regularly throwing tantrums over little stuff, generally clothes (he's a junior fashion victim) and food (availability or lack of particular items).

I've had the distinct impression that sometimes he just wants to fight, and will pick whatever issue he can find to throw a massive strop about. In these situations even if he was actually given whatever it was he was creating about, he would just move on to the next thing.

I think being four seems to be quite tough on little boys: on the one hand they have a powerful urge to rush around kicking, shouting, and smashing stuff, and on the other hand they're becoming much more thoughtful and aware, and realise how small and powerless they actually are. It seems to be hard for them to hold it all together sometimes.

Not letting him get too hungry helped, as did very early bedtimes (seriously, he was sleeping from 4.30 or 5pm till 6.30 or seven in the morning). Lunchtime sleeps too, if he wasn't at nursery. Trying to get them to talk about what's going on at school, and develop a language for discussing their feelings. Lots of hugs and cuddles and stories, too. Otherwise my tactic was trying to stay very calm and constantly repeating myself without shouting. I tend to say that I don't like being shouted at, and I'll only listen to people who talk to me properly.

I also found that acknowledging his anger seemed to calm him down, as did letting him know that we knew it didn't feel nice to be that angry. Admittedly you sound like a mad therapist crossed with Joyce Grenfell, saying "Poor you, you're very angry, aren't you. It must be horrid to feel like that." but shouting back just seemed to up the temperature even further.

hth -- he is still your lovely little boy, and it is just a phase you need to help him through!

stace Tue 23-Mar-04 16:59:30

Totally normal behaviour dont worry!!! I have 4 year old who has been known to put me in tears because i can reason with him. Like yours mine seems to be mostly about food/drink at that moment in time and it is really really hard. SOmetimes if i am calm enough or patient enough i will just about manage to distract him out of it by getting him something else to take his mind off stuff or bribe him that we can go and get one later and sometimes i leave him scream if his is somewhere safe and if we are in the car and i cant cope i tell him that if he doesnt calm down im going to turn the music up to drown him out!! This has actually worked on occassion although im not sure it is a particularily good mothering technique but sometimes needs must
Good luck and dont feel so alone they are all little monsters at times and angels at other times!!!

Evita Tue 23-Mar-04 20:00:25

I'm nowhere near this age group yet, dd is not quite 18 months old. I'm interested to read all this though and wondered if anyone ever has escaped having a tantrummy child? You see, at 18 months, I'm still in cloud cuckoo land of hope that I won't have to go through these trying stages!!

charliecat Tue 23-Mar-04 20:05:38

My daughter used to go off her head about such things from about 1 till about 5 and a half..now shes 6 and its only a monthly thing, if that, used to be 6,7 or 8 times a day, and even waking up in the middle of the night to moan for something that was quite impossible or ridiculus at 3am...normal, so they say...!

charliecat Tue 23-Mar-04 20:07:34

Evita, my next dd is 3 and a half and i can honestly say she had only had a couple of ten minute, half hearted tantrums...and she has only ever got up once through the night..some kids do some dont.

carlyb Tue 23-Mar-04 20:09:32

harman, My dh used to have tantrums as a child (according to mil). really whopping great paddies - for years! He still has the occasional outburst and he is 31! So dont worry that 4 is not too old!

Worst thing is that my 19 month old ds is starting to have them too!

expatkat Tue 23-Mar-04 20:16:45

Harman, you say this has been going on for 18 months. Consistently so, or does he have good days & bad days? I don't know for sure what's normal, but my 4.5 yr-old ds behaves like this sometimes, and has done so for as long as I can remember. But I find that the whinging & tantrums happen most when (1) he's overtired (and that can even be the case in the mornings if he got not quite enough sleep!) and (2) when I'm stressed, which he seems to sense.

I reckon that 18 months of consistent tantrums COULD be normal for some children, but I think it's more normal for children to have good days and bad days.

Having a tantrum over lack of blackcurrant (or equivalent) sounds terribly familiar, though. THAT sort of an argument is definitely normal.

bunny2 Tue 23-Mar-04 21:44:20

Sympathies Harman, my lovely ds, nearly 4, is the same. Some days he is a dream but on other days everything I do sends him into a tantrum. If he is tired or hungry he is much more easily upset. I grin and bear it when I can telling myself time and time again it is only a phase. Some days I snap and bite his head off but it achieves little and leaves me feeling bad. Fish oils are meant to help so ds is having the Eye-Q oils everyday and things are definately improving, though I have no way of knowing if it is the oils that have caused the improvement or just the fact that he is a bit older.

nutcracker Tue 23-Mar-04 21:52:18

Harman - My dd2 is 4 and still behaves like that. A few examples are : my mom trying to wipe her hands, which resulted in dd screaming and crying for an hour after.
Not letting her have a drink in a glass, resulted in kicking, hitting me and ds, slamming doors and screaming and shouting for about 45 mins.
Refusing to let her have a packet of crisps whilst in the co-op, resulted in her running out of the shop, me abandoning my shopping to run after her and then having to litterally drag her home.
Oh and the most recent one was todays which was because i wouldn't let her wear shorts and jellies to collect dd1 from school. Result was screaming, hitting and "your a nasty lady" all the way to school.

She can be an angel sometimes, honest.

frogs Wed 24-Mar-04 10:12:12

Evita
Neither of my older ones had tantrums at two-ish; they were both early talkers which really helps, as they get less frustrated if they can explain themselves and understand what you say to them.

With us the strops kicked in later -- at about 4ish for dd1 and 3.5ish for ds, around the time they started full-time nursery (coincidentally or not). It passed off quite quickly with dd1, but ds has been sustaining it on and off for about a year. He's a sweetie in between, though.

I suspect at some stage they need to learn how to argue and assert themselves, and lucky mum is right there in the firing line! In some ways it's easier if they wait till they're older as their understanding is better, but on the other hand they're physically much bigger. If a strapping four-year old decides to lie down on the pavement you can't just pick him/her up and cart off without sustaining some serious bruising to the shins.

Ah, happy days...

annh Wed 24-Mar-04 10:26:37

This might be totally off the mark but all the talk of offering drinks rang alarm bells with me. Our ds1 (now 5 1/2) had truly horrible tantrums from about age 3 until beginning of this year. He is v-bright and sometimes could be lovely but would sometimes (maybe twice a day!)have a complete melt-down over something stupid. It never seemed to happen at school but would happen at home or in other people's houses. I was physically and mentally exhausted from trying to deal with it and we felt we had tried everything - making sure he was not hungry or thirsty or overtired, praising good behaviour, ignoring the tantrums, anything else we could think of.

Finally, we started him on fish oils at the beginning of this year and at the same time got a list of E numbers which may cause behaviour problems in children. I just googled it on the net but I know that the Hyperactive Childrens Society for example has a good list. We stuck it on the fridge and have pretty religiously stuck to it ever since. And the difference in him is amazing!! It's been weeks since he last had a tantrum and when he does have one now it is shorter, usually because he is tired or genuinely upset about something and lasts for a shorter time.

The reasons that drinks made me think about it was because most cordials contain "bad" Es in their colourings and we think that was the biggest problem in our house. There is a huge range of foods containing these colourings and many of them are not obvious. Anything brightly coloured like jelly beans or Smarties are of course bad but we never had much of that stuff anyway. What was more difficult was things like jelly, preservatives in a lot of sausages, horseradish sauce etc. At first, it considerably lengthened the shopping time as I was checking everything but you only have to do it once and then you know whether something is good or not. There's also usually an alternative to most things - like making your own horseradish sauce - bah! Anyway, I think it can't hurt to try.

In the meantime you have my sympathy, I know how awful these tantrums can make the whole family feel and I don't think it's a lot of fun for your child either. As ds1 is older he can now explain things better to us and at end of last year he started saying that when he was naughty it was the "clock in his head going round the wrong way" and that he couldn't stop it and he really didn't want to be naughty but he just couldn't help himself. Now, it's quite funny as the whole house (including ds2 - 3 today) refer to checking labels as looking for things that make the clock go round the wrong way! At the time when he was sobbing his heart out to me however, it was just plain heart-breaking.

hmb Wed 24-Mar-04 10:34:14

Dd stll had whooper tantrums until quite recently. The last big one was on holiday last year when she was 6.5. It lasted the better part of two hours. The cause, I was talking to a friend to arrange a meet up (for your dds!) and couldn't answer her question. To be fair I didn't handle it well, but it was a good one!

Since that one she has been very good on the whole

Lots of friends have told be that little boys often become difficult at about 4, something to do with a testosterone rush I think

aloha Wed 24-Mar-04 10:36:57

Evita, my stepdaughter had about two tantrums in her whole life (she's 12 now!) - I'm not claiming any credit btw, she lived with her dad until she was four and a bit (her mum left when she was two), and I only came along when she was six. Ds is 2.6 and SO FAR is really very good. Does sometimes get frustrated and cry (over a lollipop a couple of weeks ago) but nothing I can't handle...YET! Fingers crossed, eh?

StripyMouse Wed 24-Mar-04 10:57:17

I agree with annh. E numbers has a huge affect on our daughters behaviour to the point where we are growing more and more careful with label watching and food choices. One packet of Cheddars, for example, will send her through the roof and give us several hours of hyperactivity. Many of the juice drinks are just as bad - even those low sugar ones that look so much healthier can still be packed full of e numbers and chemicals that can cause hyperactivity. I know I should be even more careful with my DD’s diet as I have personal evidence of the negative reactions of many chemicals. I think it is worth having a quick look in your food cupboards and checking out any potential culprits -worth a try. Good Luck.

harman Wed 24-Mar-04 18:16:18

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