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3yo angry tantrums - at my wits end

(17 Posts)
Hutch2017 Sun 29-Jan-17 18:04:30

So my DS is 3 and has always been a bit of a nightmare child. He has always cried A LOT! Just recently he has started throwing the most horrendous screaming fits over the slightest thing, often because he doesn't like what I've made for tea or something isn't going right for him.

He screams with absolute rage and it just goes on and on. So I've tried putting him in his room and shutting the door, ignoring him, shouting at him but nothing seems to work. The rage just goes on and on. I've even had our next door neighbour banging on the wall (and they have a cheek but that's another story).

Does anyone have any tips on ways I can deal with these episodes? Thankfully he doesn't do it in public, just at home and also at grandparents house. Yesterday he had 3 of these episodes and I'm really at my wits end with him - I feel like running away. Everyone told me after he turned 3 he would probably get better but I think he's getting worse!

Oh and he's an angel at nursery.....

228agreenend Sun 29-Jan-17 18:10:28

Haren't they always angelic at other people's houses!

Providing they are safe, not hungry, tired or ill, then ignoring is the right strategy.

How,do,you end the tantrum? Do,you let him cry himself out, or try and pacify him? If you give into his demands, then he may have learnt that crying will get what he wants.

It maybe worth thinking about the tantrums and seeing if there are any triggers? Ie, you refusing him a biscuit, a certain food causing food allergy induced tantrum, happens after playgroup,due to tiredness etc.

desperatelyseekingcaffeine Sun 29-Jan-17 18:15:55

One thing that's helped (a little bit) is to give our 3 yr old a way to vent his anger safely. He goes into his room and hits his blow up minion weeble and shouts 'I'm really cross' with his face in his beanbag.

Doesn't always work but can change him from spawn of satan to calm enough to reason with.

When it doesn't work I just end up shouting too - not very effective!

Hutch2017 Sun 29-Jan-17 19:21:29

I usually just let him get on with it until he eventually calms down on his own so I never give in to his demands. Tonight, for example, he kicked off because he didn't like his tea so just left him screaming outside the kitchen while we all ate. After about half an hour (longest of my life), he just wandered in and sat down and started eating.

Although ignoring him works eventually at the time, it doesn't seem to stop them happening..... he seems to be getting worse.

I think I probably know the triggers by now but not sure how I stop him screaming because he doesn't like what is for tea???

QueenOfHumboldtCounty Sun 29-Jan-17 22:02:22

I would not ignore him at all! He can't calm himself down, he hasn't got the maturity or the rational brain at all. Try thinking about some calm down methods to help him. Things like a calm down jar (you can google it) or we have a calm down cushion, something soft that he can cuddle/stroke or simple things like bubbles. I have found that at this age tantrums compared to 1-2 year olds are different. At the younger age, they are easily distracted out of it and a tantrum doesn't last very long, but at 3-4 they feel it more intensely and they don't know how to regulate on their own. Sometimes when DS is very angry I can get him to "blow the angry" into the clouds like they do on Bing. You've really got to start thinking outside the box and help him deal with it not just ignore it. You might find one method works for a bit and then you have to change it. Their brains are not capable of rational thought and the only recourse they know is to resort to a lower brain instinct - fear, anger, we have to help them overcome it and it takes a long time, as I am finding with my four year old! At about 3.5 we started a house rules, I felt he was ready/able to understand certain behaviour, so he knows what's acceptable and then if there's something brewing I can remind him to try and stay on the right path etc. It does diffuse some outbursts but I found from when DS turned three I had to turn my parenting up a few gears and this is where the hard work begins!

Hutch2017 Mon 30-Jan-17 07:22:10

Hi Queen yes I definitely have to try something else as my methods aren't working. I always thought it best to ignore bad behaviour and reward good but it's not working. Will try some calming methods next time and see how that goes!

Footle Mon 30-Jan-17 07:44:58

Does your home have an outdoor bit - garden or balcony ? Try picking him up and surprising him by getting him outside for a few minutes. Never mind the weather. Cuddle him and point out a cat or a cloud or anything. Sometimes the change of air and scene will do the trick.
I do not mean that you should shut him out - be there with him.

NoChocolateThanks Mon 30-Jan-17 09:50:55

I wouldn't worry too much,I have similar 3 year old who tends to rage,mainly when he is really tired.On Friday he was hysterical as,while leaving the nursery the staff could not find his hat and gloves,he was going on and on,sobbing and screaming,I've tried cuddling,kissing poor soul (he was really upset).Another day it was a piece of roll thrown for a pigeon,he wasn't happy for about an hour.
I found that if cuddles and kind words don't work then he calms down on his own (I think sometimes he just wants to be left alone to re-thinkconfusedand then comes to me and ask to be held/cuddled.Very often after such a session of anger he asks me to go for a nap and wakes up happy and bright like nothing happened.

Sunnie1984 Mon 30-Jan-17 10:24:51

My almost three year old is the same, once he gets started it can take 20 minutes to calm down and me trying to touch him means he gets worse and hits/bites.

Recently I found that trying to head him off with humour seems to work. I joke about him having "angry eyes" and how I want him to show me his "angry eyes".

For some reason, him trying to put on a cross face makes him laugh and we can usually head off the major tantrum.

It doesn't always work, but it's calmed him down a lot.

I also try to make things into a game. So at bedtime, he never wants to go upstairs, so we play chase, and suddenly he goes upstairs with very little fuss.

Obviously every child is different, but that's helped us enormously!

Hope it helps

Hutch2017 Mon 30-Jan-17 10:43:01

Thanks everyone. This morning, when it looked like he might start, I quickly tried to distract him with something else which worked so think I need to be a bit more proactive at stopping the tantrums before they start.

I do have a garden so might try taking him out the back next time - maybe the cold air will shock him into stopping haha. I'll try anything to be honest. I definitely think ignoring him doesn't work anymore, now he's a bit older.

I might also give the funny faces a go too - he has been known to switch from screaming to giggling if the right thing makes him laugh.

I think part of the problem is that sometimes I just don't have the energy to deal with his tantrums so I probably don't deal with them properly - hence opting for the 'ignoring' option!

Footle Mon 30-Jan-17 11:07:50

Tell your exhausted self that it will all be over much faster if you do summon the energy to head it off ( take your sails out of his wind, someone once said ). You'll both be happier. Good luck !

NoChocolateThanks Mon 30-Jan-17 12:19:33

Being tired doesn't help at all,so take a little break yourself first before dealing with little one(do whatever cheers you up,tea?piece of chocolate?)I have a new baby as well and sometimes I feel like exploding so let the steam off,"treat "myself and suddenly all looks much better grin

embo1 Tue 31-Jan-17 17:31:12

What helped me was to talk to my son about being angry when he wasn't angry. Let him know it's OK to be angry and that then tell him about a time you got angry but told someone first and how that changed the situation so you weren't angry anymore
I think it was a revelation to him that I really didn't know what was upsetting him at the time - they look up to us so much, we forget that they don't know we don't know everything!
I got him to tell me when he was starting to feel angry, which can happen well before a tantrum. He wasn't able to articulate why he was feeling angry, but by telling me he was starting to feel angry, we were able to talk about it and avoid a tantrum. Sometimes he was cross because he thought I was not dealing with his feelings when I didn't know there was a problem.
He'll say 'I'm starting to get angry' and I can judge the situation and how I want to deal with it. Sometimes I give in if it's not of much consequence, sometimes I'll explain why things are the way they are.
Sometimes after a tantrum, we'll talk about ways I could have helped him if he had told me how he was feeling or what was going on before he got very angry and wht he could have done to change it.
One day he was starting to have a tantrum because he didn't want his fishfingers. I'd say eg 'we didn't have any other food in the house, so we had to have fishfingers... oh no, we really need to go shopping let's make a list. what should we put on the list?'. This way, he was distracted from getting angry and involved in doing something that will resolve the situation. A little white lie like 'the shops are all closed now, so we'll have to have to have fishfingers, but we'll take this list with us tomorrow' has saved me on more than one occasion!

If he carries on, I'd just make up crazy things to put on the list to make him laugh 'do you think we need some huffle puffle duffles?' or so he can correct me. 'eg do we need some potatoes', when there's a big bag of potatoes right there etc.

Maybe it would be best to tell him well beforehand what we are having for dinner, or even give him a choice so he feels more in control... sweetcorn or peas for example.

This is a refelction on my experience, but since my son had some epic tantrums, we set some time aside for quality family time everyday, even if it was just makebelieve knights fighting dragons etc, something where he can be creative but have fun with us and we have noticed a big improvement.

corythatwas Wed 01-Feb-17 11:38:23

Distract and head it off if you can- accept that there are times when you won't be able to.

I found it helped me not to think of tantrums like some kind of bad behaviour that they had to be trained out of (like nose-picking or rudeness) but as them simply being overwhelmed and not having the maturity to handle their emotions. Once I accepted that dd's tantrums didn't represent some kind of failure on my part to teach her what's what things got a lot easier.

Hutch2017 Wed 01-Feb-17 13:20:36

Thanks for everyone's own experiences! So I'm trying to remain calmer now which I think will probably help. I'm also aware of certain situations where he might kick off so trying to approach those differently.

I've already tried distracting a bit more and so far so good. Not had a full on melt-down yet but I hope that by trying to be more reasonable with him, instead of getting angry, I can avoid too many more of these.

QueenOfHumboldtCounty Wed 01-Feb-17 18:29:16

Aw so glad you're trying new things. I'm definitely with you on the "being so exhausted hoping it will pass" thing. It's tiring too because you're also teaching yourself a new behaviour. Once you've got yourself an armoury of methods you'll find you're able to mentally or physically reach for one without so much work. It really is testing at times though! Xx

Hutch2017 Wed 01-Feb-17 19:41:55

Thanks Queen, I'm already noticing a difference. Rather than say no, I'm making other suggestions and trying distraction earlier on. It clearly just needs a bit more effort on my part. I'm sure things won't be perfect but it's a positive start x

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