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3 year old tantrums, am I dealing with these right?

(24 Posts)
WhatFreshHellIsThis Wed 11-Nov-09 10:27:28

So DS1 is 3.5 and has recently started having serious meltdowns. He was quite an easy two year old but now, I think brought on by having a baby brother (DS2 is 7 months) and by being ill, he's losing it in a dramatic style whenever something doesn't go his way.

Have been trying to deal with them as calmly as possible, but would appreciate any tips from people who have been there/done that!

To give an example - this morning he wouldn't tell me what he wanted for breakfast, and when I said I would choose then he shouted 'No!' at me and kicked me (not hard). I said if he did that again he could go in the corridor for 2 minutes. He did it again. I put him in the corridor, he screamed his head off and wouldn't stay in there.

Every time he came back in I put him out again, until the screaming got so loud DP couldn't work so I took DS1 upstairs. He wouldn't stay in his bedroom so I kept putting him back, trying not to talk to him or engage with him, just kept saying 'Two minutes'. Eventually he lay down on the floor outside his bedroom and carried on wailing, I left him there for two minutes then went up and got him. He wouldn't say sorry, so he got another two minutes, more screaming and wailing, eventually he stopped and we got a sorry and all was calm.

Is this the best way? DP tends to take him upstairs and stay with him and try and talk him round, whereas I'm more in favour of ignore and put him back until he stops, is one better than the other? Can't take many more meltdowns like this!

Any advice welcomed. smile

LoveBeingAMummy Wed 11-Nov-09 10:30:07

Don't have any experience but do remember someone saying giving too much choice doesn't help ie would you like coco pops or nutella for breakfast rather than what do you want. So all they ahve to think about is choice. Hope someone better come salong wink

WhatFreshHellIsThis Wed 11-Nov-09 10:33:01

Oh he only had two options for breakfast - and to be honest it's about anything and everything at the moment, iyswim. It's more about how to deal with the tantrums once they start, I guess. But thank you! smile

LoveBeingAMummy Wed 11-Nov-09 10:35:59

At least its keeping it bumped!

WhatFreshHellIsThis Wed 11-Nov-09 11:11:33

Yes indeed, thank you!

WhatFreshHellIsThis Wed 11-Nov-09 11:48:47


Zil131 Wed 11-Nov-09 11:48:53

I seem to remeber an episode of Supernanny where she just kept insisting on the naughty step / time out until DS was ready to apologise. Poor mum had to carry him back around 30 times the first time (no conversation); and quite a few the next times; but he learnt. Keep being consistent, if you give up now, he'll just keep playing up more.

And good luck - mines no angel either!!

WhatFreshHellIsThis Wed 11-Nov-09 12:38:54

Thank you, I have watched SuperNanny sometimes and always wondered what you do when they just won't stay on the blinking naughty step! Keep putting back, I guess, although it feels like trying to hold back the tide sad

bebemoo Wed 11-Nov-09 12:47:39

I was thinking the same WFH as Zil. Being consistent/sticking to your guns. Don't talk or shout or do anything more than repeat the rules until the desired result is reach. Remember supernanny always encourages parents to reassure afterwards with a hug and an 'I love you.' And if you feel further explanations/discussions are necessary this is the time (when everyone is calm).
He's testing the waters and needs to know where your/the house limits are; try to get DP to be equally consistent. Maybe watch a few episodes of supernanny together and discuss what you thought was good bad difficult abt the way things went in the show.

stellamel Wed 11-Nov-09 12:51:35

WFHIT, we're in the same boat with our DD (3.5), she cries in such an over blown fashion if she doesn't get what she wants, and has started to have the most ridiculously over the top tantrums - the sort you'd only expect from a 2yr old, proper full on screaming until she's almost sick style!

I am stuck like you. I have just bought that book 'how to talk to your kids' (recommended by someone on MN) link here as have tried the Supernanny route before with no success and I was never comfortable with some of her methods.

Have only just got the book so not had chance to try anything. Will let you know.

Just wanted to say you are not alone! smile

Habbibu Wed 11-Nov-09 12:53:27

Not that this is always practical, but removing yourself rather than the child can be effective - so, for example, in the situation you described, saying "well, I'm going to clean the bathroom/eat my breakfast/etc etc - when you're ready to decide, you can call me, but I won't stay to be kicked/screamed at" and then leave calmly, and get on with something - keeps you distracted, and can take the wind out of their sails.

WhatFreshHellIsThis Wed 11-Nov-09 13:57:21

Thank you for advice! I've been reading a book called 123 Magic which I was recommended, I'm not completely keen on some of his methods and like you StellaMel I'm not sure Supernanny has all the answers either. It's really tough isn't it, as sometimes the tantrum starts over something which really couldn't be avoided at all, even if you talk in the right way or stand on your head or dance a jig. Sigh.

Habbibu when I walk away and leave him in the corridor/bedroom that's when he gets REALLY REALLY upset, so I'm wondering if the tantrums are lasting longer because I'm removing him/me iyswim? DP dealt with one this morning where he took him upstairs but sat with him until he was calm, and it was a shorter tantrum overall, but does that just mean he's got my undivided attention and therefore got what he wants, iyswim? Not always possible with a 7 month old DS2, either.

Or maybe him learning that bad behaviour=me not being with him is the way to go?

bebemoo sadly DP would rather chew his own arm off than watch SuperNanny! Thank you for support though smile It is tricky getting us to be consistent and I wonder how valid it is to have slightly different parenting styles, iyswim.

Feierabend Wed 11-Nov-09 14:21:13

I'm in favour of parent leaving the room, too - DD1 usually loses it in the bathroom (doesn't want her face washed etc) so I leave, close the door and tell her to let me know when she's calmed down. Then just ignore. Or, with the breakfast, I would have put it in front of her and then she can eat, or not. I always think I need to give her a chance to come out of the situation gracefully, without making too much of a fool of herself - I vaguely remember I used to feel like a right idiot after a tantrum when I was little, even when I had got my way. And I had them until I was quite old - in fact I still do blush

EndangeredSpecies Wed 11-Nov-09 14:33:09

sounds like you managed it really well OP. If he said sorry by himself that's a result.
Mine never stay on the naughty step either, plus it's marble so I'm always afraid they'll hurt themselves. After 1 warning I just put them in their room and let them take it out on their toys. Anything they break gets thrown away.

as for talking to them... if anyone's found it to work please let me know. I tried saying to DD age 5: We'll talk about it when you're calm. At which point she screams I AM CAAALLLLMM MUMMEEEEE at the top of her lungs for about five minutes [hmmm]

Habbibu Wed 11-Nov-09 14:37:00

Well, my older child is only 3, so I'm not awash with experience either, but maybe he is getting genuinely upset when you go away - it's tough, as I wouldn't want to deliberately upset a child, but at the same time the "getting attention by having a tantrum" thing is hard to live with.

Perhaps on top of trying to ignore tantrum you can try to make extra effort to give him as much attention as possible when he is being ok, and as much one to one as you can? At three they can understand quite a lot, and so if you can talk to him lots when he's calm, get him to help you, do special jobs, have a role in preparing breakfast, etc, you'll maybe pre-empt tantrums?

<stab in the dark emoticon>

Feierabend Wed 11-Nov-09 14:58:05

Can anyone tell me why on earth I thought it was a good idea to have children?


BoffMonster Wed 11-Nov-09 17:14:23

I bung them in their bedroom and hold the door handle for a couple of minutes to show them who is boss. To start with they rail against me and trash the room. After a few attempts, eventually they work out what's going on, and calm down and play with their toys a bit.

I am quite a big fan of 1-2-3 Magic. It is terribly cheesy as a book, but the principle of not arguing with them and giving clear boundaries in a consistent, structured way is very good.

But the whole thing is terribly wearing and I am glad most of mine are past this now. You have my sympathies.

WhatFreshHellIsThis Wed 11-Nov-09 19:11:44

I do go along with the main principles of 123 magic, I think. I don't like the language ('That's 3, Take 10, and an extra 5 for the smart mouth' <<blergh>>) but I know what he means about not arguing.

I think I feel like it probably works better on a slightly older child than DS1, or maybe I'm just babying him wink.

I've never felt comfortable with holding the door shut, but I'm not sure why. Think I've always wanted my natural authority and their respect for me to keep them in their place wink, but clearly that ain't working! Maybe I'll give it a try. DP was holding DS1 still this morning, it did seem to stop him a bit sooner.

WhatFreshHellIsThis Wed 11-Nov-09 20:08:35

OK, this evening I held the door shut.

He didn't stop or calm down, in fact he got worse and worse and worse.

Thank Christ he's in bed and asleep now.

<<reaches for gin>>

BoffMonster Wed 11-Nov-09 21:36:24

WFH, it took three nights to sort things the first time we tried this. You need some persistence. It's not instant, sadly.

Annabel1 Thu 12-Nov-09 09:06:22

Had really tough time when my dd was about the same age and finding new brother hard to deal with. Everything as above, including naughty step etc but the thing that really started to make a difference was carving out special time for her (only snippets) not doing activities that she didn't want to for a while (like going to playdates that were for me really) and loads and loads of cuddles whenever she was nice. I found it really hard to be positive and understanding when nearly everything she was doing seemed specially designed to upset me. She is not at 4.1 much easier - except when tired and hungry!! But on the way I was the most negative and outwardly unloving looking (and feeling) mother. I think the naughty step approach really works but only with lots of positive to balance it.

Annabel1 Thu 12-Nov-09 09:07:31

Oh and we read the "How to talk so Kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" and that helped too.

Mums89 Thu 12-Nov-09 10:52:42

my son is only 15 mon ths and is going through the terrible twos and is also suffering from man flu haha as in he doesnt know what to with himself he gets very frustrated asnd then gets upset and then starts to through things how can my baby that was so gentle suddely turn in to a little monster that wont listen unless he gets what he wanrts but im very sure he will get a shock of his life when he gets to the older age and starts school and realise he cant get what he wants all the time. but for now he is being a baby i suppose.hmm

Tryingtobeorganisedthisyear Thu 12-Nov-09 12:24:30

My DD went through the same. I never did naughty steps etc but did the 'positive praise' approach. So a ridiculous amount of attention and praise when she was being good. It seemed to work with her and made the house a lot happier.

(Now if i could get it to work with crazy brother.......)

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