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Bad behaviour by nearly 3 yr old on holiday, cause?

(11 Posts)
handlemecarefully Mon 20-Jun-05 11:06:51

My 2.11 year old is generally quite well behaved. She can be an awkward little so and so sometimes, and she has occasional tantrums (which are big league when they happen), but she is mostly quite reasonable.

However we have noticed that on holiday she has big league tantrums two or three times a day . This can impair everyone's enjoyment.

Trying to think what might be causing this. Tending to the view that it might be over stimulation / excitement, too much sugar (she doesn't get many sugary treats at home, but ice creams etc are more freely given on holiday after arm twisting from dh who campaigns on her behalf!), and over tiredness (at home she relies on car journeys to get her to sleep in the day, but on holiday we are often not in the car and she misses a nap)

Anyone else experienced this 'holiday tantrum syndrome' - what do you think caused it and how did you manage it?

Tommy Mon 20-Jun-05 11:19:04

Don't want to alarm you hmc but my three year old's tantrums didn't start until he was 3! I was a very smug Mummy of a 2 year old who "didn't have tantrums" but his bahaviour has more than made up for it since he was 3.
Hope that isn't the case with your DD and that it's just too much excitemnt, ice cream and break from routine!

sandyballs Mon 20-Jun-05 11:25:02

Mine were like this at that age - I did wonder about diet (more junk than usual), and late nights
being the cause. But also wondered if it was because both mummy and daddy were there all the time fussing around them and there is more of an audience to play up to! Mine seemed easier with just one parent at that age and they also didn't particularly like their "routine" disrupted by holidays. They're fine now though and they're 4.

handlemecarefully Mon 20-Jun-05 11:26:27


I don't think it's that (or sincerely hope not) - because she has previously had a bad phase of tantrumming at home (from about the age of 22 months until 2.5), which started to abate over recent months.

This does seem to be a holiday phonomenom, she was the same when on holiday in Feb this year, behaved quite well in the intervening period, and slid downhill again on a long weekend holiday that we've just returned from. So for her at least there seems to be a relationship between holidays and bad behaviour...

Furball Mon 20-Jun-05 11:30:55

We had a really crap holiday last year when DS was 2y 10m. Everything was such a big toodoo. Really gets you down. But, as soon as we walked back in through our front door, instantly, he changed. I can only assume, it was being out of his environment that made him uneasy.

bigdonna Mon 20-Jun-05 11:31:41

i found when i went on holiday as a nanny the children were fantastic the first two days then they were overtired had too much sun,junk food,after a couple of days they seemed to settle down.Also i think we are all more relaxed on holiday and the rules slip.Is she a child who needs a routine?.She is probably just overtired and does not know how to deal with her feelings,then they end in a tantrum.

handlemecarefully Mon 20-Jun-05 11:40:57

So it seems I shall probably have to bite the bullet and expect more of the same when we go on holiday in a couple of months - forewarned is forearmed. Just an age thing then, that they don't cope with all the excitement etc too well...

Issymum Mon 20-Jun-05 11:58:52

HMC we had this with DD1 last month when we took her for her first family holiday(!)- a week in France. DD1 is 4 and pretty well fits the description of your DD. She didn't have tantrums on holiday but she was generally more difficult and perhaps less happy than she would be at home. Looking back at it, she takes time to adapt to change and I should have done a lot more preparation e.g. described the journey, exactly where she was going to sleep, where we were going to sleep, where she was going to eat her meals, the fact that DH and I would be around all the time, the fact that DH and I would be around all the time but might like to read a book, how many toys she could take with her, why she couldn't take them all, how long we were going to be away for, why she might be allowed more ice-creams than at home but still have to eat her tea etc.. I think once we got there I should also have tried to explain to her at the beginning of each day what was going to happen that day and, if there were changes to the plan, tell her in advance. Finally, we should have been much more consistent about maintaining the same behavioural boundaries that we do at home. All of this wouldn't have stopped us having fun with her, spending more time with her or being spontaneous, it would just have been less confusing for her. If a boundary appears to have moved, it is natural for a child to test it until they can work out its new position.

DD1 is a very normal little girl, but she works very hard at making sense of her world and I now see that changing an enormous amount of that world with very little preparation or explanation beyond 'we're going on holiday' must have been disconcerting to her.

handlemecarefully Mon 20-Jun-05 12:21:50


How right you are! - especially with your observation that it is natural for a child to test boundaries to work out their new position.

Food for thought - I didn't prepare dd either, and will resolve to do this next time. I'll talk through our plans, expectations etc with her. She responds well to be taken seriously.

Anchovy Mon 20-Jun-05 12:30:35

I agree with Issymum - I am anal about telling DS (3.9) where we are going, how long for, when he will have lunch, who will be there etc. It stems from when I took him to nursery school for the first time and had to be called back in by the teachers as he was so terribly upset - we had a little chat (he was 2.6 at the time) and it was clear that a huge part of the problem was that I hadn't actually told him that I was coming back (it seemed so obvious to me, but clearly wasn't to him and I just felt awful about that). So now whenever we are planning things - for example we were away at the weekend -I tell him exactly what is going to go on, down to where he is sleeping, what he might have for lunch ("We might go to a restaurant for lunch" or "I'm going to ask Aunty Jane if we can have a boiled egg for you"). Also when we are on holiday we make it clear that somethings are different (I told him we HAVE to have an ice cream every time we go to the beach) but also we have a lot of "even though you are on holiday, you still have to brush your teeth/eat your lunch/have a nap/wear pants etc" conversations. Sounds dreadful reading it back, but it works for us - it gives DS little parameters to work within, rather than a wide open expanse, which I think unnerves him.

BTW, DD (then 11 months) expressed her unsettledness about being on holiday last summer by poo-ing in the bath pretty much every evening for 2 weeks - which interestingly she only does at home if she is really tired or really cross!

Issymum Mon 20-Jun-05 12:33:28

Happy to help!

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