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AIBU?

SIL thinks DS's tantrums are not normal

130 replies

Annaritanna · 19/07/2022 15:55

DS is 3 years old (since June).
He is intelligent, active, curious but he is also very stubborn and constantly pushing boundaries and misbehaving.

I read a lot of books and tried to implement a lot of gentle solutions. I try to be consistent but also caring and open to listen and understand.

But he is starting now to have a lot of tantrums. More or less everyday. He does better when he is with me, with DH it is a bit crazy.

Tantrums can last several minutes, with non stop screaming and crying. tantrums are always "issue related". Meaning that he consistently cries for a specific thing from start to finish.


Daycare thinks he is doing fine and with a normal development, but today he was out with DH and SIL and he had a big tantrum, and SIL suggested they are not normal anymore at 3 years old - and we should speak with a specialist.

AIBU to think tantrums could be also part of normal development? Or do you think something is strange?

OP posts:
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Am I being unreasonable?

AIBU

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itsmellslikepopcarn · 19/07/2022 17:35

Yeah I’m slightly confused with some of the comments on here. A just turned three year old doesn’t have the ability to reason, and that rational side of their brain hasn’t developed yet. For them it’s completely normal to get so upset about things we see as tiny occurrences. Ignoring your child’s emotions doesn’t solve the tantrum, it stops them from crying to you because it’s ignored. Which is something they’ll learn pretty early on and carry with them into older kids and teenage years.

your parenting sounds spot on to me, I would second question asking if there’s anything else that could be upsetting him?

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Mally100 · 19/07/2022 17:40

Franca123 · 19/07/2022 16:16

If my 3 year old had a tantrum because he couldn't have an ice cream, he wouldn't be getting cuddles and attention from me. He'd get a short sharp warning and then ignored. I've not got time nor energy to be dealing with all that. Strikes me the most important thing is getting on the same page as the Dad. You have to present a united front.

Gentle parenting says it all. You are encouraging this behavior. There are no firm boundaries with you so off course he is going to throw a fit when he doesn't get his way. How are you preparing him for nursery with your method?

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1AngelicFruitCake · 19/07/2022 17:41

How old is he - which end of 3?
What happens if you say a firm no and walk away? The problem is he needs to get his emotions out and learn to deal with them without you at some point.

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Putonyourshoes · 19/07/2022 17:43

1AngelicFruitCake · 19/07/2022 17:41

How old is he - which end of 3?
What happens if you say a firm no and walk away? The problem is he needs to get his emotions out and learn to deal with them without you at some point.

Stated in OP that he only turned 3 in June. He doesn’t need to learn to deal with his emotions alone at 3 years old, or ever in fact.

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forrestgreen · 19/07/2022 17:48

I'd try to agree an approach. Even include the wording you'll both use.
Only an example! 'Ds, we'll talk when you've finished' and either leave him if he's safe, leave the restaurant etc, or move to the side of the pavement and hold his hand/reins etc.

I don't think either of your approaches is currently working, you both deserve to feel confident in how you approach it and your ds deserves consistency .

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Minimalme · 19/07/2022 17:55

Is he nearer 3 or 4 op?

Just interested because the number of tantrums have recently upped and it could be he is struggling with a new stage in his development.

For example, nearer 4, he is becoming more independent and maybe wants more control - for example, I want the blue cup because it is my cup and I choose it so why can't I have it?

How is his speech?

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Minimalme · 19/07/2022 17:56

Sorry, just seen he turned 3 in June...I'll get my coat Blush

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1AngelicFruitCake · 19/07/2022 17:57

Putonyourshoes · 19/07/2022 17:43

Stated in OP that he only turned 3 in June. He doesn’t need to learn to deal with his emotions alone at 3 years old, or ever in fact.

My mistake so he’s not long turned 3, I was imagining he was nearly 4.
id disagree. Disappointment over a cup? It’s a big deal to a young child but doesn’t mean they can’t learn to cope with that disappointment.
The top hes wearing isn’t there - again, a big deal to a young child but doesn’t mean he can’t feel the upset and have help to choose another.

I said he needs to let his emotions and learn to deal with them and I stand by that. If we’re too quick to stop children from feeling any upset or disappointment then how can they learn? Running in to immediately cuddle maybe an instinctive reaction but ultimately it’s not letting him get his feelings out or helping him learn it’s fine to feel upset about a cup but he can play for longer if he chooses a different colour.

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5zeds · 19/07/2022 17:59

Totally normal and I’d go with calm presence and then comfort and form explanation.

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saraclara · 19/07/2022 18:01

When my daughter tantrumed, I'd ignore the tantrum, but not her. Assuming I was home, I'd leave her on the floor (where she'd normally have thrown herself) and get on with something absolutely calmly while chatting to her and/or singing to myself. Basically as if nothing was happening. So, if she was having a tantrum in the hall I'd wander into the kitchen and tidy up a bit. Sing a bit, chat to her over the racket about what we'd have for lunch etc as of all was entirely normal. And gradually she'd just calm down to the point where I could go over to her and pick her up to join me.

It's gentle, it's reassuring (life's going in normally despite all this stress I'm feeling and mummy isn't scared and she's still here) while not giving positive attention that might seem like a reward.

Maybe try that? I think hugging can either seem like a reward, or send the message that you're anxious too. Also being held tight can add to the anxiety as it's constricting.
I think normality is much more reassuring.

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saraclara · 19/07/2022 18:02

...also I think your DH might be more on board with a 'getting on with things calmly' approach?

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Herejustforthisone · 19/07/2022 18:03

Nah, no time for that. Tantrums are ignored. Especially when they’re in response to unreasonable demands. If they happen where they disturb others, I take him away and put him down to get over himself.

Works for us. Tantrums are rare.

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Herejustforthisone · 19/07/2022 18:04

I’m no ‘gentle parent’ admittedly.

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Newusername3kidss · 19/07/2022 18:06

tiredanddangerous · 19/07/2022 15:57

gentle solutions? I expect that's probably your problem tbh. You can't reason with a tantrum if three year old.

Yep “gentle parenting” and kids having tantrums often go hand in hand.

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Putonyourshoes · 19/07/2022 18:06

1AngelicFruitCake · 19/07/2022 17:57

My mistake so he’s not long turned 3, I was imagining he was nearly 4.
id disagree. Disappointment over a cup? It’s a big deal to a young child but doesn’t mean they can’t learn to cope with that disappointment.
The top hes wearing isn’t there - again, a big deal to a young child but doesn’t mean he can’t feel the upset and have help to choose another.

I said he needs to let his emotions and learn to deal with them and I stand by that. If we’re too quick to stop children from feeling any upset or disappointment then how can they learn? Running in to immediately cuddle maybe an instinctive reaction but ultimately it’s not letting him get his feelings out or helping him learn it’s fine to feel upset about a cup but he can play for longer if he chooses a different colour.

But by staying with them, offering a hug if they want one instead of ignoring them like most posters are recommending, we’re not stopping them from feeling the upset or disappointment. They still feel it, they still deal with it, but with someone they love offering reassurance. It seems bizarre to me to suggest that the only way children can learn to regulate their emotions is to not give any attention to them showing those emotions - surely that just teaches them not to show it and to quietly cope with them alone.

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KweenieBeanz · 19/07/2022 18:07

Lol at the people going on about big emotions etc.....this is a child throwing a strop because they wanted a blue cup, it's not some deep seated emotional need. All they need to learn here is that having a tantrum is not an appropriate response to not getting what you want, and that you won't get attention if you do! They also don't need their feelings 'validated', sorry but no it's not reasonable to be demanding a particular colour cup so I'm not going to hug a toddler as if they have a right to be super upset over the colour of their cup, way to make them think they are justified in kicking off!

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EV117 · 19/07/2022 18:08

Stated in OP that he only turned 3 in June. He doesn’t need to learn to deal with his emotions alone at 3 years old, or ever in fact.

A temper tantrum is not just a display of emotions though - it’s a boundary pushing exercise. The extent of the tears and screaming is not indicative of the level of distress. A child may want a particular cup that is unavailable, get tearful and cry. Another might be in the same situation and start screaming blue murder about it. They are both equally distressed - one is pushing boundaries. A three year old is old enough to learn that feeling sad over a cup is of course ok, so is crying, but screaming aggressively over a cup is not.

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1AngelicFruitCake · 19/07/2022 18:11

But there’s a difference between quietly getting on, letting children be upset, offering a cuddle as calming down and then what sounds like OP, which is cuddling for everything and as an immediate response. If a child starts having a tantrum and is always immediately reassured it’s like the parent is scared to allow them to be upset.

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HousePlantNeglect · 19/07/2022 18:15

My kids tantrums were way worse at 3 than they were at 2. He’s now 5 and completely grown out of it and his development is where it should be.

I heard all the same when he was 3. My DM went as far as to tell me he wasn’t ‘normal’ and needed to see a therapist (thanks Mum).

He’d have epic tantrums over the slightest thing, there was no calming him down, and they would go on for ages. As a Mum I’m reasonably firm and I tried all of the traditional firmer methods, all of the gentle partnering methods, everything. Eventually he just grew out of it.

You’ll get a lot of advice from people here saying ‘I wouldn’t put up with that’. Just the same way when they are little you hear ‘Input my baby down drowsy but awake and he sleeps really well’. What works for one kid just doesn’t for another.

Anyway, I empathise with the tantrums. I hope it gets easier.

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Quitelikeit · 19/07/2022 18:16

Maybe it’s a new food stuff? Are you giving him a different juice etc foods are so processed these days they’ve got lots of nasty things in!!

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LizzieSiddal · 19/07/2022 18:21

This is not age appropriate in my opinion. I am quite a hippy parent, definitely gentle by the standards of MN, but I used to just say 'oh I know, it is so frustrating, shall we go and look at the ' as they can't understand much in the moment.

I very much agree with this, quite distraction is your friend. I used it with my two and am now using it with my granddaughter, it really does work.

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EV117 · 19/07/2022 18:31

If a child starts having a tantrum and is always immediately reassured it’s like the parent is scared to allow them to be upset.

And I think ironically really it just distresses the child further - mum is cuddling me so, yes, this must be a truly terrible situation and now I need to cry even more… If a child fell over but wasn’t actually hurt, most parents would know that running over and giving them a big cuddle of reassurance for nothing is not the best thing. They essentially think - oh, I must be really hurt then… cue more distress and crying. Most parents know that a ‘woopsie daisy, your ok aren’t you, oh look there’s a butterfly…’ is a more appropriate response. I think with emotions it’s exactly the same thing.

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MissMaple82 · 19/07/2022 18:31

I had a friend who used to think like this.. she then went on to have a another difficult child who had similar tantrums !!

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Franca123 · 19/07/2022 18:36

I agree @EV117 . I think it must be confusing and upsetting for the child.

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UWhatNow · 19/07/2022 18:37

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