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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?

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Am I being unreasonable?

AIBU

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Holly60 · 19/07/2022 21:03

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.

But you say yourself the emotion is the same 'both are equally distressed' so surely you would meet the emotion not the behaviour?

The child having the tantrum may be pushing boundaries, so don't give in to the demand. It doesn't mean that child doesn't need comfort in the same way that a crying child does.

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Annaritanna · 19/07/2022 21:13

Thank you for all the tips and podcasts/books suggestions😍

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Goldfishjones · 19/07/2022 21:14

Sounds normal to me. 4 is still so little and they do have big emotions! I just explain (once - briefly) why they can't have/do whatever then ignore the tantrum. When they've calmed down I give a hug, and move on to something else.
That's what most ppl do isn't it?

But yes, a consistent approach from both parents is probably helpful.

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Annaritanna · 19/07/2022 21:17

DH is unfortunately the opposite, which i agree works really bad for our DS.

He engages in the tantrum, trying to stop it instead of letting it steam off.
Meaning saying:
Stop immediately - i am not listening to you - i give you 3 seconds to calm down

You get the idea

It drives me son MAD

I will try to discuss with him implementing the "singing/chatting away" method read here on the pages

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Hannakl · 19/07/2022 21:18

My DD had really terrible tantrums from about 18 months until about 3ish. I tried various things but nothing worked. All advice from books worked beautifully with my son when he had the odd tantrum but nothing worked for my daughter (the books ended up on the bin after I threw my own frustrated tantrum). DD grew out of them by age 4 and is a very calm, happy teenager. As she got older I realised why she was so frustrated as a toddler. She loves to be independent and self sufficient. These are qualities that I now really admire in her. The best advice my mother gave me was to not worry too much about what I was doing right or wrong as the majority of children just grow out of tantrums when they are ready to. Good luck!

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InChocolateWeTrust · 19/07/2022 21:19

I never gave in to my kids but why would you ignore a child in such distress

Because that level of distress over a missing cup is a crazy overreaction and they to learn that's it's not socially acceptable behaviour.

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N4ish · 19/07/2022 21:20

Completely agree @BirthThoughts - it’s not actually about the blue cup! Sometimes a tiny thing like the wrong coloured cup can be the final straw for a child who’s really been trying hard to deal with difficult emotions.

And sometimes they just need the relief of letting feelings out and the blue cup not being available is just something they latch on to allow the release to happen.

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puddingandsun · 19/07/2022 21:38

Annaritanna · 19/07/2022 21:17

DH is unfortunately the opposite, which i agree works really bad for our DS.

He engages in the tantrum, trying to stop it instead of letting it steam off.
Meaning saying:
Stop immediately - i am not listening to you - i give you 3 seconds to calm down

You get the idea

It drives me son MAD

I will try to discuss with him implementing the "singing/chatting away" method read here on the pages

I have been trying to get my husband on board for a long time now. It's difficult.
His 'technique' is also just 'Stop!', 'no!', 'don't!', which of course doesn't work and they are both even more frustrated.
Dh is also the one very sensitive to peoples comments about our (my) parenting. He's convinced what I'm doing is wrong even though I have a great bond with my dc and he is always great with me but acts out all the time for him.
I do hope you get more luck after speaking to him. It's so confusing for the kid when you are not on the same page.

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EV117 · 19/07/2022 21:39

He engages in the tantrum, trying to stop it instead of letting it steam off.
Meaning saying:
Stop immediately - i am not listening to you - i give you 3 seconds to calm down

I’m not an advocate of hugging through a tantrum but I can see how your method would be preferable.
I think you’re DH massively overestimates the capability and understanding of a child who has just turned 3.
You are on two completely opposite ends of the parenting spectrum here and as a PP has said you need to sit and have a good chat about how to move forward and perhaps meet in the middle somehow.

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Franca123 · 19/07/2022 21:59

Agreed. I'm no gentle parent but your husband's approach is worse by far. Your boy must be very confused by such vastly different approaches.

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Siameasy · 19/07/2022 22:14

I never give in (in fact I double down) but I do try to give the child the words to articulate their feelings. And I wouldn’t try to deny them their feelings either.
My 7 year old still has “strops” occasionally; gentle parenting is awful I know so many well meaning mums who have used it and ended up with PND or anxiety.
I think assertive parenting is better. Kind but firm. I’d comfort the DC but I never give in to that sort of behaviour. You’re in charge (gentle parenting advocates hate this)

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FortniteBoysMum · 19/07/2022 22:18

Unless there are other indicators I would consider it within the normal range of development. Tantrums are their way of expressing frustration because they don't know how to word it. They will subside over time.

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RedWingBoots · 19/07/2022 22:19

He engages in the tantrum, trying to stop it instead of letting it steam off.
Meaning saying
Stop immediately - i am not listening to you - i give you 3 seconds to calm down

Ugh and I'm no gentle parent.

If he distracted while you did whatever you do then your son wouldn't get confused.

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TooHotToTangoToo · 20/07/2022 07:36

Sound perfectly normal to me. Parent him as you see fit.

My dd was a breeze until about 3 and that's when the tantrums started. They grow out of them.

Is your sister qualified in anyway shape or form to make this diagnosis or just being a busy body ?

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Marvellousmadness · 20/07/2022 08:04

Maybe a good time to give up on "gentle solutions" ..
Why sit on the floor with a tantrumming kid???? That makes him think it is good behaviour. He gets attention for being bad.
Tantrums at that age within reason are ok. Not all the time and for no reason.
He might lack the intelligence to be able to vocalise what he needs to say. He needs to learn a thing or 2 id say. Stop enabling his behaviour.

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Putonyourshoes · 20/07/2022 08:16

Marvellousmadness · 20/07/2022 08:04

Maybe a good time to give up on "gentle solutions" ..
Why sit on the floor with a tantrumming kid???? That makes him think it is good behaviour. He gets attention for being bad.
Tantrums at that age within reason are ok. Not all the time and for no reason.
He might lack the intelligence to be able to vocalise what he needs to say. He needs to learn a thing or 2 id say. Stop enabling his behaviour.

He’s not “being bad”. You said yourself he’s of an age where he most likely can’t vocalise what he wants to say. He is trying his best to express his needs/emotions. Engaging with, showing compassion and affection towards a child is not enabling bad behaviour

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QuizzlyBear · 20/07/2022 08:53

Honestly I think your cuddling method is really just reinforcing the behaviour - you're rewarding your DS's behaviour with attention and affection . The lack of consistency is probably why your DH is dealing with more tantrums too as your DS expects the same from him and doesn't understand why he's not getting it.

If he's not behaving this way at nursery, it suggests it's a learned pattern from his interactions at home.

My own DS was a high maintenance toddler and had some epic meltdowns. The only way he learned to self regulate his emotions was when we removed attention from him during his tantrums. I calmly took his little brother and we left the room until he'd wound down, then came back and acted as though nothing had happened. It took a week or two but he made the connection between more fun being had when he wasn't screaming the house down!

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Footbal · 20/07/2022 09:02

You hug him when he is having a tantrum??? So he misbehaves and you hug him and tell him his behaviour is acceptable really. 🤔

So what happens when he starts school,will you expect the teacher to hug him when he has a tantrum???

You are doing your son a disservice by allowing that behaviour.

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Brefugee · 20/07/2022 09:07

you're going to get shit about your "gentle solutions" (yes i have only read page 1 - sue me)

But. When my DC were small we went to a playgroup with a mum who did "gentle parenting" which often involved saying "that's not nice, dear" in a weedy tiny voice while her 4 year old kid smacked my 1 year old on the head with a wooden brick. She complained about me when i walked over, took the brick off the child got down to eye level and asked how he'd like it if i did that to him.

She left in the end because every other person in the group couldn't hack her non-parented non-boundaries and frankly revolting child.

So it will depend if your "gentle solutions" are really solutions or just weedy excuses to do nothing Grin

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LizzieSiddal · 20/07/2022 09:17

Footbal
You hug him when he is having a tantrum??? So he misbehaves and you hug him and tell him his behaviour is acceptable really.

A just 3 year old having a tantrum is not “misbehaving”. Just like if he wet himself or tripped over and broke something!

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Footbal · 20/07/2022 09:40

@LizzieSiddal, But he is not tripping over or breaking anything or wetting himself. He is having a tantrum because he is not getting his way.

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barelyfunctional · 20/07/2022 09:47

InChocolateWeTrust · 19/07/2022 21:19

I never gave in to my kids but why would you ignore a child in such distress

Because that level of distress over a missing cup is a crazy overreaction and they to learn that's it's not socially acceptable behaviour.

Kids have big emotions. These things are a big deal to them and their emotions are just as valid as an adult being upset about something. Helping them to regulate their emotions, for example with a hug as OP is doing, but without giving in to the demand is exactly the right thing to do.

Teaching your kid that it’s not socially acceptable to express their emotions isn’t healthy.

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NannyR · 20/07/2022 10:00

There's a lot of misconceptions on this thread as to what constitutes gentle parenting.
Gentle parenting doesn't mean that children have no boundaries and have free rein over their parents, this is permissive parenting.
I use gentle and respectful parenting techniques with the children I nanny for - they definitely have boundaries and know what is acceptable behaviour (in a way that's appropriate to their age). I would deal with tantrums in the same way as the OP, although maybe not quite so much explaining afterwards. Time out/naughty step isn't a particularly effective or kind way of dealing with behaviour issues.

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Mariposista · 20/07/2022 10:04

wherearebeefandonioncrisps · 19/07/2022 20:29

I never reacted to tantrums. You cannot reason with such a young child whose having a tantrum.
Cuddling them confirms to them that they'll get the attention they need to get what they want.
It'll pass. Be firm.

Agree. Move child to a place where he can's hurt himself or anyone else, then ignore. He can have cuddles when he is behaving nicely again.
He needs to be encouraged to use his words to express what he wants/needs and not his temper.

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EV117 · 20/07/2022 10:53

But he is not tripping over or breaking anything or wetting himself. He is having a tantrum because he is not getting his way.

I agree.
I don’t think many have suggested on here that a child should be punished for an outburst like that. I think you can acknowledge their feelings without reinforcing the idea that they are right to be so upset. A toddler may not understand that having the undesired cup is not the end of the world, but as an adult you do and it’s your job to support them in their growth of understanding that. A massive ongoing hug of sympathy for a tiny inconvenience just reinforces the toddler’s notion that it’s a big catastrophe. That does not support their emotional growth. Many have sensibly suggested distraction techniques. ‘I know you feel sad that you can’t have your cup right now, but oh look at this…’
Rather than mother and child hugging it out on the floor in the depths of despair.
And yeah if that doesn’t, ignore. Their initial feeling of disappointment is understandable - you’ve acknowledged that already - their ongoing reaction is completely over the top and it’s ok to show them that.
There will be plenty of countless opportunities where they will genuinely need a hug and sympathy for things that are understandably sad and distressing - a scary dream or a bad fall for example. As a pp said, the cup thing isn’t so much about distress it’s frustration about not getting what you want. Distracting children or ignoring a tantrum over a small thing does not teach children to suppress their emotions.

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