Violent temper tantrums

Erin - posted on 06/20/2010 ( 36 moms have responded )

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My 3 yr old son has been having violent tantrums. He screams, bites, and scratches me. I've tried holding him down till he calms down, but it doesn't work. I don't know what to do. It makes me sad, because he's usually such a sweetheart.

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Holli - posted on 07/01/2010

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I'm not trying to scare anyone, but coming from the medical profession I have some ideas for any parent of a child with violent tantrums. All children have tantrums, however, violent tantrums where they are hurting themselves or others is not considered common. You should speak with your child's pediatrician. There could be some issues that could go unnoticed until they start school, and the sooner it is caught the better. It is not uncommon for children with ADHD, Autism (all forms, and violent tantrums are called "meltdowns"), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), epilepsy (seizures), etc to have extreme and uncontrollable behavior at times when normally they are a sweet heart.



The hypoglycemia (very common) is easy to test at home, if the child starts getting grumpy try giving them some juice and if they perk up (and this works repeatadly) then you may have found your problem and is sooooo easy to control.



There is a testing process for ADHD and those children can have tantrums because they just can't control their energy anymore and it just suddenly explodes. (My little cousin) But many are successfully treated.



Autism is a lenghty testing process. My daughter is a high-functioning atypical. Most of them have "meltdowns" because they go into overload and can't deal with any more. My daughter will cry, bite herself and sometimes hit her mouth and slap herself in the face. She can't controll it, sometimes they last 10 minutes, sometimes 2 hours. Usually they don't happen out in public, but on rare occassions they do and, yes, I do get the "spoiled brat" comments until I let them know she is Autistic which affects her neurologically and developmentally and an Autistic meltdown is like an epileptic seizure. They have no control and it just has to run its course.



Epilepsy is much easier to test for. And contrary to popular belief, not most seizures are "drop and flop". Depending on where the seizure are in the brain, they can also affect someones behavior. I have epilepsy, and before it was controlled I once had a seizure that sent me into a "laughing fit" for about 10 min. Of course, my face wasn't laughing... I was scared and embarassed, but I kept laughing. Thankfully I could still nod and shake my head to communicate.



Anywho, those are the 4 red flags that come to mind. Of course there are children that are just plain stubborn and strong willed. But speaking with your ped will do 1 of 2 things: worst case scenario... they are diagnosed with something. Best case scenario... they are healthy, but your ped has alternate behavior modifications you haven't tried yet. Most peds aren't there just to give shots. :) If you have any questions, let me know.



PS. If something didn't make sense, sorry, I'm writing this in the middle of the night and am doing.... interesting at forming thoughts. :D

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Ideally is to try and diffuse the situation before he gets to the temper tantrum. Do some observation to determine what is triggering him and try to intervene when you can.
When talking with him about what ever is leading up to the cause make sure you get down to his level and talk to him in a calm voice. Try and help him find the words to describe how he is feeling and have him help you come up with a solution to the problem.

If you miss the triggers and he gets to the point of having a tantrum. Do not hold him down as you already discovered it doesn't help. Only hold him down if he is trying to hurt himself and then you literally bear hug him from behind sit him in your lap and cross your legs over his and just talk calmly and quietly to him about how you know he is angry, but it's not okay to hurt himself and that Mummy will let go as soon as he calms down enough to show Mummy that he's not going to hurt himself any more etc.

Otherwise just move him to a clear space and calmly put him back every time he tries to get up to hit/bite/scratch you or someone else and just firmly and calmly tell him: You have to stay here until you calm down.
Once he has calmed down get down to his level and tell him that you understand that he was angry, but it's not okay to kick/hit/bit/scratch and scream at people. Have him give you a hug and say sorry.
Then give him specific strategies to use for next time and if the tantrum was over something like cleaning up the toys. He still has to help clean up the toys.
Make sure that if he tantrums over something like picking up toys or picking up something he threw etc that once he is calm he has to follow through completing the task.
Otherwise he will just continue to tantrum to get out of doing what ever it is he doesn't want to do.

Since this doesn't sound like a constant many times a day thing, I suspect it's being triggered by his inability to express through words what he is feeling.
If it's happening at transition times a lot (getting ready for outside, cleaning up toys, getting ready for bed). Try giving him warnings in advanced that he will have to get ready to clean up soon or go outside soon etc Give intervals of like 15 minutes then 10 then 5 then 2 and then 1 minute to _________. Some kids just need that extra preparation.

I kinda rambled but I gave you the general in a nutshell possibilities for curbing tantrums. I hope something in it all helps!

Good luck!

Joana - posted on 07/04/2010

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While I am agreement of many of the previous postings, there is something else worth looking at and that is food sensitivies - especially if your child has frequent diarrhea, constipation, eczema or other skin issues. My son would do all the same things UNTIL we decided to remove milk products and gluten products from his diet. There is info out there that some proteins get entered into the blood stream undigested and attach to the same neuro receptors as opiate narcotics. Therefore, these kids have mega-tantrums, aggression, difficulty focusing, hyperactivity and become irrational. It's not easy to do but I think everyone whose kids continue to have behavioral issues despite the typial approaches suggested by everyone else should look into things like gluten-free casein-free diets to see if it helps...it sure made a HUGE difference in our lives!

Erin - posted on 07/08/2010

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My 2 yr old does that also, i tend to just walk away, when she doesn't have an audience she usually stops. there have been times that they've gotten really bad, with banging her head and biting herself, so that's when i usually do what you do, and hold her till she stops.... for my girl a single pop on her diapered back end also helps, it shocks her and she finally stops all of it. Patience is the most important thing though, stay cal, if you lose your cool it will make it worse. Good Luck

Annery - posted on 07/04/2010

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Holding him down makes it worse. Watch Super Nanny, she gives u very good tips. Children usually do dat to get attention and ur falling into it. Give him time outs, take his favorite toy away. IGNORE him when he throws his tantrums. When tantrum is over then sit down talk with him and ask him what upset him. Explain dat talking with u and letting u know what the problem is then u can find a resolution but not if he is gonna b kicking and screaming. Scratching n biting not acceptable, why would you even let it get to dat point. U need to pop him in da mouth when he bites, smack his hand when he scratches n teach him to start respecting his mother. WATCH SUPER NANNY CALL HER IF U HAVE 2

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Alison - posted on 06/10/2012

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I'm going through the same thing with my son and I'm at a lost. Lately when I hold him down to calm him down he tries to kick or bite me. I don't know what do do..any advice out there?

Skyler - posted on 07/04/2010

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my 15 month old has gotten into his "temper tantrum" stage and he goes crazy ! i usually just let him sit on the flOor and act up and stare at him until he gets the point that him acting up isnt going anywhere & then he usually stops.

Cheryl - posted on 07/04/2010

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The naughty chair immediately. Remember that he will run off and continue the bad behaviour many times, but he must be carted back to the naughty chair NO MATTER WHAT! One minute per year of his age, and then if he APOLOGISES he can come off. It gets worse before it gets better. Watch Super Nanny on TV. : )

JOANN - posted on 07/04/2010

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MY ALMOST 2 YR OLD DOES THAT PLUS HITS ME AND THROWS HIS WHOLE BODY ON THE FLOOR WHERE HE HAS ALMOST HURT HIMSELF, HIS DR SHOWED ME, AND I SHOWED MY SISTER, HOW TO HOLD HIM WHERE HE WONT HURT ME OR HIMSELF TILL HE CALMS DOWN. HIS ISSUE IS WERE 90% SURE HE'S A.D.H.D LIKE HIS FATHER, AND CANT START TESTING OR TREATING TILL 3, BUT LAST TIME HIS FIT LASTED TWENTY MINUTES BUT HE DIDNT LIKE BEING RESTRAINED, AND HASNT DONE ONE THAT BAD SINCE.

Natasha - posted on 07/03/2010

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if my son was doing that, i would bring him to see a behaviour specalist. Then you can get perfessional affective ways to help him stop. :)

Jennifer - posted on 07/02/2010

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i am going through the same thing!!! after going through timeouts, spankings, restrictions, holding him down, scolding him.... AH!
I found something that works with my son (will be 4 this month)- silent treatment. I coem from a family of screamers and so I've been working on not engaging my son verbally, thus becoming a four year old myself, lol. If we're in the car, I tell him what's he;s doing that is not okay and that it makes me very sad, I turn up the music, and let him get it out of his system while I don't answer or say anything to him. if we're at home I do the same thing but he is in his room and on his bed and he's become very receptive to it.

It's not the same as the silent treatment- I am choosing not to let my child beat me with his attitude by letting myself argue with him, thus engaging him to continue.

Angela - posted on 07/01/2010

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haha i thought i was the only one my daughter is the mean one in my family out of two boys and her she scratches slaps throws thing ect. i learned that if i put her in her room leave her alone she finally comes out and calms down on her own but she still gives me the evil look like it is my fault lol good luck

Catherine - posted on 07/01/2010

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I put my daughter in her room by herself for one minute per year, she's 2 1/2, and she calms down pretty quickly. Then I open her door and talk to her about why she was put in time out. She's always calm and wants to be held after we talk.

Allie - posted on 07/01/2010

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My daughter is 2 years old,she has tantrums and she screams sooooo loud and throws things and she jumps up and down,throws herself i mean literally throws her self on the floor ! she hits her self and bangs her head on what ever she can bang it on, floor,table,Etc. i don't know how to handle that with her.my son is only 5 months so hes not bad yet lol. i have tried putting her in a room by herself and it just makes it worse,i have put her in time out she just throws her self and bangs her head on the wall. do you think its just a phase?

Tercia - posted on 07/01/2010

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When my little girl throws a terrible tantrum that includes violent behaviour, I turn around and walk away (after ensuring she's safe, of course). Really works, she loves attention and hates being ignored.

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IT'S BAD BEHAVIOUR, AND BAD BEHAVIOUR SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED OR DISTRACTED, BUT PUNISHED. GIVE HIM A HIDING!!!
Each to their own, this is what we did. Luckily(?) my kids did the silent, sulking tantrums. They soon stopped.

He'll maybe do it once or twice more, but then he'll understand that it's NOT acceptable. YOU are the parent, YOU should be in charge, not your 3 year old. He' is ruling you, and you are allowing it.

Putting him in his room (full of toys) is a pointless exercise as he likes it there, so to me that sounds more like a reward than a punishment.

I don't think it would be possible for you ignore his tantrums as lots of mothers do, as he PHYSICALLY ABUSES YOU, but if you thought of doing that you are subjecting others to your child’s bad behaviour, as they have to witness it, and you are not doing anything about it. Don’t take this personally, but I would be ashamed to have others see my children throw tantrums, never mind my toddler physically abusing me.

After the hiding, I tell them that when they are done crying, they are welcome to come to me to discuss what happened. They ALWAYS come. I used to explain to them, but now that they are older, I ask them: "Why did you just get a hiding?" They usually know, and say sorry out of they own accord. I ALWAYS tell them that they didn't get a hiding because I don't love them, it's because I love them that and I want them to be well adjusted, mannered adults.

The trick in the beginning is that the child should know the difference between a smack and a hiding. My kids know the difference, and if they are tendering for a hiding, all I have to do is say: "The next time you do that, you'll get a hiding" and they stop, because they know the consequences of their behaviour.

Debbie - posted on 06/28/2010

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need not do much...leave him alone in hazardless environment until he calms down..try not to comfort him much as this will add on his tantrums...talk and comfort him with love when he's cooling down...

Lynn - posted on 06/28/2010

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Hi Erin,
I feel your pain! My 3 1/2 year old daughter thankfully doesn't bite or scratch but she has tried hitting and throwing things on more than one occassion. This weekend I started a "Zero Tollerance Policy" on tantrums and to some extent whining. Basically this means if a tantrum starts she goes straight to her room until she can calm down. If she comes out I put her back in and just keep repeating it. If she does something like hit or throw things then she gets a time out, which means that I shut the door to her room and she can't come out until I say so. I will confess it has been a tough couple of days and I do not think I'm near the end of the road. However, this morning after a huge tantrum and a time out she was allowed to come out of her room but when she realized she wasn't totally back together she went back to her room on her own and had about a minute long cry and then she came back all smiles. I was thrilled that she recognized that she needed an extra minute and took herself to her room without me saying anything. I felt like it was a major breakthrough!
I hope this helps and just remember (as I have to keep reminding myself) you are not alone, there a lot of other parents dealing with these same issues.

Good Luck!

Debbie - posted on 06/24/2010

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My two year old has started to throw things when she has a temper tantrum. The best thing to do is just put them in their room. We removed all of her toys to the living room(she wouldn't go to sleep at night), so her room is pretty dull. Tell him he can come out when he calms down. Wroks for us. Don't leave him too long, one minute for each year seems to work, but if he hasn't calmed down then give him three more minutes. Good luck!

Heather - posted on 06/24/2010

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When I was growing up, if I threw a temper tantrum, my mother would pick me up, carry me into my bedroom, give me a hug, tell me that she loves me but I can't come out of my room until I stop throwing the tantrum and can talk to her about what's wrong in a calm manner.

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hi i have all that with my 4 and half year ald son when he just turned 1 and he is still like that also there are some corse you culd try is the butterflys corse which will help you and your son or daughter and will teach you different ways to deal with the behaviour like im iv been on it foe 2 weeks and i find it helpful ask you health visitor about it may help

[deleted account]

Maybe telling him that this is not acceptable behavior and then ignoring him.

You could also introduce an outlet for him... Like a pillow he can scream into when he is upset...

C - posted on 06/22/2010

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when children throws tantrums, they are just trying to get your attention. Often times, we give in to this. Just ignore them.After the tantrum moments thats the time you talk to your kid They will soon realize that tantrums will not take them anywhere.

Amanda - posted on 06/21/2010

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My daughter also throws violent fits. She's four and will be five in December. I've found that sometimes simply trying to reason with her works. Have you tried getting down on his level? Sometimes with my daughter just dropping to my knees and talking to her in a very soft tone will get her to stop what she's doing and pay more attention to what I'm saying. If she's beyond reasoning I just tell her when she's don't behaving that way we can talk about why she's upset but until she's done I will not converse with her. I have to agree with everyone else in their saying that when he's beyond reasoning just try making him go to his room and tell him you all will talk when he's done behaving that way.

Lyndsay - posted on 06/21/2010

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I have always found the best thing to do is ignore tantrums. If he is being violent towards you, then lock him in his room and let him tire himself out. If you're scared of him hurting himself (like if hes a head banger) then make him wear a helmet when he goes on time-out.

Alejandra - posted on 06/21/2010

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I was having the same situation with my 2 years old little girl...and well...for us at the beggining was sad...but! something works for us: it was a time out in her room and then we start (my husband or me) to speak softly and ask her to calm down and tell her that: "this situation dont like it and make us sad, please calm down and try to talk instead screams"....and while we were speaking so softly she was calming down as magic...

Melissa - posted on 06/21/2010

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NAUGHTY CHAIR TIMEOUT!!! My son went through that, and i got a little camper chair, told him it was his naughty chair! whenever he would act up i would tell him if he did it again he would have to sit on the naughty chair! if he did it again id place him on there for three minutes - as he was 3years - and ignore his crying and pleading! the key is consistency!!! and be firm!!! you may have to place him on there a few times but never give up! he needs to know you are the BOSS!!! When the three minutes are up, ask him what he did wrong, then explain what he did wrong and why it is wrong then tell him you love him and let him play again! Always say you love him and dont hold grudges, this actuarlly worked for my son and my two nieces!!! Goodluck sister now show him whos boss!!

Suzanne - posted on 06/20/2010

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My two year old son does the exact same thing, well minus the biting. The biting went away with a simple flick to the cheek he hated it. But I have yet to conquer the rest of the issues. I have tried it all, the sending him to another room the putting him in time out, I did learn not to spank. It just upset him more. I wish you all the luck, and if I find a solution I will sure to pass it along.

Amanda - posted on 06/20/2010

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Put him in his room and leave him there. Tell him his behaviour is unacceptible, and he may not leave his room until he is ready to behave like the sweet child he normally is.

Diane - posted on 06/20/2010

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when my 2yr old son throws a fit i send him to his room and tell him to close the door (which he slams like a teenager lol). he comes out when he is done with his attitude check like nothing ever happened. If he wont go in his room stand him up and pat him butt all the way to his room. I did that with my son at first so that he knew i ment busness and now he will just walk to him room on his own.

Jennifer - posted on 06/20/2010

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oh my! i thought it was just my son! he doesnt bite or sctratch but he throws stuff and screams like an adult...

Birttney - posted on 06/20/2010

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You need to leave him alone until he calms down. Let him know you are not going to pay him any attention until he does. Holding him down will probable only make him madder. Just let him throw the fit and calm down.

Nicole - posted on 06/20/2010

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Have u tried distracting his attention with something else? Is he also hyperactive? My son is. You should ask an occupational therapist..

Krystal - posted on 06/20/2010

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Have you tried putting him in a room by himself? I find that when my son is throwing a tantrum when I leave him alone he calms down faster than if I try to do something about it.

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