Toddler Tantrums, out of control…help please!

Tiffany - posted on 11/05/2015 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I have a 3 year old who can be very sweet when he wants to be but within the past year to year and a half his behavior has gotten increasingly worse. I’m literally at my wits end. 2 nights ago he had a tantrum that lasted over an hour and included him repeating the same thing over and over again, kicking screaming, crying, demanding, not following directions (take a shower, eat dinner), cursing and urinating on himself. Last night he cried himself to sleep for 30 minutes because he wasn’t allowed to watch TV. We cannot even go out to eat because he throws outrageous tantrums. I have tried taking things away and having him earn them back, corner, time out, yelling at him, talking calmly and trying to reason with him, spanking, rewards for good behavior, letting him cry it out, ignoring the behavior, NOTHING WORKS! I have also tried enrolling him in sports to keep him busy and not in trouble and he seems lazy or uninterested. Now this morning his preschool came to me about his behavior and stated they will have to write him up next time and he may be removed from the school. I mentioned this to the doctor about 6 months ago and she said this is normal behavior and I have to deal with it until he outgrows it. After working with children for a number of years, I disagree with her but would like other opinions. I’m not a negligent parent, I don't just prop him in front of TV and call it a day, we go many places and do many things together so I don’t think he’s “missing me”. I have made an appointment to see a different doctor next week and was going to ask that his teachers keep notes of his actions at school……any help, ideas, suggestions, comments? I’m a single mom and my boyfriend does try to help but we are both stressed to the max and we see no improvement at all. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

*Note: not sure if this makes a difference but his father does have major anger/rage issues and uncontrolled ADHD. He has some contact with his father (court ordered visitation) when he comes around and after being with his father his behavior is always worse. Father says “it’s just his personality and he needs love, not more discipline”.

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Strong - posted on 11/05/2015

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I’m sorry that you’re facing a difficult time handling your son. I came across this information (http://bit.ly/1WAXxM4) and I think you might find it helpful, too. You may also want to get in touch with the counselors mentioned at the bottom of this Q&A. They can surely help you sort things out. *Hugs and prayers*

Sarah - posted on 11/05/2015

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It does sound like he is a little more impulsive than a typical toddler. A behavioral therapist may help a lot. You can request an evaluation of his behavior from your public school and they will provide services if they are warranted. He may grow up a lot in the next year and have better self control, but a little help won't hurt him.

Dove - posted on 11/05/2015

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It definitely sounds like issues more extreme than anxiety and depression. Get some help for you guys so you don't have to keep suffering through and wondering what to do. It won't be EASY, but it will be much more survivalbe w/ some help. ♥

Tiffany - posted on 11/05/2015

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Sarah E. - He has the same fits and same blow ups at school. At least once a week he will have a full blow up, other days it’s smaller blow ups. And he will randomly just go up to a child and push them or start to fight with them. The other day a little girl walked by him to use the restroom and he just shoved her for no reason.

Sarah - posted on 11/05/2015

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I agree with Dove that a behavioral therapist or child psychologist may help you a great deal. Sometimes just the way you phrase your instructions can make all the difference in your child's response. At 3, he doesn't have all the skills to tell you how he feels and that can spill out as a tantrum. Ignoring tantrums, in my experience, has been the most effective way to end them. When you plead, bargain or yell it just fuels the fire and the tantrums go on and on.
What are the issues at school? Does he have fits there? Is he fighting with the other kids?
It sounds like you are already on the right track, by letting him fuss it out in bed. If he won't eat, fine he can go without. If he won't shower, fine he won't offend anyone with his 3 yo body. If he wets himself, try to not react and simply say; "oh you've had an accident" and hand him dry underpants and clothes.
You should be able to expect him to behave for you to go out to dinner. Set the rules before you leave, no yelling, no throwing things, no banging the table. Go prepared to keep him occupied; coloring books, small toys etc. Make it quick, in and out as fast as you can. If he is successful, then praise, praise, praise. What a good boy, what a big boy, I am so proud. Finally be prepared to make a quick exit. Tell your waitress, you made to leave in a hurry. Church, restaurants and the library are the only place I ever left with a child having a fit. Otherwise I just stood there until he or she burnt out.

Dove - posted on 11/05/2015

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Punishing him for freaking out is not going to to help. You may just have to let him freak out (in his room) until he is done. After he's been freaking out for a while he MIGHT welcome a hug... or that might make him freak out more. He is acting out of control because his emotions ARE out of control. It's as scary for him as it is frustrating for you.

Now... I do not know what his 'problem' is, but he sounds like a slightly more extreme version of my son when he was younger.... and my son was diagnosed w/ anxiety and depression at 5.5 years old. That 'could' be an issue for your son... or it's possible to be something else... or he may just need to outgrow it like the doctor said. It's really hard to know at this point.

I would definitely see about talking to another doctor... perhaps seek some counseling and/or an evaluation for your son. A good child psychologist would work w/ you on his behavior... because even if it IS just something he needs to outgrow... it sounds like you could really use the help and support and that's what they are there for. Hang in there and good luck!

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