Physical tantrums at 3, help!

Nicole - posted on 08/13/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My 3 year old daughter has been aggressive since she was one. It got better when she learned to talk but now has awful tantrums when told no, kicking, hitting, slapping, head butting. I've tried leaving her in a 'safe' place until she calms down but she lunges after me and wraps herself around me. I've tried holding her. I feel like I've tried everything. I know tantrums are normal for this age but also have an 8 mo. old son I need to take care of. Since he gets upset when she does I often let him scream while I'm trying to calm her down. I've also experienced many bruises(recently bruised ribs) from her tantrums. Any suggestions? Despite her being so much smaller than me I have a very hard time controlling her and often end up going into another room(if I can) and screaming because I just don't know what to do. The only thing that seems to calm her down is giving in but I refuse to do that because then she isn't going to learn.The tantrums last for about 45 mins to an hr. I often feel like a SuperNanny episode except that Joe isn't there to tell me how to handle it! If anything has worked for you please share!

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Louise - posted on 08/13/2010

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Right time for tough love before you fall into the trap of giving in. Make your daughters room completly safe and put a stairgate on it that is stiff in the handle and she is not able to open. As soon as she starts to flare up warn her that you are not going to listen to this and then if she continues put her in her room. She may be violent with you so be careful. You have now removed her from the situation and your son and you are safe from attack. Leave her in her room as long as it takes for her to calm down. Checking on her regularly. When she has stopped having a tantrum go back up and try to talk to her calmly. Tell her you do not like being shouted at and from now on when she is not listening or hits people she will go to her room. She is 3 and does know what you are saying and what she has to do. Be prepared to do this for about a week as you have to break a habit of scream and shout and I get mummy to give in. Stand firm you need to regain control. Let minor incidents go but treat all full blown tantrums the same. Remove her from the situation and ignore her. She will soon learn that being ignored is not great and all the screaming in the world will not budge her mother. All children try this your only mistake was letting it continue by giving in sometimes. By having her somewhere safe you can calm down and be able to manage the situation better. Try not to scream infront the children as they are learning behaviour from mum. This is a hard technique to master but if you stick to your guns you will have a nicely behaved daughter who knows the boundaries. Good luck you are in for a rough time but I promise it will all be worth it.

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Louise - posted on 08/13/2010

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Screaming tantrums are normal at this age but Nicole is stating that her daughter can be quite violent as well. The best way to deal with this is to isolate her so that she can not cause physical harm to Nicole and to protect her young son from witnessing her outbursts. Just remember all tantrums are a control issue and that your child does not know how to deal with a situation. Tantrums stem from frustration of not being able to do something or not being able to have what they want.

Louise - posted on 08/13/2010

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I agree tantrums are normal at this age to push the boundaries of control, but a child that is kicking, slapping and head butting her mother at this age is seriously going some. I worked in day care for children between 2 and 5 and although I have seen many mums deal with a tantrum it is not often I see a child attack their mum. All children kick out when picked up to be moved whilst in the throws of a tantrum that is normal anything more than that is not. The only way to deal with a full blown tantrum is to completely ignore the situation because children that do this are just pushing for control. Unfortunately Nicole has a small child that is frightened by her daughters actions so the best all round is to isolate her to protect herself from being head butted and her son from experiencing her out bursts.

JuLeah - posted on 08/13/2010

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Talk with her when she is not pitching a fit about why she thinks she acts like this. Tell her you don't like the behvaiors, you get hurt, her brother is frightened, and it doesn't help her get what she wants.

Listen to her answers

I ask my child as she starts to pitch a fit, "Will this get you ???' (whatever she is wanting) As she gained some skill with this she was able to say, "No" and calm herself ..... "What will get you what you want?"

There is usually a way, but sometimes we have to wait - candy, not now, but after lunch. A toy seen at the store, not now, but maybe for your birthday.

My daughter would ask about every toy she saw in the store, and I would say, "Let's put it on the list" When we got home, if she even remembered, we add the toy to her 'birthday wish list' .... she knew she was not going to get everything on the list, but seeing what she wanted there helped her to wait .... sometimes she no longer wanted a toy and crossed it off (giving me a chance to talk about impluse buying :))

And/but your baby is just three .... so, I
d put her in her room while she calms down .... check on her every five minutes and remind her to take deep breaths .... my friend use to put her son into a bath (clothes and all if he was really fighting) because the warm water soothed him so much - he would play for a half and hour and then be fine

Some kids really really react to foods - my sister's second child would pitch a fit (hr or more) if she ate anything with red dye - she reacted to sugar in much the same way - some kids react like this to milk ... they really can not help themselves if it is a reaction to foods

Tantrums are 'normal' at this age, but fits that last an hour are a bit much, you are right is thinking more action needs to be taken

Kathy - posted on 08/13/2010

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This hard, especially with another younger child. I would suggest that when she has them sit on the floor near her, talk to her in a gentle tone, or sit quiet. This is letting her know you are not giving into her but still there for her. Children can feel like this is a rejection if they do not get their way but with you near her she will know you are there for her. This will take time but it will become less and less. I suggest this to all my new Moms make a shoe box (which you two can decorate) up with exciting new things in it and a healthy snack . She can then have that when you are busy with the little one and only then, this way it is her special time. This may help if you see she is frustrated, catch it early and suggest her special box time. This too shall pass, they are little such a short time and learning everyday. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs, I have been a stay at home Mom and I also have worked, it is hard to be home and hope you do it right!!!

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