What strategies work for your strong-willed child?

Jennette - posted on 06/14/2010 ( 181 moms have responded )

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I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter that is EXTREMELY strong-willed and independent. She seems to have a major temper-trantrum at least once a day. These tantrums involve kicking, screaming, hitting, pounding on things, and throwing things. Time outs don't work. Talking to her doesn't work. The only thing that seems to calm her down is locking her in her room. But even then sometimes it lasts for an hour or two. I'm at my wits end....I would welcome any suggestions from others that have been there and found something that works!

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Rebecca - posted on 06/14/2010

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Dr. James Dobson's "The New Strong Willed Child" helped me. (It's an updated version of "The Strong Willed Child" from about 25 years ago.) Also, "Tips for Child Training" by Reb Bradley. My 2 year old is strong willed, and I spank him. I was doing a lot of warning, like "I'm going to spank you if you don't stop", but that just fueled his will. Now, I ask him to do (or stop doing) something one time. If he doesn't obey, he gets a swat on the bottom with a wooden spoon (or any paddle, but not the hand, as mommy's hands are for nurturing). If he does it again, another little swat. Soon, he learns that mommy means it the first time and now he is "testing" my limits less and less. The basic concept is that when we allow the behavior to continue after the first command from the parent, we are essentially giving them permission to disobey until we give that final ultimatum (I'm going to count to 3...they know they can get away with it until 3). Same thing with tantrums (and mine has them a lot!). When he starts a tantrum, he gets a spanking. If he continues, another spanking. Soon he his doing that pitiful cry instead of the tantrum high-pitched scream. Then I know he's not being defiant anymore. If he reverts back to the scream, he gets another spanking. The problem, though, is that if you give up before he submits his will to you and humbles himself, it strengthens his will. He sees how much it takes for you to give in and he will go even longer next time just waiting to break you.

VERY IMPORTANT: Never spank out of anger, speak in a calm clear voice, and remember you are training your child to say "no" to his desires and submit his will to his parents. Be consistent, and follow through.

Sarah - posted on 06/16/2010

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Umm... Wow... I have a lot of thoughts on a lot of topics now, but I'll just stick to my answer to the first question, which was what strategies worked for me when my daughter threw a huge tantrum. My daughter was very hot and cold as a young toddler and child. One moment she was fine and the next she was so not fine there are not words for what she and I went through together. She screamed, she yelled, she cried, she kicked, she punched, she threw anything she could reach, and she didn't stop for well over an hour and most times she only stopped when she passed out from exhaustion. Calling what she did a tantrum, to me, trivializes what we went through because it was very extreme. Most of the time, she handled the realities of every day life in a lovely fashion, including times out, and deprivation tactics (grounding). But, when she didn't handle those things, she really didn't handle them, in a major way.

So, the following things helped in our situation:
1. Manage her desire to control her environment. Ex. Clothes, I put them on hangers with pants, shirts, skirts, whatever all matched up so they were in outfits. I gave her 2 choices every morning and she picked what she was wearing. (She hated pants, so I reserved them as punishment for very bad behavior. She REALLY hated wearing pants until she was at least 5). Another example: toys that are on a shelf are put away. She can put them anywhere she wants as long as they are not left on the floor. She is in control of what a clean room looks like, within the limits of what I will accept.

2. Help her learn to accept the things she cannot change. Every day had a schedule. Not all of those schedules were going to be the same every day. Every morning over breakfast, I would tell her a basic outline of what we were going to do that day... Ex: Today, we are going to the Drs office, and you need to be very good there. After that, we have to go to the grocery store, and you get to ride in the cart. You will get to pick out one thing from the grocery store for us to buy if you are good. (She was a goldfish girl, so she nearly always chose a box of goldfish crackers). After the grocery store, we have to come home and Mommy will put the groceries away and Rachel will play in her room or watch a video, whichever you want. After Grandma comes home, we will all go to the park and play. This way, she knew what to expect. She really liked that. If an emergency happened or something in the schedule had to change, I would get down eye to eye with her and tell her what had changed and how that would affect the rest of the schedule. I would always remind her of the things we needed to get done as we went. Most of the time, she only remembered that there was park in there somewhere, so I would remind her of what had to happen before we could go to the park. But, even though she couldn't name what we were doing that day, she knew if I had snuck something in without telling her, and she would call me on it.

3. Is something going on she can't control and doesn't understand? Rachel had a bit of a blood sugar problem. So, if she didn't eat often enough, her behavior was not in her control. With little ones, this is changing all the time. Eating 4 times a day could solve the problem for a week, but 6 times a day might be needed the next week. As mom, it's my job to see the signs of her behavior deteriorating and ask her if she would like a snack. Most of the time, she said yes and the problem was solved before it got started.

4. Consistency Consistency Consistency If Mommy says it, that's how it is. You need to behave while we are here at the grocery store. If that doesn't happen, you don't get your goldfish. (For kids under 5, always live in the right now, Goldfish I don't see don't exist. Pick them up first and put them back at the first sign of misbehavior. DO NOT CAVE. If you cave, you are teaching them that you will cave. You may have a miserable child the first 2 or 3 times you take them out somewhere with this plan, but you'll be amazed how remarkable the change is in their behavior once it clicks in their brain! For the first trips where this will be in effect, I recommend trying to go to the store at a time when the least amount of people will be there. Believe it or not, I did have a grown woman once suggest to me that it was only a candy bar and not worth having such a miserable daughter over. "You should just give her the candy bar and count your blessings because some of us don't get to have any children to raise." You can imagine that I took very well to her suggestion...

5. If all else fails, restraint. While I do believe that a well placed spanking can help in a situation that a child understands, a child in the full throes of a tantrum has lost all ability to understand what is going on and why. Most of the time, they wish they could stop as much as you wish they could stop, but they can't. So, as Mom, it is my job to help her stop as much as I can. In some cases, hugging will do this job, because it is calming, it lowers the heart rate, and regulates the breathing when it is out of control. In cases like my daughters, where they are flailing about and hurting themselves and whatever adult happens to get too close, you may have to be more active. For my daughter, what worked best was if I laid down half on top of her, with each of my hands holding one of her hands, and one of my legs holding hers. This way, my head was next to her head and she was restrained from hurting me or herself, and I was able to speak into her ear: It's ok. You're ok. Mommy's here. I love you. It's ok. You're ok... and so on. Sometimes I would sing to her Jesus loves you. After some time (for Rachel it was usually 15 minutes but might be as much as an hour when it was really bad), her hysteria would pass and she would be calm again. Usually by the end of all this, she was so tired that she would have a nap or some quiet time.

While these strategies were not perfect, they did reduce my daughter's temper hysteriums (my own word) from 2-3 times a day to once a week or less. As she got older, they were even less frequent and we have been hysterium free since first grade.

While you might not agree with the way I needed to restrain my daughter during these episodes, I can assure you that she always felt loved and secure in my care. Today, she is an amazing almost 15 year old, who is excelling at school and in life. She has an amazing spirit and a bit of a temper, which she has learned to control. She is a brown eyed red head and has all the spunk you would expect. I believe that frequently the concept of submission in spouses and children gets very twisted. It is important for all of us to learn to live within the rules, but never in such a way that it endangers or damages the spirit of the individual. Submission is not for the purpose of suppression of one's spirit, but rather of training and ultimately to free that spirit and child to be what it was meant to be without the hindrance that comes from outright defiance, which actually is a force of self suppression, IMHO.

So, with that, I close my novel. I hope my ramblings have given you some suggestions that will help with your child!
Sincerely,
~Sarah~

Rachael - posted on 06/14/2010

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There is a difference between just hitting, and spanking. My 5 siblings and I were all spanked as children, and it damaged none of us. We knew the difference between the two, and it made none of us prone to violence. My husband and I spank our 2 year old, although we use it as a last resort...generally when she's doing something dangerous (running into the street, jumping off the back of the couch etc.) My siblings and I have discussed spanking as adults, and my brothers especially have said that had they not been spanked for certain behaviors, they probably would have never changed them.

I don't see the need to viciously attack someone because you disapprove of how they discipline their children. If you talk to people in person the same way, what message exactly does THAT send to your children? That if you disapprove of someone that gives you the right to attack them? Violence is violence...verbal, written, or physical.

Sarah - posted on 06/15/2010

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This is supposed to be a website where moms can come together and share their opinions not tear people up for their beliefs. Stop judging the poor girl. You may not agree with her but stop being rude. She has not been rude or fired back at any of you. She just shared her opinion. You dont know how her child is going to turn out to be. What about all of these moms who try to be their child's best friend and the child does not respect their parents as an authority figure and they grow up to be rude disrespectful spoiled rotten brats. You dont have to agree with her. What kind of message are you sending when you treat people like that? Is it ok to talk to someone that way? Do you go around bad mouthing people like that in front of your kids? Are you telling your kids it is ok to talk bad to someone if you dont agree with them? Think about how you are acting. Please be respectful to others.

Rebecca - posted on 06/14/2010

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Look, Jennette asked "what strategies work for your strong-willed child?" I told her what works for me. If you don't agree, that's fine, but this isn't a spanking vs. not spanking debate. If something else works for you, great! Tell Jennette what it is! I will not go into the debate of why I do what I do and how it has greatly improved his behavior since I have implemented it, as I know that I will never change your mind and you will never change mine on a topic that we are all so passionate about. But my discipline style is rooted in God's word and I take my duty as a parent directly from the Bible. If you don't agree, thats fine, but this is what I do. If Jennette wants to try it, great, and if not, maybe she'll find one of your methods better. But I gave my opinion, and that's that.

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Janet - posted on 06/18/2010

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Hi Jennette
I have a daughter who is exactly the same - this began with her also around age 3. She's now 9 years old and STILL pushes through with her strong will. She still has occasional temper tantrums, but can now implement her intelligence more to try to get her way. When it fails, however, she throws things or screams. I see this as a personality type. On the positive side of this personality type are leadership qualities, fantastic organizational skills and a complete lack of any type of procrastination. Good and bad characteristics complement each other - in other words, we have to accept the bad with the good! Although her strong will and temper cause quite a chaos in our household sometimes (she has a twin brother), I must always try to focus on the positive aspects of her personality. I wish you much strength! Kind regards, Janet

Alison - posted on 06/18/2010

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Oh my god Rebecca I am horrified that you think its ok to spank a 2yr old child. Children do not understand consequences at that age and you should be ashamed of yourself. Your child is only being obediant now because you have managed to petrify him into obeying you. Children should also never be locked in their bedrooms. A childs bedroom is supposed to represent a place of solace and calm. I never want my own child to look at her beautiful room as a place of punishment. If my 15mth old has a tantrum it is usually out of frustration or bordem so we use distraction and lots of positive play. You state never to spank your child when angry. I find that very hypocritical. Not unless you just spank your child for the sake of it even when he is good.

Michelle - posted on 06/18/2010

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When my daughter throws a tantrum now I end up just telling her that I'm not talking to her while she's not being very nice and I totally ignore her. She doesn't like it very much but it works. After a while she will come to me and say "mummy" in a calm voice (well, calm with a few sobs) and after her saying sorry we talk. I found there was really no point trying to talk to her while she was angry as she would just shout back. If she is throwing things then perhaps when she's calmed down and said sorry then get her to help you tidy it all up again. It's very hard to deal with tantrums but just remember - firm voice but no shouting. Let her know it's you who is in charge by the tone of your voice and, if you threaten her with anything, like taking a favourite toy away for instance, make sure you are willing to follow that through because if you don't then she will never take any notice. Good luck. She will probably grow out of the tantrums eventually.

Tanya - posted on 06/18/2010

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Spanking? you need to see a doctor ... You are definitely on the wrong way. My kid is VERY difficult too, but this is because they are strong. We don't want to make victims out of them, just take advantage of the best of their character instead of the worst.

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it's also worth gaining a medical opinion - adhd?
and read and read and look for answers, as you are doing now, what works for 1 don't work for another :)

Deloris - posted on 06/18/2010

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I have a very strong-willed and independent daughter she is now 62 yeards old. When she was little about 4 years, she would get down on the floor and kick and scream, I asked my Mother what I sould do, as she had raised 8 of us, she said "when she does kick and scearm, take a glass of cold water and through it in her face" not a big glass a small one. You know it worked, she never kicked nor screams again. My Daughter who has 2 childeern i girl iboy, the boy tired it, Monica throught the water in his face, his remarks was "that not fair" but he never did it again, try it what do you have to lose, (just a little water)

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I found calmness, and directly saying to the child "i can see you're upset and having problems telling me why" and soon after it is over take time out and help the lil one express what and why and maybe find some coping strategies which work for both of you which will eventually lead to lessening of the tantrums and length of tantrum. Also knowing this will all take time and effort and needs to be a stable way of being for you and ur lil angel :)
if you can spot the tantrum coming (in time you can) diversion tactics and praise works well, if you can't.....sometimes it's best to walk away and truthfully say "you're hurting my head with your noise" and if you're out "you are upsetting others people.....these tactics work towards your lil one learning empathy towards others feelings - a valuable way of being for life, as many in society sadly care for no1 but themselves and their own group of people/family/friends.
PLEASE don't take the tantrum attacks personally they will not be aimed at you, at this age kiddies don't understand adult emotions and manipulations. Look at you own approaches to anger and the feelings anger engenders in you, gain some insight then you may be able to unpick your own feelings and thus be able to be calm hun
hope this helps.......i raised 5 children and had a mother prone to tantrums too xx

Priya - posted on 06/18/2010

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Try distraction. Star charts and rewards. Explain to her when she is not having a tantrum that when she gets angry she should go to the 'special table' and scribble on a sketch pad. When she is quiet, try making a plan then about the next time she has a tantrum, such as rewards.
Hope this helps!

Natishia - posted on 06/17/2010

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Has anyone tried cutting sugar out of their diets?? My grandson that is 9 and sugar seems to make him "mean" and very uncooprative. He has been known to hit and kick his mom at the Dr's office. He is also ADD. With my children I took away the things that were important to them. So for every child it was different. But I didn't do that til they were 8, 9, 10 and on. With my grandchildren. I started watching for the fit throwing around their 1st birthday, a little before. My youngest grandson Chase is 10 mo. old and just started. When he started to get mad and scream I told him in a very sturn voice, Chase Howard NO you do not throw fits. I see to his needs, see if he is hurt, or hungry. I have been around a few fit throwers, with my daughter I would stop her from throwing herself around and just hold her til she calmed down and that seemed to work for her. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Carry out your punishments. Explain to kids why it is important they do what you say, it helps keep them safe. Talk to your kids try to talk calmly they will listen better

Sam - posted on 06/17/2010

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being firm about whatever choice it was that created her having the tantrum is fine. if you say no to something you need to stick to it (generally speaking). but *hugs* and love are simply the most wonderful thing. my daughter has had heaps of tantrums, and in the end I found with her that she would calm down if she felt loved. she could then see that her essence is lovable even if her behaviour took a nose-dive. one really handy tip tho, is the addition of the concept of 'character coats', cos then the child can visualise shrugging off the character coat (ie the behaviour that isn't working). this coat idea can be used for ALL situations, from sleep to performance to exams....you name it, great for everyone! x x

Mandy - posted on 06/17/2010

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My strong willed daughter is now almost 5 and i have done the Triple P course, which unfortunately didn't work very well - too much screaming! Behaviour Tonics 1-2-3 Magic is an extensionand variation on that but is less prescriptive about how to do 'time-out' and works to keep you calm also. for my little girl, the counting seems to give her a sense of choice and control over her actions and slows things down. they also advocate using less words. this also helps with a smart kid. another resource i recently found was a book called parently a defiant child. it was brilliant in acknowledging the whole power and control a defiatn child gets into and provides tips for the parents as to how to work around this. For example, alternative ways of saying "stop that" is brilliant for diffusing a confrontational approach. hope this helps

Gaynor - posted on 06/17/2010

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Spanking a child just makes them fearful. They may not repeat an action purely out of fear of being physically punished again. I definitely don't want my children basing their decisions on fear. Also, like somebody said way above (back in June already), your child loses trust in you when you hurt them. We do not own their little lives, we are merely here to help them grow up and become amazing adults. It all comes down to being too controlling. I noticed that a lot of christians are very controlling with their children, for example, fairies are evil, so you can't read fairy tales, etc. My dad was like that. What an idiot. And he wonders why I won't let him near my children.

Jennifer - posted on 06/17/2010

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I have a 5 year old son with the same characteristics. I'm sorry that I don't have any words of wisdom because we have the same issues. We remain consistent even though he continues to have tantrums and many times things esculate. Eventually he comes out of it but his personality continues to be very intense and he continues to push all the limits. Everyday is an experience with my two boys. Just remember you are not alone and I will remember the same thing too. Take care.

Lynn - posted on 06/17/2010

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I have a 2 year old mini Diva in training also.....As an adult with ADHD I worry that she may grow up with similar issues. But before pushing any meds, maybe see if she has any food allergies that may be triggering the outbursts and agressive behavior. Sometimes a small thing can play a big part....My nephew started off on Depakote and a variety of other adhd and antidepressant meds. He was medicated for symptoms from some of the other medications he was on. My sister took him off of everything, had allergy testing done, changed his diet to remove the allergens and it has made every difference in the world. Her roller coaster ride lasted 14 years. He just graduated HS, and will be going to a great university in the fall.....so there is hope. I hope to learn from her experience.

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Ignore it, the child is only seeking attention and will eventually give up. Why is she having a temper tantrum every day? Probably spoilt and needs discipline.

Sherri-Lyn - posted on 06/17/2010

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Like I said what works once doesnt work the next time around. I spent almost $300 on dance lessons hoping to accomplish that ground and she would throw a tantrum and went about half the time. She loves arts and stuff but when she has a tantrum depending upon what it is she is usually yelling somewhere shouting don't look at me, kicking, screaming, throwing, etc. She even tried to pick a chair up that I was sitting in when I tried the ignore approach...cuz it will go away soon. They have breathing exercises to do that she is only sometimes willing to do the rest of the time I wait it out. I have been putting her in her room, close the door, and it lessens the intensity of it generally. I am a single parent I try and choose my battles. I have a almost 4 year old and a almost 1 year old. Like I said sometimes there is more going on. Like in this case after 2 years of being with behavioralist, therapist, behavior plans etc. they are now pushing for the psych eval....before she was too young to determine developmental behaviors and behaviors due to issues.

Elizabeth - posted on 06/17/2010

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find something she can do to calm her down like a hobby make legos coloring something she can do by herself for alittle while then went she calms done have a talk with her i also tell my grandson what would jesus do it really works

Sherri-Lyn - posted on 06/17/2010

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All I have to say is we are supposed to be offering helpful advice to one another. Instead, this has turned into a "bitch" fest where people seem to be verbally attacking one another. I don't look very often at the comments when the emails get sent. Seeing this has made me feel that it is an appropriate decision to stay away.
As for the behavior, I have a strong willed child. She will be 4. I will not say what method I use because what works once doesn't work the second time. I did get early intervention. My daughter has had a behavioralist since she was two. Some may find this extreme but what they found is she has all the characteristics of being ADHD. No amount of love will ever change this. She is currently awaiting a psych eval. Sometimes, 3 year olds just arent your average 3 year old. If the tantrums are every day and that long talk to your doctor. Because I have seen little advice worth taking on here. You know your child. Discuss this with your doctor because she may not be strong willed but actually have something else going on with her.

Julie - posted on 06/17/2010

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Just reading through a few thoughts and I have to say I want to try to use positive reinforcement more. The more I think about it how often do I say good job? Couldn't we all stand to hear that more often? Most complain but few think to compliment. I betcha toddlers like it too when you say you good job!

Maureen - posted on 06/17/2010

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Very great suggestions out there .... very helpful :) THANK YOU !! I have a 6 yr old still struggling with his very strong will and spills over to school ... did/doing the therapist thing ... sadly our home needs to have a professional tell the parents ... I have read the books & knew what would work as I did it along when he worked ALOT of hours ... but then when he was home he said he missed out on alot and there went my routine right down the toilet & back was the horrible behavior .... ongoing 4 yrs later..... UGGGGGG ... my telling my husband what needed to be done was accepted by him as my saying he was a bad parent ... I viewed his perception as being selfish as it is about the child not YOU ... so we struggle and I cannot do it alone .... so my son sees me as the total bad guy & all we do is fight. What works for us is the ignoring the bahavior ... when calm we have a discussion ... the key is patience & consistency & team work by both parents & other kids if you have them. My hubby is getting much better but & was never one for being able to listen to a crying baby ... the 2nd night we were home our son was crying - nothing out of the ordinary- he went to the ER with chest pains .... thankfully he was just stressed :O ... but you get the picture. Good Luck :)

Michelle - posted on 06/17/2010

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I cant understand why people are so against spanking? most adults have had spankings as children and were all ok. obviously there's a difference between a smack and abusing your children. At the end of the day every child is different!! some need a smack to correct their behaviour, some need hugs and some a firm talking to. I cant believe people can critizise others for trying to bring up their child the way it works best for them!

Inas - posted on 06/17/2010

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i always try to give them things they like everytime they make good things,i punish them when they do wrong like ,to be not allowed to watch cartoons for one day, it works

Maureen - posted on 06/17/2010

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Hey Lisa ... just an FYI for you .... I truly believe you have not been faced with a TRULY strong willed child. Our parents did alot of spanking NOT BEATING (there is a difference) and kids got the message and actually grew up not to be beaters. Every child is different ... a spank works for one while hugging & rubbing works for another....you should not so harshly judge ... this is about sharing information not bashing. Ease up

Mary - posted on 06/17/2010

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I work as a therapist with a number of parents who have strong willed children. My kids are 6 and 3 and both are strong willed. I love the book 1,2,3 Magic for my family and my clients. I also suggest "consistancy and flat affect".

Monique - posted on 06/17/2010

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Try taking a love and logic class at your local elementary school or ECFE they have a website, books and tapes as well, also try reverse psychology or holding her down (not like forcefully) but until she her body is calm, try telling her to "calm her body down", taking toys or privileges away put the best is to use position reinforcement by giving her reward stickers throughout the day when she does good thigns or a rewards chart or earning an ice cream or something fun when she does good things, ignoring tantrums

Afifah - posted on 06/17/2010

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my daughter is at the same age, though not so trantum, she is strong willed too.. Then a friend of mine who attended sand tray therapy told me that in an emotional state, our brain is like switched off... that's we can't talk things out (with everyone actually) in a high tense emotional state. Emotion is like water.. We don't stop it. We channel it.. turning it to something els...evaporate it... So when my daughter has her tantrum, like you, I put her in a room, tell her I'll give her time to cry if she still wants to do it, but I'll only talk to her if she calms down, so I'll wait. At first it took her 2 hours to calm down (and that was because she fell asleep), then it gradually resided to 5 minutes (it took us several month to do achieved it). What I do after the tantrum's gone? I gave her water, hugged her, asked her to play, sing, draw... anything that please her. then I asked how she felt... why she was so upset... My purpose is to understand her feelings and channel what's left of it.

I fing a tantrum child is a child with so much energy and strong emotion, , but don't know how to handle it. So all I do is help her channel it, express it direct or indirectly.

Hope my story may give you some ideas... Good Luck

Afifah

Mary - posted on 06/17/2010

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any behaviour you are not ignoring you are rewarding.

Think about it before you comment!
Attention positive or negative is still attention.

Rosa - posted on 06/17/2010

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never allow a temper tantrums, much less, kicking, hitting and so on, let them know you are in charge do not give in

Rosa - posted on 06/17/2010

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there is great book, i used when my 30 year old daughter was a little girl, if i remember correctly it was called the strong willed child

Rhoda - posted on 06/17/2010

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I had a couple of kids like that...The only thing that seemed to work with them is dumping cold water on them...beginning with a spray bottle, then a cup. My logic was, if you can't cool down on your own, I'll help you. The last time I had to do anything of the sort was when my son was 6 (he's now 15), and at that point, he had a severe meltdown. I put him, fully clothed, in the shower, and turned it on cold full blast. He learned in a hurry to get himself under control.
Maybe not the most politically correct solution, but it worked for me.

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More. give her a chance to make her own decision---what clothes to wear, some choice of foods, book at bedtime. Recognize when she makes good choices and praise her when she is just being a good kid. Talk to her about how nice it is when things are calm and talk about how to ask for things in that big girl voice. Explain that you do not say no all the time, and then make sure you say yes sometimes!

Brenna - posted on 06/17/2010

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I highly suggest the DIFFICULT CHILD book by Stanley Turecki. You can get it at Amazon for $11.56. I read it in one night in order to deal with my then 18 month old. My parents laughed b/c they read the same book for me. Also, as a teacher, I would recommend the Love & Logic techniques. You can google it, here is a you tube video:

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Wow! Some very strong opinions here. I have 3 daughters/ I used some of Love and Logic's excellent ideas on raising kids, but I also spanked for certain things. Nevertheless, here are some suggestions for you. Ignore the tantrums, reward the behavior you want. Teach the behavior you want, Model a 'big girl' voice instead of whining. Practice it before the child looses her temper. Time-out is supposed to be quiet, if she tantrums that is not a time out. I used to ask my kids how long they needed to cry, and then I set the timer. When they had finished crying, they did their time-out. Just like super-nanny, the child has to say why they were in time out, I threw my toy, I was screaming in the grocery store, I took my brother's stuffed animal, etc. They need to say they are sorry, then you hug. Any discipline needs to be followed by an acknowledgment of the unacceptable behavior, and an apology/forgiveness and then hug and I love you. So important for the parent to tell the child they love them. You can also teach them how to recognize their own need for downtime, if they are prone to tantrums. Kids often know they are getting close to loosing it and we can help them learn self-control, something this world could practice far more than it does. Best of everything to you. My girls were all strong-willed at one time or another, now they are caring young ladies.

Betty - posted on 06/17/2010

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i have read most of the advise that you have gotten so far and i must say some of it is crap. i am the parent of an 85lb 6 1/2 year old son. i tried spanking, it did not work. the hug thing is crap because i tried that as well [ very briefly] and all it did was let him know that if he wanted my undivided attention all he had to do was throw a fit. also with his size which he gets from his dad, i am 5ft. and 95lb. if he dont want a hug i cannot give him one without getting bruises od my own. so what worked for me is along the lines of a time out. time did not start until he was still and quiet, then 1 min. for every year of age. then after awhile he could get time added if he did not calm down. the first few took an hour or so to get a 4 min. time out. now he will sit and calm down in a minute or two and get it over with. this is what worked with him.

Chanea - posted on 06/17/2010

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people have different views on discipline of coarse you know diff strokes for diff folks many don't believe in spankings but i thing you fit the discipline wit the child ya know if you have a farely obedient child then theres no need in spankings but on the other hand if you have a child or children like mine then a spanking is in order don't get me wrong i never spank with out clothes on them and the amount of strikes depends on the crime, i never spank on the butt especially not on girls it can cause urinary problems . but i works on mine oh and never a spanking before the age of 2 and those are on the hands

Julie - posted on 06/17/2010

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@Widdershins - what a great post! I recently had to drag my child home from the park next door only to have some weirdo TAPE me thinking I was being abusive. I appreciate people caring enough that my child might be in jeopardy but taping me is just not helpful. How about helping me get to the door? btw - as for spanking I am not for it but some very smugly say they don't and then I see them abuse their children verbally so I have a hard time saying which is worse. A famous (now dead I think) pediatrician once said and I am paraphrasing - if it comes down between you killing the kid and spanking him or her - spank! Thought maybe some humor could lightened what is a heavy load for all of us!

T. Maenad - posted on 06/17/2010

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Oh my have I been there done that. My daughter once had a twenty minute tantrum in the doorway of toys'r'us -- we didn't even make it into the store!!! We didn't have too much getting thrown, but she could scream for hours. What worked for us -- disconnecting our parental ego during tantrums. Public tantrums are embarassing, but most of the time -- I'm not going to see these people ever again -- and if they're parents -- they're just glad they're not in my shoes. Trying to interrupt the tantrum ALWAYS made it worse. The best strategy seemed to be to give her a little space, and let her know that when she had calmed down, I was there for a hug. My husband is a physician and he had to think of it kind of like a seizure because we learned through experience that it just had to run it's course. I really like the love and logic stuff.
We did have some tantrums that went for hours -- once when my husband was out of town I couldn't get her to leave the park when I asked and when I finally physically put her into the car I drove her around for two hours while she screamed because I figured if we were both belted in we wouldn't get into a physical altercation (I was losing patience and I knew it).
We came to understand that if she was hungry or overtired she was more prone to a tantrum, and some days you weren't going to get five errands done, only one.
My strong-willed independent little red-head has turned into a kind, respectful 12 year old who is a brilliant student and a joy to all around her, her teachers adore her and many keep in contact with her years after she has left their classroom. Other moms have a hard time believing the stories I tell about her early years.
Hang in there, read a lot of love and logic stuff, she will mature and develop more self control. As she got older we did start a reward system for not melting down around minor things -- but she was five and had the ability to reason whether she was reacting in a reasonable manner or not.
Hang in there -- we need lots of strong-willed women in this world! You are raising a girl who will have the strength to deal with life's challenges -- and that's a good thing

Beth - posted on 06/17/2010

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First off I was spanked as a child and I have no violent tendencies, as a matter of fact I am probably compassionate to a fault at times. I do believe in spanking ( a swat not a pounding or a beat down) but I am also a firm believer in talking to your child after his/her punishment. If you just spank or put in time out without explaining WHY then you have accomplished nothing. It is our duty to teach our children.

Carolyn (Nana) - posted on 06/17/2010

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The best advice I know of is to hold your child while the temper tantrum is going on and letting the child know the tantrum is not accepted. Holding the child prevents her from hurting herself, you and other objects. Staying calm in the midst of a tenper tantrum is difficult . . . i remember well! However, your returning the same emotional discharge can only exascerbate an already tough situation. If you've received various suggestions and none of these are the assist you need, I wouldn't hesitate to get professional help.

Sincerely . . . Carolyn Wegner

Nancy - posted on 06/17/2010

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I can relate with my almost 3 year old. She doesn't have the temper tantrums everyday, but when she does, its terrible. I found that the only thing that works for her is to walk away and just let her get it out. When she stops, I then approach her and tell her that when she can talk to me in her BIG GIRL words, and tell me what is bothering her, then she can come and talk to me. I just ignore her until she stops. She seems to hate being ignored more than not getting what she wants.

Sandy - posted on 06/17/2010

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I'm the oldest of 8, I've raised 3 boys, I'm the grandmother of 2, all of which has been properly spanked. None of them have been arrested, they are not drug addicts.. they are excellent American citizens. Your so right, that's exactly what the bible says and exactly what it means. If more people would spank a child there would be less crowding in jails. Raise a child as a christian and they also learn and know respect for others.

Carla - posted on 06/17/2010

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I am a mother of three, and have run a private preschool for nineteen years. I have my child development associate, and am a junior majoring in education. Between, training and experience, I would rec. that you acknowledge that she is upset. Then, state why you think she is upset, like "I see your upset that you cannot have ice cream before dinner. Mommy loves you, but that is the rule." Then, as long as she is not in danger of harming herself, walk away. Let her have her tantrum. Pretend to ignore her. She may be overstimulated. You could begin logging her tantrums. What it was about. What happened before, etc. We do this is child care world. It may be a certain time of day, indicating hunger, exhaustion, etc. It could be simply she wants her way, is a leader, and cannot have control, as you are the mom and you are in charge. As hard as it is, that is the way it has to be. Make sure you are extremely consistent, very matter of fact, do not give her attention for negative behavior, and find opportunities to praise and acknowledge her positive behavior. She will challenge you more if it works. It will also escalate. So do not let it work. At three and a half, you could start a behavior chart and reward her for handling her frustrations in a positive way. She does need guidance in HOW to handle her frustrations, so helping her come up with alternatives is beneficial for everyone. Good luck. Some how we survive each phase as they mature into great people. Carla

Barbara - posted on 06/17/2010

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I have a little lady like that. She is a bright young lady and gets bored and frustrated alot of the time. I always tell her I will talk to you when you calm down and then IGNORE her ! It sounds terrible but I just go about my business and take no notice. She gets it eventually. It does get better and now my LO is 4 and is easier to reason with and distract. HTH x

Rhonna - posted on 06/17/2010

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Toddlers are surprisingle receptive to open communication, but the trick is all in the timing. Try putting (not locking) her in her room for a few minutes, then going in there to try and talk about whatever it is she is angry about. It could take several attempts, but eventually, she will cooperate, and as she gets used to this method, and as she gets older, it will go mush smoother and take far less time and effort. Always explain things. That is key. If you say NO to her, explain why it's a no in terms she can understand. If you stop her from doing something she wants to do, explain that she can do it some more later, but right now you have to stop because...etc. If she understands that she can have her way some other time, she will stop throwing fits. Spanking and punishment should never be used because you are teaching her that she cannot have negative feelings about something. Good luck!

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well, i read all of that and the one thing i did think was right was that we are all different with different kids, different storys we are all meant to be helping each other. being a parent is the hardest thing i have ever done. i do not always get it right, however, my kids know i will always be in there corner and that i love them. but they also know that i may not like what they are doing or acting. it is my job as a mom to make sure that they leave my house well balanced people ready to give back to the world.

Julie - posted on 06/17/2010

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I should also mention my son was having major sleep apnea issues around age 2 and for 8 months we had MAJOR behavior/eating/sleep issues because of it - ends up he had tonsil/adenoid issues. once removed his behavior improved dramatically so I would rule out physical issues too - just a side note to my previous comment. I am not saying he is perfect but is now sleeping through the night, eating better, and finally gaining weight. Sometimes there is a physical cause for these things that has to be ruled out but from the sounds of it you have a completely normal little girl - if she didn't do these things your ped might start to ask questions so in a way you have to be grateful too. Cold comfort I know when you are in the thick of it but it does help me a bit to know he is just doing what he is supposed to be doing.

Jennifer - posted on 06/17/2010

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Jennette great question crazy answers! I have a 3 year old that runs my house, it is easier to give in then to hit, scream and lock in a room but I have just started to take control back but it means I have to get off my butt and do something! I just walk over and whisper in his ear because he has to quiet down to hear me! So I tell him what he is doing wrong and why then if it doesn't stop he gets walked into his room and on his bed until he is done screaming!

Please everyone stop using the Bible to defend yourself or make a point we all have our own view on this and religion for that matter so post your idea and move on. Agree to disagree!

Arlene - posted on 06/17/2010

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Remain CALM...talk softly and do not show your frustration. Nothing really works with a strong willed child, a pediatrician may however be able to give some advice and therapy may be an answer as they can give suggestions also. Good luck

Jenny - posted on 06/17/2010

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My daughter is much younger, only 16 months, but she too has her tantrums and I know the "terrible twos" can hit at any age. We chose to use ASL (American Sign Language) with our daughter from the very beginning. When she starts into her crying frenzy I get down to her level and tell her "We can't help if we don't know what's wrong. Please use your words" It takes a minute or two, but she calms down and uses either her voice or hands to tell us what's wrong or what she needs. Sometimes I will hold her in my lap .... she squirms but I reinforce that I love her and want to help. And on other occasions, when this doesn't do the trick, I tell her I'm ready to help when she can talk to me and I wait it out.
I'm hopeful that this will carry through as she gets older.

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