How do I deal with her anger??

Vaunie - posted on 06/28/2011 ( 5 moms have responded )




Hi there, I have a beautiful four and a half year old daughter. Most of the time she's a dream, a pleasure to be around, wanting to help, good manners etc.... BUT....... sometimes (in fairness, not all the time) if she doesn't get her own way, or tries to do something I tell her she shouldn't do, she starts off with the usual "I don't want to" or "that's not fair", but then if I put my foot down, she all out screams at me. Now I don't mean a tantrum screach, I mean a full blown, red faced scream!! If I put her up to her room for a 'time out', all she does is throw things at the door, demanding to know when she can come out. Now, eventually she does calm down and say sorry, but if later on that day something else comes up, and I remind her that she could end up en her room again, it doesn't phase her at all, and it starts all over again!!! I also have a two year old girl as well, and she's starting to mimic her big sis. (obviously she doesn't know what she's screaming for, but I don't want her copping on). There's no apparant jealously towards her little sis or anything like that. (coz that's what I thought it was origionally) so I'm at a loss. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.


Katherine - posted on 06/28/2011




Totally normal.

Why preschoolers throw tantrums

A temper tantrum is the emotional equivalent of a summer storm — sudden and sometimes fierce, but often over as quickly as it starts. One minute you and your preschooler are enjoying your dinner in a restaurant, the next he's whimpering, whining, and then screaming to go home. Thankfully, tantrums may be less common during the preschool years than they were during the terrible twos, with children usually having them only once every couple of weeks (though some parents get no such respite). But when tantrums do hit, they're as challenging as ever. And, as many veteran parents will attest, tantrums may continue to make appearances from time to time well into the grade-school years.

Though you may worry that you're raising a tyrant, take heart — at this age, it's unlikely that your preschooler is throwing a fit to be manipulative. More likely, he's having a meltdown in response to frustration. Often, your preschooler's overwhelming emotions are to blame. Fearfulness, rejection by his peers, and sudden interruptions are frequent tantrum triggers for him. While he won't lose control as easily as he used to, he can slip into a tantrum when his emotions get the best of him.

Say your preschooler spies a picture of a scary monster in the afternoon. This can put him emotionally on edge, though he may not express it immediately. "When you put him to bed hours later, though, he might be more easily agitated than usual, and throw a tantrum that's linked to his heightened anxiety earlier in the day," explains Claire B. Kopp, professor of applied developmental psychology at California's Claremont Graduate University.
What to do when your preschooler pitches a fit

Don't lose your cool. A tantrum isn't a pretty sight. In addition to kicking, screaming, or pounding the floor, your preschooler's repertoire may include throwing things, hitting, and even holding his breath until he turns blue (don't worry; he'll eventually come up for air). When your child is swept up in a tantrum, he's unable to listen to reason, though he will respond — negatively — to your yelling or threatening. "The more I shouted at Brandon to stop, the wilder he would get," says one mother. What worked instead, she discovered, was to just sit down and be with him while he raged.

Stomping out of the room — tempting as that may be — can make your preschooler feel abandoned. The storm of emotion he's feeling can be frightening to him, and he needs to know you're nearby. Rather than leave him thrashing on the floor, go to him. If he's not flailing too much, pick up your child and hold him. Chances are he'll find your embrace comforting, and will calm down more quickly.

Remember that you're the adult. No matter how long the tantrum continues, don't give in to unreasonable demands or negotiate with your screaming preschooler. It's especially tempting in public to cave in as a way of ending the episode. Try not to worry about what others think — anyone who's a parent has been there before. By conceding, you'll only be teaching your child that pitching a fit is the way to get what he wants, and setting the stage for future behavior problems. What's more, a tantrum is frightening enough for your child without him feeling that you're not in control, either.

If your preschooler's outburst escalates to the point where he's hitting people or pets, throwing things, or screaming nonstop, pick him up and carry him to a safe place, such as his bedroom, where he can't harm himself. Tell him why he's there ("because you hit your sister"), and let him know that you'll stay with him until he calms down. If you're in a public place — a common breeding ground for tantrums — be prepared to leave with your child until he gets a grip.

"My daughter had an absolute fit at a restaurant because the plain spaghetti she ordered arrived with chopped parsley on it," another mother recalls. "Although I realized why she was upset, I wasn't about to let her disrupt everyone's dinner. I took her outside until she calmed down."

Talk it over afterward. When the storm subsides, hold your child close and talk about what happened. Acknowledge his frustration, and encourage him put his feelings into words by asking, "Is there something you want to tell me about what upset you?" Kopp suggests. Shy away from punishments — at this age, a tantrum is a sign that something is troubling him, so take time to talk about what that might be. If your preschooler has a tantrum before bed, hold off on your heart-to-heart until the next day. For the time being, simply calm him in your arms, tell him you love him, and help him to sleep.

Try to head off tantrum-triggering situations. Pay attention to what pushes your preschooler's buttons and plan accordingly. If he falls apart when he's hungry, carry snacks with you. If he has trouble making a transition from one activity to the next, give him a gentle heads-up before a change. Alerting him to the fact that you're about to leave the playground or sit down to dinner ("We're going to eat when you and Daddy are done with your story") gives him a chance to adjust instead of react.

Your preschooler is grappling with new kinds of demands from you, his peers, and his teachers, so offer him choices when you can. No one likes being told what to do all the time. Saying, "Would you like corn or carrots?" rather than "Eat your corn!" will give him a sense of control. Monitor how often you're saying no, too. If you find you're rattling it off routinely, you're probably putting unnecessary stress on both of you. Ease up and choose your battles — after all, would it really wreck your schedule to spend an extra five minutes at the playground?

Watch for signs of overstress. Though occasional tantrums and out-of-control behavior are a perfectly normal part of the preschool years, you do need to keep an eye out for possible problems brewing, Kopp points out. Has there been upheaval in the family? An extremely busy or harried period? Tension between you and your partner? All of these can provoke tantrums. If your preschooler is having tantrums every day, talk to his pediatrician, who can make sure that a physical or psychological condition isn't contributing to the problem, and suggest ways to deal with the outbursts.

Swap stories and advice about behavior and discipline with other parents in the BabyCenter Community.

Hope that helps.

This conversation has been closed to further comments


View replies by

Grandma Linda - posted on 08/29/2012




I am going through the same thing and our behavioral therapist recommends sitting in the room with throwers so they dont' hurt themself and tell them to take deep breaths while having a hand on their belly and feel the belly move in and out,it takes a little bit but it works our four and a half yr old son! He screams so loud when he is mad at me that I think he is going to pass out...It hurts the ears too. lol OH and continually tell her that when she is ready to talk your are waiting.Or when she is ready to listen she can go out of the room and when she is listening tell her why she is their and ask her if she is sorry or in some cases have her tell you that she won't do it again,what it was that she did even if it was just screaming at you. She has to know that it is not acceptable in your house or anywhere else and you have to stay calm the whole time too which is hard,I understand that...

[deleted account]

Maybe you could try giving her choices as you see these tantrums coming on. kids that age need to feel in control of their actions. sounds like maybe she is not in control and when she is not in control she loses it.. When she wants something that is setting her off, give two other choices that she may want to accept, both being ones you can deal with.
unfortunately some children, have these tantrums and no one really knows why. maybe she is doing it for attention. you could try completely ignoring her , but still be in the room. Do not leave her to feel abandonded but let her know you will not aknowledge her at all when she is in that mode. as oon as she is done(I know it is hard) say, wow, I am sure glad you have calmed down, now we can 'read a story' or some kind of reward for calming down.
in other words, reward the good behaivor, and ignor the bad. If it truly is an anger thing I would say you need the help of a Pshycologist to help you figure out the trigger.

Vaunie - posted on 06/28/2011




Hi Katherine, Thanks a million for getting back to me. I thoroughly agree with what you say about tantrums, and it's pretty much what I do. But what I'm talking about is specific temper. Knowing what sets her off, is not getting her own way. And she seems to think that the longer she continues, the more chance she stands of getting her way. I'll also add that I've never given in while she's like this, so it's not as if she used to get her way and now doesn't. When she eventually realises she's not getting her way, she can sometimes revert to an angel in the blink of an eye. Thanks again, Vaunie.

Join Circle of Moms

Sign up for Circle of Moms and be a part of this community! Membership is just one click away.

Join Circle of Moms