My daughter is 4 and has tantrums that include hitting herself when i say no...what do i do?

Tara - posted on 04/11/2011 ( 5 moms have responded )




My 4 year old has these tantrums that include hitting herself, pulling her hair and wetting herself. These tantrums only occur when i say no and she can't get her way. She is uncontrollable. I need some advice, i just don't know what to do.


JuLeah - posted on 04/11/2011




Kids don't hit themselves hard enough to do real harm. They hit themselves hard enough to get you to say 'yes' - this is like holding her breath till she turns blue. Some kids do that, but they strt breathing again when they pass out :)


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Sylvia - posted on 04/13/2011




IF you're correct that she's doing this only "to get her way", then the tactics others have suggested will probably eventually eliminate the behaviour (sooner or later depending on how strong-willed she is!). She will also eventually grow out of it.

You should realize, though, that there may be more going on -- the proximate trigger of a meltdown or other extreme behaviour is rarely the same as the root cause. Is this new behaviour? If not, has it recently gotten worse? What, if anything, has changed in your DD's life recently? Could food sensitivities be involved? (In young kids, food sensitivities and allergies sometimes manifest as behavioural issues rather than what we think of as allergy symptoms.) Does she go to JK (or whatever the equivalent is where you live), and if so, is she having any problems at school? Have you recently moved, or are you expecting, or is anything else happening that she might be experiencing as a stressor? (Sometimes events or changes that adults can easily take in stride are really stressful for little kids.)

You say "she's uncontrollable". Do you feel that it's your job to control her? If so, why? What kinds of situations trigger the meltdowns -- in other words, what are you saying "no" to, and when? Is her reaction always the same, or is it worse when she's had less sleep the night before or when she hasn't eaten for a few hours? Is she very verbal, or does she have trouble using words to tell you what she needs?

Obviously if she's asking for something outrageous, like her own TV or chocolate cake for dinner or an expensive toy every time you go grocery shopping, saying "no" is reasonable, and you need to stick to your guns. But you might think about picking your battles. Are there other things where you could say "yes" and the world wouldn't end? If you're fighting about stuff like which shirt to wear or which cereal bowl to use or which park to go to, ask yourself whether it actually matters.

Jennifer - posted on 04/11/2011




My kid tried that also, but I just ignored him and told him I wouldn't talk to him until he could behave himself. I didn't worry about him hurting himself, mostly because I knew what a very hard head he has! Once he realized it wasn't going to work, the behavior when away. It was most stressful when he would tantrum in public. Sometimes I just had to leave the place (grocery store, mall, whatever) and wait him out. It was no fun, but like I said, eventually he realized it wasn't going his way so he gave it up.

[deleted account]

Ignore her as much as possible. I know at 4 that is hard but it is the attention she wants. Put her in a chair or somewhere else like that until she calms down. Don't acknowledge her unless she is really hurting herself.

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