How do you deal with temper tantrums?
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  1. #1
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    Default How do you deal with temper tantrums?

    I look after a little boy who is 2 and a half. He's always had a temper on him, but his tantrums lately have become dreadful. He doesn't have as many as he used to, but the ones he has are very intense and can last over an hour.

    They usually happen when he's tired or hungry, so if I see either happening I try to act quickly. If I miss the trigger though, we all suffer.

    It might start by him throwing things, or hitting out and if I tell him to stop, the tantrum starts. I have tried telling him no in a variety of 'gentle' ways, but it makes no difference. In fact it makes no difference whether I say anything or not. He'll still have a tantrum. What happens next is endless screaming with him shouting that he wants something, then doesn't want something. Eg, he'll throw a car on the floor, then scream that he wants it. I'll hand it back, so he screams that he doesn't want it. I take it off him again, so he screams that he wants it etc etc. It can be anything. I'll offer him a drink, so he'll scream that he doesn't want it, but as soon as I move it away he'll scream that he wants it. After a while he'll move onto something else, but it's always the I want it/I don't want it scenario. It's not something I've come across before. He clearly doesn't know what he wants or doesn't want as he'll often be holding what he screaming for, or not holding what he's screaming he doesn't want. He'll scream if I give him any attention, or scream if I ignore him.

    He gets himself into such a state that you can't get through to him. I can only start using distraction when i sense he's nearing the end of the tantrum. He'll eventually come for a cuddle, calm right down, then run off and play as if nothing's happened. Like I said, this can go on for more than an hour (the longest so far is 1 hour 20 minutes). It upsets the other children and, while it's happening, it really limits what we can do. Apart from that, it must be really horrible for him to be so out of control.

    So, has anyone got any foolproof, miracle cures for tantrums? If not, please just tell me he'll grow out of it!!

  2. #2
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    Ah yes, had this 'want/don't want' before- it's like they are just so angry they want to contradict whatever you offer. They grow out of it! I used to try distraction or walk away and ignore. No miracle answers.

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    HUGS to you . its horrible.

    I have one who can have a tantrum over absolutely nothing and no trigger that anyone can see! sometimes it might be she sees something across the room ( like me talking to another child ) or a complete and utter random stranger eating something ...and then she is off! and sometimes I have no idea whatsoever! I've tried many ways of distracting/comforting etc, but it just takes time, so I just totally and completely ignore it. if we need to go out/do something, then child is helped to put shoes/coat on, put in car/buggy etc but no mention is made of the screaming abdabs. and if throwing is on the agenda, then any missiles are removed too. They do seem to be lessening now, as speech is improving.

    How is your little ones speech? can they make themselves understood? do the tantrums happen at a similar time? can you bring sleep or snack times forward? Is he the same for mum? ( my LO is! ... mummy panders ( but is learning not to! ) grandma and I don't ! ) I would perhaps ask mum to speak to HV, or I would ring my childrens centre and ask one of the support workers for advice.

    good luck.

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    Thanks both.

    Moggy, it's good to know someone else has experienced the "want it/don't want it" thing. In all my years as a parent and childminder I don't think I've ever come across it. It's so frustrating because anything you do is wrong!

    This child's speech is very good, as is his understanding. We've talked about how it's not nice to be angry and how he I can help him calm down if he wants me to. Obviously that all goes out the window when he's in the middle of a tantrum.

    He is the same at home and I think his parents ignore him or tell him off. I don't think that works for them, but then neither does my gentle approach! I've got a quieter couple of weeks coming up as some of the children won't be here over Easter, so I think I'll use that time to really focus on him, note his triggers and times and try different snack and sleep times.

    I'm sure he will grow out of it. Maybe I should invest in some earplugs until he does!

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    Ignoring usually works best they can't even hear you when they're in the throws of a tantrum so save your breath! if the other children get upset just tell them that so and so is just being very silly but they are o.k. I have a 2 year old girl who can get really upset over the most ridiculous things (well I think so) e.g. I wipe another child's nose and she suddenly needs her's done, but she doesn't have a runny nose! I change another one's nappy and she again desperately needs her's doing, but it's fine, another child gets their drink and she must have her'S THEN! We get an almighty melt down but we all ignore her and in minutes it's over and it's as if nothing had happened. I know some might say just do for her the same e.g. nappy change, wipe nose but I think that will just encourage the behaviour so am hoping it's a phase that won't last too long!

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris goodyear View Post
    Ignoring usually works best they can't even hear you when they're in the throws of a tantrum so save your breath! i
    I really need to follow your advice! I know he's not even able to hear what I'm saying when he's having a tantrum, but I still talk quietly, trying to calm him down. I'm probably making it worse!

    It goes against my nature to ignore him, but I'm going to have to try it and save the comforting until he's calm. My grown up son was spot on with an observation recently when he said I always want to solve everyone's problems, but have to accept there are times when I can't. I guess this is one of those times and I have to make myself sit back and let him get on with it. I'll play with the other children to distract myself!

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    I think that’s the key mouse. Shift your focus onto those other children who are being upset by the behaviour .good luck,

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    So long as you know the child is safe, then I agree with everyone else, ignore and let them get on with it until they've calmed down, and then reassure, comfort, and get on with the day.

    It is hard, but as you've discovered, you can't do right for doing wrong, so are probably making things worse - extending the event in the process.

    It is frustration on the childs part, they probably don't even know themselves what the actual issue is, but tiredness and hunger are probably the biggest cause.
    Do parents let you know if he's had a late/disturbed night? I sometimes think parents forget how much sleep little ones need to keep them on an even keel, so running 20 minutes late on a bedtime may not seem much at the time, but boy will you pay for it the following day
    Keep a log for a few days/week to see if there's a 'time' trigger, it may be that just adjusting snack time or quiet time could solve a lot of problems too

    On a lighter note, I had a screaming fit from my DD that lasted 3 days.... yup, 3 loooooong days.
    I ended up in tears on the phone to my mother telling her what an awful parent I must be because it was obvious that she knew what she wanted, but I couldn't figure it out.
    Turned out the little witch wanted a cup without a lid on!
    Didn't know whether to jump for joy or strangle her for giving me 3 days of hell

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    i feel so lucky with my mindees past and present after these stories. the only one who tantrums is my own! Others are good as gold!

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    I have a child who cries for ages for the tiniest of reasons - I must admit that I now lead her out to the hall where she sits on the stairs and I say that when she has finished crying she can return to the lounge to play, I often pop the TV on for the other children so they can't hear the crying (the door to the lounge/hall is always left open) and the child in the hall doesn't want to miss out on TV time, so the crying soon stops.

    I must admit though that this probably wouldn't work if she was having a full blown tantrum, lying on floor with limbs flailing!

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    Prehaps a cosy area for him to go to until he calms down. I know with a friends child the calm down bottles worked a treat as it took the focus away from the emotion
    When someone tells you nothing is impossible, tell them to go slam a revolving door

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  22. #12
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    I was almost disappointed when he didn't have a tantrum for a couple of days as I wanted to try ignoring him and seeing how it worked!

    The next one he did have I ignored and it did all finish a lot quicker than normal. It felt odd not trying to comfort him when he was so distraught, but ignoring him certainly didn't make him any worse!

    He had another short tantrum today, but that was when he'd just woken up and he wasn't properly awake. He kept screaming that he wanted to hold a toy, which was in his hand, so I told him I was going to play and he could join us when he was ready. It only took about 15 minutes for him to calm down - definite progress

 

 

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