Temper Tantrums – When to Worry

Temper Tantrums - When to Worry

Temper tantrums can be a normal and common part of early childhood, but sometimes they are a sign of a problem that needs to be addressed.

Parents often ask me whether their child’s tantrums are beyond what is normal. When is a red-faced preschooler screaming and flailing about normal; when is the tantrum a cause for concern? What’s too often? What’s too long? What’s too extreme?

Stay tuned for the top 5 reasons to be concerned.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine analyzed the tantrums of 279 children from 3 to 6 years old. Their results will be published in the January 2008 Journal of Pediatrics.

They divided tantrum behaviors into aggressive-destructive (kicking others, hitting others, throwing objects, breaking objects), self-injurious (hitting self, head banging, holding breath, biting self), non-destructive aggression (non-directed kicking, stamping feet, hitting wall), and oral aggression (biting others, spitting on others).

The authors suggest that parents need not worry about isolated or occasional extreme tantrums, especially if the child is hungry, overtired, or ill. Instead, they should pay attention to tantrum styles, the overall pattern of tantrums.

They identified 5 high risk tantrum styles and suggest that kids over age 3 with any of these deserve further evaluation by a mental health specialist.

The results of the study are preliminary, and by no means proven, but at least give parents and pediatricians a place to start.

  1. Aggressive tantrums. If a child shows aggression toward a caregiver or tries to destroy toys or other objects during most tantrums, the child may have ADHD, oppositional-defiant disorder, or another disruptive disorder. Specifically, if more than half of a series of 10 or 20 tantrums includes aggression to caregivers and/or objects, consider an evaluation. Depressed children may also have a pattern of aggressive tantrums.
  2. Self-injurious tantrums. By the time a child reaches age 3, a pattern of trying to hurt oneself during a tantrum may be a sign of major depression and should always be evaluated. At this age tantrums that include behaviors such as scratching oneself till the skin bleeds, head-banging, or biting oneself are red flags no matter how long the tantrums last or how often they occur. In this study, they were almost always associated with a psychiatric diagnosis.
  3. Frequent tantrums. Tantrums at home are more common than tantrums in daycare or school. Having 10 separate tantrums on a single day at home may just be a bad day, but if it happens more than once in a 30 day period, there is a greater risk of a clinical problem. The same goes for more than 5 separate tantrums a day on multiple days at school. In this study, when tantrums occurred at school, or outside of home or school, more than 5 times a day on multiple days, there was a higher risk of ADHD and other disruptive disorders.
  4. Prolonged tantrums. A normal tantrum in this study averaged about 11 minutes (though I.m sure it seemed a lot longer to parents!). When a child.s typical tantrums last more than 25 minutes each, on average, further evaluation is wise.
  5. Tantrums requiring external help. Kids who usually require extra help from a caregiver to recover from a tantrum were at higher risk for ADHD, no matter how frequent the tantrums were or how long they lasted. Speaking calmly to your child in the midst of a tantrum, or acting reassuringly, is normal. But if you find you can.t stop a tantrum without giving in or offering a bribe, pay attention. By age 3, kids should be learning how to calm themselves.

It’s normal for healthy preschool kids to have extreme tantrums sometimes, and to lash out at people or things on occasion. Starting to pay attention to tantrum styles rather than individual tantrums may help sort out what’s healthy and what’s not, and how to respond.

What’s your experience with tantrums?

Beldon, AC, Thomson NR, Luby JL. Temper tantrums in health versus depressed and disruptive preschoolers: defining tantrum behaviors associated with clinical problems. Journal of Pediatrics. 10.1016/j.jpeds.2007.06.030. January 2008.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

  1. Cor

    So my six year old does all five of these things since she was 3. She throws things and hurts me, recently she had one that lasted for more than eight hours. I have tried everything. They start not when she is told no but even when she is told yes, any time they start. I am tired and a single mom with cancer and who has been a victom of abuse my whole life and now my own child is doing it to me. I try to be calm and enforce discipline and it is a failing attempt because she will continue. My other children have healthy ways of dealing with these things so I feel it is not my lack of parenting ability. So what is the cause? Even more important what will it take to make it stop.

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  2. Michelle

    My 3 year old son when he don’t get his way or the ps3 don’t do what he wants or even when he gets in troue he throws anything he gets his hands on and kicks an screams and hits an throws him self on the floor an banging his head off my floor. I do everything I can do I have bypoller an ADD. I feel that my son had ADHD. there are times he can’t stay still but only when he is sitting playing the PS3. I’ve tried to do time out it don’t work I’ve tried to do everything the birth to three has told me to do. He’s getting ready to start preschool an I’m afraid that I’m going to be called to the school cause of my son. Should I bring it to my sins doctor an video tape it to show him so he can see first hand or what? His brother is even doing it now I don’t know what else to do I’m asking for help please feel free to email me at michelleauville2011@gmail.com

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  3. caroline naddour

    My son is 3 years old. He is a very angry boy. When he gets upset, he starts hitting me hard and throws objects and toys at me (his mom). He scream loudly for almost half hour non stop. He repeats that more than 4 times a week. He also hits his 6 year old brother and he wants everything for himself. He also runs outside the home barley feet and screams “go away mommy”, and then he went back inside the house and locked the door and left me outside for half hour until we went and got him oreo cookies. He also pee outside and get undressed to be naked. When he take bath, he stay longtime in the water. His relationship with his dad is okay because he’s scared of him. He fall couple on his back head. I took to the doctor and he said it is okay. Please, I worry about him. I love him to death. Please give me any suggestion. Thank you.

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  4. Gordon Mclean

    Hello,
    I have a soon to be 6 year old boy. He is the kindest nicest boy going,,,,, until he gets to school. This is his 5th suspension since January and its only end of March. He kicks out at teachers and throws things and destroys toys. It was the same last year but he went from July to Christmas without incident, after Christmas its been nearly everyday he has done something, we are at our wits end with him…….

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  5. Patty

    Hello,
    My daughter is 5 years old, she has tantrums only at home and only towards myself and my husband. She growls, hits, screams,lays on the floor and kicks and stomps her feet. She has never done this outside the home. She wakes up in the middle of the night and acts out as well.

    At school, at grandparents and at the sitter she listens and is very polite. She has never acted out towards other children and or in public.

    We tried extra food, holding talking, time outs, taking away toys and activities, telling her we love her and she makes us sad when she yells and hits. Nothing’s helps. These tantrums last a half hour or longer. Sometimes 2-3 times a day. It is causing conflict with our 7 year old daughter and with family time.

    We are stuck and need some healthy advice.

    Thank you for your time!

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  6. Alana

    My daughter is 5yrs old (turned 5 in Dec) and her temper tantrums have been getting gradually worse. I first noticed it when she was about 2-3yrs old but just chalked it up to “normal” childhood behavior. The last year her tantrums have increasingly gotten more aggressive (both physically and verbally). She throws things, bangs on walls, kicks, slams doors, etc. She also will scream and is extremely defiant at anyone who tells her something she doesn’t want to hear or when she doesn’t get her way. Yesterday, at pre-school, her class was walking down the street and she decided she wanted to step into the street and begin waving at cars. When her teacher told her to get out of the street, she had an extreme tantrum and refused to walk back to the school with her class. I was called and was told I needed to pick her up and take her home immediately. When I brought her home, her tantrum lasted most of the day. A little background on my daughter, she is the youngest of 4 children, significant age difference between her and the next youngest (son is 13), her father and I separated about 3yrs ago due to his drug use, stealing, iratic behavior, etc. Her father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which he doesn’t take care of. He hasn’t seen his daughter in over a year and only calls her on her birthday and Christmas. I’m getting at my wits end, I really don’t know what to do. I really don’t want her all drugged up on medication.

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    • sarah

      Hello I am also having the same problem with my 5 year old daughter. I was just curious as to what advice you have received and if it helped?

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  7. afton

    My 3yr old daughter soon to be 4 in may, goes in to an extreme rage of anger if she is told off, i.e. trashes her room, pulls baby gate off, kicks punches walls, doors etc. has hit me (her mum) a few times! These tantrums can go on for hour’s. The longest has been bout 3+half hour’s. Then she will just pass out in a sleep, which when she wakes she doesn’t remember she’s been asleep!! She is so calm natured at nursery every morning, but soon as we pick her up she is extremely over active, can not keep still. Any suggestions on this???!

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  8. amy

    My 5 year old, soon to be 6, is having tantrums during day and middle of night lasting an hour and more. She has compulsive disorders. Her tantrums are scaring me as she throws things, hits herself and me. Yells at me says she doesn’t like this house, doesn’t like her brain, that I am not helping her. I try everything I can but she yells at me. I took her to er and her primary Dr. They referred me to psychology. It’s the weekend and I don’t know who to take her too. We both haven’t slept well in a week. I am at a loss. Please help us.

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  9. Andrea H

    Hello,
    I have a 5 year old girl that when things do not go her way (too much pepper on her eggs, printer not printing her picture fast enough etc…) she throws a fit. She cries, curls in a ball, and just says “mummy”. If my husband or I ask her why she is upset “mummy”. If we ask if we can help, “mummy”. She refuses to speak to us. I know she is stubborn but we don’t know what to do. If I walk away she screams harder and chases me. She says “I just want mummy!” or “I just want you”. I can hold her, cuddle her, sit by her etc… and she will just keep saying “I want you.” She seems to get angry easy but getting her happy again is hard. She is not like this at school.

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    • Christine

      Hello Andrea,
      Your comment sounds exactly the same as my son who is about to turn 4 years, he has delayed speech (1 year) except he thrashes instead of curling in to a ball.

      I feel for you, it just rips your heart out when you hear them calling “Mummy” and you can’t really help.

      I have tried foods, smacking, shut him in his room and even talking to him (not sure if he even understands me). He’s not like this at early learning either but we had a 3 month separation issue that was mammoth.

      I hope we get some answers soon, good luck.
      Christine

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      • Most kids understand about 100 words more than they can say. It’s like learning a new language, you can recognize words when spoken long before you can use them in conversation. I encourage you to keep talking to your son even if you don’t know if he can understand. In addition, when he is calm, read to him. Read a lot to him. Often for kids with delayed speech, the reason for their frustration is they can’t communicate what they want. As they develop, they are able to communicate, and the frustration dissipates.

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  10. Mommy

    My son turned 3 just a few days ago and has been having extreme aggressive tantrums for the last few weeks. Ever since he’s been old enough to throw them, the occasional tantrum would show up about 2-3 times a month. But tonight makes the 2nd really bad one already this week.

    He will try to punch his dad and myself, he will throw whatever is in sight, he will scream and cry until his cheeks are red and he’s burning up, almost to the point of making himself sick. He will try to mess his toys up and he wants everyone out of the room, he’ll throw himself down on the floor, and it just makes me nervous, I don’t want him hurting himself during these episodes.

    The first few he threw I advised my husband we just let it run its course,l et him get his frustrations out. But they’re to the point now they’re lasting roughly 30 minutes. I don’t know what to do about them other than try to talk to him (which 9 times out of 10 makes it much worse) or holding him down. Praying this is just a phase and nothing major going on!

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    • Laura

      My son just turned 3 as well (end of February). He has been having frequent temper tantrums. They are situational and will come on when he’s upset. But he does suffer from night/nap terrors that aren’t situational. Anyway, he will get flush all over, break out in hives at times (which can be normal), cry uncontrollably, flail around, especially if you try to touch him. He will get more upset when we try to talk to him.

      It seems he cannot be reasoned with. These fits are occurring with normal routines like brushing his teeth (that he used to enjoy very much) or even eating dinner; or earlier today it was him not being able to find his sippy cup or the ipad he plays on, even though I told him exactly where it was.

      Time out used to do great, or even the threat of having to sit, would normally get him to straighten up. But lately, over the past month, he’s been having frequent fits that last 10-30 minutes several times a day. I don’t know what to do just yet. I’ve read several resources say that it is more of a concern at the age of 4 and older, so my plan is to see if time and my approach will help.

      He has become a pickier eater lately, so I thought maybe he has some major molars coming in…or perhaps he becomes emotionally unstable when he’s hungry or not eating right. He just seems grumpy so much of the time. I’m hoping it’s a growth-spurt/hormone thing that he will grow out of very soon. Good luck to us both!

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      • Laura

        Forgot to add…today was the 1st time he just started getting physical with me. He tried to push/hit my leg when he was upset about his cup.

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    • Laura

      Below is a copy of my response to another mom who was concerned about her child’s tantrums, but I wanted to copy/paste it to you, so you could read what I tried doing yesterday with my son. It’s been very successful so far!

      I doubt this will be of much help, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. And I know when you feel helpless, you’re more willing to try anything. I’ve been having problems with my son recently. He is 3, so he is much younger than your daughter. But he was getting out of control and the intensity and duration of his fits were increasing dramatically by the day. I was greatly concerned to the point that I thought he had a psychiatric condition. (Just a side note: both of my brothers were diagnosed and medicated for ADD and ADHD when they were little and both “outgrew” it by the time they were 10-12 years old. Just my opinion, but I think a lot of kids are misdiagnosed and then of course some kids really do need medical intervention). Anyway, yesterday (I know it’s only been one day, so there goes my credibility…) but I decided to try another tactic, because I was determined to get this under control or at least stop it from progressing.

      When my son started going into a fit, I held him on my lap and told him quietly that we’re going to talk about this. His fit went on for probably 10-15 minutes straight, screaming, flailing, trying with all his might to get away. He is strong and I struggled with him. I kept talking to him calmly and holding him to me (not hurting him, but keeping him from getting from me). I told him it’s okay to get mad, get upset, get angry. But then we need to calm down and talk about it. I told him we’re going to stay here until he calms down and we talk about it. I said I love you and care about you, we’re a team, we’re teammates, we take care of each other and we’re going to figure it out together. All of this time, I just felt like I was breaking/taming a wild horse. He ended up having to go potty, so I let him up to go. This was a good distraction to his fit, too. It changed his focus a little. When he was done, I asked if he was calm and ready to talk about it. He said he was calm, but doesn’t want to talk about it. So we kind of began again, this time he was next to me on the couch and I had him looking me in the eyes. I asked him if it was okay to be angry? He nodded, I said yes it is. I asked him if it’s okay to hit? He didn’t respond. I said no, it’s not okay to hit. It’s okay to be angry and mad or sad and have feelings, but then we have to calm down and talk about it. (I know this is repetitive…sorry about that). I asked him over and over, what do you do when you’re crying and upset? He wouldn’t respond. I said we calm down and talk about it. I told him this over and over. (Some critics may call it brain-washing, but I look at is as breaking through for the good of our child(ren).) We made a song…”When you’re crying and upset……..calm down and talk about it….” I sang it a few times. (There is a lot of good in music therapy…kids seem to respond well to it. Adults do too, which is probably why we get songs stuck in our head). I asked him again, what do you do when you’re crying and upset? He was still a bit defiant, so I had him sit in a chair and think about it. I told him he needs to learn this, it’s important and he will sit and think about it until he learns it. He began to start a new fit as soon as he sat in the chair. He did this growling scream thing he does when he’s really upset. I sang the song. Instead of a 5-10 minute screaming fit in time-out, it was greatly reduced to about 45 seconds to a minute.

      PROGRESS!

      I told him how proud I was of how he learned to calm down so fast! I told him great job! Come give me high-fives, kisses and hugs. I asked if he’s ready to talk about it. He said yes. We talked about things. I asked yet again, what do you do when you’re crying and upset? I said do you calm down and talk about it? He said yes. I said you say it now. He repeated after me. I told him I know it’s hard and praised him. I sang the song and asked him to add a part to it. He said play hotwheels. So we added that to the end. Something like “when you’re crying and upset….calm down and talk about it….and when you’re calmed down and we talk about it, you play hotwheels!…”

      When he began to go into another fit when he got upset about something else throughout the day, I reminded him of what to do and sang the song. I had him sit, he was calming down within a few seconds, I praised him for calming down so well and asked if he’s ready to talk about it. He was, we did and I was consistent with this the rest of the day. We also had some one on one play-doh play time.

      For the past few weeks before yesterday, he’d fight me on eating dinner, brushing his teeth and going to bed and various other things. Last night he didn’t fight me at all (meaning he didn’t have fits). I told him, we made a great song and you did so great today. I’m so proud of you. We sang it goofy, moving our heads goofy and he laughed about it. Again, I feel like I was breaking through his rebellion and we needed to have this power struggle to reset our relationship and what’s expected.

      Today has been going great. No problems. 100% difference/improvement!

      It was a long, tearful, but extremely productive day…so well worth it, despite the doubts I had when going through it. I very much encourage you to try something similar with your daughter, although maybe making reference about how it makes you sad to see her hurt herself…or if you’re a Christian like me, you might reference how God loves her so very much, how He put you as her Momma to take care of her and teach her and help her…and how special she is and that He cares about her and doesn’t want her to hurt herself or anyone else, etc.

      You’re her momma, you will know what to say and what may work best for her. I have 3 kids (14, 3 and 1) and I went through power struggles every so often (and still do) with my daughter who is now 14. At every stage of rebellion, I’ve had to reset the tone and expectations…just not to this extreme as with my son. For awhile I was thinking it was something in him, but it was a combination of him AND me. People will say sometimes, “I have this many kids and I’ve been a Mom for this many years”….but they don’t realize that it’s the 1st time they’ve been a mom at that very moment of that child’s life.

      Every moment of every age of each unique child is new and different. Different things work for different kids at different times. We constantly have to change and adapt our parenting techniques. We have to continue to try to teach our kids how to cope and deal with things and new feelings/emotions. We have to do the same thing in our own lives as adults. It’s especially difficult when they’re growing and getting more and more hormonal, too. Plus, just as we get grumpy and don’t feel good some days, get a bit overwhelmed/frustrated, so do they.

      So I try to remember that, too. I can’t expect them to always have it together when I don’t, myself. I was a little indifferent about trying something new, perhaps because I was naturally successful with my 1st born or maybe I had too much pride, or I was burned out on life and gave up trying for a bit, or was stuck in survival mode, or got into a rut of demand and discipline, or a combination of all of those, etc. Whatever the case, I’m glad I didn’t give up. I wish you the very best. Peace to you, as I know we lose our peace when our kids are hurting/struggling.

      Sorry this is so long, repetitive (and filled with run-on sentences), but I hope you find at least a shred of helpfulness in all of my ramblings. :)

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      • Janet

        Thank you for sharing your story. Any child would be happy to have you as their mom.

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  11. Jana

    Help!! I have a 6 year old little girl who is my world! However, she is very angry and aggressive. She has really bad tantrums. Recently I was told she had ADHD. So they put her on medicine, but it didn’t work. Now she’s on the extented release.

    I feel like her behavior at home has gotten worse and now she slapps herself in the face repeatedly when she iš mad or doesn’t get her way. She is currently in counseling also. I feel sorry for her and I wanna help her, but I don’t know what else to do.

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  12. Beesmom

    I have a 24 month old who has had tantrums since he was abt 9 to 10 months old. He may have a fall on the floor tantrum at daycare twice a week, where they are concerned he may hit his head. He also does without the paci while at daycare for 10 hours. When picked up he begs for a paci. When he goes home he is set off by us not reacting soon enough to HIS Demands — food snack, toy or who knows what. This occasionally leads to hitting, kicking and or throwing things or just a crying fit. These tantrums can last 1 to 5 minutes, but when he can’t seem to bring himself down from the tantrum he cries for a paci, which we only allow for major moments. We feel he shouldn’t have it at all so he can learn to calm himself down.

    When we are not working and he is with us, he can have one or two tantrums a day. Why does he seem to control himself at daycare…for the most part but not with us? We get to his level to calmly talk to him and even hold/hug him if possible to ease the tantrum. We assumed once he could verbally communicate…things would improve. He can speak in sentence, but can’t verbalize all of his requests to us.

    He is and can be calm and show patience for story time or playing with toys, so I didn’t know if he should be looked at for ADHD.

    Should he be evaluated?

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  13. swiss

    I live upstairs from a 3-year girl. When she was coming up on 2-years-old she would have bouts of crying that would literally last for 5 hours at a time, sometimes several per day. I do not know her parents, but occasionally saw the father in the hallway and asked how things were going. He was blithe, and I asked specifically whether the girl was ok — he said everything is great — I mentioned I hear her crying for prolonged periods of time, something throughout the entire night — he got defensive and said “Babies cry.” This went on for 2 more months and I asked again. Same defensiveness. I asked what their pediatrician said. He told me they do not believe in doctors. I told him I had earaches as a child and it was really painful and made me cry a lot. They eventually did take the girl to the Dr and she had celiac disease.

    Now, she is 3. And she has screaming, shrieking, crying, pounding the floor and wall type tantrums 6-7x/day. Her father often works at home and puts on earphones and puts her in a section of the hall/foyer with a childproof gate up for much of the work day. She runs back and forth and screams and melts down. I don’t blame her. The mother seems to go somewhere else during the day. They are not a poor or uneducated couple, and yet they choose to all live in a tiny 1-BR apartment that the couple lived in as hipsters. They are in their 40s. The second child was, her mother told me, a “mistake.” I hear the girl sometimes mocking her baby brother—making crying noises until he cries too. It is extremely disturbing. The girl is screaming and bellowing right now. I don’t know what to do. I feel like she needs some kind of help, but I don’t want to be blamed for “causing trouble.” I am the only neighbor who would hear this, so they would know it was me.

    ps – I’m a little surprised the author requested comments and feedback, and parents have shared some very serious things, and there has been no response — it seems a little irresponsible. No response needed to my situation. I am just sharing that I think I know a 3-year-old who is having unusual tantrums. Your article was very helpful in confirming that.

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    • greg

      I have a 3 and half year old who screams non-stop for 20 to 30 minutes and does not stop when she does not get her way…(tantrum). These tantrums are new. weekly and daily sometimes 3 times. Or when mom’s not around she starts screaming!

      We had her in daycare for three weeks a month, but she did not want to go at all. Wakes up saying she is not going. We became stressed because she would cry hysterically when we drop her off. Mom is a house wife and little one stayed home with her before we thought it is time to get her into socializing more, thus daycare.

      I think it has to do with the fact that she feels abandoned. We had to take her out of daycare because we felt that her crying could be disturbing to the other kids. This was after a lengthy discussion with the daycare head. SO THE TANTRUMS HAVE NOT STOPPED AT HOME.

      I found that losing my cool does not help and that if she is tired, it triggers a tantrum. We are trying a stricter routine and weaning off mom. She just had a long 30 minutes screaming and kicking one, after waking and not seeing her mom. I first tried to calm her, but soon found it did not help, so I just let her scream…. eventually she stopped. She is now watching Tinkerbell dvd peacefully.

      Reason for my long explanation, is that your neighbour could be in the same boat and also struggling to get their daughter into getting used to mom leaving her with dad or at play school(daycare).

      ADVICE: RATHER ASK YOUR NEIGHBOUR IF THERE IS ANYTHING YOU COULD HELP WITH SINCE THEY COULD BE FEELING LIKE THEY ARE HELPLESS AND A DISTURBANCE TO OTHERS WITH THE SCREAMING… I hope it may help. Also mention that you think they might be feeling like you are disturbed by the noise, but that you understand. That might make them less defensive, because I think they are stressed by the whole situation. I really hope you did not find my input useless.

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    • Ks

      Please contact social services. This is not normal. Ensure the children are not being neglected.

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  14. tina

    I have an 8 year old son he is a gifted student at school. When he has a bad day, something doesn’t go his way, or we tell him he can not do a certain thing; most likely it also depends on his mood as well, but he throws these terrible tantrums. He screams like you’re hurting him and he just cries and I make him go into a time out. Sometimes it helps to seperate him from others in the house. It’s like he just has this rage of anger it gets really frustrating. He’s been throwing these tantrum/anger out bursts since he was about 3 years old. They seem worse. I tried ignoring it and people say kids grow out of it. Is there anything else to do???

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    • Michelle parks

      My son has been getting progressively angry at school. He seemed OK up until 2 months ago when I got a call that he urinated himself in his second grade class. I was alarmed as he had never done this at school before. I volunteer and substitute teach in the school he attends and spoke with his teacher. He has been incontinent twice. His teacher told me he had a huge angry outburst last week and he scared other children because he did not get the animal he wanted. She said it scared the other kids. He does not hit just bangs or hits his heads that recently started. He writes on his peers angry faces and f- but he gets As and is two grades above.

      The teacher said she noticed him rocking at the gym before school. She said he was unaware of his surroundings. I think this teacher might be clashing with him because of personality differences.

      He is mostly happy at home playing. He is very fastidious and sometimes things have to be a certain way. I signed him up for anger management at school. I feel horrible. I get lists of things he does and nothing really positive. One day the teacher told me his bad behavior and I felt like crying and want to put my son out and leave the school. I have children with anger issues in school and would never tell parents all the bad thing their kids. I don’t know what to feel.

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      • serenity

        I’m having a similar situation. My son just turned 7 and in social situation if things don’t go his way he’ll throw a screaming tantrum so load he’s been sent to the principles office on countless occasions. These screaming fits also happen if whatever the class is doing at that time is over and they need to move on to something else. He does not have a real friend, more of the outsider in he class. These tantrums happen about 3 times a week at school and, almost everyday at daycare. To make it worse and more embarrassing he wets his pants during these fits, sometimes he’ll wetshis pants out of the blue just sitting around. He can hardly read, struggles to identify letters after going over the same ones 20 times but seems to excel at math and any building things. He my Lego master

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  15. bell

    I have a 3 year old who is about to be 4 in less then a month. I am really worried about his tantrums. He has been throwing them really bad for about a year and a half now and they just seem to be getting worse. Nothing I do works not even giving in to his demands works sometimes. He has them over 10 times a day and he has been doing something new that startled me. He got so angry he started to almost look like he has a lot of spit in his mouth it almost looks like he is foaming from his mouth and slobbering like crazy and he has become more aggressive toward himself and others. I’m almost worried to send him to preschool next year. He seems to get very angry very fast and easy. He is always hitting me and trying to bite me and if he can’t he will try and hit himself or break things. What should I do? I don’t want to have to put him on medications. Is there any healthy ways to work this through?

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  16. melinda

    My daughter is 9 years old. We have had problems with her since she was 1. Temper tantrums and more — writing on the walls with marker, toothpaste, make-up anything she can find pretty much. Which I’m buying all this stuff once a week because she’s destroying it.

    She makes up crazy stories and she also bites her 7 year old brother.

    I love her very much but it’s hard sometimes to show it. We have tried for years to get her help and doctors want the teachers to say she’s having problems at school before they will do any thing. But she’s so busy at school, but now her grades are slipping because she’s always wanting to wonder the halls and can’t concentrate. Hopefully the doctors and teachers will take it seriously now.

    I have done everything I could — time outs, take away toys or electronics, ground her from pretty much everything, I took it old school and put her in the corner and even spankings, but as soon as that’s all over 2 minutes later she’s back to doing what got her into trouble.

    I say all this to say you’re not alone and keep fighting to know or understand what is wrong.

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  17. Nicolas walters

    My daughter started these tantrums at roughly 18months old, but only once in a blue moon. She is now nearly 4 and they are happening more often and getting more aggressive. They last any where between 1/2 hour up to 1 hour.

    When she is in these rages she is like a totally different child and nothing I do can bring her around other than leaving her to get it out of her symptom. When she stops these rages she is very upset and shattered and she reminds me of some one who has just come around from having a fit.

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  18. Ashley

    My 5 year old daughter matches perfectly with every sign listed reguarding possibly being ADHD. Her strong willed tantrums started at age 4 and she’s now 6 months from turning 6 and they have progressively gotten stronger and several times throughout the day. They last anywhere from 1 hour and have gone a little over 2 hours. Simple request like telling her it’s time to get into the bath or telling her to get her school bag can take 15-20 mins and me repeating myself over and over. She’s in kindergarten and her school work is excellent. She does not get into trouble at school but the teacher has a strict schedule that keeps the kids engaged and no time for goofing off. At home is horrible and most of our plans or activities in the last 3 months get canceled or we’re extremely late. I’m ready to call our family doctor but this is my last resort. Please help if possible. Thanks

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  19. Karen

    I am concerned about my grandson’s tantrums. He kicks, screams bloody murder, gets red in the face, throws things and bites. I pick him up while he is kicking and screaming and hold him and pat him on the back to calm him down. He just started this about a month ago. He wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes now doing the same thing. Any advise?

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    • Marie

      My name is Marie and my grandson has the same as this person Karen. Only that some family problems have come up like divorce, and my daughter has a new boyfriend and things seem to have trigger the tantrums worse. What type Dr. should we see. I plan to take him to Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, asking for help. Where do we start? The 9 year old and 4 year old are all over the place, too.

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    • Didi

      The night time ones could be night terrors, I’d look into to it if I were you.

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  20. ashley

    My four old son is a very smart child but he screams and calls people bitches and have fits and Cries to some Times to get attention what do I do

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  21. Tracy

    My 3 year old niece has thrown temper tantrums for as long as I can remember. Though, this past year they’ve gotten worse. Over 15 tantrums daily all lasting longer than 30 minutes, also screams for more than an hour, constantly whines even in what seems normal conversation, can get violent towards others, and during a tantrum nobody can calm her down. We’ve tried being calm, time outs, nothing seems to working.

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    • Sandy

      I am a 63 yr old grandmother, have 19 nieces & nephews, 4 grandkids, ages 2, 4, 9 & 17 yrs. and I have always asked Jesus to help their parents & myself. Never been disappointed yet. Jesus never fails!!!

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      • Rob

        No such thing as God or Jesus. Go sell crazy somewhere else.

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        • Mommy

          Ohh how it saddens me to see people go so out of their way to criticize someone’s beliefs. I, for one, am a firm believer in God! I thank Him for everything and everyone He has given me, and Sandy..God will never fail us! I’m no where near perfect, but God knows I believe and trust in Him! Prayers for all those who are so close minded and won’t even give our Lord a chance! Bless them and maybe their minds can be changed before it’s too late!

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  22. Christy

    I have a 3 yr old and he is always so mad he throws everything that’s close to him, he hits things, pinches himself, screams so loud, took a chair into the wall, bites and just gets mad over anything and everything. I need help please I don’t know what else to do

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  23. Julie

    Hello I’m very worried about my Grandaughter whom has been separated from her mother when she was 1yr she is now 2yr she Lives with her father..I’m concerned as she seems very unhappy& has bitten her nails down that far that they almost bleed & constantly Scratches her head! She has nothing I. Her hair as checked..father never praises her & when she has spent the day with us she doesn’t want to go back! She goes all quiet! Why is this happening do you think it’s because she is separated from her mother? & Stress? Please help! Grand mother

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    • sheila

      I’m kinda in the same boat. I have a grandson who is about to be three. Ever since his mom got a new boyfriend he’s changed. When he’s here with me he’s great, but when they come to pick him up he cries and holds onto me until he’s digging his nails in me and recently wet himself when she took him out of my arms.

      I feel helpless. They say it’s because I don’t discipline him while he’s with me, but I do. Then they tell him if he keeps crying when they come to pick him up from me that they won’t let him come see his mawmaw any more. His little face is so sad and frightened looking when he leaves. So I don’t know if its just me overreacting or if something is seriously wrong. Please help.

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      • Marcelle

        I would look into it, this panic you are describing sounds like he may have been suffering some kind of abuse at home. My dd sometimes has temper tantrums at her grandma’s, but when I come to pick her up she is always happy. It’s more like defiance than fear, she wants what she wants but looks like your grandson is in fear. I would think you should inform yourself how to proceed by law and just the act cautiously so you can protect him while they have him with them.

        Hope you can do something, my heart sinks when I read this kind of thing, I send my love and my prayers.
        Good luck.

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  24. Judeth

    I have a five year old daughter that I’m starting to get concerned about she’s the only child.
    A few weeks back she got in trouble for boring someone in her class I had her make a sorry letter. Then couple of weeks later I had to get her from school because her teacher said she left the classroom and found her in the boys bathroom(no kids were in there) and she was in the back of the stall barking and making noises I think she was seeking attention because she does get it all at home.
    But a week after that happened I had to get her again because she bit a fourth grader they asked her why and she responded with her head told her to do it. I don’t know is this normal? For a only child am I doing something wrong should I get her in to after school programs ?? Please I need help I don’t want my kid to be looked at wrong she’s a awesome kid that loves and cares for people and animals I just don’t understand what she does when this happens !

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    • Michelle parks

      I would not go to normal or abnormal. And don’t let teachers make you feel that way. They are not trained to determine.

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  25. Emiy

    My daughter is 5 years old and has thrown tantrums for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can remember her throwing a tantrum when she was just old enough to sit up on her own, over my moving her away from the dishwasher she wanted to climb in. I thought that she would grow out of it, but NOTHING has changed. In fact, they have gotten worse. She is not violent, but these tantrums last for 1-3 hours and occur EVERY day, sometimes twice a day. My husband and I have tried everything and it is becoming more and more difficult for me not to raise my voice at her during these episodes. This past week has been especially challenging as we actually had to leave a restaurant and a daycare at which I volunteer due to her atrocious behaviour. I`ve read every article on the matter I can find, and I have asked advice from absolutely everyone who would give it to me. They all tell me the same thing, stay calm, be firm, keep her safe, and validate her feelings. All of which we have done numerous times but with complete failure. It`s become so bad that I have had to leave the house the last two days during these tantrums and have my husband handle them because the screaming has gotten on my last nerve. Please, I am willing to take any advice under consideration, as long as it is safe and not damaging in any way to my child. We need help!

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    • Joe

      My daughter is the sweetest, smartest little thing. She has tried all kinds of activities and does yard work or laundry. but lately (she’s 4) in the evening after dinner, it’s like she becomes another person. her eyes look different, she growls, swings and kicks and tries to bite. she acts truly like a wild caged animal. she’s destructive and violent and we are so afraid she will hurt herself. we tried holding her down and yelling. and nothing. then all of a sudden out of the clear blue, she changes and will throw herself into our arms and say how sorry she is and she cries like crazy. we’re all sad and confused and tired at this point , our daughter returns and she can’t talk about her actions because she’s sad and starts basically hyperventalating. has this happened to anyone else? i mentioned taking her to a doctor and she freaks even more. we’re at a lose. and she seems as confused about her behaviour as we are.

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      • Marie

        These are the problems we are having with my 9 yr old grandson. looking for help. I want to start the Ann Arbor hospital.

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      • Kelly

        Are you giving her anything like Kool Aid with dinner? I had a serious allergy to red dye #40 when I was younger that produced the exact same symptoms. I can remember having these episodes, and being just completely unable to control myself. In fact, my toddler has the same allergy. Since we have cut out anything with artificial red coloring, my daughter’s behavior has markedly improved.

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    • a

      I’m in the same boat!! Hate to go to a specialist if it’s normal, but it doesn’t feel normal. Maybe it’s us, not the kids. I don’t know how to help her soothe herself. Nothing works. 2 hours at least to get mine to bed. She just gets so upset and can’t help herself feel better. I hate seeing it! And hearing it :-X I wonder if mine has a fear of abandonment or if she’s just learned that saying certain heartbreaking things gets me to cave. Hope they grow out of this…

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    • Ashley

      Hi I read your story about your daughter and mine is acting exactly the same way! My husband and I are exhausted most days due to her defiance and 1-2 hour temper tantrums. She’s the sweetest little girl and does not get into trouble at school and has play dates and no problems there but at home is horrible. It breaks my heart to see her do this especially today when she threw one of her little wooden chairs on the floor from her reading table in her room. We have also done the same things you mentioned you and your husband were advised to do but its getting worse and interfering with everything we want to do. Has anything changed for yall since this post or have you gotten any more advice? Thanks

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      • Joe

        She’s the same. I hurt myself recently and she’s TRYING at night to be really good because my husband is doing everything. but she still has her moments and it still hurts us so bad that there is nothing we can do until she falls or hurts us and then she still is sorry. I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. (sigh)

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  26. Tiffany Zebaneh

    My 5 year old doesn’t listen to anything I tell him when it comes to cleaning up after himself. He throws a tantrums when he doesn’t get his way he kicks screams an cries longer then a hour. It’s hard to restrain him when he doesn’t listen to put him in a time out. He holds his body really tight he kicks me and scratches me and bites me. I just don’t know what to do anymore I’ve tried every thing. He’s punished through out the whole day. I’m constantly having to yell at him. Also, when he’s throwing tantrums and makes crying noises there are no tears. When he goes to the store and he doesn’t get his way he’ll stop in the middle of the walk way and stay there and completely shut me out. If I try and grab his hand, he screams so loud and holds his body where he’s litteraly dragging himself on the floor.

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  27. clarisa marcote

    My daughter started to act odd yesterday… & before bed her cousins came over for a play date… started fist fighting her cousins punching her tia being aggressive. .. so i put her in time out. Explained why she was in there wouldnt stop crying until 30min later… told her to watch tv she started to got really happy. ..then her nose dripped a drop of blood…. it was so awkward please help…

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  28. Kaitlynne Lopez-Santucci

    me and my brothers are going through a very terrible divorce between my parents. me and my 3 brothers live with my mom. since everything has gone down, my two littlest brothers who are 12 and 9 always fight. the youngest one who is 9, throws outrageous tantrums. he throws things, hes slapped me and my mom, he spits everywhere, and yells really loud in my apartment. my mom will discipline and hell get worse and hell start spitting on her and yell for the cops. hes never acted like this when he would get angry. hell bite himself, hell scratch himself, and hell bite his tongue. sometimes i want to break down and cry because before all this hes gotten worse. i dont know what to do and neither does my mom. we’ve taken him to a psychiatrist and they told he has ODD and tell us to ignore the fits. how can we ignore these outrageous fits ?! we don’t know what to do anymore and it breaks my hearts :(

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    • Sara

      I have a 4 year old son and am a single mom.

      My son hits me all time, grabs my hair, pushes me and screams at me. Does not listen nothing at all. He also breaks things and he tries to push some kids. I feel so bad and don’t know what to do. I do not know what it is. I try to talk to him. I try to give the best out of me nothing.

      He stays up till late hours. Does not sleep. He always runs. Does not sit much and is always doing something. He loves dinosaurs. Sometimes I think this is out of normal.

      Please can someone give me advice? I feel as if I am a terrible mother and I feel sad to see him that way.

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      • Jacqui

        You are not a terrible mom! You have a spirited child at the very least. My son was the same way (30 tantrums a day average) and he kicked and even punched me. He is much better now that he is seven. It is likely your son’s nature, this personality may serve him well later in life but makes for a challenging child.

        I think talking to your Dr. is important. When my son was little he also stayed up late and never wanted to sleep. I realized I had let him dictate his sleep period because I was so used to the all hours baby days. I suspect he was really tired a lot. I started making sure he had a 7:30 bedtime, I suggest you do the same. You can lay with him but just make sure he sleeps. Kids cannot regulate emotion when they’re tired which equals more tantrums.

        I wouldn’t give him sugar, especially juice as this will make him go off the wall because of the high sugar content. The book “raising a spirited child” really helped me.

        Hang in there. Being a single mama is so hard. You obviously care about your little guy! I’ll say a prayer for you!

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    • Laura

      My daughter went through a major rebellious time; not to the extent of your little brother though. But I remember telling her that I love her, I want to be around her. But it is her choice whether she stays around me/us. If she continues to disobey the rules that are in place for her own good (and our family’s), then she may choose to live somewhere else like foster care if she really thinks she has it so bad. I told her that I didn’t want to lose her, but I cannot allow her to continue down this destructive path…and that if she left, it would tear me up, but that it was her choice.

      You could always see if he could be shown another perspective such as foster care, a prison/jail tour (they do those), etc. He is of an impressionable age, that it may hit him hard enough to straighten up. Otherwise, there are troubled youth camps that’s like a kids boot camp. I know of a good one in MI, but I’m sure they have them in every state. He could do an at home research paper that you or your parents have him do. Not as a punishment, but as a way of growing in awareness. Have him research online about out of control kids, foster homes, etc. Have him answer questions about what he thinks of himself, who is he hurting and how (with his actions/words). What makes him happy? What are good things about himself? Who knows, maybe it’ll be helpful. Worth a shot at this point. Good luck and God bless.

      Maybe he could start a journal and write in it every day…get his feelings out on paper when he’s calm, when he’s upset and afterwards.

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  29. slack91

    My son is not even 2 yet and no matter what the tantrum he always smacks, kicks, pulls hair, headbutts (every time) or throws whatever is near to hand. It could be over the slightest little thing! He is also getting more violent toward his older sister, just hitting or hair pulling while she watches tele or plays nicely on her own. He is slow in development and has to put his face to the walls too. I know this all sounds weird but im at the end of my tether now especially as he wakes me up at 5am the latest every morning. Anyone help please

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  30. Sinead Butt

    My 2.5 year old son is delayed in speech and understanding he doesn’t say much words at all he doesn’t get on with any of the kids at playschool, he hits others and screams alot. He likes to play alone in school. At home he also likes to pay alone but also with his brothers and sister but also lashes out on them, he likes to wounder off and has no concept of danger. He loves getting phased and also loves afection. He hates the words NO or WAITING or even getting his face cleaned or nails cut. He loves to play with water. I need help dose anyone know Wat I can do to help him

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    • cheryl

      Hello, that sounds like it could be my son. He is 3.5 years old and hardly says a word, he tries but its hard to understand him. He also has no concept of danger and I find this very worrying especially when getting him out of the car he runs straight into the road. His favorite thing is water, he seems to have a fascination with it, He is a very loving little boy but seems to get very aggressive and lashes out at times (mainly to myself and his dad) We say no but he really doesnt listen to us at all, we have tried to stay calm, screamed at him and also spanked him but this has no affect on him at all, he just laughs and carries on. Lately he has had me in tears, I am at the end of my tether with him, this week he has started waking early at 5.30am and has been constantly on the go until 7pm when he goes to bed. He throws cars at my head, punches the dog, puts water all over the floor, I am completely worn out with it, he hugs me and says he is sorry but within a few mins is back to playing up again. I would also like to know what to do.

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      • missy

        Has your son been tested for autism? I have recently discovered that there are many severities to it and a lot of what you mentioned reminded me of that.

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  31. Natalie

    My son bites scratches himself and bangs his heads on walls …he is really hypper and happy kid but if u sai no to him or say or do something he doesn’t want them the aggression starts he is only 6 he has an appt.on mondai idk what’s wrong with him this lasts up to 1 hour noone or nothing can control him

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  32. Bryanna

    My daughter is now 5, and her fits started awhile back. Probably by the age of 3, they were horrible… Now, she just turned 5, and her fits result in me getting puched accross the face, and her saying she does want to fight with me. I try and put her into a safe place (the bathroom) and try to get a breath of fresh air to chill out, but she does not give in. Also with a 2 and a half year old little boy, who protects mommy, does not help anything. He has got physical with her numerous times because she hurt me. When my daughter hurts me, she does not care at all, and will continue with her fit. She throws things at me, screams, hits, kicks, and will stop until I get her into the bathroom, and wait until she is crying and saying sorry (which can take an hour to 3 hours for it all to end) I do not know what to do, and need the abuse to stop :( I’m a single mom, doing what I can. On top of it all, I have a mother who ‘helps’ by spoiling her, and treating her like she is perfect and giving in to whatever she wants. I don’t know what to do anymore… Someone help me please…

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    • Tzedek_Tzedek

      I don’t have the answer, just well wishes. I landed on this site looking for guidance about my own 5-year-old daughter’s increasingly extreme tantrums. It’s wearing my husband and I down, frightening her younger brother (also 2.5, like your son), and I can’t make heads or tails over why they’ve gotten so much worse (even though they were really bad before). In any case–if it’s wearing us down and there are two of us, I can imagine how challenging it must be for you. I really wish you the best. Hang in there.

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    • carlee

      I definitely know how you feel my 5 year old is my youngest and he scares me and my oldest three all the time with his abuse doing the same things as you have listed and more I am also a single mom doing the best I can and being pushed from one supposed professional to another everytime I turn around its getting very old

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    • George

      Hi, to all parents of with children of Dr. Jackel and Mr. Hyde syndrome
      I have read all of your problems and much of what is going on with little children and my conclusion is varied.

      I will tell you that I an old enough and have seen a lot in my time being as I was a Pastor and I tried to help parents who were having some kind of problem with their children. Most of these parents were at the end of their rope as some of you are.

      Some Grand-Parents are not too grand when they go against the discipline or rules their parents have set up for their child that is being just plain nasty or for lack of a better word unbalanced. As grand-parents sometimes we feel we have to interfere and love up on the kid and say dumb things like “mommy doesn’t really mean what she said dear little Johnny”. If you are one of these and are not content with the ways your Daughter/Son is raising THEIR child, try to understand the parents and don’t get involved. I realize your hurt seeing your little monster crying, screaming, biting, kicking, throwing things, and hitting others etc and their Mother. Because he/she is being punished for some action or words they have done or said. But you have to remember that any Mother that is normal will not kill her child she is trying to teach her child to behave.

      Sometimes little children do not want to hear the word “NO”. But they cannot be let loose to just do what they want to do or say. Also there is the possibility that the child is in a depression. With out our knowledge we all never want to think of our child being in a depression. But it happens, to many children and it gets worse as time goes by unless something is done or treatment is given by someone who is qualified.

      Most times a child does not see himself/herself acting out the way they do so I have found a way to SHOW them how they act and at the same time show if necessary their doctor what is going on because I have heard doctors saying “the child is too young to have a depression” or some kind of mental disorder. In that case get another doctor.

      Now what I will suggest to you all is buy a video camera small enough to hide some where your child is acting out most of the time or get a tiny video camera that you can wear on your person. After a few taped tantrums show your child how he/she acts and guess what, this little trick will mostly work and if it doesn’t, all you have invested is the price of a video camera. A word of advice to parents while you are taping, DO NOT hit, scream or do anything that can be turned against you. Calmly try to talk to “little Johnny/Joan” during the tantrum. After a few tantrums when you show your child the videos you made of him/her, DO NOT SHOW THEM TO ANYONE ELSE its’ not their business. You can show the Doctor if necessary. Always keep the tapes in a safe place that no one can get to them or your child will get hurt big time. Its’ like wetting the bed, the child is so ashamed he would never want anyone to know and I am sure parents would never tell, unless they have no brains or compassion for their child.

      Note: There are some chiropractors who can help children with bed-wetting. You do not have to be a professional to use what ever you can that will benefit the child.

      I pray this will be of some help of you parents.
      God Bless & best of luck

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    • Laura

      Bryanna, I feel for you and yours. I think your daughter needs to know that you are in charge of her and she is in charge of herself…together. I think you should try to take a full day of staying on her/breaking her down so you can build her back up. Below is a copy of my response to another mom who was concerned about her child’s tantrums, but I wanted to copy/paste it to you, so you could read what I tried doing yesterday with my son. It’s been very successful so far!

      I doubt this will be of much help, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. And I know when you feel helpless, you’re more willing to try anything. I’ve been having problems with my son recently. He is 3, so he is much younger than your daughter. But he was getting out of control and the intensity and duration of his fits were increasing dramatically by the day. I was greatly concerned to the point that I thought he had a psychiatric condition. (Just a side note: both of my brothers were diagnosed and medicated for ADD and ADHD when they were little and both “outgrew” it by the time they were 10-12 years old. Just my opinion, but I think a lot of kids are misdiagnosed and then of course some kids really do need medical intervention). Anyway, yesterday (I know it’s only been one day, so there goes my credibility…) but I decided to try another tactic, because I was determined to get this under control or at least stop it from progressing.

      When my son started going into a fit, I held him on my lap and told him quietly that we’re going to talk about this. His fit went on for probably 10-15 minutes straight, screaming, flailing, trying with all his might to get away. He is strong and I struggled with him. I kept talking to him calmly and holding him to me (not hurting him, but keeping him from getting from me). I told him it’s okay to get mad, get upset, get angry. But then we need to calm down and talk about it. I told him we’re going to stay here until he calms down and we talk about it. I said I love you and care about you, we’re a team, we’re teammates, we take care of each other and we’re going to figure it out together. All of this time, I just felt like I was breaking/taming a wild horse. He ended up having to go potty, so I let him up to go. This was a good distraction to his fit, too. It changed his focus a little. When he was done, I asked if he was calm and ready to talk about it. He said he was calm, but doesn’t want to talk about it. So we kind of began again, this time he was next to me on the couch and I had him looking me in the eyes. I asked him if it was okay to be angry? He nodded, I said yes it is. I asked him if it’s okay to hit? He didn’t respond. I said no, it’s not okay to hit. It’s okay to be angry and mad or sad and have feelings, but then we have to calm down and talk about it. (I know this is repetitive…sorry about that). I asked him over and over, what do you do when you’re crying and upset? He wouldn’t respond. I said we calm down and talk about it. I told him this over and over. (Some critics may call it brain-washing, but I look at is as breaking through for the good of our child(ren).) We made a song…”When you’re crying and upset……..calm down and talk about it….” I sang it a few times. (There is a lot of good in music therapy…kids seem to respond well to it. Adults do too, which is probably why we get songs stuck in our head). I asked him again, what do you do when you’re crying and upset? He was still a bit defiant, so I had him sit in a chair and think about it. I told him he needs to learn this, it’s important and he will sit and think about it until he learns it. He began to start a new fit as soon as he sat in the chair. He did this growling scream thing he does when he’s really upset. I sang the song. Instead of a 5-10 minute screaming fit in time-out, it was greatly reduced to about 45 seconds to a minute.

      PROGRESS!

      I told him how proud I was of how he learned to calm down so fast! I told him great job! Come give me high-fives, kisses and hugs. I asked if he’s ready to talk about it. He said yes. We talked about things. I asked yet again, what do you do when you’re crying and upset? I said do you calm down and talk about it? He said yes. I said you say it now. He repeated after me. I told him I know it’s hard and praised him. I sang the song and asked him to add a part to it. He said play hotwheels. So we added that to the end. Something like “when you’re crying and upset….calm down and talk about it….and when you’re calmed down and we talk about it, you play hotwheels!…”

      When he began to go into another fit when he got upset about something else throughout the day, I reminded him of what to do and sang the song. I had him sit, he was calming down within a few seconds, I praised him for calming down so well and asked if he’s ready to talk about it. He was, we did and I was consistent with this the rest of the day. We also had some one on one play-doh play time.

      For the past few weeks before yesterday, he’d fight me on eating dinner, brushing his teeth and going to bed and various other things. Last night he didn’t fight me at all (meaning he didn’t have fits). I told him, we made a great song and you did so great today. I’m so proud of you. We sang it goofy, moving our heads goofy and he laughed about it. Again, I feel like I was breaking through his rebellion and we needed to have this power struggle to reset our relationship and what’s expected.

      Today has been going great. No problems. 100% difference/improvement!

      It was a long, tearful, but extremely productive day…so well worth it, despite the doubts I had when going through it. I very much encourage you to try something similar with your daughter, although maybe making reference about how it makes you sad to see her hurt herself…or if you’re a Christian like me, you might reference how God loves her so very much, how He put you as her Momma to take care of her and teach her and help her…and how special she is and that He cares about her and doesn’t want her to hurt herself or anyone else, etc.

      You’re her momma, you will know what to say and what may work best for her. I have 3 kids (14, 3 and 1) and I went through power struggles every so often (and still do) with my daughter who is now 14. At every stage of rebellion, I’ve had to reset the tone and expectations…just not to this extreme as with my son. For awhile I was thinking it was something in him, but it was a combination of him AND me. People will say sometimes, “I have this many kids and I’ve been a Mom for this many years”….but they don’t realize that it’s the 1st time they’ve been a mom at that very moment of that child’s life.

      Every moment of every age of each unique child is new and different. Different things work for different kids at different times. We constantly have to change and adapt our parenting techniques. We have to continue to try to teach our kids how to cope and deal with things and new feelings/emotions. We have to do the same thing in our own lives as adults. It’s especially difficult when they’re growing and getting more and more hormonal, too. Plus, just as we get grumpy and don’t feel good some days, get a bit overwhelmed/frustrated, so do they.

      So I try to remember that, too. I can’t expect them to always have it together when I don’t, myself. I was a little indifferent about trying something new, perhaps because I was naturally successful with my 1st born or maybe I had too much pride, or I was burned out on life and gave up trying for a bit, or was stuck in survival mode, or got into a rut of demand and discipline, or a combination of all of those, etc. Whatever the case, I’m glad I didn’t give up. I wish you the very best. Peace to you, as I know we lose our peace when our kids are hurting/struggling.

      Sorry this is so long, repetitive (and filled with run-on sentences), but I hope you find at least a shred of helpfulness in all of my ramblings. :)

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  33. Megan Elizabeth Dennis

    My son get into these fits where he screams so loud and so high pitched it makes ME want to just break down and cry..Not only that but he punches himself in the face or slaps himself in the face. He has taken a lot of swings at me and everyone else around him, he throws thing at my face he used to bite me…He sits there and stares at me if I ask him to do something compleatly ignoring me and wont even blink. I am so at the end, I cant handle this and it it pretty much all day long. :(

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  34. Stephanie O

    Okay so what does it mean when my 9 month old daughter is throwing herself backward hitting her head, pulling her hair and biting herself?

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    • Megan Elizabeth Dennis

      I never hear that about a child that small but if you are concernd…take her in and talk to someone about it.

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    • Natalie

      That is normal all babys throw them self back and pull the back of theyr hair as it’s the only thing the do lol no worryes lol

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  35. colette

    my 6 year olds school reckon that although uncommon my sons behaviour is within normal range however i dont. it started at 18 mths and has got worse as he has got older. kicking, hitting, screaming, swearing, spitting, biting, throwing things etc in the last 12 mths school have exluded him 3 times and are currently having to restrain him during these ‘tantrums’ he can take between a few minutes to calm down but the longest it has taken and that school have had to physically restrain him has been a few hours. the smallest thing can be responsible for setting him off such has being asked to come inside at the end of play time. obviously reward charts and time outs have been tried but using such things or distraction techniques when a ‘tantrum’ begins has absolutely no effect and he is ultimately unable to calm him self it is literally a case of sitting him down, restraining and waiting for it to pass. I’m fed up with professsionals passing it off as bad parenting etc especially since he still presents major issue in school I am fed up with being told it iss wihtin normal range especially when he is sent to his room to cool off and replies with fine but i wont wake up in the morning :-( trying to get professionals to sit up and listen is like standing in a room full of people and screaming at the top of your voice but no one turns around to look. If so called professionals dont listen and take it seriously where else is left to turn?

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    • carlee

      I know how you feel my 5 year old son does all of this stuff and it seems like his aim when hes in his moods are to hurt either himself or others but yet the professionals have passed us around hes been hospitalized twice already and children services from DHR is wanting to put him in a residential hospital for 6 months to get him proper treatment for daily function…the current doctor just prescribed him new meds a few weeks ago and of course they have made him more hyper active and a whole lot more aggressive like he doesn’t have enough aggression without the stupid meds but anyway you are not alone just know that and good luck to you. I hope they figure it out for you soon

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    • Laura Elizabeth Isbell-beavers

      I know this is an old post but the school is breaking the law on many levels and could be part of his frustration. Call mpact in kc mo you’ll have to call information and get the number, they can direct you about the laws in your area, they’ll send a mentor to attend conferences with you to make sure the school is not doing anything illegal ect, if u aren’t from mo they can direct you to any advocacy groups in your area. Huge help!

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    • Laura

      My nephew went through something similar. He was finally diagnosed with Aspergers. He’s being treated with meds, but still has fits every now and then and he’s almost 15 years old.

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