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Toddler tantrums

(49 Posts)
Granarchist Wed 04-Jan-17 15:55:50

my DD and DSIL are having a nightmare and questioning their parenting skills. DGDs are 4 and 2. The eldest has just started school (very young) and is coping well though obviously exhausted by the end of the day. Both are very articulate and stubborn. When they are good they are divine but the minute they are asked to do something they don't want to do they kick off. The parents virtually NEVER cave in, but it is pretty good hell trying to get the 4yr old off to school on time if she wont get dressed! The youngest even managed to make herself sick by screaming on a plane for over an hour. It is as if they are blind and deaf to what is going on around them. They never do it at the same time. DD is stay at home Mum, and I think 'familiarity breeds contempt' in a way. So they just push her buttons and she is being so worn down by it all. Any advice would be so welcome. I think it will pass and they are brilliant parents presenting a united front and doing their best. I have to admit as an old fashioned granny, my hands itch when I see them being such little monsters. They don't do it all the time and are generally lovely and loving, but my DD is v depressed and worries she is a failure mother raising feral children. Any suggestions please?

jusnoneed Wed 04-Jan-17 16:30:37

If they are not doing it at the same time, ignore the one being horrible and give all the attention to the one behaving herself. Make a fuss of her and maybe the other will realise she is losing out by being horrible.
Get the 4yr old dressed as soon as she gets up, only giving her breakfast after she is ready. If they have it on, turn off tv (so many seem to watch it before school these days) and make her concentrate on getting ready to go.
Hard to do but if they don't get attention by doing it they will give up.
I always remember my sis in law saying she had taken my nephew into a store, he wanted something and she said no. He flung himself down on the floor, banging feet, crying etc. She told him once to get up, he ignored her. She just said, "ok you want to look stupid you carry on... bye". She walked up to end of the aisle and just around the end so that he couldn't see her but she could watch him. He looked up, stopped, got to his feet and slowly walked towards her. When he found her, looking very sheepish, she calmly told him that everyone was watching him because he was being so naughty. He looked around to see folk looking at him, said sorry and he never tried it again! She said she felt absolutely awful doing it, wondered what people were thinking but a couple of them said "well done" when she was leaving the shop.
Good luck to her.

Ana Wed 04-Jan-17 16:34:12

Well, they're not feral or they'd have to be out fending for themselves, not playing up their poor Mum!

I'm quite shocked about the plane incident - bet the other passengers were thrilled... Obviously the parents couldn't just ignore her then, but I would recommend doing so whenever either of them has a tantrum or strop whenever possible.

If the worst comes to the worst, Mum will have to take the eldest to school in her PJs with no further comment on her behaviour. I'm sure her teacher will have seen it all before!

merlotgran Wed 04-Jan-17 16:43:13

Is the four year old having problems settling at school?

I definitely don't think it's a case of familiarity breeding contempt. That's an odd thing to say about a mother/child relationship but it could be that the older child resents mum being at home all day with the younger one while she has to go to school.

The younger one will be copying the older one's behaviour so rewarding good behaviour might be the best way forward.

Anya Wed 04-Jan-17 16:53:40

Suggest the parents meet with the teacher (actually there is usually such a meeting anyway quite early on to let parents know how their moppets are settling in). Then they can find out if this behaviour carries on into school.

I've just dealt with a temper tantrum from GD2 (5) so it happens, especially when tired after school.

Granarchist Wed 04-Jan-17 17:06:13

No problems at school whatsoever. She has even been given a 'praise card' in front of the whole school. Both parents are excellent at rewarding good behaviour. I'm sure the little one is copying the older. DD was so embarrassed by the plane behaviour. Apparently getting her to sit down on take off and landing was particularly difficult. Once the plane was on the ground, the noise stopped and she smiled beautifully at all the irate passengers as they filed past. DD had to restrain her all thru the flight to prevent her kicking the seat in front. The familiarity remark was because I wonder if children that are with a parent 24/7 push parental buttons more! - whereas children in a nursery with working parents are so delighted to see their parents that they are less troublesome? It was only a thought. I am sure it is a phase that will pass especially when the children are older and more mature and can process. The younger one has taken to only wanting to be with her father when he is available and only her mother when he isn't, this is also making my DD sad - I have said she is just playing you off, dont let it get to you, but it does. Children!

Jalima Wed 04-Jan-17 17:42:05

Now she is at school she won't be with her mummy all day though - but the little one will be - and what fun do they get up to when she's not there? Does she wonder that?

At 4 you can generally still make a game of getting dressed but I have had struggles with a 4 year old who did not want to put on coat and shoes and had a huge melt-down until it was mentioned that she might see her little friend if she hurried up and got ready.

I'm so glad I wasn't on that plane grin I just wonder if she had ear-ache or a problem with her ears hurting on the flight?
We were on a flight once and a smaller child (about 2) screamed the whole way back from the Canaries - the lovely head of cabin crew walked up and down with him for quite some time but eventually she gave him back to his mum.

If the younger one only wants Daddy when he's home then that will give your DD a chance to spend some quality time with the older one.

Elegran Wed 04-Jan-17 17:52:57

Four is an age when they can be bloody difficult when they want to. They are testing the limits of what they can do and what power they have over everyday decisions. Plus ANY attention is better than none to them. If her parents can manage it, maybe they could ignore the bad behaviour and not "reward" it by getting worked up?

Easier said than done, but it is possible. nursery and admission class teachers do it all the time, saving their energy for the unavoidable battles. You can't fight twenty of them at the same time.

Suggest they try not to openly "ask" her to do something, then there is nothing to refuse to do - sneak it up on her. The old "choice" trick often works, like asking, "Which coat are you wearing today?", instead of "Put your coat on!" and if she say "None!" when it is brass-monkey freezing outside, say "OK, I'll put it the car then, in case it is colder later." and then DON'T MENTION IT AGAIN, just put on their own (parent's) coat and carry hers out to the car. Fight averted. She hasn't "won" because there wasn't a battle to win.

She may get a bit cold, but that is the natural consequence of not wearing the coat, and she will learn from experience that it is not pleasant. She may even have the coat on by the time the car arrives at the destination, with no asking at all.

DO NOT then say "I told you so!", just hand it over casually If they are walking, then carry the coat (without any more comments) until she wants to put it on.

They may need to get inventive - the same trick may not work twice running - but by not letting their blood pressure go through the roof over it, they make it unimportant, and not worth her making an issue of it.

Penstemmon Wed 04-Jan-17 18:59:11

I have had children brought to school in PJs because they would not get dressed! it only happend once (per child concerned) but i can recall at least 4 different children ...all girls!. I , as teacher (& later as headteacher) was suitably "disappointed" and asked mum to phone me if it was happening again!

Nelliemoser Wed 04-Jan-17 19:14:58

It suggests to me that the parents need to look at how they are handling this. Particularly as the child behaves ok at school.
Are the parents being firm enough when this behaviour starts? by firm I mean calm but not giving in or feeling sorry for the child.?

Do the parents work together when the child starts a tantrum or is one softer than the other.

There are have been lots of TV stuff and probably DVDs showing parents how to keep calm and firm to handle such behaviour.

f77ms Wed 04-Jan-17 19:27:36

I think tantrums are fairly normal and best ignored . I have left a child screaming on the floor and just said goodbye and walked away , they usually stop when you do that . I agree with the advice about no breakfast , TV until she is dressed , Mum could also buy a timer to make a game of beating your time for getting dressed in the morning - that used to work for my 4 . I do think they grow out of it and DD seems like she is doing all the right things regarding firmness etc .

Jalima Wed 04-Jan-17 19:59:42

They also like to think that they can have 'oneupmanship' - saying that you don't think they are big enough or old enough to be able to dress themselves can have quite rapid results.

Lillie Wed 04-Jan-17 21:07:41

I do feel for your daughter, Granarchist, she is only trying to do her best and it's soul destroying when children misbehave after all the love and attention they're given.
Our DS was a real monster but every time we went to open evenings at school we were told how good he was and that he always had a sense of occasion. DH and I used to drive home afterwards saying, "Are we sure they're talking about the same child?"
To be honest there's very little one can do and your should stop beating herself up over her parenting skills. I think Elegran is right about adopting a more casual approach and analysing it all so much. It doesn't mean she will care less, but hopefully things will affect her less.

Jalima Wed 04-Jan-17 21:16:14

They're not feral smile
They are pushing the boundaries and perhaps they need a 'lighter touch' with parenting.

I am not saying your DD is like this but I have noticed some of DIL's friends have very 'intense' relationships with their children, hovering over them every minute and organising every minute of their time.

vampirequeen Thu 05-Jan-17 08:56:48

Hard as it is when you're tired, your DIL and DS need to stand firm and united.

As previously suggested when one child is kicking off they should give all their attention to the child who is behaving.

Children like to be praised for doing the right thing so every so often when they are behaving it might be an idea to make a comment about it e.g. 'Isn't it nice when we're all happy.'

Children naturally push against boundaries but they really don't want them to change so be consistent.

TriciaF Thu 05-Jan-17 09:48:23

Grananarchist - Tell your daughter it's perfectly normal for children of that age to have temper tantrums. Especially when there's the extra stress of starting school.
One of mine used to have a tantrum on his way home - I found he was very hungry and he settled after something to eat.
It's just a "phase", like the "no" phase in the terrible 2s. As you said 'it will pass.'
If the child continues after 6 or7 then there might be cause for concern.
Does the child get enough sleep?

Granarchist Thu 05-Jan-17 10:55:03

Thank you all so much. Elegran - you are gorgeous and spot on. I also like the idea (*f77ms*) of seeing how fast she can get dressed - that's a good one!

Both parents are firm and fair and singing from the same song sheet which is great. I am certain DGDs will grow out of it and to be honest both parents are pretty stubborn and genetics will be playing a part!!!!! It is just they can all be having a lovely time, playing together, being at the swings, whatever, but the kicking off tends to start when they have to go home, or out for a walk or anything that interrupts their fun.

Both are fab at bath time, eat absolutely anything, and sleep like logs, so its not all bad! I'm sure it will pass and I just need to emphasise to both parents that they are doing a grand job and it will come good!!! Thank you all again for your input.

Jalima Thu 05-Jan-17 10:57:46

Ps the title of the OP is 'toddler tantrums'

Imo the little one is a 'toddler' but the 4 year old is now a 'big, grownup schoolgirl'
And may like to be referred to as 'a big girl' even if she is just a little tot!
She may just be very tired too, DGD was very young, just 4, when she started school.

Jalima Thu 05-Jan-17 10:59:54

Ha ha, just read the bit about kicking off when they have to go home from the park.
That sounds so familiar and quite normal!

Granarchist Thu 05-Jan-17 11:23:02

Jalima yes of course the 4 yr old is not a toddler - I was lazy in my title!!! Sorry! First day back at school today and youngest has a half day at nursery. DD has decided to use the time for a long x-c run to clear her head (and then do housework) - very sensible I think. Beautiful sunny day here and I am sure it will do her good.

Deedaa Thu 05-Jan-17 12:14:57

I think 4 is awfully young to do a whole school day, tiredness must play a part. The little one is just being 2. I remember doing the week's shopping in Tesco while carrying DD suspended from her harness and screaming, and my mother went to her grave recalling the mile trek dhe'd had up a country lane with me absolutely incandescent with rage because she woke me up. GS2 is very good at screaming till he's sick, although that seems to be wearing off now. Won't wear a coat though. I reckon he's not usually going to be out long enough to get frost bite so I usually leave him to get cold. They do move on eventually. I think sometimes parents worry too much about how they are affecting their children, sometimes they are just behaving how children behave.

Jalima Thu 05-Jan-17 15:36:23

Grananarchist grin
Yes, DGD seemed such a little girl when she first started school and some of the others were 5 in the week term started whereas she was just 4.

DD used to go rigid and puce in her McLaren buggy and I could not move her, but DN was a breath-holder which was more frightening if I was looking after him!

Swanny Thu 05-Jan-17 16:43:06

My DGS's parents and I do a countdown with him when it's time to leave the park or swimming pool or go to school etc. We'll say for example 'five minutes then we're going to get dry' then follow up with 'two minutes then ...' and 'one minute then ...' Finally we do a countdown from 10 to zero and say firmly 'swimming is finished'.

The minutes don't have to be accurate and you can start at whatever number you want, it's the consistency of letting him know what's going to happen and when that's important. He didn't understand it at first but now he joins in and happily moves on to whatever we've told him is next.

Penstemmon Thu 05-Jan-17 21:21:05

My DD2 is finding being back at school full time exhausting and says she is more tired that the 30 4 & 5 year olds she is teaching and they are pretty tired grin
It has been a short Xmas break for most state schools.

trisher Thu 05-Jan-17 22:20:30

My GCs are the same age although being only just 4 the older one won't start proper school until September. You could try the distraction technique with the 2 year old. When the screaming starts ignore whatever the tantrum is about and mention something entirely unconnected "look at the flying pig" I call it. It can be anything you like particularly if there is something they really like. "Was that a fire engine I heard?" it doesn't really matter, just a way of shifting the attention.
Your GD isn't alone in refusing to dress mine went to the shops in her pjs the other day, refusing a coat or a blanket in her buggy. By the time they reached the street corner she was asking for both. She had to learn for herself!