Gransnet forums

Grandparenting

5 year old melt down

(66 Posts)
Cher69 Tue 02-Mar-21 09:18:54

My eldest daughter has recently moved house she has 2 children 2 and 5 years. Yesterday I was totally shocked by the behaviour of my5 year old grandson. We were sat at the kitchen table and all of asudden he got up and picked up a meccano toy car that his grandad had spent all day building for him and started smashing it up. Saying he didn't want it and tried to put it in the bin. His father tried to intervene which made him worse. He proceeded to punch his father whilst screaming at him. Then picked up his ipad and threw it on the floor. All the time his father saying nothing then took him up to bed. About 20 mins later he came back down stairs as if nothing had happened. I just want to know what could have caused this behaviour and what do I do if it happens to me whilst I am babysitting. Because my children may have had tantrums but not on this level and I seriously wouldn't know how to deal with it. Thank you smile

Grandma70s Tue 02-Mar-21 09:30:12

Tantrums are best ignored as much as possible. Children can’t express their emotions in speech, so sometimes they lash out. When he cools down is the time to explain to him why trying to destroy the Meccano car is unacceptable and hurtful. No point in saying much while he is in an irrational state.

GagaJo Tue 02-Mar-21 09:39:26

Sounds fairly normal. I think move anything breakable away from him. If it is a REAL tantrum, make sure he is lying on a surface where he can't hurt himself.

My DGS once had an hour and a half tantrum. He was so distressed he couldn't calm himself down. It took being held / restrained in a cuddle and given something to drink (in a sippy cup that couldn't spill, arms also held down) before he could start to come out of it.

They are little. Yes, it is horrible to watch, but it is normal. I once had to carry a rigid, screaming toddler, through the streets of a major tourist area with his mortified mum!

Interestingly, my daughter never had them as badly. Is it a boy thing, or do girls become this out of control too?

muse Tue 02-Mar-21 09:42:38

Something will have caused the flair up. Establishing what is very difficult.

As Grandma70s says time to discuss when he's calm. Boundaries need to be set. Does he know these? Does he know what will happen if these boundaries are ignored?

Have you talked to your daughter about this yet and your worries? I wonder if it has happened before with his father taking him upstairs for 20 mins. The father's actions seem to be planned.

Shropshirelass Tue 02-Mar-21 09:49:35

What had your GS eaten? I am a great believer that certain foods exacerbate these behaviours. My DS had terrible tantrums and I didn’t know what triggered them, putting it down to typical behaviour, however, if I had known what I know now I would have totally changed his diet knowing that this would have made a difference. Certainly I believe his behaviour would not have been so extreme. Maybe worth watching The Magic Pill on YouTube, it is very enlightening. Good luck.

midgey Tue 02-Mar-21 09:51:43

The poor little chap has lost his friends, his school, then he lost his home and everything he knows. Not really very surprising he just couldn’t cope any longer when you think of it like that! Add pretty much a year in lock down and it’s surprising that he is coping at all.

Grandmabatty Tue 02-Mar-21 10:09:45

There is an accusation inherent in what you say, that his father said nothing. What did you expect or want him to say? I think he dealt with a child's meltdown really sensitively. It sounds like he knew how to react. Read up on positive parenting and that will give you ideas on how to react. It might be a good idea to speak to your son in law, praise him for his calmness and ask if there are triggers for your grandson that you can avoid and for advice on dealing with a meltdown.

Franbern Tue 02-Mar-21 10:11:21

Oh dear, I still have memories of the tantrums that my son (now in his fifties) could throw. He would get so angry and out of control, that he would crawl around looking for somewhere hard, so he could bang his forehead until he had bruises there. Can remember one, he had whilst we were out shopping, threw himself down on the pavement screaming and kicking. Nice elderly lady, obviously distressed at his behavior, leaned over him, trying to talk to him and got bitten for her thanks!!!

As he grew older, and could verbally explained what was annoying him, these lessened. Indeed, as an adult, he detests any sort of confrontation - usually will walk out if any sort of family arguments take place in his hearing

Peasblossom Tue 02-Mar-21 10:12:24

Can I suggest that he was frustrated by his grandad building the car for him. It sounds like grandad was having fun and he had to watch.

Five year olds are very independent if they’re allowed to be. They like doing things for themselves and learning from their own mistakes. Even an adult ‘helping hand’ can throw them into a frenzy.

He didn’t want it because it wasn’t his, he had no ownership. It had been taken away from him.

GagaJo Tue 02-Mar-21 10:13:26

I agree, Grandmabatty. I think it sounds as if Dad handled it very well.

Hahaha Franbern, that made me laugh. So typical of a toddler.

Jane43 Tue 02-Mar-21 10:24:49

It is best to ignore bad behaviour unless it is putting the child in danger. I agree with Grandmabatty the child’s father is dealing with it well. If the motive for the screaming is getting attention then any kind of attention will only reinforce it. Screaming is a way of expressing pent up emotion but it can be very distressing for the whole family. We have five grandchildren, the youngest of whom, a boy, used to scream when he was upset. It was so bad for a while that my son and d-i-l hardly went out. My son was best at handling it as he used to distract his attention to something else but it is upsetting for the whole family. Thankfully it only lasted about six months and when he started nursery school he was a changed little boy and as a ten year old he is very intelligent and popular with his classmates and teachers. Before lockdown I was walking through Debenhams and two women had a little boy in tow who was screaming so much everybody was staring. The one woman looked like his grandmother and she looked so upset I went over to her and told her about my grandson and how it was only a phase which would pass. She was so grateful for the conversation, the poor woman was so distressed and I knew exactly how she felt.

Callistemon Tue 02-Mar-21 10:37:04

Nice elderly lady, obviously distressed at his behavior, leaned over him, trying to talk to him and got bitten for her thanks!!!

I don't know why that made me laugh so much, it can't have been funny at the time Franbern 😂😂😂

I think his father handled it well too. It sounds as if the little lad has a lot to cope with at the moment, not being at school, missing his friends, moving house - will he be going to a different school now they have moved? He's expressing his anxieties.

I would note, too, what he is eating as Shropshirelass said.
Is it his iPad? Too much screen time could cause stress and anxiety too.

BlueBelle Tue 02-Mar-21 10:45:25

I think his dad handled it perfectly ...calmness is the order of the day and it paid off because the lad came down in a calm mood as if nothing had happened Dad has obviously seen this before and knew exactly what to do, and well done him do you realise how lucky you are sone Dads would have shouted or smacked or lost their own control
He’s at a difficult age to lose all that is familiar with him and move house he may be missing his friends and familiar places but not able to verbalise it He may have been frustrated that good old granddad had had a great time with the car building but maybe not done it the way he would have. He may just have been feeling miserable whatever it was he got it out his system in a basic way by throwing a fit
Forget about it if it happens when you’re looking after him take a leaf out of Dads book and do exactly what he did remove him quietly and firmly and when he comes down quiet and contrite, say nothing
My grandchild number 5 was a breathe holder scream and scream then hold her breathe so blooming scary As she got older she would shut herself in the wardrobe screaming
They all find they way ...stop worrying

Susie1956 Tue 02-Mar-21 10:51:06

Hi Cher69, thanks for posting your question about your 5yr old grandson. I can really relate to it having seen the behaviour of our 3 oldest grandchildren at this age and beyond. You hear all the time about the terrible two’s but in my experience they reappear as the terrible 5’s as well. The good news is our eldest granddaughter went through a stage of horrendous behaviour between 5 and 6 but 6/7 has been very different and much better behaved. Our next two who are going through the 5/6 at the moment can display shocking behaviour and simply don’t listen or do as they’re told. My frustration really builds when I see them using our house as an adventure playground and sofas as trampolines, being completely deaf to my requests to stop until I threaten to take them back to their parents. I really don’t remember my children behaving as they do either with their grandparents or with us as their parents, but maybe memories fade and my glasses are a bit rose tinted 😀. Ok do remember sending them to their rooms though for misbehaving so maybe his father has the right idea. Just a bit difficult to do when they are at your home though. Good luck and as with all things children related it will pass- and be replaced with something else!

Moggycuddler Tue 02-Mar-21 10:57:44

GagaJo

Sounds fairly normal. I think move anything breakable away from him. If it is a REAL tantrum, make sure he is lying on a surface where he can't hurt himself.

My DGS once had an hour and a half tantrum. He was so distressed he couldn't calm himself down. It took being held / restrained in a cuddle and given something to drink (in a sippy cup that couldn't spill, arms also held down) before he could start to come out of it.

They are little. Yes, it is horrible to watch, but it is normal. I once had to carry a rigid, screaming toddler, through the streets of a major tourist area with his mortified mum!

Interestingly, my daughter never had them as badly. Is it a boy thing, or do girls become this out of control too?

Girls do it too. At least my daughter did! She had awful screaming tantrums, sometimes in public. I don't remember her ever breaking things though. She came out of it to be a very well adjusted adult. :-)

inishowen Tue 02-Mar-21 11:14:16

If they've just moved house the boy may still be finding his feet. My 9 year old granddaughter has been having meltdowns where she says she hates her mum. She throws things too. This is all to do with having to go to school when other children don't. Mum is a key worker. We're hoping things calm down when all children are back to school.

Gilly1952 Tue 02-Mar-21 11:31:26

How times have changed! When my brother, now 72 and myself (68) were children, if we had behaved in that way we would have been given a good hiding! Didn’t do us any harm! Obviously if a child has “issues” or such, then it can be a very different story. Now I will await your various comments!

granjan66 Tue 02-Mar-21 11:33:00

I 've had this with my granddaughter when she doesn't want to do something. My DD was just the same. I just walk away and ignore her. She soon calms down and acts as if nothing had happened

Sarnia Tue 02-Mar-21 11:34:21

Life is upside down for him at the moment, isn't it? No school routine, no physical contact with wider family and friends, a new home and a sister who may be conforming to type at her age and being a Terrible Two. 5 year olds can't understand or handle their emotions so having a tantrum is their way of letting it all out. Trying to reason with a frantic child is useless. It's better to wait until they have calmed down and then settle down for a hug and let both sides say how they felt and why the tantrum happened.

sandelf Tue 02-Mar-21 11:36:47

Yup, changes, pressures... I went through a horrible phase (don't think this level of upset is being naughty - it is frightening and exhausting). I think now mine was so bad because I am left handed (very) and they would not let me write left handed - so, frustration and unnecessary failure.

jeanrobinson Tue 02-Mar-21 11:43:09

With boys it may help to give them language to describe their feelings. At bedtime, before his story, my son and I would talk about what had happened during the day: e.g. "You were very cross when your ice-lolly fell off the stick before you had finished it - I can understand that because I used to feel furious if it happened to me too."

pamdixon Tue 02-Mar-21 11:46:09

Small children don't have an 'off' switch.......... he'll grow out of it (hopefully!!).
My daughter used to do brilliant tactics with her 2 boys when they threw tantrums - she'd say something totally unexpected like 'oh look there's an alien on the ceiling' which often stopped the tantrum dead in its tracks. Trying to distract them or divert them when they are having a tantrum is not easy but brilliant when it works!

BlueBelle Tue 02-Mar-21 11:47:25

Here’s my comment Gilly1952
Dont you just love the people that say ‘we had good hidings didn’t do us any harm’. your lack of empathy for a small child getting a ‘good hiding’ at the hands of an adult is proof that it’s done you harm gilly1952
If you can’t see that as wrong then your compassion button has been well and truly damaged

rizlett Tue 02-Mar-21 11:57:00

Some helpful tips on here - also info to explain why people (not just 5yr olds tantrum)

sarahockwell-smith.com/2021/02/06/toddler-tantrum-101-how-to-understand-and-manage-tantrums/?fbclid=IwAR2oA8406B9YnYvQQ71cYzIxnHTOFFC0fTLynFOzrx-YCNPFfAHZ5znucA8

Fennel Tue 02-Mar-21 11:58:41

Very good replies.
Reminds me of Violet Elizabeth Bott in the Just William books "I'll scream and scream until I make myself sick!" but she was a bit older.
I've had meltdowns myself at times of stress - once smashed a cut glass bowl full of trifle I'd just made. Stupid.