Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tantrums and Meltdowns!

Okay I'm looking for some advice. My third daughter turns 4 next month and in the past few months she has begun to throw temper tantrums and is having meltdowns all the time!

I'm trying to be consistent with what is expected of her and in the treatment of her tantrum. But really right now I just want her to stop crying! :) She cries more than my 4 month old!

I think I was telling myself it was a phase she would grow out of, or maybe I was being too hard on her, but after taking her to Walmart today and her having 3 separate tantrums in the space of 25 minutes (and it wasn't because I wouldn't buy her a toy or anything normal like that!) I realize we have a problem.

So how do you deal with meltdowns in public places? I felt so bad for my older two daughters who were so embarrassed by the public display!

So please if anyone has any words of advice I'd love to hear them! And if you don't have advice, just let me know I'm not alone in my frustration and embarrassment! :)

PS-I have no idea what brings them on. If her flip flop falls off while she's walking it's a meltdown, if someone tries to hold her hand while crossing the street she cries. If someone forgets to hold her hand while crossing the street she cries! Really it's a crap shoot as to what will set her off!


Ilene said...

Well, I could be wrong but has this change been for, say, the last 4 months? If so then she's just having a little trouble adjusting to the new baby.

Was she the youngest before the baby was born? Then she's used to being "the baby".

Would she understand a "big girl talk"? --"You're one of the BIG girls now!" Do the older kids include her in what they're doing?

I was "the baby of the family" till my first nephew arrived. My mom was CRAZY about this ugly thing and they did so many special things for him that they didn't do any more for me. And my next sister was 6 years older than me. She and our sister 2 years older than she was were pretty tight. All of a sudden my "niche" was all gone. Not a baby any more, not included in with the big girls. I cried a lot, made up an imaginary friend, etc., etc.

Something to consider... Good luck!

Mindy said...

That's tough! I'm horrible with public meltdowns... I have no idea how to handle them or what to do. I hope she grows out of it, or you figure things out soon. :)

mommymelb said...

Ilene-I'm sure that her not being the baby anymore is a huge deal! Thanks for giving me some perspective on that! :) I'll try to work in some good one on one time with her more often to see if that helps!

Mindy-I hate public meltdowns too, I'm glad I'm not alone in that! :)

Charlotte said...

I've had to learn to anticipate certain things with my 4 yr. old. Like the crossing the street thing- I would always make sure I ask whose hand or which hand he would like to hold, so then the ball is in his court and he has the power to act instead of react.

I think the "big girl talk" is definitely worth a shot. Good luck!

Ilene said...

I raised my two and then I raised my daughter's two boys, one of whom was one of those "bawling in the stores" kids. I wrote about it here: http://visitwithgrandma.blogspot.com/2009/11/you-and-your-kid.html

Kids understand things much younger than we think they do.

Mostly for your little girl, though, I'd hug her more and tell her I understand how left out she must feel. Maybe do a little something special just for her and her older sisters like a little "tea party" or "ice cream float party" -- something the baby can't participate in, but something that will help the girls all bond. I'd also talk with the older girls and ask them if they'd help you help her make the transition. Let them understand how left-out she feels right now. It can become really significant for all if handled well, and also go the other way if ignored.

You sound like a really good Mommy, I think you'll do fine. Hugs, Ilene

Marci said...

my oldest (almost 8) has been doing it for years. I have tried everything and it's not easy. the most important thing is sticking to your guns and not threatening something that you won't stick with. my pediatrician told me to tell her while she's calm that no matter where you are or what you are doing if she acts like that you will leave. store, dinner, whatever. if you are at dinner then one of you take her out and sit with her in the car while everyone else eats. it's hard and it sucks because it affects everyone but hopefully it will get her to stop. ours kicks, screams, pulls hair, hits herself...etc. did i say it's hard?? yes, it is. the school psychologist, after she threw one in the middle of 1st grade reading day in the lunchroom, told me it's important to not pay attention to it. if we are home it's easy. she goes to her room and we all just stay away. we don't pay one bit of attention to her because that is what she is trying to get. she needs to learn that positive behavior will get attention and bad behavior will get ignored. it's worked great so far. her tantrums have gone from an hour or more to 15-20 minutes. hopefully they will continue to get shorter. we are for sure having less of them. you can also use a token system of some sort and i know friends who have had great luck with that.

hope that helps!

Holly said...

I totally understand! My son will be 4 at the end of August and we are dealing with the same thing! If it's related to the new baby then I have no explanation for his tantrums, because there is no new baby here. The only thing that has been helping him is to say to him as soon as he starts the tantrum, "It's not okay to have a tantrum over this. How could you do this in a nice way?" Usually he will stop and think and then ask/do in a nice way. When he does this, I try to reward his good choice with positive attention. If he doesn't stop, then he goes straight to a time-out where he is completely ignored for three minutes - which he hates. I'm still hoping it is just a phase and that he will soon grow out of it, because it really gets annoying. Good luck with your daughter. I hope just knowing that you're not alone will help!

Amy said...

read the love and logic book for younger kids. It is AMAZING!

the nayz said...

That's a tough one. We went through this with my son because he had a speech delay and couldn't communicate-it also turned out that he is Autistic (high-functioning). There were a LOT of public tantrums-so bad that he would smack his forehead on the floor. There was also a lot of embarrassment and disgusted looks from other women. When he shutdown, I would determine if it was okay to let him work it out or if I needed to remove him. Either way, I wouldn't make a huge deal of it. If I needed to remove him, I would pick him up and throw him over my shoulder (he was very strong & strong-willed) and walk away. I would get quite a few looks from this, but after awhile it didn't really matter what other women thought because my son's well-being was more important. After a few minutes, he would clam down & I would remind him how much I love him & not berate him for the tantrum. I know every child responds differently and has different coping mechanisms, but I hope my experience still helps in some way. I wish you the best in your struggle with this. Good Luck


Annalee Kelly said...

Hi, Melanie! I just barely read this today, but while trying to figure out the tantrum stuff, I would try to give her a lot of control in her realm, such as: "Which shirt are you going to wear today?" "Do you want your sandwich cut in half or in fourths today?" or "Do you want to clean up the blue toys or the red ones first?"

In other words, if the tantrums are related to not feeling enough control in her life, maybe it would help to give her lots and lots of choices relating to things that aren't a big deal. I use this with my kids (Love & Logic) and it has really helped.

Good luck! We should do lunch soon!

Tracy said...

I once got done on the floor right beside my daughter and joined her. She stopped and laughed at me. End of meltdowns....totally worth the 5 minutes of embarrassment I felt. :)