55 answers

6 Year Old Son Throwing Tantrums

My son is 6 yrs old and very smart. When he gets in trouble he gets mad and then the cycle starts. For example, if I send him to his room, he will argue with me. He wants to know why, for how long, and can he tell me one more thing. When I tell him no he can not tell me anything and send him to his room he continues to argue. I take away a privilege for a week (such as the computer) and he continues to argue. Then he gets the computer taken away for 2 weeks, etc. Tonight he threw such a fit that he lost the computer, the wii, dessert, his webkinz AND his allowance for 4 weeks!!! It seems like once he is upset, he can not back down. He always keeps argueing. If I walk away, he follows me and throws a fit (yelling, screaming, banging on my bedroom door, etc). My husband and I feel like we are very swift and consistent with our punishments. Our number 1 rule has always been that you NEVER get what you want when you throw a tantrum. I don't believe in spanking but I have tried everything else I can think of. Any ideas?

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Thanks for all your help! We have tried time outs, etc. and they don't work too well either. I do take him to his room if he refuses to go on his own and make him stay there until he calms down. However, it is not pleasant. The "one more thing" he always wants to tell me is always begging or pleading ("but I really want to ---) I have already told him the answer is no and I am not changing that. Sarah had a good idea to let him write down his feelings while he is in his room and talk about it later. I will try that. I will try some of the other things too. Thanks a lot.

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I know you've already received a ton of advice, so you may not be interested in any more, but I have to pass on this great website that has helped me a lot! It's called Empowering Parents, and here's a link to an article on "How to Give Kids Consequences that Work" http://www.empoweringparents.com/kids-and-consequences.php. It helped me change the way I look at punishments, and it has really made a difference with my kids. Hope it helps!

1 mom found this helpful

my 4 1/2 year old did this a few months ago. But instead of arguing she went straight into the tantrums..( this kicking, screaming, and so on.) Finally one day while in the middle of her fit I picked her up and carried her to her room, laid her in the bed and told her that she wasn't to get up or come out of her room until she could stop acting like that. I walked out and closed the door. after about 15- 20 min of screaming she finally realizied that i wasn't coming back in there and gave up. she hasn't throwed one since. I don't know what to tell you about the arguing...I'm just getting into that...lol. I hope this helps.

That sounds familiar. my son began with that at about the same age. He is 9 now and has begun to act a little more human in response to difficult situations. We tried lots of things but the thing that made the most impact was giving him the gift of therapy sessions witha cognitive therapist who has a real gift with children. he liked knowing that this was his own private, special time to say anything. I think half the time they talked about computer games.He learned other ways to respond to situations and conflicts. Just getting older has helped, too. One thing we learned was that in the throes of the tamtrum, he just kept it up because he didn't know how to back out of it. Being alone in his room and eating a snack seemed to help him save face. We would wait until much later to talk about it with him.

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You've had so many responses that I didn't read them, but did want to add my 'two cents' worth'. LOL

I'm 'Mom' to 4 grown kids and Mom-Mom to 3 little ones. I have a strong (powerful) personality (none of my kids nor my husband do, so that was easy for me!) It sounds as if you have a 'type A' person, here and a REWARD system might bring the desired results much more effectively than 'punishment' (I prefer to call it 'discipline', although I was/am a 'spanker' -- probably more than I should have been, but I still believe in it).

Anyway, I recomment that you try to learn as much as you can about 'temperaments' and 'love languages'. 4Marks.com has a great test to analyze yourself on temperament, then you can run it on your kids (as that's the best time to tell how/what someone innately is. As adults we've 'learned' to act/react in certain ways and can't remember how our natural tendencies were about certain things when we were children).

About the 'love languages', do a web search about it (Dr. Gary Chapman is the leading authority on it) as it can really help you understand yourself as well as other family members. Real quick, the 5 'languages' that people 'speak' and 'hear' are:
1) Quality Time
2) Acts of Service
3) Words of Affirmation
4) Physical Touch
5) Giving/Receiving Gifts

Happy mothering, and God bless!

3 moms found this helpful

Hi T.,

My 6 year old son is exactly the same way. It's very frustrating. He doesn't go to school (we homeschool) so he's not "getting it" from anyone. He is just very high strung and doesn't like to feel like he's not being understood. I have learned that if I let him tell me "one" (and only one) more thing and then ask him questions (Why did you do that? Would you like your brother to do that to you? Are you allowed to do that?) instead of telling him what he did wrong, it starts to de-escalate quickly. Then, I tell him that he can tell me whatever else he needs to say after he calms down. I remind him that his behavior is not OK, but that we'll talk about it when he calms down. It's working much better for us.

Hope it helps! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

I am curious to know how close to 6 1/2 your son is? Seems like the half ages are the worst. I also think your punishments are too severe to see any benefits. 2 weeks is way too long for a 6 year old to visualize. 2 days would be more appropriate. Some children don't respond well to "punishments" at all. It's as if they do not care! These children often do better with a reward system, like a sticker chart to earn computer time, wii time a special adventure, etc... When you control your anger you can earn a sticker. Also it sounds like your son doesn't have any coping strategies for when he is angry. Children are not born knowing how to control their feelings. They have to be taught how to! Deep breathing is an excellent coping strategy for someine his age. Writing in a journal, going outside and running! Sounds crazy but He needs a wa to vent his frustrations in a healthy and acceptable way. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

There is a great book by Elaine Mazlish (sp?) and Adele Faber called "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen" that might help. In a nutshell, it involves a commitment from YOU to stop old patterns of communication and express yourself in a way that is clear and firm, but that also honors the thoughts/feelings/motivations of the child (or adult, for that matter; this book is an effective tool for improving communication skills no matter WHAT the relationship).

I have used it as a teacher and a parent and have had great success. Whenever people tell me, "Wow! Your class/your " daughter is so well behaved and happy all of the time . . ." I refer them to this book!

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

I would suggest being very matter of fact with him when he gets in trouble and limit the amount you talk with him. Send him to his room for a time out or have a special time out chair or mat in some other room of the house, but when you put him in time out physically put him there yourself. Don't just say "go to your room." When you put him in his time out be very specific, "I'm putting you in time out because you hit your sister. You are in time out for 6 minutes. I will not talk to you when you are in time out. You can talk to me when you are done. End of discussion." Then no matter how much he talks to you while in his time out, DON'T respond. Start a timer with a dinger or bell so he will know when he's done. If he gets out of time out, put him back without a word. Tell him he can yell and scream all he wants, but he has to stay in his room. It may take you several hours of putting him back in his time out before he gets the 6 minutes in, but I guarantee you that after one or two times it will break the cycle when he understands he can't get a rise out of you. Then when he is done ask him to tell you why he was in time out. Explain to him why that behavior is unacceptable and ask for a sincere apology, tell him you love him, and then if he wants to talk to you about something he may. If there was some thing involved in why he got into trouble, take that away for the rest of the day. For instance, the other day my 3 year old was coloring on my kitchen floor with a marker. After her time out she had to clean it up and then she was not allowed to play with the markers for the rest of the day. I think that even at 6 taking something away from him for periods longer than a day or compounding the things that are taken away isn't going to work. Kids that age just don't have a good sense of time yet to understand 2 weeks or 4 weeks, or to remember what they did 2 weeks ago that got them into trouble. I think immediate consequences directly related to what got him into trouble are the most effective way to deal with little ones.

1 mom found this helpful

At this point, your only out here will be to hire Nanny 911. I don't even think spankings will do any good at this point. Your first mistake was giving him all these privileges at such a young age. Now he will only expect more and the tantrums will continue until you get him more.

1 mom found this helpful

Our son, now 8 and also very smart, falls into this pattern too. We've learned that adding on extra punishments doesn't work because he doesn't really understand that. All that we add for continued arguing is more time in his room.

What we've found that helps is to wait until later in the day when everyone is calm to talk about what happened. Then he's listening and we can talk about whether the yelling and arguing made the situation better or worse. I ask how the situation could have been handled so the time out wasn't as long, and when he's calm he can easily explain that he never got what he wanted and that throwing the fit made it worse. He still does it sometimes, but not nearly as often. When he knows he's in the wrong, he's usually quick to snap to it with the time out to get it overwith.

Just the other day, he did an hour time out (started as 10 minutes) and because of when it happened, lost his afternoon TV show. He's been calmer and very helpsful since. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi T.!

You may have already tried this or felt like you ave tried it, but this might help. Give your warning then your explanation for why he's in trouble ONE TIME ONLY, and then do NOT argue, look at, or give the satisfaction of communication of any kind until he's served his "punishment". He is smart so he knows why he's in trouble and he is trying to get attention by pulling you into a fight. Kids also thrive on getting a reactions... so don't give him a show. Then, carry him to his room of you have to. Or sit him in a time out spot. His time (6 mintues) will start when he sits there and doesn't get up or argue. It sounds simple, but it does work. You just have to believe in yourself and believe in him... and be extremely consistent. If he continues those things then he SHOULD have his toys, etc. taken away. But make sure he doesn't have any way of cheating (sneaking the game box, etc) while you're not there or filling his time with other things that are equally enjoyable. I know you are frustrated, but know that we all are there at some point and are backing you. You can stay calm and strong. If you are doing that already then I'm not sure what to say except good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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