Four Year Old Has Violent Temper Tantrums

Updated on March 03, 2010
A.L. asks from Anna, OH
7 answers

I tried to look this up, but I couldn't find anything on it here. About once a month my four year old has been having violent temper tantrums. It's always about really small things. Today he wanted honey nut cheerios instead of the regular ones and he demanded that I go to walmart and buy some for breakfast. Of course I said I wasn't going to do that, and he just broke down and screamed for at least 20 min. I tried to ignore him, but he just kept screaming and yelling mean things, and when he hit his 2 year old brother I tried to make him go to his room. Instead of going in there, he screamed some more and when I tried to catch him to put him in there he ran away, when I caught him and made him stay in there, he started throwing things at the door and screaming some more mean things and saying he wanted me dead. In the past I've tried time outs, ignoring him for at least an hour, holding him myself in time out or in his room to get him to stay there (then he just kicks, bites and hits me). We spend lots of time together, do fun things (go play on the swing set, go to the zoo, he's in gymnastics, etc) and he never goes to daycare. And except for these episodes he's a very calm talkative little boy and he usually never has a problem telling me how he feels. I'm just wondering if this could be a medical problem or should he see a therapist? (thanks for reading my long question!)

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answers from Minneapolis on

It's weird, I know. My youngest (5) does the same thing and it's usually right around the full moon. I have a lunar calendar and it's really handy as I can tell from the calendar and I can see his temperment changing and building the week before. As far as I know, there's no scientific reason for it, but I also know that during the full moon is when a lot of mental hospitals have more staff as outbursts and behavior become more extreme.

What I do is try to give him more positive attention the week before so it "tempers" his temper. It reduces the severity, but he still has his breakdowns. What I do is tell him that he is going to be in his room for 5 minutes of quiet time. If he screams, cries, yells, throws anything, misbehaves in any way, the time starts over. I have a timer so he knows how long he has. That has reduced his meltdowns from 2 hours to about 20 minutes.

All I can say is good luck, and no matter what, don't give in!!! :) If you do, it'll be way worse the next time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

A. your son sounds like my son. You might want to have him seen or call Heartland Services to have him evaluated. My son Jack is 3 and we are at the end of a 6 week study on him and the social worker beleives that he has what is called Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Jack will be seeing Grace Percival on Monday. Grace is a pediatric psychologist. I want to have her see him for a 2nd opinion. I'm thinking the social worker is right in her diagnosis but I want a 2nd opinion outside of the DM public school system.

Jack is a lot like your son...when he's good he's great and when he's bad it is down right hellish.

Please let me know if I can help more! I'd be happy to talk to you more about this and to tell you more about my son in hopes that it would help you with your son!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

My daughter (now a teenager)went through this stage. I finally figured out that she had these fits because she was suffering from a disease called SRB. AKA Spoiled Rotten Brat disease. I started correcting this by saying "no" more frequently, not buying her things when we went places, having her do nice things for others, doing chores (they should have at least 4 small chores at 4), and keeping to a routine. I think it is hard for kids to think of us as anything other than their servant when we treat them like princess' (in your case a prince). When they don't get their way, they feak out. Well, that is what worked for me. Oh...and by the way, what he is doing is normal kids behavior, you just need to correct it. :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Madison on

My son started having violent tt's at around 4 1/2. The following advice is only for those times when all else has failed. This is what worked for me. If he gets aggressive when in his room for a consequence (hitting, throwing, tipping etc), I remove one piece of furniture from his room for each act of aggression. I say that it is not safe to have furniture in a room when one is aggressive. The first time I did this, he lost almost all his furniture and didn't get it back until the next day (and yes, he hit and threw and screamed the entire time.) He got his bed back when he was calm and ready to go to bed. The next time it only took one chair for him to calm down. One time when he refused to keep his door shut, I went to get the screw driver and started removing his door - if he didn't want to keep it shut, then he didn't need a door at all. He closed his door and kept it shut.
This "reverse psychology" only works on a certain type of kid, but usually works well on a stubborn, more aggressive kids. You'll know right away if it's effective. Some kids say, "Fine. I'll sleep on the floor". Then you need an entirely different approach. And you don't want to use it too often, as it is rather drastic. Reserve it for the major temper tantrums. Good luck


answers from Minneapolis on

Hi A.
Is there something that happens the day or night before. So maybe he is over tired because you did a fun outing or you gave him a food he dosen't have often. These are things that make my daughter have major meltdowns. Good luck in this difficult stage of parenting.



answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter recently turned 5 and she has major temper tantrums too. If she tries something new and has difficulty, etc. It is usually when she is tired and not had enough rest. This morning we had in issue with brushing her teeth. She tells me I make her cry, that I don't understand, that I am mean. I try to explain I am being a mommy and that mommy's have to discipline and set rules. This morning was too much, I lost it and swore at her. Now I feel awful. One minute she's my beautiful, sweet, loving little girl and the next, she's inconsolable over nothing.


answers from Dallas on

My son has recenlty started exhibiting some similar behaviors. It isn't too often but he will get mad over the smallest thing and just escalate. He says he will hurt me since I am mean to him. He will start kicking or kinda throw things. Tonight he even said he couldn't wait until I am dead! I remember when I was about that age I started acting the same way. I remember the intense anger I felt towards my mom. I would kick things and scream and break things. I know my mother didn't handle me correctly at all, which influenced my behavior throughout my teenage years and even now into adulthood I still have issues and strong anger towards her. My mother would ignore me and the reason I was upset. I want to handle my son's behavior differently than my mother did, and in a way that still promotes love. I am curious what other mothers do. I am thinking of talking to a pediatric psychologist.


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