3/1/2 Year Old Having Tempertantrums or Meltdowns When He Can't Get His Way

Updated on December 31, 2009
J.P. asks from Lisle, IL
4 answers

Hi Moms,
Please help I have a 3/12 year son who has these major meltdowns or temper tanturms when he doesn't get his way. Last night we had several different episodes. I said "no" to something he didn't like, he hit me several times, I explained to him not to hit and if he continued he would get a time-out. Well needless to say it continued and I placed him in a time-out. He usually doesn't stay in it, I have to keep him there against his will. I have to hold him while he fights me. In meantime I turned off the T.V. Which caused another meltdown!!! But, I wasn't giving in, I need help What am I doing wrong? My husband helps a little and he to gets hit and pinched and the glasses get thrown off!! This went on for over an hour, I actually had to leave the house, I thought that might help. He usually is crying and fussing at me, not my husband. Another time he does this is when we try to leave from somewhere that he wants to stay at. I can't even take him in the store. It is a fight when we leave if doesn't get candy or a toy. So we rarely go anywhere, and that is also wareing on me....I think i'm going to have a major breakdown soon...Please help with any suggestions or similar stories, I can't be alone??

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answers from Chicago on

Total normal and your reaction to it sounds pretty good. He's testing you. He's trying to see if the tantrum, the hitting, the pinching, the throwing of the toys, the dramatics, the whatever-it-is-that-will-force-you-to-give-in-to-him will work. Be consistent and let him know that these unsavory methods of behavior will not garner him any sort of attention, positive or negative. If you have to take him to time out 5 times in a row because he isn't getting the message, so be it. Just make sure that at the end of the time out you ask him "Why were you in time out?" and ask him for an apology and a hug, with a reminder that you don't want the behavior to continue along with suggestions as to what other, better options may be chosen.

Sometimes if my son starts throwing toys, I put the toy in time out on the mantle over the fireplace. When we initially started doing that, about 5 toys wound up on top of the mantle before he understood "Hmm. I guess if I keep throwing my toys, I'll have nothing with which to play." Now, it usually only takes one toy and he'll stop.

A good resource is Thomas Phelan's book 1-2-3 Magic. I like this method for several reasons: first of all, it does not involve yelling or getting over-emotional and secondly, the counting alerts your child to the fact that "hey, I'm doing something that I shouldn't be, and I'd better get my act together and make better choices before mom or dad get to 3 or there will be a time out or consequence for my continued disobedience."

Also try using verbal praise and recognition and 'catch him doing good'. If you are constantly having to resort to bribes and prizes (not saying that's what you're doing), then children learn that they don't have to do anything and can demand that there always be some sort of string/prize attached to it. Let him know that when he does a good job cleaning up his toys that you are VERY proud of him and give him a high-five or a hug. When you take a trip to the grocery store and he behaves and does not badger you for candy or toys, heap on the praise about what a good boy he was.

Good luck - he's testing you and how you react will set the stage for how he acts.

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answers from Chicago on

i do a 1-2-3 counting with my 3 1/2 y.o. daughter. Some days, we get to "3" often, and she gets even more upset when she's in for a time out.

I also take the toys she's being naughty or hurtful with and put it up high - she can still see it but she can't have it.

For time outs, I have had to sit on the couch and hold her on my lap (holding her arms down too, so she doesn't try to wave them around) for her time out. TV goes off, and yes it stinks because i'm in "time out" while i'm holding her and it really disrupts any schedule we need to stick to, but it helps her realize that i'm not playing around. if i say she has to sit for a time out, she knows i'm willing to sit and hold her so she calms down and takes the time out.

it IS tough, and i totally understand and feel for ya. i know she's just trying my patience, seeing what buttons will set me off. i do have a temper, so this is extra work for me to control it. :)

hang in there! he will figure it out, eventually. just be consistent....they know when we're not and they play on that! oh, and when my daughter's disrespectful at the store (but not to the point of having to walk out and just go home), i let her know there's punishment coming (like no snack or a time out or whatever fun activity taken away) once we get home. BUT, i have to make sure i remember to give the punishment when we get home....because i know she remembers what i've said and if i don't stick to it, she thinks she's gotten away with it.

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answers from Chicago on

Hi J., Sounds really taxing! Smart Love Family Services offers parent coaching, which can provide you with some really sounds help with child development and how to handle these acting out behaviors, as well as some support through the tough times. There is also a discussion board and some articles. Check it out at www.smartlovefamily.org.



answers from Chicago on

yup. we've had that on and off. i've had to do the ol fireman carry out of the library before.
as long as you are consistent and matter of fact it shall pass. don't give an audiance and don't try to sit and convince him of anything "please, come on" none of that.
its do this or this hpapens. end of story.
he'll figure it out.

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