Almost 5 Year Old Having Temper Tantrums

Updated on February 11, 2011
G. asks from Lafayette, CO
11 answers

I have seen some good responses to others on this site, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m at a loss as to what to do with our daughter. She is a very smart and generally happy little girl who is just about to turn 5. She is currently causing quite a stir in our home with her temper tantrums. She seems to be extreme, one minute very sweet, happy, and engaging, the next minute on the floor screaming, whining, talking back, kicking, and swinging whatever she can. This weekend it pretty much ruined both our days as a family. Is this normal for a child this age to still carry on like this? It seems we have tried everything, patience and calmness, time out in her room (which still seems to be the only place she eventually calms down), spanking (which we don’t feel good about), ignoring the bad behavior, and taking away privileges. All these seem to not be working. She’s good for about 5 minutes, then right back into it. We are exhausted and just want to enjoy our time off and together as a family. I would just like to know if this is normal behavior and any ideas on what may change this behavior if indeed it is normal.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Denver on

I wish that pediatricians would warn parents about this, because parents are always surprised at this behavior. Here's what's going on:

When a child is turning five, they start to have a much bigger comprehension of the world around them and their place in it. Simultaneiously, their parents and loved ones are enthusiastically itemizing all the cool stuff that the kid's going to be doing at age five: going to kindergarten, moving up in Sunday School, learning to read, riding a two-wheeler, whistling, blowing bubbles with gum, playing on sports teams.

The child becomes absolutely terrified, because he has no idea whether he'll be able to accomplish any of this stuff! And so, he freaks out. There are behavior changes & tantrums.

Once the child starts to do one or two of these items and sees that he can do it and enjoy it, he starts to relax again, and the bad behavior disappears.

This has happened to almost every child-turning-five that I've known.

Talk to her about how she feels about turning five. Then, stop talking about all this cool stuff, because all the talk is scaring her. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

I have a girl that will be turning 5 soon and have had similar issues with her. She's also a very bright girl who is generally very happy, but can do the extreme tantrum thing as well. I highly recommend the book - Love & Logic - Birth to 6 years. Not only does it give strategies for what to do in the middle of the tantrum, it gives strategies for how to interact with them to avoid the tantrum in the first place. The tantrums have reduced in frequency & when they do happen, it is SOOOOO nice to have a way to deal with it that works. I think their strategies work very well for bright children. Check it out!!!



answers from Pocatello on

Sometimes it is difficult for kids that age to deal with their emotions. They have to be taught to have an appropriate outlet. There are some great children's books out there that talk about this. One of my kids' favorites is, "When Sophie Gets Angry, Very, Very Angry."

The most important thing is that you and your family do not lose their tempers. I have known several people who have struggled with a really bad temper and finally overcame it. The key was that they realized their families didn't blow up like they did and they started to feel pretty stupid about losing their temper. As far as your little one goes, she will not come to this conclusion for years to come, but if you guys are losing you tempers it teaches her that it's okay to lose it. The outbursts need to be addressed in a calm, rational manner. I like that you are having her calm down in her room and time outs are also another really good option.



answers from Grand Junction on

Hi G.,

I know my instincts always lean toward punish when my children display such behavior. My instincts are usually wrong. I realized that with our oldest daughter, who is now 14 years old. She was a huge fit thrower, man she had some good ones, and about the same age as yours. What ever we did to stop the fits didn't help. So I followed the example of my older sister (brilliant woman), and instead of punishing, we, my husband and I, gave more love. We hugged her and loved her and told her what a wonderful girl she was and that we didn't understand what she wanted when she threw her fits. That we wanted her to be happy and that she needed to talk to us and use words to let us know what she needed, instead of screaming and throwing herself on the floor. We told her we were afraid she would hurt herself or someone else and that we needed her to control herself. It was through that experience that I realized that a child of any age still needed that kind of attention and gentleness and love. It worked for us. She still will walk up to me and hug me and sometimes sit on my lap (eventhough she is as big as I am). All children need to be listened to and know that they have a voice and that they are cherished and loved. Try it, you never know what will come about when you show an increase in love and understanding. Good luck.



answers from Denver on

I can feel your pain. My daughter is 5 and is a queen of tantrums. She always had a temper but it hit full force at 4 1/2. From the other little girls I know I think this is normal. At that age they are becoming big kids and a lot of new experiences are happening. They still havent learned to express everything so I think they fall back on how they handled things in the past ( you scream to get what you need) With my daughter I learned to watch for her getting tired or overstimulated and would send her to relax in her room or sit down to snuggle or read with me for a bit. We had a talk about how we felt at times and how its ok to get angry but she needed to talk to me and tell me ( kind of like when we use to tell her to use her words). We also talked about taking a couple of big breaths and counting to 10. Then my husband and I would remind her before the tantrum started to do these things and would help her count. We did this with the teacher in pre school and it seemed to help. Also when she handled something well and made a good choice we would point it out to her and heap on the praises. It gets a little better as they learn to express themselves better. Unfortunately its getting bad again with all the newness of school and busy days. Now she tells me she doesnt want to breath and count. I will try humor but if she cant calm down she has to go to her room until she settles down. One of the most important thing I found was for myself to stay calm and talk quietly. ( they have to quiet down to listen) and believe me its really hard sometimes because I want to throw a tantrum myself ( I have a horrid temper too) I found she would fuel off of my temper and things would only get worse. As for the whining I would tell her I couldnt hear her until she talked normally, and if she talked back we tell her we are the parents and she is sent to her room. Hopefully this might help or at least encourage you. Good luck



answers from Boise on

This happens to both my 4 and 6 year olds when they are tired. My 6 year old is getting worse because school and after school activities are challenging our schedules. When I make sure that everyone is getting enough rest and good food on time, we are all happier. When I was working, I made a point to "BE" home when I got home to my babies. I would hold them until they were ready to get down. That made a ton of difference. Even now that they are older, when problems arise, I will stop and hold them or sit with them and it seems to steady the situation. Yesterday, my 6 year old had a total meltdown and threw his clothes at me in a tantrum. When he had finally calmed down, we sat together on the couch and snuggled. He finally said, "Mommy, do you still love me no matter what?" Of course, I said yes and he was fine. Where it came from I don't know, but evidently he wanted to hear it.
I don't know if this is at all helpful to you, but it works for me. Good luck.



answers from Denver on

This summer my daughter was the same way. I noticed that if she ate something we avoided the big tantrums. It got very frustrating because I want to teach my kids proper eating habits. It seemed that when I gave her sugar she calmed down right away and was as pleasant as pie. I did go to see the Dr. and they did do some tests to rule out diabetes (runs in my family) and hypo/hyper glycemia. She did outgrow this stage and I think school and being more scheduled actually helped. I tell my daughter that she is more than welcome to have her fits in her room where she won't disturb any one else. Good Luck I know how frustrating this is.



answers from Johnson City on

I am the mother to a 2 year old and a five year old. Although I don't have an answer, your story is just like ours. A wonderful, sweet 5 year old that everyone compliments. Then suddenly!!! What happened to her. The screaming, tossing around in floor, swinging kicking-all of it. Like you we are exhaused. And I'm feeling more lost because I can't help her. I have just taken her for her first 'intake' for a child psychologist to evaluate and determine if this is just 'trying a form of expression' to see how far she can push or if something is actually wrong. She has never been in a situation like so many other children that should cause anger or anxiety so I just need to know, like you, what can I as her mom do. If I find anything I will share back with you, but in the meantime your not alone. My thoughts and prayers to you and your family as well as those many others that are trying so desperately to be there for their children.



answers from Denver on

There is root cause to her tantrums somewhere. Then sometimes kids seek attention any way they can and acting out usually works, hee hee.
Make sure she is well rested, like 11 or more hours of sleep a night. Make sure she is eating healthy which I am sure she is but that can be a factor with my kids.
The summer before my daughter turned five was horrible. The same behavior but it was stemmed from a divorce and her absent father.
I took her to a play therapist for eight weeks and got to the root of the problem, figured out a way to communicate with her and worked out a way for us both to talk about our feelings versus acting out on them. It was a life saver.
My daughter is 7 and still has the occasional fits, but things are alot calmer.
One punishment that seemed to do a turn around here at the house is the three strikes rule. I have posted it before on other tantrum issues.
First offense, like a horrible fit over something minor or hitting anyone, being defiant and sassy is warning ONE.
Next offense, straight into jammies, no matter how much of a fit, no matter what time it is, jammies on!!!!! My daughter one day had her pjs on at 1pm. It is a reminder to them how close they are to being done!!
Third offense, bed! Period, no giving in, done! She can come down for dinner if it is early, but straight back to her bed. She doesn't necessarily have to sleep but not to play, just lay there. She has screamed and cried in her room for two hours before, but I do not cave! Eventually she falls asleep.
I have to say each day has gotten better. For morning battles we set a timer for her to get ready, she picks out her own clothes and is to get ready in that time, if not, oh well, she wears whatever she has on to school. That has stopped ALL morning issues.
Giving them choices, making them accountable for their disruption and letting them know it throws the whole family out of whack is essential.
I explain to my daughter all the time, she is her little brother's example and when she acts like that she isn't doing her part.

I would make sure too with the nanny that you both are on the same page with discipline, carve out special one on one time with her each evening. I stagger my kids bedtimes so my daughter has my undivided attention after her brother is in bed.

The three strikes is a life saver here, it took a few times but she knows I am serious and I am not going to let her cause me upset or stress anymore with her tantrums.

I would sit with her when she is calm and talk to her about what sets her off, why she feels she has to act that way, what is going on with her thoughts when she acts like that.
I asked my daughter "have you ever gotten your way acting like that?"..of course the answer was No, so I explained to her that sometimes if she is feeling angry or sad she needs to walk away and find a quiet place to chill until she does something that will get keep her out of trouble.

One thing the therapist said "you cannot control your child, but it is your job to teach them to control themselves!!" that was such a profound statement to me. Teaching her that her choices are going to end in consequence for the rest of her life, good or bad. I can say lack of sleep or hunger are triggers for my daughter and my son both. Eating junk too much is another and sometimes it just comes from me getting to distracted with what I am doing around the house.
Other times, kids feel stress and need to release it, it happens, all kids throw fits. I know how upsetting and stressful it is. Just try and figure out where it is coming from, give her tools to talk about her feelings, then set very clear consequences and stick to them no matter what!

Good luck!!



answers from Denver on

My oldest daughter was like Jekyll and Hyde. It was very difficult in her younger days. Turns out, she had a learning disability concerning communication which is why she was so emotional. Anyway, even before finding out about her disability and getting her help for that, we were able to 'beat' her tantrums. I would allow her to tantrum, but she had to do it in her room away from me. I could here her screaming, crying, ripping things up, etc....She was allowed to come out of her room when she was done tantruming. Once she quieted down, usually there were ripped up books, pictures, etc., in her room. I would take a trash bag to her and she had to pick up everything before she could come out. In the beginning, this would set off another tantrum...but she started to learn. She started to learn that her tantrums lead to work...and she didn't like the work, having to clean up after her own tantrums. Also, I had a little boy in a preschool I worked at (I was the asst. administrator) who had some big time emotional troubles which his parents refused to acknowledge. During school, he would tantrum and throw things, sometimes almost hurting other children (the owner of the center refused to dismiss him from the school). Since by law time-outs were the only legal form of consequence we could hand out, I had to become more creative because he was so far gone, he wasn't about to sit in time-out. I had to sit in time out with him...restraining him by sitting on the floor with him on my lap and crossing my legs over him sort of like criss-cross-applesauce. I would hold my arms around his like a hug and hold him there until he calmed down. This was the best way I found to keep him from hurting himself or others during violent tantrums. This really worked for him. Eventually, the time I would have to hold him until I felt him relax got less and less. As time went on, he and I had a special bond...a good relationship. He trusted me and I just loved him. He wasn't a bad child, he just never received help for what he needed and somehow, this helped him. I remember that the only thing I heard out of his mother's mouth when it came to addressing any of his behavior was that he was a 'bad kid'. Even his teacher used language and communication in a way that told him he was a bad kid. When I would hold him, I would tell him everything would be okay and I'd say, "You are a good kid. You have a big heart." And that's about all I remember ever saying to him. He had enough people telling him what he was doing wrong and how he should be different...but no one ever said nice things to him. Now I'm not saying at all that this is how it is in your situation, just sharing my experience in case you might find something helpful to you. Good luck to you!



answers from Boise on

Our 4-year-old almost 5 had started doing the temper tantrums too and what I did was ask him if he was a baby. Then he would say no and I would say that he was acting like a baby because only babies throw fits like that. Then I would say do I need to give you a bottle and put you in a diaper? He would say no and I would tell him that his fits are uncalled for and if he does it again he is going to get a bottle and a diaper. He threw another one and so I got out the diaper and bottle, he saw them and immediately quit throwing his fits. Now if he starts to throw a fit I ask him if he is a baby and he immediately stops.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches