Disciplining 5 Yr Olds Tantrums

Updated on January 13, 2010
E.O. asks from Appleton, WI
16 answers

I am at a loss on how to discipline my 5 yr old daughter when she has a tantrum. Lately it seems like the second she does not get her way, a switch is flipped and she is having a full blown tantrum. No matter what I try to do it doesn't work.
My son would do this when he was this age too. However, I could settle him down just by hugging him, however it gets worse when I try doing that with her. We have taken her toys away, not let her do fun activities and she still doesn't seem to care. Any tips??

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answers from Minneapolis on

I'll second the suggestion for "1, 2, 3 Magic" (It's a book). Go to http://www.parentmagic.com/ and invest in the book. It doesn't cost much used off Amazon. Read it cover to cover. It works.

Congratulation on addressing this now. Tantrums do not go away on their own. They always get worse with age.



answers from Omaha on

I know this is the obvious, and easier said than done, but have you tried ignoring her? My son is learning how to calm himself, it's a huge process, but he is to where he does a pretty good job of calming himself if we remove him from the room, put him in his room with no stimulation, interation or otherwise.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Kids, Parents and Power Struggles is an awesome book! By Mary Sheedy Kurcinka... the woman knows what she is talking about and it really works!! Best of Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

1,2,3 magic and Love and Logic have some good suggestions for tantrums. Usually if my kids are screaming or crying about something (not pain or sadness related). I tell them to use their word in a "normal" voice. If they continue to scream or tantrum, I tell them that if they need to cry or scream they should go to their room to do that. If they don't and continue, I walk them to their room or carry them and tell them they can come down when they are done tantruming.

If you are out, it's harder. If often tell them we are going to go to the car (or home) if they continue and then follow through. For a hitting or destructive tantrum, I use timeout in a chair or their room.

Sometimes for 5 or older a three strikes and out system works. Infractions such as tantrums, hitting, lying, etc earn a sad face. Three sad faces in a day earn a consequence such as lost tv or movie, toy time, etc. This worked better for my daughter than timeouts.

Good luck



answers from Minneapolis on




answers from Appleton on

Have you had your children checked for Autisim? Children over the age of 2 usually don't have tantrums. Austic children will have meltdowns and react very strongly when told no. Taking away toys and activities don't work because they don't equate conquenses with their actions.



answers from Madison on

1. Children over the age of two TOTALLY have tantrums. This is normal.
2. That doesn't mean you have to put up with it. I really like the Love and Logic approach. Check out Love and Logic for early childhood from the library. I am not even totally up to speed with it yet and I have seen big changes with my daughter's behavior. (not to mention my own)



answers from Bismarck on

I don't know if this is the proper thing but Mom said I used to have BAD tantrums and one day at my grandparents I threw one and even held my breath and grandpa took a glass of cold water and threw it in my face, by what I have been told that was the last tantrum I threw,
I have a friend that picks up her child and takes her into another room and sits her on a chair and makes her sit there until she quiets down.
Babying them and hugging them just reinforces their behavior, so they will do it more and more.



answers from Sheboygan on

Have you tried just walking away from her or leaving the room entirely? My DD used to throw tantrums like that, and I tried punishments, picking her up and rocking her, talking to her, etc. and none of it worked. Finally, she threw a tantrum in the store and as I was trying to get her to calm down, a lady walked past me and just whispered to me "Walk away from her. If you're not paying attention to her bad behavior, she will stop." I thought she was nuts at first, but after about 5 minutes of my DD screaming her head off, I tried it. I just looked at her and said, "I'm not doing this with you." and walked away. It was amazing. She stopped almost instantly, said she was sorry, and that was that. We had a talk in the car on the way home, and I explained to her that from that time forward I wasn't going to pay any attention to her if she threw tantrums. And I stuck to it. It took maybe three or four more tantrums for her to realize that I wasn't going to pay any attention to her, and she stopped. I've had no problems with them since, and she's now 12.
Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

We've done the 1-2-3 and that works/worked great. However, periodically she would still have a tantrum. Girls to me are just much more emotional and dramatic. I even notice that between my son (who's only 2) and dtr (who's 6). He has crying episodes but he's so easily redirectable. She would perseverate on the subject or issue and wouldn't let it go. The best way to stop a tantrum (I think) is giving the child "no attention" for it. There's actually a great youtube video showing a child have a tantrum and when the mom walked away - the kid stopped - he would find the mom and start over. It really shows that it is all a way to get attention. So, we either carried her to her room (at the younger ages) or asked her to go to her room. She had to stay there until she could calm down. I noticed early on that she had a hard time calming herself down. So when she was calm and relaxed one day - I talked to her about her behavior and we made a poster board together writing (and drawing) calming/coping strategies. We had a "star" rewards program too. She could earn up to 3 stars a day but the majority was based on her behavior. Stars could also be taken away if she didn't use one of her calming strategies. I didn't want to take stars away every time there was an incident b/c we all have bad days. But, I would give her 1-2 cues to look at her poster and encourage her to do one of those things. Most of time it never became a tantrum. She is now 6 - the tantrums have gone to the wayside. We still have issues at times with her being very whiney or over-reacting. It seems to be a constant review of helping her remember some coping strategies. I also find reading books about emotions has helped my dtr put the right label on her feelings. Instead of always feeling "angry" - she can be frustrated, embarrassed, irritated, upset, etc. which is less harsh of words than ANGRY. Good Luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

When my kids get like that, I put them in their room and they are not allowed to come out until they can be nice and happy. If they come ou10.t before then, I put them back. It might take a couple times, but it usually works. On the rare occasions they just will not stay and the attention I'm giving then feeds the tantrum, I'll just leave them alone and ignore them until they calm down. If they start hurting people or try to cause damage (my kids like to throw things when they're mad) they get a swat on the behind (not hard enough to hurt, but just to get their attention and let the know I'm serious) and put back in their room. That usually does the trick.



answers from Minneapolis on

What I've found helpful for my 5yr is to talk through things for a minute before giving the answer. For example, "if the answer is no, what will you do". "If the answer is yes, what will you do." or "what do you think the answer would be?". Doing a verbal walkthrough of sorts.

Along those same lines, if I know that something may cause a temper tantrum, I'll talk about how this often gets you mad later and then talk about what can be done about it. (changes or even just expectations). I'm doing this with an attitude of helping him understand his emotions and his world, NOT of trying to shame him or blame him for stuff.

Another thing I try is something like "You want this, I want that. What can we do?" and help him to find an idea that will be okay for you and okay for him. Now I'm teaching him negotiation skills that hopefully he'll use with his friends and other relatives.


addendum: I wish that more of the responses focused on PREVENTION instead of dealing with the aftermath. I think my job as a parent should focus on teaching how to handle life rather than focusing on consequences for a wrong action. Giving him the tools to realize when he is getting frustrated and then how to calm himself down is a GREAT contribution to all his future relationships. A person who can handle his emotions will do well in work, family and social situations. He knows he's upset, teach him a better way to handle things instead of focusing on what he's doing wrong.

Also, I totally wish that parents wouldn't ignore their children based on behavior. I think this sets up a pattern for a poor dynamic. What kids often hear is that mom (dad) doesn't want to hear bad news and bad attitudes - only good & happy ones. So, fast forward to adolescence and he has a problem. He's learned that mom doesn't want to hear when he's upset about bad news or that mom will just be focused on applying consequences, so he keeps the issue from her. Instead he goes to his peers for advice and counsel instead of his parents who have decades of experience and know him infinitely much better.

IMHO a much better dynamic is to help a child think through his options and what the potential outcomes would be so that he can make a sound decision. If the parent can 'hear' what is trying to be communicated and help that come out better, you're well on the way to open dialog. Granted, in some stages of a meltdown, you just have to wait until feelings subside to be able to talk about something. That's not where I'm suggesting the communication occur, but at *some* point you should HELP the child process his emotions and search for a way to handle things - ideally before or at the earliest stages. Once he has mastered these tools, the outbursts will go away.



answers from Cincinnati on

have you tried finding answers from super nanny- the woman on the TV show? i nanny and refer back to shows shes had to find tips to use with the children i nanny-i find tips [email protected]____.com



answers from Fargo on

Ignore it.

If there is something that you asked her to do that set off the tantrum, repeat your request in a calm voice and ignore the tantrum.

My dh and I worked with a child behavior specialist when she was 4-5, and this was one of the suggestions that she gave. Don't negotiate.

When the tantrum is over this is the appropriate time to talk about the situation. First, restate how it began from her experience ("You got mad at mommy when I said it was time to pick up your toys...") Let her contribute and validate the feelings. Then, explain that her behavior is not the best choice, and you waited until she was ready. (Our dd, Avery, would say to us "I'm ready" after she had a meltdown which we ignored, because then we gave her undivided attention to talk over the experience.

1. State what you want
2. Repeat in a calm voice.
3. Ignore tantrum, only repeating the initial request in a calm voice and telling her that when she is ready, you will talk.



answers from Duluth on

It could be that your daughter enjoys an "intense" temperament, rather than being behavioral and acting out. If temperament is the case, understanding and helping her manage her intensities will be much more helpful than disciplining her. All kids are so different in terms of what helps them, but there are some ways to help her learn to manage her anger and intensity.

You might want to listen to a 15 minute radio spot that was just released last week on "Parenting Intense Kids".

You can find it at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/the-family-coach/2010/01/05/...

You can find some FREE downloadable resources at http://www.kidlutions.com

Good luck!




answers from Omaha on

Temper tantrums should be ignored. The reason she is having them is for the attention. So long as she isn't hurting herself just ignore it. It may take a little while but once she learns she isn't going to get her way she will quit.

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