I'm Annoyed by My 4 Year Old's Tantrums---typical or Not?

Updated on May 08, 2009
U.A. asks from Arlington, TX
4 answers

My 4 year old daughter has a tantrum (whining, on the floor, crying, yelling, kicking) at times when she does not get what she wants. For example, this evening she had one when I told her there was no glue left for her crafts. Another example would be her telling us she wants to go to the park, and when we say "not today," she'll start. These tantrums happen at least twice a week.

I personally just give her another choice of what she might do, but then leave her to cry it out until she snaps out of it. However, when she has a fit at my father's house (my parents provide our childcare), he constantly finds a way to give her what she wants (e.g. running to the store to get her more glue). We've told him repeatedly that he is spoiling her--but he refuses to allow her to be unhappy! Also, she is not a good sleeper and eater she I'm sure that contributes to her moods.

I'm really frustrated with her at this point. The one thing I do NOT do is show her any sympathy at those times (e.g. "oh honey I know you need you're glue, I'm sorry)...I wonder if I should? Should I avoid taking her to my father's house completely? How do I deal with my annoyance towards my daughter--I just keep thinking she is too old for this behavior...?

Thanks in advance.

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answers from Dallas on

The behavior is somewhat normal, but it sounds like you can end it pretty quickly. You said in yout question that you do not show her any sympathy during these times and that is the problem. She is probably throwing the fits because you have no sympathy for her. Children need to feel like we as parents understand how they feel and feel like we care. You can be sympathetic without what you call "giving in". For example, the glue incident. when you found that there was no more glue, you should have immediately said, "oh no, se don't have enough glue to finish this, aww man, that is so sad, we will have to just put this up until tomorrow when we can get some more glue while we are at the store, let's find a safe place to put this unitl tomorrow." You could probably prevent the fits from happenning with some sympathy and kind of being in the moment with her. Not that you should throw a fit, just make her feel like you understand. Personally, I think that some of the time you should think about how you would feel if you were in her shoes. For example, imagine that you were in the middle of baking a cake, but you run out of eggs, you need 2 more. Would you just quit making the cake, throw it all out and forget about it? No, probably not, you would either run down to the store to get the eggs, send your husband to the store to get some eggs, go to your neighbor's house and ask to borrow a couple of eggs. I don't think you should be expecting more from your daughter than you do from yourself. The craft project was important to her, she probably sensed that you were dismissing her. It sounds like you think her frustrations are not important, but remember how very important it is to her. I would not stop taking her to your father's remember that it is a grandparent's job to spoil a child, so when you think your father is spoiling her, you are right, but that is what he is supposed to do. Personally, I think I probably would have gone to the store to get the glue. There are are always a couple of things that you need from the store anyways, a short trip to pick up glue, and a few other things is not going to spoil her. Just pick your battles wisely. Tantrums twice a week are not out of control. There are many kids completely out of conrol that throw fits multiple times a day. I think you should focus on helping her learn new ways to take out her frustration though. The glue incident, you could have told her to write glue on the grocery store list, that may have been enough of a big girl task to distract her from being sad. Stick to your instincts, but try to prevent the fits rather than have to deal with them when they happen. The lack of good sleep is definitely contributing to her mood and fits and it is not fair to get mad at her and hold her to a standard that is too high if her lack of sleep is preventing her from being able to act appropriately. Just like when we women are overly exhausted and have PMS we tend to be snappy with our husbands. Think of the fits she throws as an expression of her exhaustion. Try to work on her sleeping before you begin to do any kind of disciplining for the fits.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Wichita Falls on

I have boys. Our response is the same every time too - " I know that you are disappointed because you can't have ____, but remember - we get what we get, and we don't throw a fit. Fits get switching." They have 10 seconds to knock off the noise before they get the switching they are begging for. I wouldn't take her to grandpa's until the behavior was gone - and should it resume at his house, I would treat it the same way I do at mine - and put her in the car, and take her home, before he has the chance to reward the fit. To quote my dad, old people don't want to make children rotten - but the ears, they're not equipped for the loud obnoxious screams.

FTR - I have never left a mark on my child, not even for a minute - I do not use a belt, a hand, a hanger, or a flip flop - I used to use a peach tree switch, but they are hard to find in Texas. I now have a 12" rubber flexible ruler that is absolutely perfect for us - a little sting, no marks, redness, or lingering pain.

I love to train up a child and nogreaterjoy.org




answers from Dallas on

Sounds like you need to find alternative childcare or get serious with your dad about the way you want to deal with the tantrums. My son and I live with my parents and they were constantly giving in to him before we had a heart to heart. You have to be consistent in discipline. I know it's hard for grandparents to discipline their grandkids, but when they are around her everyday, they become more than just grandparents.



answers from Dallas on

hey U....I am just now going thru all of the mamasource requests...sorry for the late response!
anyhow, I just wanted to say that sometimes it's the most affordable and loving route when you allow your parents to babysit...
Just stay consistent at home in your rules...you can even say "grandpa may allow you to act this way in his home, however it is NOT OK in our home or anywhere else," and there may be times where you have to reiterate in front of your father "who is your mommy and who makes the rules? i do, not gpa" when your daughter says "but, gpa lets me do it!"
i have a strong-willed seven year old daughter whose tantrums TOTALLY worsened by my parents (they did much of the same things your dad does!)...I was frustrated and felt like I should never allow her to go to their house again...then a friend pointed out that eventually my daughter would get that she really only can act that way at their house AND more importantly, given time, my parents would get tired of the tantrums and change how they reacted to them...it worked. I allowed her to spend a month with them in the summer (we had recently moved out of state)...she is a perfect angel for them now AND no longer says things like "BUT MAMA AND PAPA let me do this!!" plus she has that special bond with her grandparents. they finally started telling her that tantrums were not OK. Your daughter is probably going to throw tantrums, either way (it's the age...at four they seem to realize that they have an opinion AND a way of expressing it...FINALLY!! lol) , SO, see the act of sending her to people who tolerate the tantrums better than you (wink wink)as a break for you AND a relief that another sitter (who isn't related and supposed to love your child) isn't dealing with these tantrums. Nothing you are doing for your child is causing these tantrums. Keep parenting her the way you do, you are doing great to ignore...it'll stick, eventually, i promise! S.

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