My Son Has a Bad Temper

Updated on May 17, 2007
D.D. asks from Las Vegas, NV
8 answers

My 2 1/2 year old has a bad temper. I'm not talking about throwing tantrums; he's actually getting over that. He just has a bad temper. He gets mad and he throws things. Today I put him in his room for misbehaving and he spent the next ten minutes throwing things at the door. Every time I took it away, he'd find something else. I even opened the door. He just closed it and started all over. He also gives people really nasty looks when he's angry. He doesn't cry, he just stares them down. People laugh, but I really don't want him going through life with a hair trigger. Any suggestions?

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answers from Reno on

I hope this suggestion isn't patronizing at all. But one thing that helped me so much is staying really regular with eating and sleeping. When my son was a baby, I read that they need at least 11 or 11 1/2 hours of sleep just at night (not including a 1 1/2 to 3 hour nap) at this age (my son is about 2 as well). When he gets it, it makes a huge difference. The Baby Whisperer ( says that children 5 years and under need to go to bed by 7 or 7:30 because they will often still wake up at the same time in the morning regardless of how late they went to bed.

Many moms feed their children just on demand or 5 or 6 hours apart. In my experience, my son needs a meal or a nutritious snack every 2 or 3 hours!! I know, it's hard, but it works. I've read extensively about balancing blood sugar and how it keeps your mood even, and I have tried to apply it with my son. I always feed him protein first, before anything else, followed by vegetables, fruit, or whole grains. I swear this makes a difference. The protein (fat does it too) slows down the release of insulin, so the energy is released slowly. That way you avoid a blood sugar spike and then crash (CRANKY!!). It may sound crazy because I don't know anyone else that does it, but I promise it works.

The only other suggestion I can think of is to keep the TV and radio off most of the day. I've also read a lot about how TV (watching for sure, but even just the constant background noise) really overstimulates kids and keeps them from being able to explore and learn. Plus it makes them cranky.

I'm kind of an obsessive reader, and these are just the best suggestions I've gleaned. Kids also have different temperments, but don't write it off to that until you know for sure he is well rested, well fed, and has plenty of peaceful, noise free time.

Good luck!



answers from Reno on

Girl, my son is 3 and half now. I want to scream EVERY flippin' day. He has a really really bad attitude. It's phase. When he was 2, it was different types of tantrums and the type itself has changed several times since then. The fact that he has any tantrum is not going away. I really think it will change a LOT when he goes to school in the fall. I also doubt he'll do this at 15 because both his dad and myself did this when we were younger as well but don't do it now. They don't have control over much of their life...except their emotions. We can discipline them for showing the wrong reactions but we can change them. Now he laughs when he's getting in trouble. AHHHH, it drives me crazy. I really don't have much advice other than stay calm yourself. Ignore as much as you can stand to. Give him attention whenever he's doing something cool, good, fun/funny, helpful, etc. It's draining and I guess I wrote you just so you know I feel the same way and now I know a lot of other moms do too. Oh, consistancy. Most important and helpful thing I keep in mind with him. Always. Good luck. Be a good person and I know he'll see that and take it in.



answers from Sacramento on

My suggestion is breathe & then read to him (tho not when he's angry. He has the feelings but just needs to find the words to express himself!

Books, books, books...There's a great book called 'when Sophie gets angry' and 'The feelings book'. Let him know that it's okay to feel angry but it's not ok to hurt things (or people). The book 'Love and Logic for Toddlers & Preschoolers' may have some great suggestions too!



answers from Las Vegas on

First of all, I totally know what you are talking about. Some people, usually people whose children don't do this, don't understand. My son started this at 2-years-old; he is now almost 3 years-old and slowly making progress. He is a very sensitive kid who deals with his feelings with anger. He takes after certain members of our family. It IS HARD because you just want your child to be happy and to enjoy life again. I put my son in his room and he does the same thing. Punishment seems to be a little more effective when my husband can discipline him, but I'm with him all day. I started praying that I would know how to deal, and that he would start to obey. I have remained patient ( of course not all the time), but I have been seeing progress as he gets older.
Hang in there!



answers from Sacramento on

Well, I just recently spoke to a therapist about this very thing. He said its very normal for children to have fits like this. What WE need to do as parents is accomodate a way for our children to express their anger without getting hurt. He suggested getting "safe" throwing things, like pillows or plush dolls that are ONLY used for anger fits. They are allowed to throw them, beat 'em up, etc. Then, once they have vented their anger physically, they can rejoin the group. They feel anger in a very physical way and often times, they can release those feelings by being physical. Hope this helps!



answers from Los Angeles on

I have a 10yr old that still has a bad temper. At the age of around 3 he used to throw things. The back of his bedroom door looked like a target practice. He would not sit in a time out but he would stay in his room and throw a fit for over an hour. I seeked help and they said to just wait it out. Sometimes I would put him in his room and have to go into another room and turn up the volume, to give myself a time out. Eventually he did grow out of this and because I did not respond to his temper - they got shorter and shorter. He still has a temper, but we remind him the proper way to respond and now his temper has turned into pouting. There is no talking sense into him until his temper has calmed down and then he will listen and agree to try harder. With the younger age just know that if you teach him the proper way to behave and respond he will get it...but it usually never goes away they just have to learn how to deal with it.



answers from Stockton on

I doubt his tantrums would continue if he weren't getting some kind of reward for them. I don't mean you are giving in per se, but he gets more attention from you and/or others when he's tantruming so maybe it's attention he's after?



answers from San Luis Obispo on

Dear D.,

I really do not know. It would be a good thing if you scoured the pediatrician's websites and asked a lot of people, maybe one of the mommies that answer here will help you. Keep thinking of what you can remember that may have brought this about. You can have outside ball throwing games just the two of you. Throwing against a board or something like that with a lot of tennis sized balls or even different sizes. Try that anyway, and talk to him while the two of you are doing that. The glaring at people may be that he isn't sure who is a friend and who is not. Maybe this is normal for some kids, the other mommies will be able to tell you, that is for sure. Good Luck, C. N.

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