Temper Tantrums in 5 Yr Old

Updated on March 10, 2014
S.S. asks from Vero Beach, FL
6 answers

Hello everyone,
I would love to have your advice on the meltdown problems I've been having. My oldest daughter is 5 and in Kindergarten, and she has 2 siblings ages 5 and 4. She is usually pretty good but she will have the occasional temper tantrum. They have been getting worse. Most recently yesterday we were at the park and she threw a tantrum because she only got to fly her kite for a few minutes before we had to leave because the little sister hurt her knee and I had to take her to the ER. When I told my oldest we had to leave, she threw a fit and started punching me with both fists. I managed to gather up all three of them and get in the car but she ripped the balancer off the kite before she got in. Then she proceeded to kick the window and inside of the car and her sister's seat all the way home. She threw every toy and object within reach. Hot wheels cars were bouncing off my head while I was driving and plastic dragons and elephants were whizzing by and banging the inside of the windshield. She even tried to throw the brand new pogo stick we just got at me. Chips and candy wrappers were all over the middle of the floor where she had thrown them. It was quite bizarre and I'm sure out of the norm of behavior for little ones just 5 years old. I don't know if it's an emotional problem, my bad parenting or just a particularly bad temper. She certainly doesn't get this violence from me since I am a nonviolence advocate. It could be related to an upcoming move because we will be moving and this has been discussed with her. I am not sure what to do about this kind of behavior but I know I must do something before she gets older and it gets a lot worse, potentially uncontrollable.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all your responses. I should have said that she may be on the spectrum and it's part of the trouble. I appreciate everything.

More Answers


answers from Norfolk on

Out of control type temper tantrums past 3 yrs old are not normal.
You've been having issues with her for several years now and things are getting worse.

First - completely clean out the car - no toys, chips, candy, snacks, projectiles of any sort - zip zilch nada.
You've got to understand how dangerous that is - if you crashed you could have killed yourself, your kids and who ever else you crashed into.
Honestly if I were in that situation I would have pulled over and there would have been hell to pay right then and there.

Second - talk to her pediatrician and get a referral for a behavioral/psychiatric evaluation. You need the tools to learn how to deal with her and if meds are recommended then think them over seriously - living an out of control life isn't going to help her make friends and it won't be doing her any favors.

Third - privileges are constantly earned through good behavior - if she didn't earn them then no tv/computer/video games - find her currency (what ever matters most to her).

Fourth - give the other kids time/breaks away from her - you don't want them picking up any bad habits plus it's a strain being with someone who's tantruming a lot - does she throw things at them or kick them?
You have to protect your other kids.
Maybe they can go visit grandparents or your oldest can visit them on her own for a bit - the kids don't always have to go everywhere together.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

The reason the tantrum got that out of control is because even after she punched you and escalated to demolishing things and throwing things at you, you were still just calmly driving the car. Her world should have come to a complete stop when she BEGAN to get pissy with you when you first said it was time to leave. The rest should never have happened if she has never been allowed to act this way. She is 5 and has self-control. Or should. I hope by nonviolence advocate you don't mean non-discipliner. What have you done in the past when she throws tantrums. What has her discipline been? Or has she been allowed to throw them in her room etc while you ignore the behavior? If you have ever ignored tantrums, then they get worse. That is normal.

Tantrums are tantrums. For some kids they're huge and ugly, for some kids they are just fussy. But if you haven't nipped them with discipline, then they occur. Many kids (if they're allowed) will have tantrums until they are 8 and 9 years old. How bad they get depends on the child.

No normal, healthy child needs to throw tantrums past age two. If you want them nipped, the book Back to Basics Discipline by Janet Campbell Matson is great. You daughter will need some tough reckoning and will test you much longer than a two year old would, but if you don't want her acting this way through 2nd grade, you've got to take control. She punched you? Her behavior is way out of control. Normal, but out of control.

If you feel it's a medical issue, then take those steps. But the fact you ignored the behavior and let her act that way leads me to believe she's used to being allowed to do it so it's getting worse as she gets older stronger, and more opinionated. Nip it! One warning at the BEGINNING of the tantrums, and a follow through IMMEDIATELY if she tries to continue it. She's old enough to discipline after the fact. If she gets away with it in public, you can discipline her at home and warn her before the next outing what the rules are. My third had a raging temper and needed more consistent discipline than other two, but complete intolerance for this behavior will work with any child who is not mentally disabled. You can do it! This is no time for passive, patient techniques. She is getting violent.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Take the toys and the snacks out of the car.
Next time she throws a tantrum, as soon as you get home, she goes to her room and sits on her bed - no playing with toys, no watching tv, nothing at all but sitting for the rest of the day. She can get up to come to the table and eat and to use the toilet. That's it.
When my daughter would throw a tantrum, this is how I handled it. Especially if it was in public. We left, went home, and to her bed she went. I told her that if she was going to ruin my plans for the day with her bratty behavior,t hen I was going to ruin the rest of her day.
It only took a few times before she realized that Mamma didn't bluff.
And she also knew that I lived by the same rule regarding hitting that I made her live by. Never hit first, but make sure you hit last. She never wanted to hit me badly enough to test that one.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My DD will sometimes act out and cry, and we are working on it and working on her calming down. For her, it's all noise.

However, I would be concerned that your DD threw things for a very long time and did not calm herself and was punching you and aiming for you. If Hot Wheelz were bouncing off your head while you drove, that is a moment where you pull over. Move or no move. 5 yrs old or 10, that is something that cannot be tolerated. What did you do when she did that? Did you keep driving and ignore her? Hindsight is 20/20, but that's something I would have considered a safety issue. I would have pulled over and gotten a trash bag or whatever was handy and picked up every throwable thing in the car and put it in the trunk or out of her reach. If any of those things were hers, she would have to earn them back. Distracting the driver could be fatal. I realize you have 3 kids and the other 2 should not be punished for her behavior, but if you can't keep their toys out of her reach, then nobody gets toys or snacks in the car. Maybe peer pressure will help her knock it off. You said you have another 5 yr old - is this child a twin, adopted sibling or a stepsibling? I'm just wondering where that child fits into the family and if there could be any bearing on this behavior.

Was this behavior new since you discussed a move (why are you moving and how far?) or has it been an ongoing problem? Someone else mentioned it being an ongoing issue. If this is an escalating issue, please talk to her pediatrician. It's one thing to be upset. It's another to be out of control.

If it ever happens again, you need to take charge, even if it means you are late to wherever.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My son used to do that at that age. It was nothing new though bc I remember at age 3 and 4 he would do the same thing. At age 5 he would yell terrible things and be extremely angry for about an hour. He is 9 now and sees a therapist for his huge mood swings, inexplainable anger, and rudeness. We are very calm parents...we are loving but not push overs at all! I'd say we are authoratative and he gets punished or gets consequences when he does something like this. We have firm family rules and we are a happy family. Yet he continues to be like this. Has your daughter always had a temper? Our son has always had it and he struggles with it. He cannot really manage it much yet, although he is learning. He is better than when he was at age 5. He feels remorse later for how he treated us when he was angry. Sit your daughter down and tell her that it is not acceptable and everything she tried to throw at you is off limits for her and that she will get a consequence of ___ for acting that way. Tell her how she CAN behave when she is angry. Tell her when she has a tantrum like this, she will get a consequence of ___. (Make it something that she will really dislike). My son's therapist really is helping him see that choosing to behave like this is his choice and that it is wrong to treat your family members like this. He seems to notice much sooner now and apologize and then change his behavior. If your daughter is not normally like this and it was kind of a one time thing, perhaps she was very hungry and needed to eat. She still should get a consequence though.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My DS does that on occasion. We are trying to teach him that the world does not revolve around him, but as you know that's a hard lesson to teach at that age.

If that were me, he would be picking up every single thing that he threw at me in the car before he was allowed to get out. And that may have to involve me locking him in there when we got home. But that's was would happen first.
Secondary would be some kind of consequence for it. Like no video game, legos, or whatever the next thing that he wanted was...he would absolutely not get it. And I would make it 100% clear that that episode was why.

And if another tantrum erupted from that (which usually happens), he would be sent to his room until he was ready to come down and apologize to me for all of it.

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