Topic | temper tantrums

This topic contains 14 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Karen 4 years, 1 month ago.

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  • Karen

    I have a question for you all.  Our nearly 4yo daughter (the youngest in the family) has been throwing many temper tantrums.  She is our most “lovey” and at sometimes, our most awful child.  It seems like she can swing both ways.  In the past three days, she’s been so whiney and whines herself right into a tantrum – a full blown, kicking and screaming tantrum. 

    Thursday night, she screamed and carried on so much that she gave herself a headache and then vomitted twice in the hour after she was done.  It seems that I just can’t figure what is going to set her off.

    I have discovered that corporal punishment does NOT work with this child….even when she’s not throwing a fit.  She does respond to calm talking.  She hates to apologize.  

    I’ve been wondering if it could be something in food that she’s allergic to.  We eat rather healthy – I mostly make our own bread (which we don’t eat a lot of, my husband has to monitor his gluten intake); the only HFCS she gets is in the peanut butter and marshmallow crackers I make for snack; the only food dyes she gets would be in the occasional icing or candy.  We did recently have a birthday (pink icing – homemade) and went to a party (candy brought home).

    I’m mean about candy – one piece for dessert; they pay me with candy if they’re disobedient, etc.

    I’m also wondering if it could be something like parasites – she’s been playing with a new kitty….barn kitty.  (Who was just run over and killed – they’re sad, I’m not!)

    Any thoughts? Any ideas where to begin sorting this out?



    For my 3rd child (of eight children)even one piece of candy each day is too much if it has dyes (red is her worst, yellow next, blue not as severe). She’s 7 and if she has dye like you described (two days in a row) she would be having meltdown tantrums. So while I know you said it wasn’t much, it would be for some kids. Also watch for sneaky places dye gets in like cereal (ex: Life cereal has yellow dye).

    The other big thought is to be sure you’re giving her lots of positive love and attention. If you’ve not read The Five Love Languages of Children I highly recommend it. It’s amazing the difference actually loving on someone the way they ‘hear’ it best can make.

    Hang in there, try eliminating suspect foods for a month, then reintroduce one for several days in a row to see if there is a change for the worse.

    Ooo, one last thought, how is her media intake? One of mine is affected by too much time with media and acts out more when they’ve had too much. Even ‘good’ media can impact them, it doesn’t have to be that they’re watching something violent or with bad examples.


    Oh, I hadn’t thought of media.  Lately, she has seen a lot of movies (all decent, of course, but more than normal – we’ve had some business meetings that we needed to be not interrupted.)  Thanks for the reminder.

    And, yes, I’m currently on Ch. 3 of The Five Love Lang. for Children.  

    I wish I could remember all the Love Lang. stuff when I’m going through my normal day.  This daughter does do better sometimes when I spend time with her first.  Sometimes it seems that doesn’t work, but maybe that’s due to me not noticing something.

    Uh.  The things no one tells you about motherhood!!!!


      My youngest (5yrs) is usually even-tempered, except the times she is around other children (with behavior issues) or if there is stress in the home.  We used to do foster care; sadly, we had to retire as it had such negative effects on her personality (the older kids too).  She occasionally gets to see her biological siblings (8 and 10yrs); she is adopted, but her siblings are local.  We have had to limit these visits as of late; she becomes a totally different child for days after they are gone. Daycare and church “mom’s day out” programs also stress this little one; we finally found a great caregiver for her tfor times when needed (she is the only child) Has she recently been exposed to any unfamiliar children?  Not likely parasites; they do cause night waking, but the main symptom is intense itching/irritation, diarrlhea and stomach cramps.


    Okay.  I guess no parasites.  *L* I was annoyed at the scrawny cat for keeping on coming around and her for insisting on picking it up! *L*

    She has been around other children, but only in the Sunday School/church function sort of way.  OH.  We did have a play date Thursday.

    I’m wondering if her love language is quality time and I’m not doing a good enough job of providing that right now.  (Or for the past year, although lately, the tantrums are much worse.)


    I have a 4.5 year old daughter. The tantrum can be bad but I will definitely say that when I am intentional with my time with her it make a world of difference. She needs quality time and physical contact. So sme days she the 2 year old is still sleeping I let her get up from res time 15 min earl and we paint, or read a book, or eat a snack together and it is amazing! Also she just started napping again, and eating an entire second dinner about 2 hours after she finished her first dinner. I know growth spurts can be hard on them.


    Lovey and snuggly child with whining that leads to crying, screaming, throwing a fit, and gagging/vomiting. I understand. Also the not being able to use corporal punishment is the same for our child. Another aspect of this issue for us is that it’s like a roller coaster ride. There’s no getting off, turning around, or stopping it. (I don’t count giving in because that isn’t an option here.) It escalates until they reach the top and then crash and burn so to speak. It’s misserable.

    Without excusing the behavior I will say that it is part of her personality. Meaning we all have areas of sin in our lives that we struggle with. Also, personalities can be inherited from ones parents… Ahem.

    External things (food, friends) can make it harder for a child to control their issues but I don’t think those things are responsible for them. At least here they aren’t. I don’t mean to say don’t look into those things. They may help. For us, friend time can create a bad attitude which makes it harder to keep the ‘episodes’ at bay. But we still have to be continually working with our children to build them up in Christ and point them toward the better choices and behaviors.

    I wish I could write more on this or better yet talk to someone in person who has struggled through this issue with their child. It’s getting late though. Time for me to go to bed!


    We have a ‘weak willed’ child – as Charlotte put it, as well. I would recommend you read the Way of the Will ebook if you haven’t already to start. Ours is absolutely our most affectionate child and extremely bright, but hot tempered and wants to CONTROL everything all the time. Corporal punishment does not work on this type of personality because they have a high tolerence for conflict and can usually outlast others in any difficulty.

    What is great about your situation is that she will respond to calm talking!

    What is working for us is to teach our children about respect. Whether a child can show good self control or not, they must be taught that they cannot disrespect their parents, harm others, yell at others or disrespect property without consequences.

    We have literally spelled out RESPECT and defined it. We have some very simple rules about what is respectful and what isn’t. Having scriptures on the topic is essential, as well.

    When we are having a meltdown (or an impending one) the child goes to time out until we are both calm – at least 1 minute per year of age, but sometimes more. Remember that sitting in time out is much less harmful to the child than an angry lecture from you, or a temper fit from her. The child must be able to calmly talk about the situation and go over the rules of our home and the rules of respect without argument.

    I feel for you, we have been there! It is challenging to raise a passionate and controlling child, but just remember that the same tenacity she is using to get her way can one day be turned into a passion for doing things God’s way :).


    Thank you all for your suggestions and encouragement. I feel like this is a good time to start to get to the bottom of this  daughter’s behavior – my oldest is going to day camp all this week.  So I’m looking forward to lots of time to spend on my younger three.


    ServingWithJoy – Thank you for recommending the Way of the Will.  I’m pretty sure I have that one downloaded but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.  I’m moving it to the top of the list!  We have also realized that a time alone in her room is pretty much the easiest/best way to go because it lets her calm down without driving everyone else mad in the process.  It takes much more than a minute per year around here.  A solid hour or more usually helps dd7 get to the point of having a  calm conversation. 

    We decided to start LDTRFC with Thankfullness but perhaps I’ll have to put Respect next in line. 


    We’ve got a dd6 who fits right in with all your dc. She is also a hitter when she is irate, which seems to be often, unpredictable, and sudden. Such a challenge!

    One thing DH and I just noticed yesterday was that this child also seems to be better behaved if in addition to quality time, good diet, limited or no media, limited or no friend contact, and regular sleep, she also gets a ton of exercise.

    Last night was date night for our family. Dh took dd6 and I had dd9. First we swam in the lake all together (even the dog), then dh and dd6 went off together. Later he told me she had asked to “jog around, probably a couple of miles, Daddy” and then “swim some more” and then “rats, we should have brought our bikes!”

    Now, in the interest of full disclosure, dh and I are training for a sprint-distance triathlon so I think that’s where she’s getting these ideas, but he and I are both couch potatoes as well. (My inspiration to get up and get moving was a book called, “Slow, Fat Triathlete”.)

    Regardless, this was all after dh and both girls had hiked up a mountain right after church. So, she definitely likes to have focused, purposeful physical activity. *If* we can keep up with her, we can usually get her tired out enough to behave in a much more pleasant way.

    Just another idea,

    Jenni 🙂


    I didn’t have time to read all the responses, but I did skim some of them. First of all, sugar or food dyes and some other things like potatoes at our house would cause this behavior. We avoid these foods like they would cause death, because life is hard enough for us all when we’re all feeling good.

    But also, there are many more parasites than pinworms. We’ve had a few different ones that didn’t cause itching, but they also didn’t cause behavior problems. Just thought I’d mention.

    We’ve been seeing a therapist about one of our kids and she recommended a book called “Raising your Spirited Child”. It is absolutely fantastic. It sounds like some of you could use it too. It is not your typical parenting book. It makes so much more sense than the others I’ve read–at least for this child and one other. Not all of them are that way. I highly recommend it to anyone. It’s for parents of kids that are more intense, sensitive, persistent and/or energetic. It has made a huge difference and we just started reading it.



    We love Raising Your Spirited Child. It is a GREAT book – we are on our second copy! MY friend borrowed my original one so many times, I finally bought another. 😉 I think that it is a wonderful companion to The 5 Love Languages of Children.


    Also, I wanted to throw out there that I was one of these kids! I was hyper, passionate, very affectionate, very energetic and would lose my temper terribly!

    I vividly remember using one of those small plastic chairs with metal legs and banging it all over my solid wood bedroom door until it was horribly chipped. I would have been about 4 years old then.

    For me, it wasn’t until I had a good structured family life that my moods settled. And, of course, when I received Christ and started the discipleship process I was changed. I find it funny now that one of the things people comment on about me is that I am a very steady person. And I know that God used all that ‘stubborness’ to stand up for Him in different circumstances. When I know something is right I am like a pit bull – I do not let go. That is the beauty of what God can do with your ‘spirited’ child!

    But anyway, I just wanted to chime in and say that just because your child has this tendency does not mean that they will forever be rebellious and bucking authority! Your efforts and the Lord’s correction can and do have an effect.


    Thanks for the recommendation of Raising Your Spirited Child – I”ll look for it at the library.

    And thank you to for the encouragement.


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