My 4 year old son has recently been having MAJOR temper tantrums almost every day. He's in a good school, and I'm in touch with the teachers there, who tell me that he's fine, and they haven't noticed a change in his behaviour in school. Nobody seems to know what's triggering it. But he comes home very agitated, and wound up.
His teacher has told me that he's very bright, and he's probably getting bored, and he's ready to move to the next year already. But it's always been that way, so what's different now? I've also been told that because he is that bright and alert, he is already getting a lot more attention than the average kid, so when I ask them to please be more patient or more caring with him, they tell me that there are others kids in the class, and they can only do as much as they can... which I understand of course, but which doesn't help.
His teacher has also politely suggested that I should be more strict with him. And truthfully, that statement really shocked me, coz I pride myself on my mothering techniques, yet, she made me realise that I also make mistakes, and I also have what to learn... When typing it now it all sounds so rational and I don't know why I feel so shocked and attacked that she said it, but I just do... I'm confused I suppose, and wondering where and how (and whether) I should be stricter.
Anyway, the thing I really need help with is with DEALING with his tantrums. Of course the ideal would be to prevent them in the first place. I have had long chats with my son when he's been calm, about what we do when we're angry, how we don't hurt Mummys and sisters, but we do go outside and kick balls, or we have paper to rip into shreds... I've tried explaining what's ok, and what's not ok. "It's ok to be angry, but we don't hurt... we don't throw things about.."
But it doesn't seem to be helping. There are only 2 things I can do when he starts with a tantrum. first: I lock him out in the garden - and I feel TERRIBLE doing this - because I can feel his abandonment and rejection and it's the last thing he needs at this point. But we have glass doors, so he can still see into the kitchen, and I go every few minutes and say "when you're going to stop hurting and throwing you can come back in" - I stay loving the whole time - well almost the whole time! - but he's too busy screaming to even hear me most of the time...
The second thing I think is better, but still doesn't feel that right: I sit on him. It's the only other way to stop him from kicking, scratching, biting, and doing general damage etc (of course not squashing him with my weight, but just enough so as to not allow his legs to kick, and then my hands are free to stop his hands from pinching / scratching...) While I'm sitting on him I tell him how much I love him, I try and stroke his head (if he doesn't try to bite me) and I also tell him "I can see you're really angry" to try and show him my empathy..
The teacher suggested I put him in a room and give him something, and tell him to stay until he's feeling better. But you think he'll stay there?!? No way! Not when he's in a temper! He really gets totally out of control and you can't reason with him.
The sitting on him seems to calm him down the most - but I don't always have the time, and sometimes if I'm in the middle of doing something I don't have the necessary 20 minutes to sit on him to calm him down.
Whatever way I do it, because I try so hard to be the perfect mother, and stay calm and loving with him while he's tantruming, when it's over, I feel completely... I dunno, like I wanna cry and scream and I don't know what to do with myself. (I usually end up yelling at my husband...) (who of course is at fault because he should have come home from work earlier!)
Anyone had experience with this at all?
And if it's any help, according to my mom I was the same as a child, constantly throwing loads of tantrums. Only as a girl I suppose I wasn't quite as wild. (I hope I wasn't anyway...!)
And I've been hoping that since I'm a far better and more understanding mother than my mother was, (and that's to say that she was a lousy mother, not that I'm an amazing mother!) I've been hoping that I'd be able to avoid all these tantrums... I think I did with my older one. So what am I doing wrong now?