Question:I have a 3 1/2 yr old daughter that is throwing temper tantrums. I mean serious daily events. Glass shattering squeals lasting longer than an hour sometimes, saying the same thing over and over again. For instance, she wanted to go with my wife to town, but I chose to stay home and babysit her and the newborn baby boy. She pitched a fit. "I want to go with Mommy." This sentence was repeated constantly over and over for close to 45 minutes. I put her in her room after paddling her bottom. I told her sternly that what she was doing was not acceptable behavior, and I shut the door. Help. I don't know what I or my wife are doing wrong. She is an angel with our son and in public, but when we are at home the devil comes out of her. Any suggestions? Please pray for us.
Allow me to share one of our own experiences when our oldest daughter was this age. We were camping with some friends in the fall so we all were wearing jeans, boots, jackets, etc. One night we decided to go into town for dinner and our daughter needed to use the bathroom. Instead of just making it an easy trip in and out, she refused to use the toilet unless she was completely undressed. My own rational thought was that this was crazy, and I tried to help her understand that her boots were laced, jeans on, etc. It was to no avail. She screamed (and I mean loud) in the restaurant bathroom until I completely undressed her and attempted to dress her again. Again to no avail. She wanted her pull-up and not panties. 30 minutes later we exited the restroom, both exhausted, frustrated, and completely worn out.
I share that to say, you are not alone and many of us truly believe the book The Strong-Willed Child was written about our own child.
Here is how we survived:
1. We prayed diligently for wisdom beyond our years and experience.
2. We found friends with children a few years older than our own and gleaned wisdom and support from their experiences.
3. I became an expert on tantrums and different ways to respond to them (Parenting with Love & Logic, The Strong-Willed Child, The New Dare to Discipline, What to Expect the Toddler Years).
4. Consistent discipline (realizing that behavior often gets worse before it gets better).
5. We took care of ourselves and took "parenting time-outs" when needed.
You also mentioned there is a newborn in the house. The increase in severity of her tantrums is likely linked to the new baby, not because she dislikes the baby, but because she is no longer the center of your universe. We learned that our oldest daughter responds negatively to change of any kind, and when there is change in her life (even positive change), we experienced a decline in behavior. Still do. However, as you learn the reasons for her tantrums and find alternative ways to deal with them, you will also be giving her tools to deal with her own frustration and negative feelings.
Stay the course. You really will make it through.