Five-year-old fever: that's what her teacher calls it. I'm calling it (IN MY HEAD) the "F*** You Fives." Apparently this is something that almost all of her peers are going through; if I had a nickel for every time I've run into another parent who exclaims "OMG I thought I was the only one!" when they relate their horror stories and I commiserate... Apologies for the wall o' text below.
tl;dr: how do I get my 5-yr-old past these daily tantrums?
So she's having daily tantrums. Usually at night, but not always. And they are full-blown "I hate you! I want to punch you in the face! I wish you were dead" scream fits. This is not language we use in our house, btw, and the kids never watch anything other than toddler pablum like Thomas and other cartoons, so this stuff comes from another environment (school, most likely). The one thing that's in common for every tantrum is not getting her way: if her cousin can't come over, tantrum. If her brother doesn't want to share his favorite truck, tantrum. If we refuse to allow her to eat candy before dinner, tantrum.
What we've tried:
- We've taken away all electronic media and toys indefinitely, for both kids (and are definitely seeing an improvement in the 3-yr-old; going TV-free has been a boon for him, regardless of how this turns out).
- She gets between 11-12 hours of sleep a night and we TRY to ensure she has a good diet (she's very picky and we're vegan, but last visit to the pediatrician (about two months ago) her blood tests were just fine, even for B12). So yes, the doc says physically she's fine.
- We've cut out extra-curricular activities other than piano lessons, so she doesn't get too exhausted (we noticed an uptick in tantrums on the nights after tae kwon do, even though we were home 90 minutes before bedtime).
- When this happens, I do my DAMNEDEST to remain calm and unemotional, and try to talk her through this. "So where would you go if you didn't live here? Oh really? How would you buy a house? Where would you find food?" etc. If she's mad because someone didn't do something she thinks they should have (or vice versa) I try to ask her how she would feel if the situation was reversed (this discussion happens after the screaming has dwindled down).
- I will take her to her room if she's just out to scream, but that rarely works well; she pounds at me and kicks the whole way, and either comes blasting out of her room the moment I close the door, or trashes her room to the extent she's able/willing to (last time she threw her pillows on the floor, and some rocks she's collected).
We do have a (to my eyes, at least) rather tight schedule; the kids have to get up in time for one of us to take them to separate schools (no bus comes here, since she's in a magnet school), and she has homework (even in Kindergarten) most nights. We try to do a big chunk on the weekends, when she has time to focus, and she sails through it. She also has to read every night, and she balks at both those strenuously. (She doesn't like reading very much at all yet, unless she's in my lap at night, and for several reasons that doesn't always happen. Especially not THESE nights.)
Either I'm missing something, or I just need to find my own peace with this stage. Any ideas?