Normal for a 4yo to cry so much in a tantrum he throws up?
Lately our 4.5 year old son, Sammy, has been having a hard time with any change to routine -- especially if my wife and I go out for our date night, or if my wife drops him off at preschool instead of me. We warn him ahead of time about what's happening but he's going through an especially clingy phase, and when his tantrums start, he works himself up so much that, like this morning, he throws up from crying so hard.
Now I know from his pediatrician and from other parents that this is "normal" in the sense it's not uncommon for a 4.5 year old to go through a phase like this, but just wanted to get a sense from other parents here if they see similar behavior from their kids.
If so, what was most helpful in improving the situation?
If this is because of changes in routine, have you thought about doing some small things to try to mix up the routine a little bit in ways that he's okay with?
For example, I once noticed that our son was really really set where we would sit at dinner, since we always sat in the same place. So, for a little while, I was mixing it up with him. First, we had him sit in the seat right next to the one he normally sits, and then we had him sit across the table. It really didn't impact us in any way, but I can imagine that a little controlled randomness might be a good way for him to get comfortable with changes in routine, which are inevitable.
Also, I've thought that things like this are sometimes not as they appear. Could the tantrum be not about the change in routine, but about something else entirely? (I.e. what car he rides in, which parent he spends time with, etc.)? I've often seen my son react badly to X when the real issue at hand is Y. (Not enough sleep? Didn't get to eat his favorite thing for breakfast? Difficulty sharing with siblings? etc.)
We've taken our almost 4-year old to preschool in just his underwear more than once after having him barf all over himself throwing a tantrum on the way there. We mostly just ignore it, humiliating as it is. The more attention we pay, the more he seems to do it. We do give him lots of warning about changes to his routine. We tell him early and often what is going to happen that is different. When our son gets upset about us going out, for awhile we don't leave until after he is in bed or we go out during the day.
May 21, 2010