Bee's....I'm getting desperate for help...

My 4 year old has been increasing the intensity and frequency of her tantrums. We didnt go through the terrible 2s, the 3's started the real acting out and I feel like since she turned 4 she is pushing everything.

Background: DD turned 4 in September. (DD2 is 20 mos now, so they are 2.5 years apart). She is generally a sweet girl. We admittedly spoil her, a combination of us and her extended family. We have always tried to make her "earn" things - but have also given in at times. I'd say we're not far from "normal".

Recently she is just escalating on the whining and talking back, to the point that its leading to more tantrums. The first AWFUL episode was on family picture day. Its always triggered by her not getting her way. She goes into a borderline manic state and cannot be reasoned with. Worse yet, she becomes completely explosive flailing, hitting, shoving and screaming.

As long as she is in front of us -she cannot calm down. We have been unsuccessful with a time out spot (the bottom step), and attempts to send her to her room have resulted in her slamming doors, hitting and breaking things. When we can get her to separate herself she does calm down eventually, sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 30 mins, but it does happen.

The problem is she is starting to fly off the handle over everything. Every little we are basically going from tantrum to tantrum with little "happy" time in the middle.

We have taken toys away, made her earn them all back. It seems to have had no impact.

This morning she came down on the muscle because she wanted to watch tv...our rule is you get to watch tv if you sleep til your clock is yellow. She did not, so I told her no. She got upset and started in - but not quite terrible. Then she noticed the presents under the tree (I wrapped some last night). She asked why none were hers and I responded that I simply had not wrapped them all yet. She flew off the handle that they were hers, and that she should get them all. When I told her no she went bonkers. She hit me so many times...I was a crying mess - my sweet little girl chasing me around the house hitting me and yelling that I was a bad mommy.

Someone...tell me she is normal....that this is a to get her through it and get my sweet girl back....