Oct 5, 2010

Terrible Twos?

Is it at all possible that my 16 month old is going through the "terrible twos"?

There are things I will take responsibility for - like the fact that she won't go to sleep without a nummy - that's my fault, yes - but the drama, the rebellion, the defiance, where did this come from? Is it my fault?

Some days are fabulous. And, honestly, I thought Jane was getting "better" - i.e. she seems to respond to "No" more now vs. laughing at you. But some days I feel like I am disciplining (i.e. yelling at her and taking things away from her and making her screech) for hours at a time!

For instance, tonight, we were drawing on the white board together... and, of course, she started to try and draw on the entertainment unit. So, I started with the "no's" and that worked. But, then she started trying to put the marker in her mouth. By the third time, I took the marker away from her. She cried bloody murder. And, it's things, on and off, like this for hours on end! Another example - again, tonight - we were reading books and we had already read this book five times, backwards and frontwards and upside down, so I put that book down to grab another one. Well, didn't I basically get whacked in the face with the book as Miss Drama screamed at me, pushing the book in my face, demanding we read that book again. So, I said a firm "no", lifted her off me, and walked away. To me, this seems like the common sense approach to not spoiling her - she misbehaves and I do not give her what she wants, letting her know that the way she has behaved will not have good consequences, non? HELP!!

What the heck do I do? I hate that some days the few hours I get to spend with her in the evenings are bouts of screeching because she acts defiantly and I won't give her her way in between periods of fun. Seriously, what the heck do I do? Or am I doing the right things?

Am I doing something wrong? Sometimes I feel like I'm the worst Mom ever! I worry that I'm so worried about "spoiling her" that I'm over-disciplining her... as much as I don't want a spoiled brat, I hate that she's crying all the time - well, not all the time, but you know what I mean - tonight we had two-three breakdowns! Am I responding to the breakdowns properly? Honestly, I have no idea how to respond to them! I usually just try to distract her away from what's making her screech and that works. But should I just ignore her? Obviously I shouldn't comfort her, right? I don't know! AHHHHH!! This is serious rocket science. Being a parent is HARD, HARD, HARD. Having to worry about all the consequences of your actions - knowing that they will affect the little person you are helping develop is STRESSFUL!

I'm reading a book right now. It's been awhile since I resorted to reading a book by the "experts" but this book is from the same series I relied on during pregnancy, babyhood and now the toddler period - The Mother of All... series. And, it says all the things I am describing above (about the drama, defiance, independance, etc.) are "normal". Yeah, well they sure don't feel normal when I'm getting notes from daycare saying my daughter needs to work on her "listening ears". The over-protective Mom in me wants to rationalize it and say that Jane is just advanced and going through the terrible twos early. But, I'm really just worried that Dan and I aren't being effective in disciplining Jane or that we're not responding properly when she throws these tantrums. I haven't gotten far enough into the book to read what you should and should not do or suggested strategies for discipline. Maybe I'm doing the right things? AHHH! Maybe I should read further.

Any suggestions? Has anyone been through this or am I all on my own here?

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Unknown said...

I actually just attended a talk for work by author Ronald Morrish. He writes about discipline in education (why I was there) but also has books on parenting. Not being a parent, I can't say for sure if this is true, but it seems to make sense to me.
To paraphrase... parenting doesn't really start until the child is over a year old, as until then they are in charge. They're hungry, you feed them, they're dirty, you clean them etc. However, at about the age Jane is now, in the interest of their safety as well as for other reasons, you have to tell them 'no'. Now you have to switch roles from doing whatever the child needs, to being the authority in the house. The so-called "terrible-twos" are the result of the child's desperate attempt to return their world to what they know and understand! He says the rules you establish now, like come here when I call you, pave the way for future behaviours like curfew is at 10pm, as they are the same thing. Either you can deal with the terrible twos, or the terrible teens! *phew!* Done :)

Lindsay said...

You're doing the right things. Simply put :)

It's hard ... I went through the same things with Sarah - to the tee! Andrew is more laid back so even when I have to discipline, he cries and it only lasts a few seconds before he's onto his next adventure.

But yeah ... little girl drama is SO HARD. Sarah is 3.5 and honestly ... since she turned three my life has been a living hell. Okay, that might be exaggerating.

Seriously though ... 3yr old drama is WAAAAYYYY worse. So stand your ground, stick to your guns, don't give in. Unfortunately, it doesn't get much easier. :)

Jen said...

Oh girls, I love you for this. The honestly and the making me feel like I'm not the worst Mom ever.


Mom vs. the boys said...

hang in there Mama, you're doing great! it's all so hard, but stand your ground and it will be sooo worth it in the end!

Unknown said...

My boy went through this around the same time, and although we have new struggles now that he's 18 months, I don't find there are so many meltdowns.

You may already be doing it, but I would suggest making sure you tell her what's happening and give notice.

For example instead of just putting the book down and saying no after reading it 5 times, on the fifth time I make sure I tell the boy, 'ok last time, then this book is finished' and for the boy he's way less likely to fight me on it.

I really find the pre-notice, whether its '5 minutes until sleepytime', 'ok last book then its finished' ...it all seems to help him know what to expect thus less meltdowns. We use the 5 minutes (and i hope my hand up with 5 fingers) really helps for just about anything thats about to finish or anything thats going to start - hope that helps and best of luck.
Amber :)
ps. sorry this is so long.

Unknown said...

oops meant to say i hold up my hand with the 5 fingers.
amber :)

Anonymous said...

I read this post and I thought I may have started a blog and forgotten that I did...

I hear you. Oh, I hear you :)

Heather (mom to 16 month old Chelsea)

Anonymous said...

I am a mom to a 27 year old.I raised my daughter with a minimum of trouble and felt very blessed to have a carefree childhood,and teenage time, with her. I actually felt a bit smug about not having any of the problems a lot of friends and family had with their kids.
I now run a small daycare in my home.I thought I knew what I was doing and all the strategies for most types of behaviour, but the truth is....I don't. I currently have in my care a 26 month old girl. Until one month ago, this child was perfect. Smart, talking well, excited about any activity, able to verbalize her thoughts. Just so easy to take care of and a joy to be around.
My mom unexpectedly passed away, and I missed a week of work. Came back to "this child" I swear I had never met. Moody, crying one minute, not the next, for what seems to be no apparent reason. Hugging and consoling her makes it "worse", and after 3 weeks of "coddling" her, thinking extra love, hugs and a calm face would help, I had to rethink my strategy. I got "stern", and said "stop it now" each and every time she started to cry. The crying has no rhyme or reason to it. We will be coloring, doing play doh, building a garage with blocks, or any one of a dozen activities she has chosen to do at that time, and next thing I know, she is sticking out her lip, eyes are filling with tears, and she is saying " I happy now", a saying I had never heard until the day she started back with me after my mom's death. The stern voice did stop her from carrying on, where the cuddling made it worse. However, I still don't know what happened to the lovely, happy, intelligent child I used to babysit. And where did this confused, sad, hurting child come from.
Has anyone experienced anything like this? and do you have any problem solving technique that worked for you. I don't want to think this is anything more than a phase she may be going through, but I do want to do the very best for this little girl. And, if that means digging deeper, of course I will. I guess I am hoping someone has seen something just like this, and can tell me, yes, it is "just a phase", and it will pass. She also is not eating nearly as well this past month, and is acting out at home as well. I would appreciate any ideas on how to deal with the situation,and advice on what you think might be going on with this little one. Thanks so much.