Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Then there was trouble.... Tantrums and 2 year olds

Before I had Leo I was adamant that I would not have one of 'those' kids - you know the kind that run riot, throwing toys, kicking and generally misbehaving. I would also not be one of 'those' Mums - the kind that shouts at their kids who don't pay the slightest bit of attention, the kind who ignore some bad behaviour as it's not that bad, and the kind who generally can't control their own children.  I feel bad now but I always blamed bad parenting as cause.

In some of the places I've lived in the UK there were plenty of those parents and kids about, but equally I knew (some!) friends and family who had perfectly lovely well behaved children.  I just assumed that I'd make damn sure I brought up similarly lovely offspring.

'They' say it's not easy being a parent, 'they' say a lot of things though and I think I may have not been listening to all of them.  Whilst pregnant, and even before I read probably every childcare book in the library, I like instructions and it all seemed reasonably straight forward, Super Nanny was not going to come even close - I had it all under control.

Except I didn't, I even thought we'd escaped the worst of the clich├ęd 'terrible twos' but somewhere in the last couple of weeks they have snuck up and bit me on the bum.

I now find myself with a crazy 'almost' 3 year old who understands what you say and deliberately does the opposite. He shouts, bangs, and throws toys despite requests not too and warnings of punishment.  He needs more entertainment that I can give him and I just run out of ideas to keep him occupied. Every day he asks where we are going, or what we are going to do and I just have no idea!  Being 5 months pregnant is not helping - I'm having trouble lifting him in and out of his car seat or carrying him when he refuses to co-operate so going out is becoming difficult already.

He does have his moments and can be very polite and sweet and will often play on his own for surprisingly long periods of time absorbed with this engines and train tracks, but when he goes you really notice it!  I'm totally stumped as to how to deal with it, taking toys away has been working up till now but I don't actually have anywhere to take them all away to and he realises this.   Smacking (yeah, whatever - I was smacked in moderation and I'm fine *ahem*)  will stop him doing something but I'd like to not have to do it for every little thing!

Maybe reward charts are the answer, it worked very well for potty training but I don't want to keep giving him stuff as he has more than enough already, the more he gets the worse I think he becomes as it is.

I realise that a large part of them problem comes from the fact that for the first time in 8 months, Daddy is not around, and not only does he miss him he knows that its a lot harder to mess around with him! He knows I can't carry him and 'fight' him like Aaron can too and that because 'Mummy has a baby in her belly' its much harder for me to do stuff.  Unfortunately (in this instance) he's not stupid and realises he can play on these things.

In many ways I'm dreading the arrival of number 2, although I'm trying to hope that by then we may have entered a slightly different phase which with any luck may be easier.  But in reality I think I need to find a way to discipline him now and not hope it passes, I refuse to have badly behaved children  I'm just a bit stuck as to how to achieve this!
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  1. It's almost like a rite of passage. We all have 'that' child at some point. For some of us they stay around a lot longer than we imagined. Take heart that what happens today doesn't mean that tomorrow will be the same or that actions don't change. Children are quick to change and circumstances too. Big hugs. It's not easy when it's full on. 

    I have an amazing interview just up your alley that'll give you some tools, scripts and new methods.

    Hope things get better for you.

  2. Never fear you're not alone! Our twins are like this too and I've been assured it'll pass, just can't find anyone to tell me when though!

  3. Danielle Sleeman25 April 2012 at 15:48

    Emma I cant believe your feeling like this I feel exacly the same and my status on fb this morning says it all! I refused to be like "those" parents too and refuse to have Louca be like one of "those" kids but blimey I can't calm him down whatever I do. I have to leave him be and this is sooo embarassing when we're out. I try to take him away from the environment the tantrum started in but even then he's getting his way!  - I do feel that we have slight issues with the language as Louca is in a Greek nursary monday - friday full time as we both work and at 2years and 4months he gets frustrated with what he's trying to say but, he looks like he's going to hurt himself! I wish we could just click our fingers and everything would be fine.
    Hope things get better for you too!

  4. Rebekah Manston25 April 2012 at 16:00

    One of the most effective methods I found was forceful ignoring! It doesn't sound much but if there is one thing a small child cannot bear it's being ignored. If they start to tantrum and will not stop when asked, crouch down to their eye level and hold them still by their shoulders (because they'll generally be flailing!), look them in the eyes and tell them very forcefully but without shouting (and just once) that you will talk to them again when they stop and behave nicely. Then stand up and turn your back. 
    This is often not easy as they will generally increase the bad behaviour to start with but DO NOT look at them, get busy doing something, start to bustle around, wipe down a surface, put some washing in the machine, plump pillows anything that keeps you occupied and not looking at them. This works particularly well if someone is there with you and you can continue a conversation with you both doing the ignoring or if you move briskly around the house so the child is having to trot to keep up with you! If they ramp things up by throwing toys etc. just walk straight over and remove the toy without a word and still without making eye contact and put it somewhere up high (on top of fridge/ cupboard etc.)In my experience boys cave quicker than girls with this but once they stop don't gush just get back down to their level, look at them, smile and tell them how much nicer they are when they are not shouting and give them some sort of small reward, a hug, a sit down with you and a book for 5 mins, a drink etc.Repeat as necessary!Hope it helps :-)

  5. I really love Rebekah's strategy, that's what I do too.

    Tantrums etc are not a behaviour issue, they're an emotion issue. Often toddlers although their speech might be excellent (like my little boy) they can't articulate all that they want and it manifests in tantrums. In my opinion and experience (I am a special needs carer as well as a mum) charts do not work on tantrums. Charts are great for positive behaviours, like using a potty or completing a task but you can't use a chart for a negative, like if you go a day without tantrums you can have a star, they don't work that way.

    The other thing is I find prevention is key. I know Joseph is more likely to have a tantrum if he's tired or hungry. I know if he's over stimulated it's more likely too.

    Everyone is just doing the best they can and its not a reflection of you as a parent, you haven't failed, it's just a phase.

  6. Rebekah Manston25 April 2012 at 19:58

    Kylie, I'm a special needs mum too; I think they breed these things into us ;-)

  7. Rebekah Manston25 April 2012 at 20:02

    Em, I just read the end of that again and it sounds like I mean he should get all of those things - it's supposed to be one of them (a hug OR a drink etc.)! Your attention is their reward :-)

  8. I knew what you meant :) Great advice and it obviously works as I'm guessing your kids got their loveliness from their Mother ;)

  9. That actually makes so much sense. I had thought of reward charts but couldn't work out how they would possibly work in cases like this! That would be why lol Thank you for your comment.xx

  10. At least it's not just me then! I think it doesn't matter what we do as Leo's not yet in nursery, hoping its just another of those phases that will pass soon!

  11. Not sure I could cope with double tantrums at all! Although I will have to go through it all again with No.2 when you will have already passed this stage so there is good and bad points with both lol

  12. Thank you for your comment, will head over and hopefully pick up some tips!

  13. It's such a tough time being pregnant with a two year old who's trying to find every one of your buttons, I really feel for you. My now 3yo chose when I was 7mths pregnant to start having magnificent tantrums and it was really hard.
    Others have given you great advice, the only thing I'd say that really helped with my son was using reward charts and making sure I found something frequently throughout the day to praise him for and add a sticker to his chart. When he got 5 stickers he would get a special treat, which wasn't an object but something like a trip to the park, a special story, baking something with me, a teddy bear picnic with me etc.
    The more I praised his good behaviour the better he was and our days felt a lot less dominated by the negative and over time I noticed that the bad behaviours decreased.
    I hope things get easier for you soon x

  14. Emma, I think it is such a typical problem and situation for all mummies and noone else but other mum will understand you only. I have only 1 girl and I feel already overloaded. She is only 17 months but makes and behaves mostly already like your son (cannot speak only but then she uses screaming). And I agree that probably ignoring is the best policy here, though it is very hard, I know. Right now following thing works with my daughter- I tell sth her very very strictly, look with my eyes directly and watch it, watch it, watch till I see that she understands that was wrong and looks with her eyes to other direction. It is like with a cat or a dog to show who is the main in the house. Of course it takes a lot of energy - due to the fact that im always boiling in such moments- and may be it can work only for age when kids r small. I also tell her that I will not play with her because she made this...this...this...and she will play alone. Then I start doing my things...and I see that she comes to me with her toys later as asking to forgive her.

    Emma,I hope you will have enough patience and wish you all the best in this not easy struggle!!!

  15. Rebekah Manston26 April 2012 at 23:32

    Oh obviously; loveliness abounds in my house! ;-)

  16. Great post, we have similar problems with our daughter (she will be three in May).  She deliberately does things to see how far she can push us.  I agree with Rebekah below, Mimi hates being ignored.  When Mimi is whining, I say "I can't hear you because I can't understand what you are saying", I keep saying this and carrying on as normal and the whining always stops.  Luckily for us she hates the naughty mat so I count to three and she knows if I get to three she will go on the naughty mat.  I turn over a giant egg timer and she waits for it to finish. (I used to use similar methods with the kids at school before sending out of the class)  I know people think I am mad but when she was a bit younger I once put her on the entrance mat inside Sainsbury's - it worked and I used to carry a fold up changing mat in my bag which we used as a naughty mat when were out.  
    Hang in there.  I keep telling myself it can only get better!

  17. Never get pulled into their rant, as soon as you start getting stressed with them they will jump on it.....even when your in public, grit your teeth and rise above it and forget about what anybody else has to say, dont be embarassed by it, at the end of the day they are a toddler and it is completley normal behaviour, they all do it.
    Be firm, I also love the 'I cant understand what you are saying when you are behaving like that, I will talk to you when you have calmed down but until then you dont get anything'....and then ignore them until they have calmed down, they will soon get the point.
      I also use the counting down from 10 method, they normally calm down before I get to 1 but they know that if I get to 1 then there will be a consequence (normally a timeout).
    If im out and Steven starts creating, i'll divert the conversation into something postive like ' 'ohhh shall we see how many cars we can count' or 'how many trees can you see', he normally forgets what he was whinging over and will start counting trees or cars.
    I think the main thing is never use treats as a reward for bad behaviour as they will see being naughty as easy access to something they want and you will make a rod for your own back. xx

  18. The Boy has just started to be a bugger as well and he's 3 in June. Last burst of the terrible twos before we move onto the tranquil threes?


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