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Terrible Twos...

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from IPWBride. Show IPWBride's posts

    Terrible Twos...

    Hello all.  Ok, which one of your two year olds' sent my son a memo that within an hour of turning two, you are supposed to be terrible?!?!  OMG... DS has been two now for just about two weeks and we are literally living with a different child.  What the he!! happened??  Did anyone else notice this change?  He certainly had opinions before, but when doing something wrong or annoying (whining or demanding to be carried for example), he'd usually chill when we said no or re-directed.  Now he escalates whatever he wants until he is a screaming disaster.  No matter what it is.  We did a quick grocery shop after work yesterday and as we were leaving the store... he started saying "more grocery store" until he was screaming so loudly, crying and sweating "MORE GROCERY STOOOOOOORRRRREEE" in the carride home.  Wtf?  I was ready to drive him back and leave him there. (of course I'd never do this... no calls to DSS please)

    He still has his lovely charming moments... but they are starting to be less and less and his insistance on getting his way is beyond compare.  I am still trying to use re-direct so he's not in a time out every 3 minutes, and also trying not to sweat the small stuff so he can feel empowered to make some decisions.  But man its challenging not to compete with his screams with more screams (a style I do not wish to emmulate!).  

    Any tips for the terrible twos?

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Have you tried verbalizing that you understand what he wants (you're just not going to give in)?  It doesn't always work but I found it a very helpful technique.  It actually also kind of helps give you something to do so you feel a little less awkward about the public meltdown too haha. 

    So, for example, if he's freaking out about not wanting to leave the store, rather than just arguing with him or picking him up and letting him wail, you could try squatting down and saying in a soothing voice "you are mad (or sad, or whatever he is).  you are angry.  [name] is angry.  [name] doesn't want to leave the store.  You don't want to leave the store.  I understand.  I know you don't want to, honey, but we have to leave now.  We're going to go make dinner.  I know.  You can help me unpack the groceries [or something else he loves that you're ok with] when we get home.]"


    It really throws them when you make it clear you understand.  they are so used to struggling to communicate and sometimes they have trouble getting their brains to figure out what they need themselves.  I've had lots of "you're really angry.  You are really extra-angry because you're hungry.  Let's go to the car and eat an apple on the way home" conversations with my daughter.  When you redirect them with the thing they love it really throws them haha. 

  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    This only works for a year or so.  By the time the kid is 3.5 (at least in my daughter's case), she's matured enough to stay focused through the redirect and just get ANGRIER haha.

  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from Trouble30. Show Trouble30's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Lissa, personally, I never found the technique your talking about (Happiest Toddler?) worked with my DD.  She'd calm down and be like, "Yes, I want to stay." and then when we didn't just go back to the tantrum.  Haha..  sigh...

    IPW, I hope it's just a brief phase.  I want to say that my DD was just over 2 when she'd have a major tantrum everytime we left the playground.  It was horrible!  So I started bringing her water in a straw cup (something she loves) and giving it to her as we left the park to distract her from the leaving process.  As time went on I didn't have to give her the distraction anymore, and we'd just say, "bye-bye park, bye bye swings, bye bye etc."  So maybe it was a short-lived phase that fizzled out as she got increasingly verbal?  I'm not sure, but there's always hope that your DS will be done with it soon!

  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from misslily. Show misslily's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Run to the bookstore or go straight to Amazon and get a copy of Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp. Learning to speak "toddlerese" and using what he calls Fast Food Speak (repeating back to them what they are saying) really helps.

    And yes - I find that three is harder than two - it's much harder to redirect. My two can be really stubborn and I do struggle to hold it all together sometimes. The other day they wouldn't do a thing I wanted and I started to yell. Finally I just stopped, threw the shoes and socks on the floor and gave myself a timeout on the steps. Five minutes later I came back to find the shoes and socks were on the feet and they were ready to go. Obviously they like pushing my buttons!

    Hang in there!!

  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from ml2620-2. Show ml2620-2's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    IPW, the two attitude arrived in a Pandora's box at DD's birthday party, I swear!

    We were definitely getting more tantrums and attitude and demands for particular food items (pasta is not a breakfast food, nor is ice cream!), but we just roll our eyes and think "developmentally on schedule!" Another friend suggested acting ridiculous, doing or saying something silly to really distract them, followed by a tickle and that has helped both of us - me from escalating the situation and getting stressed out, and it get's her out of the tantrum cycle.

    Yes, good parents would follow Lissa's method and now that I know it, I will definitely try it!

    But to give you hope, we got a TON of tantrums just at the 2 year mark ...maybe a months worth - followed by a massive language explosion. It's totally different now, she's speaking in full sentences, conveying real information and making jokes and being silly. It's amazing! She must have been really frustrated those weeks we weren't getting it, and sometimes you have to go through those phases to get to the awesome ones again!

  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from KAM2007. Show KAM2007's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Happiest Toddler is okay-wasn't the cure for us. Like someone else posted, DS would stop when we used it, but he couldn't transition well after, he got more frustrated that we understood what he wanted/why he was upset but then didn't do anything about it. (i.e. stay at the park, eat a cookie for breakfast etc.)

    But I did find DS would get stuck in tantrums and not know how to get out of them all the time. So, if an appropriate amount of time had passed, I'd often have to do something to help him out. Act silly, engage him differently.

    Hate to say it but 3 is worse and tougher. Hope this passes soon for you!

  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from medfordcc. Show medfordcc's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    I had to laugh reading your post... I agree it started right on schedule.  But as someone else mentioned, the worst (so far) only lasted a couple of months.

    The repeating back thing works well for us (e.g. "you want to stay outside.  but we have to go cook dinner, and we will come outside again later.").  Other things that help are encouraging her to take a deep breath and blow it out hard (and doing it myself, too).  And lots of warnings (5 minutes, 1 minute) when we're going to finish something.  And I guess maybe pre-emptive distraction - like when we're leaving the store, before we get too close to the door, saying things like, "you're going to help me put the groceries in the car, and then we'll go home!  when we get home, do you want to play with blocks or crayons?" or whatever.

    But really, I think any of these things only work if you catch them before it gets bad.  Once it gets bad, you're kind of stuck waiting it out, and possibly create a distraction if they get stuck in it.

    Oh - and I also give myself time outs like misslily said.  Yesterday she wouldn't come in the house and then when I took her hand, she tried to pull and run away (not allowed!!)  So I carried her in under my arm and then told her I was upset because she didn't listen and I wasn't going to talk for a few minutes.  Then when I felt better I was able to remind her that's it's not safe to try to run away outside.  But this was when she wasn't having a tantrum - just bad behavior and not listening.

  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from purplecow89. Show purplecow89's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    The biggest thing with kids two-three is to be plain and direct in a polite way.  I will put two "nevers" in the mix. 

    Never ask a child a question when their answer doesn't matter or you are going to make them do something anyhow.  "Do you want to stay at the park?"  "Yes."  "Well, you can't."  "Would you like to sit with me?"  "No."  "Let's sit next to Mommy." It's asking for trouble...would you trust someone who did that to you? 

    If it's obvious what they want, then "I know you want to stay but it's time to go home."  And make it about what needs to be done, what time it is, etc. so they don't get the feeling it's just what you feel like doing.  They don't need a full on explanation and justification for everything, or need to negotiate, but they do need to understand that there is a reason for things and it makes sense.  We eat at meal time, we leave the library after story time, whatever.  And don't do the "Let's....." when you really mean "You need to...."  You aren't taking a bath or getting off the swing.

    Never call yourself Mommy.  They will take you more seriously if you use "I". You don't go to the store and say "Customer wants to know where the cornflakes are" or go to work and say "Employee wants a raise." 

  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from amy-lynn. Show amy-lynn's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    The toddlerese from Happiest Toddler does help, but only if you can get past the crying/tantrum enough that they can hear you. DD is almost 4, and she definitely responded better to toddlerese when she was closer to 2, now she can articulate what is making her mad, but it still sometimes helps her to move on from the tantrum if she gets that I undertand why she was mad. 

    As far as breaking out of a tantrum, sometimes you need to help stop the tears. Big deep breaths, often with exaggerated silly blowing faces, helps my DD. I start with saying "take a big breath in", making loud breath noises, then hold my breath for a few seconds with cheecks all puffed out, then say "and blow all the air out" while blowing in her ear (which tickles a bit, further distracting her).  That really helps get her out of the tantrum zone. I mean, if you think about it, crying is pretty natural, but stopping crying because someone tells you to, that's pretty hard to do.

    But it will get better, although there are still times when DD will get worked up over the smallest things, but having some coping skills (both her and me) makes it a bit easier.

  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from luckinlife. Show luckinlife's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Ok, I will start the post by saying I have been super, super lucky and have yet to really experience a tantrum but only mild protests.  However, I will say that HBOTB was most helpful for me with the "feed the meter" part.  Whenever we go out I make sure I incoporate little fun things for her i.e. racing around in the shopping cart and giving her things that she may be interested in holding, occasional animal crackers at the grocery store and making sure I do my errands after she has had a little fun outisde or at home.   I find this super helpful just to insure good behavior in general but truthfully, I think we are just plain old lucky.  BUT, if you haven't really incoporated the "feed the meter" I would try that.

    I will also say she went through a nasty "no" period.  Everytime she goes through a nasty period I think oh my, will she always be like this . The answer, of course, is no but you have to remind yourself of this during the trying times.

  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Giving him the choice of what shirt he wants to wear (between two choices at that age) and the choice of what kind of cereal he wants that morning, for instance, gives him the sense of autonomy and empowerment you are wisely seeking to give him, but caving to screaming or any negative behavior, even over smaller things or once in awhile, empowers him to keep negativity as his default method to attempt to get his way. Empower him by giving him real choices and control over his life in age appropriate ways, but let his negative behavior always fail to achieve his goals as you teach him the methods that are far more likely to get him what he wants.  Eventually, he'll trade his default method that no longer ever works for the one that tends to insomuch as you can allow it, but the key to his making that switch is that his current default can never work again so he will abandon all hope of it ever getting his way accomplished.  Easier said than done, I know.  GL!

  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Also, when things are really horrible (today was kind of a horrible day for us, thanks to our preschooler being exhausted all day due to an earlier than usual wake up time [5:30AM because her imaginary friends were being "mischievous" as she put it--all their fault, not hers, of course]) I like to remind myself that if she can say no to me she can say no to other people.  There are worse things to have than strong kids.  At least, that's what I mutter to myself when all else fails.

  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from misslily. Show misslily's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    So many great ideas here.

    I had forgotten about "playing the clown" - it can help you both snap out of a bad episode - or head one off at the pass.

    And offering transition time when fun activities are about to end can be helpful. They can't tell time after all. "5 more minutes - 3 more minutes - 1 more minute. Okay - we have to go now."

    I did refer to myself as Mommy a lot when my kids were two - but my daughter was totally confused between "you" and "I". And I use "Let's" a lot - I actually prefer the idea that we're all in it together.

    And sometimes it all just spins out of control. You do everything right and they have a meltdown at the store - or right before dinner about a cookie or the fact that you left the park hours ago!

  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from lissafro. Show lissafro's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Amusingly enough, I have never read "Happiest Toddler."  I started using that technique with aknowledging frustration after a workshop on conflict resolution where they taught us de-escalation techniques in the event of a violent or angry (high school) student.  Can you believe our kids will be teenagers in a decade?  Terrifying haha.

  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from purplecow89. Show purplecow89's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Let's eat dinner, sure if you're both doing it.  Let's get ready for your bath, sure.  "Let's get in the tub" or "Let's put down the toy" blurs the fact that you are in fact giving a direction you want followed. 

  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from IPWBride. Show IPWBride's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Thanks all so much!  All really helpfuls suggestions and comments. The Happiest Baby book was my lifesaver for the first 3 months.  Every single suggestion worked for DS... we were a "5 S's" family!  Unfortunately, like Trouble, the Happiest Toddler suggestions don't work AT all.  When I affirm for DS what he wants.."you want a cracker right now, right now... DS wants a cracker now?" - I get "yes... [you understand]... yes! [that's exactly what I want]!" (without all the words of course) but then he gets WAY more upset as soon as I tell him he can't actually have that cracker for whatever reason (usually its because we are driving and I just don't have one.)  "Playing the boob" doesn't work... he thinks I am far from funny and just gets so angry.  But the "fast food speak" sometimes works when he's not completely crazy or in full tantrum mode.  I'm glad I did read the book a while back.

    I will count my blessings actually as most of his meltdowns are at home or in private.  He's usually pretty good in public (the "more grocery store" reference above was actually once we got in the car, thank goodness).  

    ML, I like how you are thinking.  Its developmentally appropriate.  He knows so many more words.  He knows that he has opinions.  He knows there are options and heck... who doesn't want to make their own decisions.  DH and I just need to stand firm when we set a rule so he learns boundaries.

    I'm sure we all struggled yesterday with little ones stuck in the house for 12+ hours... that was a tough day but I was so impressed.  We only had one time out (and that's when he hit the cat) and the rest of the day was filled with lots of understanding and listening.  Man it could have gone the other way...!

  18. You have chosen to ignore posts from cwagner13. Show cwagner13's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Maybe for instance when you tell no he can not do something or have something, you can offer something else like "you want a cracker. But not now... How about we play with trains or read a book?" Sometimes we find that helps too.

    That meltdown with grocery store you had sounds like the one we had over Chinese school when DH made the mistake of asking DS as they were leaving Chinese school if he wanted to go back on Wednesday (not that a 2 year old understands days like that) and he started screaming "more Chinese school! Go back!" the whole car ride - DH called me up to ask how he can get out of this. No answer for that... Just one majorly unhappy boy for a little while.

    We found with our two year old son that getting him choices whenever possible works... If not used as a way to hold your attention hostage. Last week, he was starting to stall over picking his shirt in the morning where he would take 10 minutes pulling out a shirt then saying "No!" so one morning, I got fed up and said " I am going to my room now. When you decide on a shirt, please bring it in and I will help you put it on" and I was surprised to see him just a few minutes later with a shirt to wear. I was waiting for a meltdown... 

  19. You have chosen to ignore posts from misslily. Show misslily's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    I just got a copy of Positive Discipline for Preschoolers and I started reading last night...until the lights went out.

    Anyway - so far I like it. I think it may help keep me from losing it. Sometimes I feel totally ganged up on when they both start to misbehave a little. If I can head things off at the pass before they get out of control, we may just get through the "terrible threes". It's about being kind but firm - and they aren't big on time outs or other puitive punishments. I'm not either - I have always found them totally unhelpful so hopefully it will help.

    And all of a sudden 1-2-3 is working for us. "I'm going to count to three and you need to get out of the tub or we're not watching Kipper before bed."


  20. You have chosen to ignore posts from Arcain. Show Arcain's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    I'm lurking on here in anticipation of toddlerhood ahead. Great suggestions, and I'm going to get a copy of HBOTB soon so I can start preparing because, oof, I'm intimidated!

    Sorry to get slightly off topic (age-wise, at least), but does anyone know good resources for dealing with a willful infant? DS is 8 months and has taken to screaming (literally, though it often leads to crying) when we do something he doesn't want: go to change his diaper, pick him up from playing, put him in his high chair (even though he LOVES eating -- go figure). He's obviously way too young for the techniques mentioned here, but I wonder if there's some way to sort of set the stage for those techniques later, since the screaming 8 month old eventually becomes the 2 year old screaming "No!"

  21. You have chosen to ignore posts from CT-DC. Show CT-DC's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    In response to Arcain's comment:

    Sorry to get slightly off topic (age-wise, at least), but does anyone know good resources for dealing with a willful infant? DS is 8 months and has taken to screaming (literally, though it often leads to crying) when we do something he doesn't want: go to change his diaper, pick him up from playing, put him in his high chair (even though he LOVES eating -- go figure). He's obviously way too young for the techniques mentioned here, but I wonder if there's some way to sort of set the stage for those techniques later, since the screaming 8 month old eventually becomes the 2 year old screaming "No!"

    I would make sure you give him a warning and tell him what you are going to do.  So instead of swooping in, picking him up and putting him in the high chair and putting a spoon in his mouth, try this:

    DS, I'm going to make your lunch, I'm going to open the green beans and the cereal!"

    (then when you've opened them and all is warmed, prepped, in bowls, blah blah) you can say "DS, it's time to go have lunch, I'm going to pick you up and put you in your high chair so you can eat green beans."

    (then you do it)

    and if he does scream, just know that he has a hard time with transitions, but it's not that he "doesn't want" to eat.  He'll scream, then eat.  but you can't NOT feed him, or diaper him. But telling him what you are going to do often is better than just swooping in - they get so much swooping and being moved to a new room, new toy, diaper table, high chair, bed, stroller, carseat, grandma's lap, etc. that it can be overwhelming for a child who doesn't make transitions easily.

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  23. You have chosen to ignore posts from IPWBride. Show IPWBride's posts

    Re: Terrible Twos...

    Roger, thanks for the response as I always really appreciate a Dad's view on these pages.  I wish there were more Dads on here, especially for those of us with boys.  When I say "terrible," I don't mean that he's gotten dirty while playing outside that will mess my newly washed floors.  Or that he's using his armpit to make farting noises.  I get that boys and girls are and will be different.  When I say terrible, I mean: Mom says "please take Buddy out of your mouth" and him looking directly at me stuffing it further in, specifically doing what I tell him not to do.  When I say "Let's go get dressed now," him running, screaming at the top of his lungs the other way and then kicking and writhing as if I'm sticking knives in his feet while trying to get pants and a shirt on.  He is actually wearing shorts today on a 34 degree morning because I just couldn't battle anymore this morning and that is what he wanted to wear.  Yesterday at breakfast in a restaurant, when he dropped a piece of toast on the floor, naturally a parent takes it away and he starts screaming that he HAS TO HAVE that piece (he needed to be removed from the restaurant for 10 mins).  I don't think this is a girl vs. boy issue.. this is him simply "being terrible" in my opinion.  I get that its him testing his limits, learning boundaries and wanting to be in charge.  I get it... and I agree, it is a lot of work. 

    How does his Dad react... well, as someone with a major anxiety issue, he most often just throws him in his crib and walks away for fear of screaming and losing control (which he has tried, and only makes DS scream/cry louder).  DS spent a good portion of his morning in and out of a time out yesterday, and both man and little boy were getting more and more upset with mom having no clue what to do.

    I know that in a minute he'll be in college, and I do appreciate every second I get now, especially since he is very likely our only... but I hope I can still say that his behavior is terrible without anyone thinking that I think he is personally a terrible child.  I kinda think that is what "terrible twos" refers to.

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