Our daughter is 2 years old (25 months). We just got back from a week long vacation. We've been home for several days now and a few surprising and new behaviors have started:
1. Potty Accidents: Our daughter has been potty trained for months and rarely has accidents. She is now having accidents all of the time. Her underwear are always slightly wet by the time she asks to go potty.
- We remind her that she needs to tell us before she goes, and that she needs to have dry underwear. We are now taking her to the potty before she asks to help get her back on track.
2. Bedtime: When we leave the room, our daughter starts screaming and crying. She's usually saying "I need Mama".
- We don't like to do CIO at this age for long. We let her cry for a few minutes, but then go in and ask what she needs. She usually just says "I need Mama". Sometimes she's asking me to lay down with her, or to come in Mama and Daddy's bed. We are holding our ground with this and saying no. We are providing comfort and reminding her that she is so amazing at putting herself to sleep. I even tell her that Mama is in the way (which is so true). She rarely sleeps with me around! We eventually get her to calm down enough to leave and close the door.
- This is the one I'm currently struggling with at the moment. When she refuses to do something, I repeat that she needs to do ___. If she doesn't listen, I change my tone and tell her she needs to listen to Mama. When she then doesn't listen it usually results in a tantrum.
- To the tantrums and screaming and crying, my tactics have been:
- Telling her if she needs Mama that she is more than welcome to come over to me and get a hug (She refuses to come over to me and insists that I come to her. I do not come right away).
- Explaining that I can't understand her when she's whining/crying/screaming/etc., and asking her to talk to me instead.
- Remind her of ways she can calm herself down (squeezing hands together, taking a deep breath).
- Providing her new choices (Caroline you can continue to scream, or you can come over to Mama and get a hug).
- None of the above does any good. She's still screaming after several minutes of trying all of these things. At this point I am ashamed to say that by the time we are on our 5th tantrum in about an hour, I get upset. I yell. I get mad. I tell her just come over to me if that's what she wants to. Sometimes I tell her if she wants to continue to cry she can go in the other room. She leaves, and continues crying and screaming. She still refuses to come to me. I now feel like a horrible mom. I get upset because it is against all instincts to not just run over to my daughter and hug her. It is so hard.
- I calm myself down while she's in the other room, and continue to remind her she can come over to me and get a hug.
- Mind you we still aren't to addressing the original issue of not listening or whatever caused the problem to begin with. I'm just trying to get her to calm down without validating her tantrum.
- Eventually to stop the madness, I go over to her and give her a hug. It stops the tears instantly. I am not doing this in the beginning because I feel that it just validates and rewards her tantrum and teaches her to cry and get what she wants. But I'm obviously doing it anyways, just after way too long of listening to her scream to the point that we're both upset.
- We then address the initial problem (usually not listening, or not being patient for 2 seconds for Mama to come).
- If she's thrown something I take it away. Today I took her easel away because she threw the eraser. (All because she asked me to come draw, and I said I'd love to, just one second).
Why this is happening:
What to do about it:
I first came to some quotes that agree with my conclusion on why this is happening:
"There are some defiant behaviors that are actually only symptoms of other problems." (Toddlerwise, page 103)
"Temper tantrums, for example, are often the result of an over-stimulated child in need of sleep." (Toddlerwise, page 103)
I then went straight to the section on temper tantrums.
Here are the 6 things noted about dealing with temper tantrums in the book (page 160):
1. Make observations. Try and figure out when the tantrums are occurring so you can try and prevent them from happening in the first place.
- Right now our daughter's tantrums are happening every time she wants but can't have Mama immediately. There is no pattern to time of day (other than morning, afternoon and night LOL), or to the type of activity that is going on.
2. Do not talk your child out of his tantrum. "Without realizing it, you are encouraging the behavior by rewarding it with attention and gentle words. To work effectively, a tantrum needs a sympathetic audience. talking provides that audience".
- While I don't think we try and talk our daughter out of her tantrum, we do talk to Caroline. Perhaps this is validating and giving her the attention she wants. We try to keep our talk minimized to reminders (reminding she can come to us and get a hug, reminding her how to calm down). I think she still needs those reminders at this age, so I'm hesitant to no longer do that.
3. Use isolation. Place your child in their room, on a blanket, on the couch, etc. Do this until she is calm.
- A couple of times, I've asked Caroline to leave or sit on the bottom step. I've told her that it's ok if she needs to cry and scream, but she needs to do it in the other room. I tell her she can come back when she's calm. Amazingly enough, she gets up and leaves the room. The fact that she leaves on her own is so heartbreaking. She gets more upset as she leaves and never calms herself down, so I end up going to her.
4. Hold your child and don't let go until she surrenders and the tantrum is over.
- Reading this made paragraph made me cry. For some reason I'd been sitting here thinking that if I'm not "supposed" to talk to her, I definitely shouldn't go to her and hold her. I've been trying to stand my ground on this so I don't reward her behavior. It is heartbreaking to not go to her, so I eventually go to her and feel like such a failure that I'm giving in. Reading this has me thinking I should go to her immediately to avoid the tantrum all together. *Insert big Mama tears* ugh! Literally, the second I show up she stops crying.
5. Make statements and never say "okay?". Also, work on getting a "Yes, Mama" out of your child in acknowledgement.
- This is a HUGE one in our house! My husband and I are both very consistent with getting acknowledgment from our daughter. We always have her make eye contact, apologize, and say "Yes, Mama" or "Yes, Daddy" before we consider everything done and move on. I catch myself if I ever ask something instead of making a statement, and I correct it immediately.
6. Do not give your child everything she wants.
- Done. Something my husband and I are great at. LOL! The neat part, is that looking back, Caroline RARELY throws a tantrum over not getting something. She throws tantrums because she wants Mama, or doesn't want to do something. But she hardly ever throws tantrums because she doesn't get what she wants. She's so used to it she seems to accept it readily! LOL
My game plan after reading the book again:
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