We have been awake for less than 2 hours today, and already we’ve had 2 screaming fits. The good news, if you’re keeping track, is that as of a few days ago her fits were 1 hour long and just solid full of screams. That is no longer the case. Her fits still involve screams. They are even perhaps more frequent now, but they are short. They are manageable. But they are tiring. Mama’s tired.
Two days in a row now, Caroline has refused to brush her teeth. “No thank you”, she says. I explain that it wasn’t a question, and that she needs to listen to Mama and go to the bathroom to brush her teeth. “No thanks”, she says. At least she’s polite?! LOL I ask her what’s going to happen if she doesn’t go brush her teeth. She can clearly state that she knows the consequence– the toy(s) that she’s currently playing with will get taken away until tomorrow. She knows this, and still refuses to go.
So, I then give her a choice. She can either calmly walk into the bathroom and keep her toys to play with, or I can bring her to the bathroom and she can lose her toys until tomorrow. “NO NO NO!” she yells. And so I bring her to the bathroom and brush her teeth (all while having to hold her up because she’s refusing to stand on her stool). When we’re done, I take her to her room and have her pick up her toys and give them to me to store away for the next day. Then the screaming starts.
Her fits are either a result of her…
1. Not listening to an instruction and consequences being put into place
2. She requests something of me that I can’t do at the moment, or hasn’t asked nicely, and therefore I refuse to do until she asks nicely
And so her second fit today was about a blanket. She wanted me to get her orange blanket from upstairs. She is not allowed to carry the blanket down the stairs herself, so she knows to ask us if she wants it. I was in the middle of cooking breakfast, and she’d slept in (it was the night after fireworks), so I knew she was hungry and needed to eat. I explained that breakfast was almost ready, and that I’d help her get it after breakfast.
She started crying, then yelling at me to “GET IT! GET IT!”.
Once the tears start flowing, the water on her face bothers her. She demands that we get it off. She refuses to ask us nicely, and she refuses to get a tissue and help herself. The tantrum often continues mostly because of the water on her face and our request for her to ask us nicely if she wants help.
Here’s the good news:
Her fits were contained today, and yesterday, and the day before! They were manageable and short. Why? Her calm down bin.
In all instances, as soon as she starts screaming, I take her to her room and get out her calm down bin. Sometimes she even requests it now.
Inside the bin, is a blanket, and a purple Care Bear (there’s a book and two squeeze balls as well, but she could care less about those). In just 3 days, she’s learned that the bear and the blanket help her calm down. When I hand them to her, she squeezes them and calms down instantly.
Obviously this is a HUGE win. She’s no longer screaming for an hour. She’s not throwing her body around as much and hurting herself. She’s having fits, but they are stopped in their tracks with these items. She is learning what helps her.
Now on the flip side of this, I am kind of hating the calm down bin in one way. While it is helping her calm down (the goal is being achieved), it’s almost like a reward. She seems to purposefully scream just to request the bin at times. It’s a fine line that we are walking between this bin being a reward in her mind, versus being a useful tool. Regardless, it’s helping in the moments that she’s really upset… so I can’t complain. I will just have to keep an eye on things and make sure she isn’t manipulating situations with screams just to get her bin.
On another interesting note, Caroline is becoming more and more sincere in her apologies and comments to us after the fits. She knows that an apology is expected. Not just an “I’m sorry”, either. She is expected to say “I’m sorry for ____”.
Instead of me having to say “Caroline, you need to say you’re sorry”. I now only have to say “Caroline, you need to go talk to your Daddy”, or “Caroline, you need to talk to Mama about what happened”. She offers up her apology when she’s ready to do so, and includes why she is sorry. She also makes statements to me later on that are so sweet. “Mama, I still love you when I’m screaming”. “Mama, I’ll never stay mad at you“.
She’s learning and that is very apparent. It makes the tough times worth it. We could give in to every request she ever makes (whether it is rudely stated or not). We could ignore it when she blatantly ignores or disobeys us. It would be the easy route. It would be the route that results in calmer days. But it wouldn’t be the route that results in her growing and learning. We all learn things in these tough moments, and it is worth going through to get to the other side- no matter how tough it is.
I avoid situations that will upset Caroline if at all possible. I don’t ask her to do things that I know will upset her, unless it is a necessity. It is an effort to get back to positivity and normalcy. I give her explanations, and choices whenever possible. Sometimes these moments are inevitable, however. This is a season that we will look back on soon and be thankful that we took the time to teach our daughter the lessons that needed to be taught. We’ll be thankful we took the harder path. It is only a season. We can get through anything as short as one season! 🙂
Other Posts of Interest
Keeping It Real- Screams From My 2.5 Year Old
Did You Ever Think You’d Yell at Your Child?
2 Tips That Stop Tantrums Immediately (Caroline was 21 months old)
Did You Ever Think You’d Yell At Your Child?
Oh the Fits – 6 Things to Keep In Mind When Tantrums Start
I Need Mama– 25 Months old and tantruming (troubleshooting post)
Today I Was Not Patient with My Toddler & I Was Far From The Perfect Mother – Being a Mom is Hard & Real & Humbling
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