My little girls just turned 2 in September. They are becoming toddlers so fast, I am having a hard time coping! I am at my wits end, I don't know how to make everything happy again, and I could REALLY use opinions, tips, advice, hugs, and anything else!
B is making it very hard for me to enjoy being a SAHM. From the very moment I wake up I hear the words "mommy", "hungry", and "binky" from her. She will even wake up in the middle of the night crying for me just to tell me in a half awake state that she's hungry. At first I thought growth spurt, but it has been going on for over a month! She is always saying she's hungry, but will never eat anything I try give her. She will just sit in front of her food saying over and over she's hungry. My response is often "B are you hungry?" "Yeah." "Ok, thats why I made you _______." "No mommy, hungry!" While I am in the middle of cooking her food she will get in between the stove and my legs and push me away to remind me she is hungry. When I talk to her and tell her we have to wait for it to cook, she will just whine and go open a cupboard that she thinks has snacks in it and say "Mommy! Up! Hungry!". She will then whine and cry when I remind her of the food I am making and ask her to wait. That girl has zero patience!
On top of that, she throws tantrums at the drop of a hat. She cries when I go to the bathroom. She cries when I walk into a different room and she can't see me. She cries when I tell her I can't pick her up be cause I am washing dishes/cooking at the stove/what have you. She will cry for her binky and when I tell her to go find it (it's attached to a lovey to make it harder to loose) herself she cries until I do it for her. She will not listen to anything I try to say to her, she will just repeat herself until she gets what she requested.
We have been temporarily (since late August) staying at my in laws, and when she cries for something I can't do (like pick her up while cooking) they will try to help by picking her up and getting her involved with what I'm cooking or holding her near me so we are face to face. She will not have it, I MUST hold her myself or she flips out. I tried to talk to her about it and I tried to validate her feelings and show her that I understand what she wants. Nothing is working. She just clings to me and complains when I won't let her get her way. I am the only one who gets that treatment from her. When my parents or my husbands family watch her, she is fine! The moment she sees that I am back within 2 minutes she is back to flipping out at the drop of a hat.
Did I mention her sister at all? No? That's because E is fine with being very independent and very curious. She is totally happy just roaming around the house by herself getting into and inspecting everything within reach. Annoying, depending what she grabs, but TOTALLY not a problem. Still I feel like she is missing out on getting to spend time with me. All of my energy goes into keeping a cool head and trying to handle B or enjoying those little morsels of time I can just breathe. My parents take the girls twice a week so I can have some time to myself to relax and clean, but I am thinking about keeping just E for one of those days every now and then just so I can focus on her. Do you think B, being only two, would notice and feel left out and act out more because I am not spending one on one time with her?
All in all, I don't know how to handle my little girls anymore! I have been hating myself because I have been quick to yell and snap at them. My ILs are suggesting things like walking away when she throws a tantrum. My thought is that will just fuel her desire to cling to me every moment. Not to mention she will feel alone and out of control because her emotions are running wild. I want to help her. I have been reading "happiest toddler on the block" book and it has some really great ideas that have worked on occasion, but it doesn't seem like they are really working. I may just not be using the suggested techniques the correct way. I am hopeful that when I finish the book I will be able to have a better understanding of how to use his advice and tips.
Holy smokes this is crazy long! Thanks for reading all of this. I really needed to blow off some steam (tonight was one of those VERY trying nights), and I don't have any mom friends that I can really vent to and seek advice from. None of my husbands family or my family uses/prefers gentle parenting/AP, so their suggestions is the typical mainstream advice. Thusly I turn to you awesome, smart people! :) Anything? Thank you!
Sigh, I know how you feel. It seems to me from what you described that she is saving all of this just for you because she doesn't do it with anyone else. I'm going to suggest some behavioral modification. (I taught 2 year olds for many years and am in the throws of something similar with my little one now). This is what I have found works for me.
Pay more attention to E because she is behaving in an acceptable manner to you. When B kicks up a fuss, and I know this is really hard, just explain what you are doing and why you can't pick her up and then try really hard to tune her out. As soon as you have finished doing what you have to do, go play with E and compliment her on her wonderful behavior. Don't tell B that what she is doing is bad/wrong, but pay more attention to the acceptable behavior of E. Explain to B that you would be happy to pick her up, she just has to stop screaming/pushing/yelling and then as soon as she has calmed herself priase her and pick her up. It will get worse before it gets better because she will be mad that you are changing the rules on her, but once she catches on it will make all the difference.
I went through something similar with my boys in that Dwas so totally high needs I felt like I was ignoring R. Then one day I just stopped feeding into the neediness and started praising and playing with R and once D figured out he wasn't going to get any attention from me for crying/kicking/tantrums, the behavior really calmed down and I was able to play with both of them together and seperately.
This is a really hard time for all three of you and I hope you find some balance.
: wife to James, MoM to R and D (Aug 2007) and E (Nov 2009) and Y (April 2012)
I've had to do something similar to what Shuli posted with my 'needier' girl. It worked. Now things are more even with both kids and I don't feel bad for 'neglecting' the 'easier' one. They do learn quickly what works to get your attention... however they may do that.
Shuli, kjoy2, thank you so much for your responses! Your suggestion was a fantastic one and I am going to start implementing it ASAP!
I did wonder, while I was coming up with a way to adapt it to our family, how would you suggest I explain myself to B when she is overcome by all of the emotions and throwing a tantrum? When I try in the past, I feel like she just can't hear me or doesn't want to hear me. Any thoughts? Perhaps trying to reassure her I do understand what she is asking for, I just don't like how she is trying to do it?
Caring for two toddlers often makes me feel perhaps I should have had a background in childcare before trying to conceive! :) Thank you again for your advice, it is very helpful!
Edit: I forgot to ask, also, when it comes to the others in the house trying to help. In your opinion, should they leave B alone while she calms down? Her grandfather often will pick her up tells her to stop crying/throwing a tantrum and be a "big girl". Personally it rubs me the wrong way when he does and makes me feel like that is the wrong message to send her. I don't want to her to feel like expressing her frustration her way is wrong. It seems to make B cry harder when he says those things to her. When implementing your advice, should I ask them to just leave B alone so she can calm down?
Forum crashing because I saw this on the new posts and wanted to send you a virtual spa day along with hopes that you can get a real spa day soon! OP, it sounds like you are doing your best to parent thoughtfully and lovingly to both your girls. I hope the PP's suggestions will be helpful to you.
It IS really difficult for young children to self-regulate. So, I'd be flexible with your response depending on the situation. You don't want her becoming completely stressed out, but you do want her behavior to change.
Some ideas of responses in case of a tantrum:
- Hug her for a minute to get her to calm down. If that works, done!
- If you go to continue with whatever you were doing, which might include putting her down, and she starts to scream again, explain that mommy needs to do X but will come cuddle her after you are done or in 5 minutes. Follow through. Ask her to help you instead of crying or try to distract, etc. (you could give her mini pots & whisk to help you cook, etc). If that doesn't work, ignore for a bit b/c truly, you can't always be dealing with the screaming.
- Definitely try to engage in verbalizing the issue. You could ask questions about how she's feeling or you could use H Carp's mirroring advice.
- Emotions are never wrong. Actions can be unacceptable, though.
- If she's screams with other people when you are in the house, just say, "Mommy can't hold you right now b/c of x. Daddy loves you and will hold you. I will give you a cuddle now, but you go with Daddy." Let them work it out. If she continues to scream after a few minutes, then prehaps Daddy could put her down and say, "You want Mommy. You are angry. You want Mommy. Mommy not right now. Daddy YES! Play with Daddy!" Toddler speak, of course. If that doesn't work, I'd probably let her alone to work out some anger & help her to realize that screaming isn't going to work on anyone anymore unless it's a new situation, KWIM?
My one grew out of it eventually, I think a combo of age & using compassion while setting firm boundaries & always verbalizing & being consistent with the new 'rules'.
HTHs! You are doing great. Hang in there.
Oh, also, if you can, increase the amount of meaningful interactions & cuddles with both girls in the calm moments! Play with them! Have fun with them! Let them cuddle & climb on you - help everyone to feel more connected in a good way.
Wow, this sounds so much like us! I don't have much to offer, but thanks to Shuli for the good ideas. I've been trying to implement those ideas but have found myself extremely impatient since I got pregnant. I am losing my cool too easily with my girls and S's whining and demands never seem to end. And snce we are temporarily living with my parents, she's getting a mixed message since they always give in to her or make me feel like I should ("how can you just let her cry like that?"). Meanwhile, I always feel like I'm neglecting H. I know what I should be doing, but right now I'm having trouble doing it. Not sure that having a newborn soon will help with my patience. :)
Hugs and good luck. Keep us posted.
Mama to S&H, twin girls born 4/09
Baby 3 due 2/12
I'm also the mom of a 2 year old and you have gotten some great advice here. I love what one of the previous posters said about giving attention to the good behavior. I just wanted to add something I noticed with my daughter when she was newly 2 was that she was beginning to get bored with all of her baby toys and needed more activity. Maybe try setting her up with an activity before you need to go do something like cooking. Perhaps some preemptive distraction might help at least some of the time. It's going to be challenging when you change the rules, just like the previous poster mentioned. Stay consistent and know that you are giving your little ones the boundaries that they need to feel secure. It's hard not to feel bad or guilty when our little ones get so upset, but with her acting out so frequently keep in mind that you are doing this so she can start to feel better and be able to learn and play the day away instead of resorting to these behaviors.
You could also consider starting time out. I do 2 minutes for my 2 year old, with a hug and loves after and reminder of what the rules are.
Here is one of my favorite websites for activities to keep littles busy and learning. She has a lot of ideas for low cost activities and things that can be made/gathered easily from things you are likely to have around: