Losing it - can't stand my toddler - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 09-22-2012, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 29 month old is a high needs child.  She was a high needs baby and is now a high needs toddler.  She is very bright and challenges us every second of the day.  I now have a 3 week old infant to care for in addition to DD1, and I'm doing a terrible job.

 

DD1 has never been a good sleeper, but now she flat out refuses to sleep.  She fights us every night and every nap.  She wakes up 4-6 times per night.  She has been in her own bed since she turned 2 and until baby was born she woke 1-2x per night max.  I know she is transitioning, but I am having difficulty keeping it together.  DH is working tonight so I have both girls by myself, and DD1 won't sleep.  I got her down once, but then she woke up 15 minutes later.  I went in to get her back down twice but both times she refuses to sleep.  I cannot be held hostage by a 2 1/2 year old.  

 

So now she's in her room crying because she won't sleep and I won't sit with her for hours waiting.  I feel like a horrid mother because I just don't care anymore.  She tantrums at the drop of a hat the second she doesn't get what she wants the second she wants it.  IO can't take any more right now.  We never did CIO with her because I don't believe in it, and I'm not leaving her in her room for sleep training now but I don't know what else to do.  Letting her stay up isn't an option because she gets violent and destructive when she is overtired.  Me staying in her room isn't an option because she won't go to sleep when I have the baby with me.  I can't leave the baby alone either because if she wakes up I need to be able to get her, and if DD1 sees me leave, we are back at square one.  

 

I am so angry and sad that I don't have any idea how to parent this child. 


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#2 of 13 Old 09-22-2012, 06:33 PM
 
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Is she still napping during the day? We had to cut my dds nap because we were ending up in This same situation after DS was born.

I don't have much advice other than that, my DD is a fairly intense child and I've definitely felt similar some days! Good luck!

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#3 of 13 Old 09-22-2012, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We REALLY don't want to cut naps because, frankly, we need a break from her. But I think we may have to - not sure it will make a difference though, she skipped her nap today and went to bed early and we are having the same problem.

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#4 of 13 Old 09-23-2012, 03:55 AM
 
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I really wish that I had some advice to give you, but just wanted to let you know that I'm right there with you.  33 months and 2 months.  I've actually started just waking up for the day at 4a because that is when both kids start to really get worked up, and I feel less grumpy when I just stop trying to sleep. Definitely not the best solution, since I'm exhausted, but at least I get a few early morning quiet moments alone.

 

I've tried the early nap, late nap, no nap dance too.  Nothing really works.  I just try to remind myself that she is hurting, and that 'this too shall pass'.  


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#5 of 13 Old 09-23-2012, 12:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stTimeMama4-4-10 View Post

  I cannot be held hostage by a 2 1/2 year old.  

 

So now she's in her room crying because she won't sleep and I won't sit with her for hours waiting.  I feel like a horrid mother because I just don't care anymore.  She tantrums at the drop of a hat the second she doesn't get what she wants the second she wants it.  IO can't take any more right now.  We never did CIO with her because I don't believe in it, and I'm not leaving her in her room for sleep training now but I don't know what else to do.  Letting her stay up isn't an option because she gets violent and destructive when she is overtired.  Me staying in her room isn't an option because she won't go to sleep when I have the baby with me.  I can't leave the baby alone either because if she wakes up I need to be able to get her, and if DD1 sees me leave, we are back at square one.  

 

I am so angry and sad that I don't have any idea how to parent this child. 

The sentence that I bolded screams to me: I need my mommy and all she cares about is that stupid baby!

She isn't trying to hold you hostage. She was just used to a certain amount of attention and all that's changed now and she wasn't ready for that change.

Of course, it isn't true that all you care about is the baby, but in her selfish toddler mind, that's all she can see.

Can you put baby down and spend some one-on-one time with your toddler? Do you have a bedtime routine that you did before baby arrived? wait until baby is asleep and do that routine to let her know you still love her and want to spend time with her. When your DH is home, can he watch baby so you can take time with DD?

 

Sorry you are having such a rough time, but I'm sure it's a really hard time for DD1, too and she's too young to really process it right now. *hugs*

 

Hope it gets better soon.


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#6 of 13 Old 09-23-2012, 12:35 PM
 
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This might not be the best advice but maybe to save some sanity you could let her sleep in your bed with you? We resorted to that some nights when we had a 2 yr old and a newborn. We had also worked to get DS1 sleeping in his own bed and somewhat undid the whole process after DS2 was born. But you know what? We all slept better (okay, I didn't really sleep that well because I was so cramped) but at least the kids were down and weren't screaming at me/had their needs met/etc. After a few months we got DS1 back into his own bed.

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#7 of 13 Old 09-23-2012, 09:31 PM
 
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I don't have much advice, but I wanted to say I feel for you and can relate. My DD1 was 25 months old when DD2 was born, and those first couple of months were the roughest and most challenging I've been through to date. I felt like an awful parent because, try as I might, I simply couldn't be everything they both needed. DD1 got the short end of the stick, and I often felt very frustrated with her. She regressed in all kinds of ways, and acted out- obviously she needed more attention and love than she was getting... But this, too, shall pass. I don't know if looking ahead will help you now, but I wish I'd been able to back then. My girls are best friends and have been since they were 1 and 3. And over all, I think parenting two is much easier than parenting one.

Good luck sorting the bedtime thing out. Sounds hard, and I hope it gets better soon.

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#8 of 13 Old 09-24-2012, 08:17 PM
 
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When my first baby was born, my husband and I used to joke that she was the master and we were just her servants.

 

Then she became a toddler and that stopped being funny.

 

If your daughter is anything like mine, what she is doing is looking for tools that give her the results that she wants.  My daughter learned that meltdowns and tantrums during the day got her the results that she wanted, and as that was reinforced by my behavior (by giving in) the threshold for her meltdown/tantrums quickly became lower and lower.  At one point something as simple as asking her to please use her spoon to eat her cereal triggered a tantrum/meltdown. 

 

It was incredibly painful, but we had to essentially start all over.  The stress and strain of her constant meltdowns were awful for me, awful for her and meant that she was unpleasant for other people to be around (not something I wanted for her).   It was only by taking the long view that I really found the strength to draw firmer lines.   I ignored her while she was tantruming and refused to engage with her until she calmed down.  Anything she wanted could absolutely not be gained by a tantrum.  Only by being calm and requesting something politely could she get either my attention or the desired result.  We also used a "calm down" area (floor pillow and blanket and a stuffed animal) where she could sit while she was working to calm down.  It was awful and painful for about 3-4 weeks, and then turned the corner. 

 

For sleeping, we used a very set bedtime ritual (short, sweet but the same every night), moved her bedtime about a 1/2 hour earlier (counter-intuitive but it helped -- we were missing her sleep window), introduced a glow-worm and a couple of books into the crib and checked back in at regular intervals if she was crying or unable to sleep. She now sleeps through the night 99% of the time. 

 

Also, if we were putting her to bed without the other parent present, we had a swing for our baby.  Her bedtime ritual was not interrupted by the baby fussing (almost never an issue, since the ritual was very short and my other daughter liked the swing).


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#9 of 13 Old 09-24-2012, 10:57 PM
 
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I don't have any advice, just commiseration.  My DD is 13 months and has always been super intense.  I'm kind of afraid that I will be the one writing your post in a couple of years...I'm already having to deal with mini-tantrums as she tries to get her own way.

 

Can you make sure she gets some one-on-one time when the baby is napping?  Maybe that would help her feel less like she's been abandoned, and therefore more willing to listen to you.  Can you explain things to her?  "Mommy has to take care of the baby like Mommy took care of you when you were really little.  Babies can't wait, so Mommy has to take care of the baby first.  But Mommy will spend x amount of time with just you every day," etc.  My DD really really wants to be "a big girl," and even right on the verge of meltdown will listen to an explanation of your reasons.  That can often avert the crisis. 

 

Also, when my DD does something good, I try to praise her a lot, and I try not to yell if she's bad, just to stay firm and clear about what I expect.  It's amazing what that kiddo will do to be told that I'm proud of her and how brave and sweet she is.  Sometimes when she's driving me nuts it takes some real willpower to stay positive, but I always catch more flies with honey...

 

Good luck!  Much as I love my DD to pieces and want to have more kids, I can't really imagine trying to deal with TWO...
 


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#10 of 13 Old 09-25-2012, 08:44 AM
 
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Just want to post to say that I can also relate. I feel like no one talks about part of the transition from 1 to 2 is that suddenly you start to kindof dislike your firstborn. They are the difficult ones, which is so ironic given how hard it was adjusting to having a child at all in the first place. Now the baby is the easy one, the older child is the one giving you problems. I know it feels like you can't stand her, but, luckily, this too shall pass. Just try and plug through the next few months doing the best you can to be empathetic. When you can't muster it, it's okay, just give yourself a time out. It will get better. Your bond will strengthen again. MDC is a great place to get tips on how to deal with the behavior, but I just wanted to say I felt the same feelings you are feeling now towards your older one, and they will eventually fade away. Hang in there!
 


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#11 of 13 Old 10-01-2012, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by porcelina View Post

Just want to post to say that I can also relate. I feel like no one talks about part of the transition from 1 to 2 is that suddenly you start to kindof dislike your firstborn. They are the difficult ones, which is so ironic given how hard it was adjusting to having a child at all in the first place. Now the baby is the easy one, the older child is the one giving you problems. I know it feels like you can't stand her, but, luckily, this too shall pass. Just try and plug through the next few months doing the best you can to be empathetic. When you can't muster it, it's okay, just give yourself a time out. It will get better. Your bond will strengthen again. MDC is a great place to get tips on how to deal with the behavior, but I just wanted to say I felt the same feelings you are feeling now towards your older one, and they will eventually fade away. Hang in there!
 

 

OMG this is so true and so taboo to say.  I love, adore, and cherish my first daughter. She is amazing and I want her to have the best childhood ever.  But she also drives me out of my mind with the few things that trigger my frustration, and in the darkest part of my mind during her meltdowns I just don't like her.  And then when I am no longer frustrated, I feel so guilty that I am the worst parent of all time for having those feelings of frustration towards a child who is having a hard time losing the constant attention to which she has become accustomed. 

 

So here is the update.  The night I wrote that post was the bottom.  It went up from there - it got so much better that I don't really trust that it's going to stay.  What we were able to do after that one awful night is go through her normal bedtime routine and then I sit in the dark with her NOT IN HER BED like I used to do.  Instead, now I sit on the floor and we hold hands and talk.  Then after maybe five minutes of that, I move to the door and sit by the door.  After 2-3 minutes, I move outside the door and sit in the hall.  In the hall, she can't directly see me from her bed, but when she gets out of bed (which she does about 2-4 times before she finally goes to sleep) she sees that I am there, and that she cannot leave her room.  Because she can't see me from her bed, I am free to use my laptop/tablet, fold laundry, read/write etc.  During this whole routine, I have been able to do it while still holding the baby - which really is the best way since it ensures that the baby won't cry and interrupt the bedtime routine.  The biggest change is that I am not frustrated at all with DD1 when she gets out of bed.  I realize now that I was the one really triggering her escalation when I got angry.  If I react calmly and compassionately, the whole thing goes so much smoother.  I have been doing this routine for a week or so now, and DD1 is now really putting herself to bed for the first time in her life. She has never in her life gone to bed so easily - not even when she was a newborn.  Clearly she was ready for this, but I feel like such a much better parent now that we found something that works for all of us and DD1 doesn't feel so neglected. Thank you all so much for your replies, they were very much appreciated.


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#12 of 13 Old 10-01-2012, 05:29 PM
 
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So glad to hear your update!! I hope things continue to go well for you guys.


Jean, feminist mama raising three boys: W (7), E (5) and L (2.15.13)

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#13 of 13 Old 10-01-2012, 07:14 PM
 
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What a great update! When you are sleep-deprived, you just reach a level where all you can think is I need sleep, and I need this kid to give me some space. They sense your need for space and cling on to you. It's not easy to dig down and muster up the strength to stay patient. I think it does get easier after you voice your feelings. Somehow seeing it typed out or saying it to my mom helps me realize it's the sleep-deprivation talking. Thank God we are mostly past the intense night after night sleep deprivation phase. However, there are still things that can frustrate me (like forgetfulness in my 8 year-old) and when I think about it, I realize that what is really upsetting me the most is frustration with myself because I haven't found a solution yet. I'm sure you've probably had the conversation to reassure her that you'll always love her, but it never hurts to remind her during times when she is not upset. I was shocked when older dd asked if I would always love her even though we had the baby. She was 5, and we talked before the baby was born, and I thought I had assured her of this enough. I was lucky that she was mature enough to tell me what she was feeling. It's tough at any age.

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