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#1 of 17 Old 03-06-2010, 03:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm trying, I really, really am. I'm sick, I feel awful, and almost 3yo DD has chosen the past few days to discover the screaming, sobbing, wailing meltdown tantrum. I was so so soooo good with it yesterday, I got down at eye level, and explained why it wasn't OK for her to scream like that, gave her alternatives (using words to get my attention and help me understand) and when she wouldn't stop and didn't want to be held, I calmly put her down on the floor and told her "Mommy will wait until you can hear her to talk to you." and walked away.

That was yesterday. Today, I asked her to get her shoes on, and had to repeat myself 5 or 6 times, finally sitting down with her to 'help' her put them on. She began screaming before I could even get them on her, and kicking me in the (very pregnant) stomach. I think it was the kicking me that did it, I just snapped. I yelled, and put her shoes on a little too forcefully. Then I turned around to grab my keys and she took the shoes off. I lost it and told her to go to her room, and when she refused, (screaming like a banshee the whole time) I picked her up (not gently) and placed her in her room. I had to close the door in order to get away from the overwhelming feeling that I had to spank her. I just couldn't do it. I am so ashamed, and I keep running over and over in my head what a horrible mother I was today. We ended up apologizing to each other, I felt horrible, and I told her "Mommy doesn't like being kicked in the tummy, and when you take your shoes off after I help you put them on, it makes me upset. But Mommy shouldn't have yelled like she did, that wasn't OK either." We snuggled for a while, but my awful behavior is still haunting me. I don't know what to do. I have read books, I see a therapist, nothing is helping with my anger issues. I have asked my therapist to hypnotize me to help me react more calmly instead of reacting first with anger, but she won't do it while I'm pregnant. I just don't know what to do. I feel as though I can't handle one more day of this screaming tantrum phase!!

Please, what do you do when your children have these awful tantrums?

Aileen, Mama to Hannah James, 4/01/07 Smartest kid I've ever known! And Gabriel Joseph, born at home 3-31-10!! Delaying and selectively vax'ing
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#2 of 17 Old 03-06-2010, 04:13 AM
 
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I am sorry I have no answer- I am having very similar problems though I do not have the added issue of pregnancy. I was hoping to read some reply comments with clever ideas- I know the repeating something to the child is something I have avoided but now find as you mentioned- saying it numerous times- really I have only been muddling through and feeling like a failure...like these screaming tantrums are going to make me crazy- singing used to work - now it is maybe...
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#3 of 17 Old 03-06-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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Anger is a human emotion. And you are human. We get angry at spouses, coworkers, parents, friends, siblings... It's a sign that something isn't working right or the way that we want it to. And, therefore, and important emotion that reminds us that things are not going in a way that is conducive to efficiency: getting out the door on time/getting to sleep/getting clothes on a child/keeping a house clean... BUT, how can we expect ourselves to be able to control these things? We all would like to wave a magic wand, but again... we're human. So the challenge, I think, is to accept the imperfection of ourselves, of others, of the cat that just threw up on my sofa .

Okay. Look out. I'm stepping up on the soapbox and possibly digressing a little.

We live in a society that so emphatically promotes the appearance of perfection. Just look at the media messages! I remember seeing the picture of a smiling baby on a box of diapers when my very fussy infant was going through his constantly fussiest stage, and thinking - how DARE you imply that babies are always happy. I wished I could put my son's twisted, furrowed-brow, squinting, beet-red, gaping-mouthed photo on every box of diapers and on every baby magazine cover to show the world the reality of being a baby. No wonder our perception of reality is so skewed. Life in all its wonder and glory can be, well, anger-inducing.

Bottom line: you didn't fail miserably. You reacted in a normal way to a frustrating situation. Please let yourself off the hook.

Married to Tony 6/07. Mommy to Jude 4/08 and Gemma 4/11.
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#4 of 17 Old 03-06-2010, 09:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kgreenemama View Post
Anger is a human emotion. And you are human. We get angry at spouses, coworkers, parents, friends, siblings... It's a sign that something isn't working right or the way that we want it to....

...Bottom line: you didn't fail miserably. You reacted in a normal way to a frustrating situation. Please let yourself off the hook.


It isn't unreasonable for you to be angry or even to show your DC that you are angry, IMO. I think it is helpful actually, as children tend to need behaviour models. That is to say, handle your anger the way you would like her to deal with hers; is that getting some water, screaming out loud, counting to ten, or deep breathing? Really, don't be too hard on yourself; you put her in her room and didn't spank her. Some days that's all you get.

She's old enough to put on her own shoes and old enough to understand that kicking Mommy in the tummy could hurt the baby. I would wait until she calmed down and have that chat because it needs to be said.

As for in the moment of the tantrum, did she say why she didn't want to put on her shoes or was she just ignoring your request? My DS can really get "into" a TV show, so I have to turn off the television to catch his attention if he doesn't hear me the first time.
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#5 of 17 Old 03-06-2010, 10:00 PM
 
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I don't know your history, or the details of other interactions with your child, but what you've described here seems perfectly normal to me. She kicked you in your pregnant stomach! At that point, your body bypasses your rational reactions and you respond instinctually. I find that I get angry at the dog when she occasionally jumps on me or when the cat walks on my stomach, things that never bothered me before. But now, that protective instinct kicks in; I don't think you should beat yourself up over what is essentially a physiological reaction. I also don't think there's anything wrong with allowing a child to see genuine responses to their behaviour -- I mean, obviously that does not include hitting them or anything, and you don't want frustration and anger to be your ONLY reaction -- but it's honest and it is representative of the array of human responses she will encounter.
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#6 of 17 Old 03-06-2010, 10:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think the problem for me is that a scene like this one has started happening every day in our house. I'm not OK with screaming at her, but I wind up doing it half the time because I'm at the end of my rope and don't know what to do. She's only 3, and I can just picture this escalating, you know? We just had another bout, with me REALLY controlling my temper until I just couldn't anymore because she wasn't being AT ALL reasonable. The moment I touched her to try and talk to her, she would start screaming "NO!" over and over again. God forbid I try to get at eye level, she would flop down on the ground and get as low as possible to avoid me, then if I got down with her she would start kicking and hitting me. I finally got up and walked out of the room, closing the door behind me. I went in about 5 minutes later and told her that I needed her to apologize, and she did immediately, but what happens if one day she decides not to? She has decided suddenly that listening when I ask her to do something is an option, even if I have her attention, and that is not OK with me. Some response is required. "OK, Mommy in a minute" would be fine with me, as long as it's acknowledged and eventually responded to, you know? It's a total battle of wills for at least a few minutes every day at my house, and I really REALLY don't know if I can take much more.

Aileen, Mama to Hannah James, 4/01/07 Smartest kid I've ever known! And Gabriel Joseph, born at home 3-31-10!! Delaying and selectively vax'ing
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#7 of 17 Old 03-07-2010, 12:14 AM
 
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No help. I am SO with you on the 3yo behavior. I have mothered a sociopath
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#8 of 17 Old 03-07-2010, 12:43 AM
 
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I could have written this post regarding my 2.5 year old DD. It seems like we have a lot of negative interactions in our home in the recent months due to lack of listening and the one language my daughter knows...whiny!
Add to that a sensory disorder and a new baby and you have disaster some days lol. I too find myself yelling a lot and occasionally being less than gentle. I think you should not be so hard on yourself though I know that is hard to do. This toddler age is so hard, but as a parent you do the best you can. I think it is okay for our children to see our imperfections. The fact that you recognize the things you do that were less than perfect is the important part and shows what a great parent you are!
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#9 of 17 Old 03-07-2010, 02:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, ladies, thank you for at least letting me know I'm not alone in this. It's so hard for me, because I was abused in many ways as a child, and my temper flares easily, so I have a hard time seeing where the line is. I try to keep it under control because I one time caught myself beating my brother severely when he was 7 and I was about 15...and realized that I was out of control. So, like I said, it's hard to see the line, and I tend to try to stay far away from it. I do think it's been too explosive here lately, I've just ordered a couple more books to try and make sure that I don't go that route.

Aileen, Mama to Hannah James, 4/01/07 Smartest kid I've ever known! And Gabriel Joseph, born at home 3-31-10!! Delaying and selectively vax'ing
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#10 of 17 Old 03-07-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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I don't have a 3yo, but I will soon enough.

I just saw that you posted that you were abused as a child - are you seeking therapy to work through some of the anger issues that are still coming up from that? Maybe finding a good therapist, who you can talk to openly about what happened to you as a child, and how you're interacting with your dd would be a good idea?

I don't see anything in your post that makes me think you are abusing your dd - in fact I see that you are consciously trying to avoid that! Good job, but the fact that you are afraid of it escalating (which is a good thing really, b/c you'll recognize it), is a good indicator to me that speaking to someone about it would be great! I don't think that we can really be of help over the internet, so someone in person would be better!
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#11 of 17 Old 03-07-2010, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Thyra, I am actually seeing a therapist, and have been for about a year now. The biggest problem is that she's afraid to delve too deeply into the painful stuff, because of the pregnancy. I am thinking of switching therapists, since I don't see having a newborn and a 3 y.o. as making it ANY easier to work on my issues, you know?

Aileen, Mama to Hannah James, 4/01/07 Smartest kid I've ever known! And Gabriel Joseph, born at home 3-31-10!! Delaying and selectively vax'ing
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#12 of 17 Old 03-07-2010, 01:17 PM
 
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Thats great! I think having a newborn and a 3yo would be hard stuff. All by itself, without anything else pressing. I commend you for taking that on!

You could always interview some therapists and see if you find a different one you like better. Anyway, I'm glad your seeking help!
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#13 of 17 Old 03-07-2010, 01:54 PM
 
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three years old is a HARD age for a momma!!!!

I found that sometimes the best thing for that age was to read the dr. sears discipline books, and the "your three year old" by louise bates ames, that showed how developmentally NORMAL all of the extra-dramatic behavior IS--it gave me permission to not like it but understand it at the same time, and let myself off the hook for having such a hard time with it.

here is a link to the book so you can find it at the library:

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Three-Yea.../dp/0440506492

It is reassuring when you can point to developmental stages and say, "ah yes, this is normal"---DESPITE the advertised "perfect child" image that is force fed us in society. It really helps sometimes just to read that this is a stage, and it too, shall pass.

(also, as a last resort for me, it helped to go somewhere else and blast loud music when they are kicking and screaming. like punk. sometimes just acknowledging that things are loud and messy and moms need a "tantrum" too (if only a symbolic one), and drowning out the tantrum in another room for the time it takes one head banging session/one ramones song, lol canhelp us through the crazy that is the job of being a mom)
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#14 of 17 Old 03-07-2010, 03:36 PM
 
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I'm a teacher and nanny and her behavior sounds pretty normal. It sounds like you are trying to set high standards for yourself given your history of trauma, and anger tendencies. However, that doesn't meant that you should beat yourself up if you don't reach those standards. Remind yourself how much better your reactions are than they could be, even if they aren't what you are striving for. And, I think, most importantly, that you need to set yourself up with some intermediate goals rather than just going for the gold.

Rather than failing, why not set up bronze, silver, and gold standards for your reactions to her behavior? Then you can feel competent at each level before you work on the next. Perhaps right now your goal should be to not scream or yell, and to immediately walk away as soon as it starts to escalate (meaning if you hear your voice rising, or your DD starts her "nonono" stuff or starts to be physical with you.) Then return in a few minutes when it has diffused. Many children her age cannot think about a situation or figure out how to react in the moment and need time to calm down before they can do so. Just like adults!

I have to go but will post more later. s

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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#15 of 17 Old 03-08-2010, 01:56 AM
 
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op, I am right there with you. My ds is also 3 and is so very hard to deal with right now. On top of the constant battling with him, I have a 9mo dd who is sick and teething and miserable. Everyday I wake and tell myself that I will be patient and peaceful. I fail everyday. Even in the midst of me getting angry I know it is wrong and I see myself going in the wrong direction but I am too tired and overwhelmed to back up. They can just push you over the edge and I know exactly what you mean to be haunted with you actions. I would say not to be too hard on yourself, (the pp are right in that you are only human and this mothering thing is so hard) but I do know when you feel like you have made a mistake, sometimes you need to just feel it and then move on. We cannot go back in time but simply move forward and try again tomorrow. I will be wishing you a peaceful, battle-free day tomorrow. Good luck and know you are not alone.
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#16 of 17 Old 03-08-2010, 02:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks mamas. Your words are really encouraging me. I know it's not some people's favorites, but I ordered 1-2-3 magic yesterday, because I know that DD not listening and saying 'no' is the biggest thing that sets me off. If I can get a handle on how I deal with that, it will be a step in the right direction, I think.

Aileen, Mama to Hannah James, 4/01/07 Smartest kid I've ever known! And Gabriel Joseph, born at home 3-31-10!! Delaying and selectively vax'ing
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#17 of 17 Old 03-08-2010, 04:27 AM
 
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Three is hard. This is a post I wrote when our dd was 3:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=856853

It sounds to me like you're doing well. Really.

A couple of quick suggestions that might help:
1. Give yourself a time out. I've had to do this. I have a quick temper and a tendency to lash out physically (and no history of abuse, so I should know better). I've had to go shut the door and be by myself until I calm down.

2. Intervene more quickly. If she's not putting her shoes on after the first request, go over to her, put your hand on her shoulder and ask if she heard you. If she had, then gently go over and help her put the shoes on. If you do this the first time, you're not so frustrated. You can do things playfully rather than angrily, and she'll be more likely to keep them on. (Try putting them on her hands first, for example, then she'll tell you that's wrong, and you can do the feet.)

3. Talk less. Usually when things are out of control, verbal explanations/directions don't do much good. Once they've started screaming, explaining why screaming is not OK just fuels the fire. I have to keep reminding myself that this is not a teachable moment. My job when my child is flailing on the ground screaming is to get through the moment. Anything else is gravy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AileenM View Post
I finally got up and walked out of the room, closing the door behind me.
Great! That's good for both of you -- good anger management on your part and it models appropriate behavior for your daughter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AileenM View Post
I went in about 5 minutes later and told her that I needed her to apologize, and she did immediately, but what happens if one day she decides not to?
Two thoughts about this:
First, I think it helps to assume that our children want a relationship with us and they want to repair things when they go wrong.

Second, what would happen if she decided not to? Do you really need an apology? You can say something like "Well, I hope you'll feel like it soon, because I'm feeling really sad." Would you rather have a genuine hug or a snide-sounding "sorry"? Sometimes waiting is better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AileenM View Post
She has decided suddenly that listening when I ask her to do something is an option, even if I have her attention, and that is not OK with me. Some response is required. "OK, Mommy in a minute" would be fine with me, as long as it's acknowledged and eventually responded to, you know? It's a total battle of wills for at least a few minutes every day at my house, and I really REALLY don't know if I can take much more.
Does she know that she can say "OK Mommy in a minute"? I would start by teaching her that. Assume that you must teach her what acceptable responses are. "It's time to put your shoes on." "No!!!!" "Oh, do you mean "in a minute mommy"?"

Do you give her warnings around transition times? (In our house, that's any change of activity that requires my kids to do something.) When our dd was 3, a typical dialog was:
"In 5 minutes, it's going to be bath time."
"No!"
"In 3 minutes, we're going to take a bath."
"No!"
"1 minute until bath time. Please go upstairs and take off your clothes."
"No! I don't want to take a bath." (Said while she was taking off her clothes and getting into the tub.)

That 5-3-1 warning really helped, because it gave her time to transition. Even today, we give a lot of warnings. The kitchen timer is my favorite parenting tool because it warns all of us.

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