You sound like a really good mom.
I read all of the above, and liked it all. I have an interesting perspective in that I am a mom to an only child (so far), a 3 year old, so most of you have that factor of another baby in the mix, playing on your guilt, exhaustion, etc. Let me just tell you that even though I DO devote all my attention (when I'm not cleaning, cooking, talking etc.), we are in the same boat exactly. I laughed when I read all the examples of tantrum-causing incidences, because they are the same as mine. You have to admit, it is funny, when you're not involved. Of course it's not funny when it happens to me
I too am in the midst of being confused. Tantrums are tantrums, and epecially after reading that article mentioned above in my latest issue of Mothering, they are a piece of cake. Whining is also a breeze, because "Mommy doesn't respond to that". But what is not so cut and dry is the issue of control, that little game that is going on at all times from daybreak to sleep. I've had some great conversations with my friends, and I've read a bit. There's lot's I'm not sure of, but mostly it's about me, and how to handle it right EVERY time. What I do know is:
1. This is totally normal behavior.
2. Once I accept this, I have the power to either let it run it's natural course of 1-5 minutes or I can extend it indefinitely.
3. She is struggling with her desire to control as much as possible and her need for limits, and can't do this maturely.
4. If I am shaky on "no" or any limit, if I am inconsistant, I am asking for big trouble in the form of her loss of respect for me and my limits and continued, extended power struggles.
Number 4 is the problem!! Pick your battles? What does that MEAN? My great friend, who has a 5 year old, reflected back to this time with her son. First, she impressed the need for me to have private mommy time so that I can recharge and come back refreshed and full of energy. Don't we all agree that when we are the most tired and "done", it's the absolute worst with our kids' tantrums? I for one have to admit that I am Supermom at dealing with her control freakouts and tantrums when I'm fresh and happy and READY. I'm mentally "on", and I have patience. Then she told me about the time she offered her 3 year old eggs, cereal or french toast for breakfast and he said "NO! I WANT PANCAKES!", and she told him no, he had the choice between the three. As he proceeded to throw a major freakout fit, she reminded him that he had the power to choose between the three offers or no food until lunch. Zac didn't eat breakfast that day and it never happened again (over meal choices) She did what she said, and that is so important. She repeatedly told me to put the power back on them, their choices, which I already knew but guess I forget sometimes. Because the ONE time you make the pancakes, you are in for it, sister.
She had one other good idea. A stamp book. Every day your kid is good all day, through every incident they make the positive choices, they are rewarded with a stamp for their book. You can say, "You have the choice between ........ If you're nice, you get a stamp today" or "You dont' get your stamp today." They collect up 10 stamps, and they get something positive, such as a matchbox car or whatever. The thing I like about this is, the reward is a stamp, resembling good behavior. It's a reason, the right reason, for them to strive for good behavior. As opposed to "if your good, you can have dessert" daily stuff. I like a special something that sybolizes good behavior, that once they accomplish 10 days of, they can choose a special reward in exchange.
I feel for you all. I'm just taking it one day at a time, one incident at a time. The more kids you have, I would imagine the more resilient you are to this normal behavior, and the less attention you give it results in what it is truly meant to be - something they must go through independently that will fizzle out on it's own.
Stay cool, and I will try to do the same.