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From Laid Back to Totally Defiant...need some perspective

489 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  marincarrie
When DS was 2, he was Mr. Laid Back and we thought we had lucked out getting through the "terrible twos" with relatively little trouble. DS then turned 3 and everything we missed during the terrible twos has hit us luck a ton of bricks. He's now 3.5 and Mr. Defiant. Everytime we try to transition from an activity, ie: it's time for dinner, it's time to leave the library...he clenches his fists, screams no, sits down on the floor and doesn't want to be touched. We give him several "time reminders" before each transition to ease things along. When he starts clenching his fists and getting angry, I tell him "I understand that its hard to leave the library. I know how much fun you have here. I promise we will come back soon." Sometimes this works, most the time not. So I end up leading a crying, dragging himself on the floor little one out of wherever we are. If we have to grocery shopping, he has a feels like the whole day is one meltdown after another.

My gut feeling is that it's part of growing up and there's not a lot I can do but be patient and understanding. Do you think this is just a developmental stage?

My other question is what are other ways I can handle this? In addition to applying the "I understand technique, talk to me about your feelings", I also use the "when/then" or "why don't you help me do X" ( to distract him). But I am worn slick about halfway through the day and wishing he would just be quiet. I hate feeling negatively toward him.

This may be more of a vent
, since I think this is totally natural behavior for someone his age. I could just use some fresh ideas and perspectives.
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I think you're right about the venting, mostly - because I think it's totally normal too. Seems like you're doing all the "right" things. Just a couple things I'll mention if you want to try or think about.

If you're not already, be sure to discuss "the plan" BEFORE you go somewhere, etc. Like yesterday, I wanted to get to the bank before it closed, and we were cutting it kind of close. Usually when we go out on an errand, I give about 5 min for him to play in the yard before we get in the car. This time, not ognna happen. SO, as I was putting his sneakers on him, I told him, "I know we usually get to play a bit, but this time we have to go right to the car." and I reminded him again as we were walking down the steps, and I was sure to be holding his hand so it didn't turn into him trying to sprint away and me chasing after him, which would have turned into a struggle....and he was fine with it, just walking with me right to the car. So, like, going to the library, remind him that you can only stay for X time (3 books, whatever), and then do your countdown transition too.

The other thought was sometimes I find that if I sympathize/empathize with him TOO much, it makes things worse. Not that I don't commiserate at all, I just don't spend a LOT of time on it, and we don't really discuss it a whole lot. That seems to be helping him gain some perspective (that he can handle a minior disappointment). So it's more like, "I understand you wanted to X more, but we have to Y now. It's hard when we have to stop doing fun things, isn't it... But, we'll be able to X again tomorrow." But that's almost exactly what you posted you do, isn't it?
.....maybe he would like a little more discussion of the situation? Kids are so different. Maybe he needs a little more built in 'disappointment time' to get over it? Like, give the countdown, but in your own time table build in an extra 5 min to talk about how fun it was, etc. before you actually have to head out the door of the place you're at? Dunno, I found that didn't work for us.

Just a couple thoughts....other mamas will probably have other ideas!
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One thing that really worked well for me was to ask my DD what we could do to make the transition easier on her. If she couldn't think of anything, I might make some suggestions: do you want to skip? Do you want to carry my car keys and push the button to open the door? Do you want to read a book in the car?

When I would enlist her help in finding a solution she always seemed much more amenable to cooperate.

Good luck!
I don't have any easy remedies (I'd be using them if I did

I have noticed, however, that it's not just my 26 mo who is acting differently - it's me!

When Baby transitioned to acting defiant, I did some digging in myself. Just like her, I wanted things to be MY way. Where as I used to let nearly everything slide short of life threatening, all of a sudden I was needing to 'make a point' about who was going to win this or that battle. All of a sudden we're fighting over everything. She wants desperately to be in control of her own soul, and I felt just as strongly that it needed to be me who ran the show.

When I realized what I was doing, I backed off a bit. So Baby wants to dawdle and look at the Cheetos on the rack at the grocery store, well, okay then.

When she realized that I was shifting back toward a more relaxed and - from her perspective - reasonable mode, she began to allow herself to give ME some leeway as well. Now she wins some battles, and I win some others.

It's a much nicer arrangement.
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Gee your son sounds like mine, he was pretty easy at 2 and he hit 3 and wow [ he had his moments between 2-3 ] but I have found it's more like the terrible 3's than the terrible 2's.
I am hoping it's a devolepmental stage too and am still trying to figure out how to handle him, my daughter was and is easier to handle. It's like we got what makes her tick, and she started the terrible 2's at 18 months, go figure.

Sometimes they just have to work through their moods, and sometimes you have to put your foot down [ nicely of course].

Good luck with your little darling
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Hi--my son has a terrible time with transitions, so much so that I avoid taking him on errands (even the
library!) as much as I possibly can.

I agree with the other poster, my son does better if we don't spend a lot of time talking about why he is upset. I do mention it, but then I move on. What I find works best for us is to say "Choo-choo--do you have your ticket? The train is leaving!" Do I feel like an idiot? Yes....but it works! My son kind of snaps out of it, looks at me, and gets on board.

Just an idea--we also do the time count down, talk about what is expected and what we will be doing, etc., sometimes, he just needs something a little more fun to inspire him to leave!

Hope this helps...
~Carrie & Boden (8-19-03)
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