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When "No" becomes WWIII

495 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  aira
My biggest problem as of today is that if my 2-yr-old doesn't get what she wants, when she wants it (she has a habit of yelling "I want I want I want I want" until she gets it) then she starts screaming and crying to the point of almost throwing up until I give her what she wants!!

Help! My husband says we need to let her cry and not give her what she wants everytime and I agree with that but when she is blue in the face and about to throw up, I don't know what else to do!
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Hey, I'm glad you came over from the toddler board!

But, um, you're probably not going to like my advice on this particular situation. I'm not necessarily with your husband on just "letting her cry", but I do agree that you should not be saying no and then giving in when she cries "enough". I know, easier said than done.

I would try to take it on a case by case basis, and try to find something else she will accept as an alternative. DS was OBSESSED with my keyboard from my work computer, and it was turning into a big "thing" me keeping him away from it. SO, I found an old keyboard in the closet, clipped the cord and made sure nothing pokey was sticking out, and gave that to him. It worked out great. He had his, I had mine.

I think *sometimes*, if you initially say no to something and then immediately realize it's not that big a deal if she has it, it's OK for you to change your mind, but, like, right away, not after she's been screaming for it for 10 minutes. It happened to me recently with I don't remember what in the kitchen. He took it out of the dishwasher and started playing with it while I was emptying, and my first thing was, "that's not a toy for you, please put it back" but then I realized it wouldn't hurt him or the object (oh, it was one of those liquid pushy measuring cups), so then I said, "You know what, buddy? You're right - it's not a problem, just be careful" and he played with it happily for about 10 minutes then gave it to me to put away. But I changed my mind right away, before he even had a chance to really protest.

If there are certain things she wants a lot that she's not allowed to have, try to have those things out of her reach for a while. Or, let her explore it while she sits with you. But, if it's just something she cannot have, and she won't accept an alternative, then I would say you'll just have to sympathize with her, empathize, offer your support, and let her get out her frustration...but I would NOT while give it to her after she's been crying a lot, I think that is setting up for her to realize if she asks enough times she will eventually get it.
It probably won't be pretty, and it might last a long time initially if you have been giving in up until now, but I would bet after a short time when she realizes, she'll stop with the extended screaming. Obviously you'll need to be talking to her during this time even though it seems like she's not listening...and I mean more than just "no"...

The times this did happen to us, I usually would give him a hug and say something like, "I'm sorry bud, I know you really wanted X. But I can't let you have it because of Y. You can play with Z instead. I know you're upset, I understand and that's OK, but I still can't let you have X. Do you want Z now?" and then either hold him, or play with the Z thing myself until he was interested, or if he was totally wigged out and thrashing, I would just sit nearby until he was done and then give him another hug and play with him with Z....

If it seems to be EVERYTHING, then we'll have to do a little more brainstorming with you....does it seem to be everything? Or are there just some things she wants that you don't want her to have? Have you tried swapping or trading her with something she can have? That might also involve a protest, but you can sympathize and empathize, too. I guess first I would get everything possible up and out of her reach, then try to have acceptable alternatives at the ready, things she really does like playing with to swap...if that doesn't help, could you post some really specific situations, and then maybe we can help more?
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I agree that you should pick your battles. But when you do decided on a "no" its totally unfair to her to give in when she cries to the point of making herself sick.

What that is telling her is that she should cry and cry. She would be stupid not to, you have told her that doing so is necessary to get what she wants.

Sometimes small children get so upset because they are not really sure that they can survive not getting what they want. They are not sure they will ever be happy again.

What actually helps then is to allow them to scream and cry while sympathisizng and providing support. At the end of the tantrum the child begins to realize that they can survive not getting what they want. That this does not mean they will be unhappy forever. AND that is an important and powerful thing to know!
I agree that it's important to stand your ground on important issues.

With our 26 month old I've always been extremely liberal. She wants to put a new band aid on her perfectly healthy finger every morning? Why not? But if there's a genuine reason for her to not do or have something, I'm sympathetic but unyielding. It's soooo important to explain, explain, explain why she shouldn't walk around the house carrying a knife, for example.

I can't say Baby never tantrums, but it's very, very rare. She knows that if I ask her not to do something that 1. I'm asking her for a reason, 2. what that reason is, and 3. that no matter what she does, I'm not going to change my mind.

Works very well for us.
My youngest ds can scream himself to sleep over not getting what he wants.
My line to him is that b is unsafe. He can have c but b is unsafe. Sometimes he will not give in and screams himself to sleep.I have found that not giving in has lreduced the nummbers of tantrums.
Well, I don't do anything like these suggestions, from what I can tell at first read...

I feel that being genuine is #1. So if DS protest and protests, I get us out if the immediate situation and then listen to him. I tell him that we really have a problem on our hands that he wants X, but I'm concerned about Y... And I ask his help in reaching a solution that works for us both. Truthfully at this age it's more an excersize in getting him to see that there can be a happy solution that in getting him to actually originate one... That's up to me for the most part right now.

But it gets him off the tread-mill of thinking solely about the desire - and believe me, he's a single-minded kid! - and thinking about other ways to accomplish what he needs.

I think that it's fine to re-evaluate something with a child even if they are melting down. In fact, I think making a blanket policy not to sends the message that when they are really hurting, they can't count on you to help. I mean, it's never really about the "thing", they need for us to know to look past the demand and see the real need.

Doing this doesn't spoil, or teach them that the always get what they want - they don't. But they learn that their needs, feelings, and desires are important to us, and that Mom is on their side. I really reduces the friction both in a situation, and in the long-term, because kids really feel to their core that they can somehow (and at 2 it's not usually so eloquent) express their needs and feelings to you, and that you will do your part to listen and help. Not that they get to demand and you placate. That it's a family with lots of needs and feelings, and that they have a place among that.

Little one calls - no time for proofing... Hope that makes sense!
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