Tag Archives: tantrums

The stand-off to end all stand-offs. I hope.


My kids are no angels, they are as angelic as your average three and four year old can be. Not very. Ha. While they can be disobedient, throw tantrums and pretty much disagree with everything I say, they are not bad kids. I don’t think people run the other way when they see us walking through the doors at Papachinos. Well I hope not. I am their mother so I may be biased, but I’d say they are OK kids.

Well yesterday was new parenting territory for me. And if you had seen my kid yesterday, you would probably have made for the door FAST and encouraged you own child to avoid mine at any cost.

So.

I put a blanket out on the lawn and we were enjoying the sun while the Husband cooked lunch. Hannah unpacked a black bag full of beach toys – creating general seaside mayhem, without the seaside. Liam and I were chatting on the blanket. Note: Liam was not playing with these toys. Many hours later, it was time to pack away and get ready for bath time. Even though Liam had not played with the toys, he happily started packing away. Hannah, however, sat on the steps like a boss, and was yelling orders to Liam along the lines of “you missed that one, go pick it up” and “don’t stand on my stuff!” So I came out and instructed her to get off her booty and help her brother. She ignored me. I repeated myself, and she looked at me in my face and turned to watch Liam. The third time, I used my very cross voice and told her to immediately step into action or face the consequences. Do you know this girl child just stared at me with a bored look on her face. At this point I told Liam that he had done enough, thank you very much and he could go bath. There were literally 5 little items left to collect. I could have let him pick them up and be done with it, but I needed to teach some little lady a lesson. I picked her up to standing position and marched her to the toys and told her to pick them up, she walked away. I marched her back, and she turned and walked off again. She started yelling like I’d asked her to pick up five live snakes. I told her AGAIN that she needed to pack away the toys that SHE had taken out, I explained over her shouting that Liam had kindly helped her but that she needed to do her share. I explained that if she didn’t, I was going to punish her. She stood there yelling in my face. I smacked her bottom and then she did the spaghetti-leg-move and fell to the ground like her legs couldn’t carry her. Tantrum time! I walked to the door and could see her peeping at me from under her covered face. I said firmly that I would not let her come in and bath if she did not pick up the toys. She turned over and carried on crying. I closed the door and she jumped up and started pounding the door. I was like WHO IS THIS CHILD?? Liam had never acted out like this before, and neither had she! The doors are glass so we could see each other, but I ignored her and made like I was watching TV. I yelled politely “pull yourself together, pick up the toys and then you can come inside.” She carried on crying. I was starting to get nervous because it was getting cold outside, it was after 5pm and she had been sick the last two days, I was going to have to crack if she didn’t, I couldn’t let my child stand outside in the cold. I mean there was teaching a lesson, and then there was going overboard to prove a point. I was praying that she would just back down and let me win. PLEASE let me win!! After about five minutes, she simmered down but was still death staring me through the door. I went to the door, walked towards the black bag and held it open, willing her to just pack the blinking toys away without saying a word. She obediently started to pick the toys up. Then she said “sorry mama, can I go bath now” and we hugged and she went to bath.

Sjoe!!! Later that evening, when all was forgotten, we were reading stories while she was being nebulised. Suddenly, mid-story, she pulled the mask off her face and said “I sorry, my legs were tired.” So I said oh, is that why you couldn’t pick up the toys? She nodded. I explained in simple terms that sometimes we are all tired but we still have chores and jobs to do – like I have to cook for the family even when I’m tired, or she has to put her dirty clothes in the laundry basket, even if her legs are tired, and Daddy has to wash the cars, even when he is tired. And if we didn’t do our jobs, then things would be crazy! And she agreed with that. Then I went on to explain that going off her head like that was not acceptable. She agreed with that too. Then I did a reenactment of her craziness with loud crying and spaghetti legs effects and we laughed about that for a good five minutes. Then the three of us each had a turn to reenact her crazy episode and we took votes on who did it the best. Then Daddy came in and said it wasn’t funny, and wasn’t a joke and that I must stop encouraging bad behaviour. So we all stopped and quietly giggled behind the books we were reading so that Daddy couldn’t hear us.

Ay, I don’t know that I’m doing this right. How do other people handle disobedience and tantrums of such epic proportions that you actually aren’t sure what to do in that moment. People say once you’ve explained to the child, you administer the punishment (however you choose to punish) and leave the child to tantrum it out. But what then? What if the child won’t back down? Then what? Wow, I’ve never had to deal with a child that just WONT.BACK.DOWN before. It’s difficult! And as the parent, to come so far and then to just back down and say “ok, I’ll pick up the toys” after you’ve been through such an ordeal, just doesn’t make sense to me.

What would you have done? How do you handle outright disobedience?

han

The one about a crazy two year old and a mother’s love


Ok, I completely understand that Hannah is going through some serious changes. She started school, gave up her dummy and went off diapers all in a very short space of time. Challenging and scary for any two year old, I totally get that. I get that she is also at an age where the tantrums are at an Oscar award winning level, and that’s completely normal. I even understand her need to show off her newfound independence with everything from dressing herself, feeding herself, drinking out of a glass to a million other things she now thinks she can do – and I try, tryyyyyy, to be as patient as possible with her as she navigates her looooooong way around all these tasks.

So when she acts up, I get that too. I mean there’s a lot going on here, even for me, so for her and her little mind it must be like X 10000000. But this last week has been rough. The crying… OH THE CRYING… for everything! I can’t reach my toothbrush, let’s cry! I can’t find my shoe, let’s cry! I don’t like that t –shirt, even though I chose it myself last night, let’s cry! I can’t find that crumb of bread that fell off my sandwhich, let’s cry! I can’t stand watching Telly Tubbies anymore, let’s cry! Liam is bigger and stronger and has more capabilities than I do, let’s cry! This colouring pencil is the wrong shade of pink, let’s cry! I just feel like crying even though I can’t find a reason to, let’s CRY! OH MY SHATTERED NERVES!!!

Again, this is normal. Liam went through the crying phase. Totally normal. But boy, it’s doing my head in. We take her to her room, deposit her there and tell her she can come out when she is done crying. This worked for a little while. Then she realized, hey wait, I can open the door myself, I do not need to sit her by myself and cry, I can go out there and torture those suckers with my crying, yay! So out she comes and we ignore her and scream loud above her cries in order to be heard. It must look like a scene out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest… a child going ballistic in one corner while the rest of the family eat their dinner, exchanging rather LOUD pleasantries above the screams.

She has also decided that she doesn’t want to put herself to sleep, someone needs to lay with her. Now if you’ve been reading here for a while, you’ll remember that Hannah decided she wanted to put herself to bed in September last year and we have not had this issue ever since. I’d say good night, switch off the light and off she’d drift to dreamland. No problem. Last few nights she has yelled for someone to come and lay with her. Marched out of her room a few dozen times crying and insisting that someone pat the baby to bed. First day or two, I did it without a problem… I mean the kid had just started school, and maybe she was experiencing a bit of separation anxiety. But now I just feel like we are creating a bad habit and regressing on the sleep thing. And besides, I have gotten used to my whole evening being free to do the things I like doing – playing on my phone, watching mindless TV, eating junk food, you know… I do not want to go back to laying in the dark, and hiding my phone almost under my boob so that it doesn’t distract the sleepy princess. I know, I know, she is only going to be this young for so long, but I also know how quickly bad habits are formed because we feel sorry for our little angels. Last night Sharon and I were chatting on Twitter, and it’s true what she said.. little people can be big manipulators. Now I am not saying that Hannah’s behaviour is not warranted, given the changes she has and is experiencing, but I do know that she has us wrapped so tightly around her little finger that I wouldn’t even notice if my little angel was deliberately trying to take my precious free evening away from me just because she knew she could.

Anyway, last night it was boiling hot and she was laying practically on top of me all sticky from the Peaceful Sleep lotion and I grudgingly put my arm around her and couldn’t help that warm and gushy feeling as the oxytocin pumped from my adrenal glands. You see, this is the problem! How can you not love this crying yelling whining lump, when the very fibre of your being betrays you when she comes near. I want to be mad but the minute she has me under her spell – even though I KNOW I’m under her spell – I can’t break free of that little finger that I’m wound so tightly around. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is. If you don’t believe there is a God who especially wired us this way, then I just don’t know.

Just sleep and stop crying so much, child! You are driving your mother completely batty. I adore you, am completely in love and besotted with you, but you don’t need to flex your baby finger to get my attention, I am now and forever will be at your service, so give me a break ok?

The Power of Association


When Hannah was born, I was amazed that she fit my initial pie in the sky idea that babies are supposed to be pink and wrinkled and quiet and angelic. This because, my idyllic ideas were shattered when Liam was born; he was everything a baby was NOT supposed to be. He was born awake, and he stayed awake A LOT. As a newborn, if he napped for 40 minutes at a time, it was cause for celebration. Night times were worse, we couldn’t make an hour without him stirring and yelling for something to eat. He was a boob baby, and a formula supplemented baby, and he ate porridge at 3 months, all in an effort to make him SLEEEP. How he remained a cute, happy little boy on such sleep deprivation is beyond me. We soon realised that Liam was born ready – for EVERYTHING. He started teething at 3 months, walked at 11 months, started baby talking at about 4 months and real talking at about a year and oh my giggling granny, hasn’t stopped since. He is a real rough and tumble boy’s boy, does everything with gusto and dramatics, he is a ball of energy and I think he is destined to be a leader and not a follower. So when Hannah was born, all prim and proper, quiet as a mouse, a four to five hour schedule baby, and slept a full eight hours from about 3 months, we were a bit taken aback. She was a very calm baby, happy to just sit in her pram and watch the world pass her by. She hardly cried, she didn’t require much attention, other than watering and feeding here and there, and she was a total breeze to deal with. I used to say that Liam was blessed enough to get my antsy pantsy genes and Hannah got her Dad’s more laid back kinda genes.

Boy, was that short lived.

I read an interesting blog post, which supports my theory on the Power of Association. “The power of association and surrounding yourself with other successful people is a sure fire way to reach your goals and dreams much faster. The plain and simple truth is that if you are not spending time with other action takers on the same path to bigger things in life, then you hinder your own success.” It goes on to say: “…the outcome of who you are, the goals you achieve, the dreams you accomplish, the destiny you fulfill, all has its roots either as a result of associations you keep or maybe you personally. Let’s look for a good association, because it will determine your accomplishments.”

So now my theory.. since Hannah has been hanging around with her big brother, she has evolved into a little tigress. If I can use a simple example.. she evolved from one of those cute cuddly things in Waybaloo into that pirate chick in Jake and the Neverland Pirates, almost overnight (still cute and cuddly though). It seems even her physical milestones are being reached quicker, as a result of being around Liam. She only cut her first tooth at 10 months, but everything else has come at whirlwind speed.. she walked before her first birthday, she went from a quiet, introverted toddler who really only spoke when she was spoken to, into a word-a-second finger wagging, rule breaking toddler. I stand back and watch how she admires Liam, how she tries to imitate everything he does, how she tries to pronounce words like he does, how she tries these Evil Knievel tricks that get my heart racing. While potty training Liam, we used to let him wee in the garden – something that he hasn’t quite gotten over, even though he is fully potty trained. The other day I found Miss Hannah trying to wee in the garden with her brother, except she couldn’t get out of her press-studded vest so she was kinda leaning hip forward, legs apart, mimicking her brother who was creating a yellow stream across the yard. WHERE was my camera. She wants to be just like him, she wants to eat the same food as he does, and even though I know she doesn’t have an affinity for mushy foods – she won’t even eat mushy breakfast cereal or mashed butternut – if Liam is eating it, she will force herself to swallow it down with a sick look on her face.

I think it’s great that she has a mentor of sorts, that she endeavours to be just like her smart big brother, and I have no doubt that she will learn faster; that her mental and physical capabilities will develop quicker because she spends every waking moment with her mentor. But my concern is that she is also picking up on the not-so-admirable qualities of a strong willed two year old boy.. like the tantrums, the crying just because I feel like it, the naughtiness (and no, I don’t believe that children can’t be naughty). I know this phase will come regardless of who your child is, or who they spend time with, that’s just raising babies for you… but Hannah, at the tender age of 17 months, wags her finger in my face and says no no no no no, when I raise my voice and make big eyes at her to show my disapproval at something she’s done. She looks at me with that just-you-dare-try-it look when I reprimand her for touching something she knows is off limits, and runs away in a fit of giggles when I make as if I am coming to catch her to discipline her. She isn’t afraid of a smack on the fingers because she knows that Liam gets lots of those and he seems fine – she finds it all quite amusing actually. She looks to Liam when Dad raises his voice, to gauge how he reacts, so that she can do the same, because you don’t mess with Dad when he raises his voice, you see. She is a two and a half year old Liam in a 17 month old body – except her English is still pretty sucky.

My idea is to train Liam to be the perfect little well behaved, well mannered boy, so that she will pick up these great qualities from her brother.. but training Liam is like training a yappy little puppy who is just too excitable to listen or learn and just wees his pants when you shout and goes back to chew on that same piece of furniture no matter how many times you tell him not to.. its HARD!

So now that my hopes for a little princess in a pink organza tutu have been dashed, I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that Hannah will most likely be a tom boy, who only wants to wear camouflage and dig in the sand (boy, she loves digging in the sand!). And I’m cool with that, I just hope that Liam will grow out of his Terrible Twos phase quickly so that Hannah at least learns how to be a well behaved little tom boy.

No matter what, my kids are living proof that the Power of Association is real. Who are you associating with, and what does it say about you?

Also from the blog post I mentioned above, a thought provoking article by Gen. Colin Powell, which stirred my heart..

  • Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere, with some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it
  • Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life
  • Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships
  • If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl but, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights
  • The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve
  • Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity
  • An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people
  • As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on; they will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl
  • Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you

 

The Crying Game


If you had to ask me to name the top five reasons why babies cry, I could probably answer you quite confidently. Babies usually cry for a specific few things and by asking yourself the following questions, you can typically calm a stressed baby. Are they wet? Are they hungry? Are they tired? Are they feeling unwell? Do they just need a cuddle? All this, of course, in a baby who isn’t seriously ill. Right, so I passed that test quite easily. So why then, can I not figure out why my two year old has become such a cry baby? He cries intermittently from dusk until dawn until my husband and I are on the verge of crying ourselves. I fear we will need to be institutionalised because all this crying is driving us stir CRAZY.

Yes, Liam is Two years old and with that comes the Terrible Two’s and Tantrums and Trauma for the parents. Something ominous about that letter T, hey? But recently, he has intuitively discovered that convulsing on the floor, or jumping up and down yelling, really doesn’t bother us. Boy, your dad and I are from the late 70’s, early 80’s – that was a dance style for us. So by simply ignoring him or even laughing at him, it would break the ice and the episode would be over. So he has left the tantrums behind, although sometimes he reverts to this behaviour if all else fails. As I was saying, he has discovered that crying constantly, in varying tones, with high and low pitches, from a soft moaning wail to a shrieking scream, is really what does the trick. You see, when a child cries for no reason for longer than three minutes,  it’s very difficult for the parent to remain calm. I usually start by saying something like “what is it boy?” to “ok, tell mummy what’s wrong and I can help” to “WHY ARE YOU CRYING” to “IF YOU DON’T STOP CRYING I AM GOING TO BE CROSS WITH YOU” to “GO TO YOUR ROOM AND STAY THERE UNTIL YOU HAVE FINISHED CRYING AND CAN EXPLAIN YOURSELF” to “YOU ARE DRIVING ME INSANE, STOP CRYING BEFORE I GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Now before you label me a bad mother, let me put this into perspective for you, by giving you a few examples of why and how the crying game starts. Then you can go ahead and judge who’s the crazy one here – the kid or me. We’ll be driving to school, Liam will ask for Barney to be belted out from the radio (if the volume is not to his liking, he’ll demand that we “make the radio make a noise!”), the husband will oblige until the top of the hour, when he likes to listen to the news following by the traffic report. Liam immediately goes into hysterics when Barney is put on pause. I explain that this is MY car and MY radio and for just 5 MINUTES I’d like to listen to something other than Barney. He retorts with crying.

Next example. Together, Liam and I will select his clothes each evening, for school the next day. This in itself is a process, because for a two year old to make a decision between either the Spiderman t-shirt or the Ben10 t-shirt is like asking me to choose between chocolate or cake – it’s a difficult decision. This process usually comes with a tear or two, but the real crying comes the next morning when he decides that he made the wrong decision last night and wants to wear something else this morning – the whole point of choosing clothes the night before is to save time in the mornings, hello? We are NOT making wardrobe changes again, sorry. The crying begins.

Liam has taken to crying if his food is too cold, or if it’s too hot, if Hannah takes one of his 50 000 crayons or she sits on his side of the couch. He bawls if you remind him to say please, or if you forget to leave him a few shavings of grated cheese while cooking. He cries if his father hugs me for too long, or if I take too long to warm his milk up in the microwave. Sometimes I think he cries just because he likes the sound of his own voice. And I know it’s all part of his master mind plan to drive me slowly insane, because if I manage to placate him, he bounces back to his bubbly self in less than two seconds. I have never met a kid who can turn on the waterworks like my Liam can. It’s literally like a tap you can turn on and off. I’ve chatted to other parents who all say their kids went through this phase, that crying is a form of manipulation used by toddlers, in a bid to “flex some muscle” – well the only muscle I want to flex when the crying starts, is my bicep, in an up and down motion on his rear end.

When he isn’t crying, we can have long conversations about his crying. I’ll explain that crying is for when you feel sad or unhappy or upset. I try and explain in as simple a language as possible, that if he cries for no reason, it makes me want to bang my head against the wall in frustration – ok not really, but I explain that he needs to find other ways to express himself other than crying. And he agrees – until the next episode. I don’t want him to ever think that big boys don’t cry, or that crying is for sissies, I myself know the value of releasing pent up emotion through a good long cry, but I also want him to understand that crying in an effort to get your own way, is not how we do things. Only mummies are allowed to use crying for that purpose occasionally.