A New Perspective

I received some great comments to my post on the terrible twos and, since writing the post, things have improved. Over the course of just a few days, there have been major improvements (most notably is the fact Willy has return from his business trip). Hooper can still be a little pistol at times, but my perspective is in a better place to deal with the asshole-ish behavior. Here are some things that I learned from ya’ll that have really helped reshape my perspective and some other tips for handling Hooper when my new perspective alone isn’t enough:
It can get worse. Age 3 seems to have nothing on age 2 and one reader commented that 7 year-olds are just plain weird and even annoying.
Follow through on threats. This suggestion was repeated throughout. I’m far from a push over and my problem was not with the follow through, but rather with making threats. We had been doing the time out in the corner, but clearly threats are where it’s at. I’ve started with threatening no TV if he kicks me while I change his diaper. Truth be told, I hope he kicks because I hate TV. I’ll “allow” him to kick me once, then I’ll reiterate the threat, and if he kicks again, it’s game over. I explain the consequence clearly and when he brings me the remotes and asks for a show, I reiterate it all once again. Surprisingly, he hasn’t put up much of a fight. I’ve heard before that children actually thrive when given boundaries and I believe I’m starting to see this in action.
Readers Plum and Amanda suggested rewarding normal behavior. This gave me a good chuckle because it assumes (and rightfully so) that the good behavior is the exception. I was just telling Willy yesterday that we need to decide and be consistent with what we scold him for because if we scold the big stuff and the little stuff, we’d be scolding him constantly. Rewarding normal behavior kinda flips this all on it’s head and allows you scold for the big things and intermix a few rewards for the normal behavior. I like that. It sucks being the bad guy all the live long day, so I’m all for reinforcing the good. I love to keep it positive and it’s nice to see a light from the reprimanding hole I had been buried in.
Stay flexible, as reader Jessica said, discipline is a moving target. What works one day isn’t always going to work the next. Accepting this realization seems to immediately give me more patience; patience that seemed to be wavering.
Reader Tamera suggested tickling it out. This was the first thing I tried as Hooper repeatedly kicked me as I changed his diaper. And you know what?, it worked. He kicked, I tickled, we laughed, I changed his diaper, and we went on with our day. It was such a relief. Granted, the next time the same event occurred it didn’t work and then a threat was made and then a threat was carried out. Nevertheless, it was nice to have a positive starting ground. I wish the need for affection was the answer to every toddler episode… I love nothing more than cuddling my little guys.
Reader Megan talked about how, as parents, we kind of own the infantile stage. They’re our little babies and we control much of their lives. At the ripe age of 2, she reminded me, they start to transition into their own independent beings. The tantrum phase is developmental and though Hooper may need to be disciplined throughout it, he also needs my support as he transitions into his own person. Hitting, kicking, refusing, throwing… they’re all experiments a two year old uses to eventually decipher right from wrong. They need to learn what produces a positive response and what produces a negative response, and the consequences for each. Knowledge is power.
I used to work at a daycare that followed some philosophy that did not believe in saying “no” to a child. We were not allowed to use the word at the daycare and in its place we were instructed to use redirection. It worked a lot of the time and I am now reminded of its benefits. I do, however, reserve the right to use “no” but I think it is more effective when reserved for the big things.
When all else fails, drink. I spend much of my afternoon dreaming about a big glass of wine. In reality, by the time I’ve put Van to bed and I’m able to have a drink without worrying about my baby also having a drink, I’m ready to hit the ol’ hay too. Sometimes a good nights rest is even better than a glass of wine, but not always.
Understanding toddlerhood is a learning experience for both of us. While Hooper’s experimenting with his behavior, I’m experimenting with how to most effectively deal with it. Not all days are going to be good days, but with my new found perspective and some tricks up my sleeve, I’m feeling much better about things. So thank you all, your comments always mean a lot to me.

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16 Responses

  • phew, this really helps. IT pretty good to know that my child isn’t a demon child and that others are doing the exact same thing. And good to know that I’m not a maniac mother for loosing my patience all too often. These times are really testing, but good to know other people are going through the same things. Will definitely be trying out some of these techniques!

    • Oh good, glad they could help you too. It helped me too to see all the words of wisdom in one place. I’ve been doing better and, in turn, so is Hooper. Good luck with your little rascal 🙂

  • I think it’s great that your finding a new way to deal, and keep your sanity!! I don’t think you should automatically think 3 will be worse… I think all kids are different, and with your new ways of handling his independance, might help 3 not be so bad. theres no doubt 3 will be challenging, but it will be different challenges. for us, I feel the most frustrating thing I deal with, for gianni (3 1/2) is getting him to go potty before we leave the house, or flushing and washing his hands. I’m sure theres other things I can’t pinpoint at the moment, but thats only because I have so many other worse issues with dealing with nico (2 1/2). it’s almost like gianni sees his brother getting yelled at or put in his room, and he just stays quiet, happy it’s not him. he also asks after, “can I go talk to him, and tell him to be a good boy” I want him to be a good boy, and play with me…. it doesn’t always work, but I like that he wants to help. so I think if you give him responsibilty to go along with his growing independance, maybe that will help. I think when gianni was 2 he was handing me things from the dishwasher, he was cleaning his own messes, ex.. when he thought it was funny to spit his water all over the floor instead of drink it, he didn’t think it was too funny when handed a towel to clean it, which made him stop doing it. make him your helper, I think it keeps them from doing things they aren’t supposed to do. I’m sure it doesn’t work for everyone, but maybe worth a try! 🙂

    • I love this perspective. Totally true that all kids are different. I like your idea of making him clean up his spit off the floor… Hooper really enjoys “cleaning” so I’m not sure if this would work, but definitely worth a shot. Thanks for the advice. And good luck with Nico 😉

  • tru was a very challenging toddler, now at 6 he’s very aware of good/bad behavior. what worked for us is the rewarding good behavior, this is not always a POPULAR belief i know, it was not like we showered him with gifts for every thing he did but we definitely pointed out BIG BOY behavior. what really helps now? school. if you ever question anything find a kindergarten teacher and ask how they teach and use rules in their classroom! you may not take all their methods, i certainly didn’t but his teachers have been great for us!

  • Love the tickling it out idea! When J was at his worst and melting down I would ask him “do you need to be upside down?” and through his sobs or cries he would look up to me and say “yes mama” and so I would turn him upside down. Giggling ensued and the situation was diffused. He’s a bit too big for that now but he doesn’t have tantrums anymore either. Now to remember all this useful info for Edie, she turns 2 in just 2 months!

    • Haha, this brought the biggest smile to my face picturing him saying “yes mama” to being turned upside down… with tears streaming… such a sweet image. Thanks for sharing!

  • I bet this post is helpful for so many parents dealing with 2-year-olds. You have my sympathies. You are lucky that you get to see him in those adorable underwear on a daily basis though, even if he’s being a jerk.

  • My son just turned two a couple of weeks ago and I totally agree with all of the advice you got. He can be so incredibly frustrating at times (“Not that one! Nother one shoes! No! Not that one!”), but I’ve noticed when we’re able to ignore the little annoying behaviors and talk a lot about the good behavior he seems to respond positively. I also try to let him do as many things on his own as possible- turn off faucets, take off/ put on his clothes, carry things, etc. And the tickling/ turning upside down is our favorite for the the mid-tantrum break up. Of course, now that I write this, none of it will work for me anymore :p

    • It’s always changing, isn’t it? It has definitely helped giving him little things to “help” with. He loves to “help” with the groceries. And then, like you, there’s days where nothing works…

  • So I’ve been going overboard with parenting books (blame the fact that I’m a stay at home mom now, but was before a clinical therapist working on a dissertation), and here are some i love: Becoming the parent you want to be: a sourcebook for the first 5 years; Naked Motherhood; The Wonder of Boys; and books about Montessori training. I find that if I immerse myself in these books, I feel connected to parenting, and slightly less like a child playing with dolls (who can have meltdowns and be general dickheads).
    I also decided to really work on emotions, since they are so tricky for the littles. I recommend checking out the Kimochi doll-its amazing! And then some kids books (like I said, i’m going nuts): When Sophie gets angry, Glad monster, Sad Monster; When mouse gets mad. These help me the most, to remember that my kid is a KID and not the tiny, reasonable adult I would like her to be.


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