Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Mysterious Life of Toddlers...

Before I get to it...a quick update on our little embryos. Actually, there is no update. The embryologist told me yesterday not to expect a call today. They planned to leave them alone - undisturbed - and will check on them tomorrow. I should know by tomorrow morning whether my transfer will BE tomorrow...or if it will be pushed to Tuesday. I'm really hoping for tomorrow, so fingers crossed!

This morning we had an "incident" at home. Brian woke up happy and smiling and I thought it was going to be an easy breezy breakfast. But happened. The switch had been flipped. The possession happened. I didn't read Brian's mind fast enough - or at all - and he was devastated that I didn't understand what he wanted. It took him quite a long time to recover...including two trips from his breakfast to another room with me. It dawned on me later in the day that he had been trying to tell me he wanted a bowl of cereal for breakfast and not a pancake - but it was too late.

He turned it around...ate his breakfast...and was pleasant, well behaved and a lot of fun for the rest of the day. When we went grocery shopping I made a big fuss about how well he had been behaving and, as a treat, he got to sit in the basket (which he LOVES!) and pick out a donut to eat in the store. He was in heaven.

And his good behavior lasted all day, through dinner (with his crazy after nap faux-hawk)...

...and into bedtime. He even graciously shared his bed AND his current favorite book (Elmo Loves You) with Gavin.

Earlier today I took to my Facebook wall to post a question about how everyone handles toddler meltdowns - and what their favorite "parenting book" was. The response was huge, so I thought I'd post everything here. If you have anything to add here or on Facebook, I'd love for you to join the conversation! (And feel free to 'friend' me on Facebook if you haven't already!)


I need to know: What is your favorite "go to" toddler parenting book. And/or what is your method for effectively dealing with the "if you don't read my mind and know what I want or need I will cry uncontrollably for an hour." (And now...I don't mean that I do that, although I suppose I've had my moments) Veteran Mommys... I need your help!
· ·
    • Sheri Dillman I'm not a veteran mommy....but Takeo will only be three in March and we have been there for a good 4 months now. He is starting, knock on wood, to come out of is the most dreaded word ever, but I think it's a phase...the better Takeo can communicate, the better the all in out crying fits are getting because, seriously...I really thinks he wants me to read his mind. As his vocab has improved....we can get him to calm and talk easier.
      Good luck!
      11 hours ago ·
    • Jennifer Moran Grenier Kate, It's best not to give into the crying and say to him when your all done crying we can "talk". I know it's probably hard to ignore it but I can guarantee it will work( maybe not the first time though)
      11 hours ago · · 6
    • Sheri Dillman Maybe not the first four months! but yes, ignoring seems to work best for us too, and is making the transition to hopefully better times fast and easier I think because he already knows we don't react.
      11 hours ago · · 1
    • Jennifer Moran Grenier Oh and by the way I still do this technique with my 16 year old! Although she doesn't cry but she does in fact have an attitude if she doesn't get her way and when I ignore her she totally realizes :)
      11 hours ago · · 2
    • Laura Chaplin-Szilier Hey Kate, I guess it depends on what the crying is all about! Evan is a big-time crier, he especially likes to cry when he wants something and we have to reinforce that crying will not let him have his way. I usually tell him I will count to three and that the crying must stop, or he will have to have a time-out until he calms down. Amazingly, it usually works and by the time I get to 3 he has calmed down enough to tell me what is going on.
      11 hours ago · · 4
    • Denise Quinn Green It's so so hard. I subscribe to the school of thought that encourages you not to react. Casey was and still is a huge challenge - he does things just because he wants to see us get angry. It helps us to ignore his behavior if possible, and if not just keep our cool. Justin is completely different. He acts like we have crushed his spirit if we correct him and wants love. We have to separate the love from te bad behavior - like, I will give you a hug after you stop the bad behavior. Lots and lots of praise and rewards for good behavior work too. I hope this makes sense. I wish I had all of the answers because this stuff only works some of the time.
      11 hours ago · · 1
    • Denise Quinn Green ‎^but, we make sure that we love him even when his behavior is bad. We separate the kid from the behavior as much as we can - You are a good boy, and I don't like when you do bad things. Make sense?
      And wine, and beer. Lots of both are necessary.
      10 hours ago · · 3
    • Julie Rosser Ignore it. We have the crying step and if you are throwing a tantrum you can go to the step and "recover", and when you would like to act accordingly and express with word instead of screaming them we can talk. Before they are put on the steps I ALWAYS get down to their level, Oddly enough I will say TURN IT OFF in a stern voice and it normally will snap them out of it. I always try to figure out what the screaming is for, but 9/10 its just cause they need a mental time out, or are over or under stimulated.
      I know just ignoring it tough in because the screaming noise upsets Gavin, maybe send him to his room? Or put a small see in the laundry room and let him scream in there?? Just a thought.
      10 hours ago · · 3
    • Stacy Long Lewellyn I don't parent via a book! But just step right over that sobbing toddler and carry on with what you are doing. If you can't take the crying, pick him up, take him to his room, lay him on his own floor, tell him when he is done crying he can come out. Then walk away. When it happens in public let him cry in the cart, quickly get done what you need to do, and leave, all while ignoring him AND the people looking at you. You will likely be sweating bullets by the time you strap him in the car but thats just part of parenting
      10 hours ago · · 8
    • Stacy Long Lewellyn Oh and if it's a tiny fit, feel free to copy him, they LOVE that (notsomuch)
      10 hours ago · · 4
    • Denise Quinn Green Yes! C and J both go to their rooms to calm down. That usually works if they are out of control.
      10 hours ago · · 1
    • Sheri Dillman I also admit that I have copied him during a him laughing, and snapped him out of it for a while, but then he just learned! Although the reaction the first few times from him was priceless as a laid on the floor yelling with him! Stopped him in his tracks and got a few good belly laughs!
      10 hours ago ·
    • Sarah Urban I don't have kids so guess I don't have any advice really. I feel for both of you. It probably sucks to be little and not able to fully communicate what you want and feel like crap and no one understands. Sounds frustrating to all parties involved.
      10 hours ago · · 4
    • Kirsten Ferguson Consistency, predictability,planned ignoring, and positive reinforcement are all key. However - having a gild who is not able to communicate well and us getting frustrated - and rightfully so - well - that's a game changer. But the principles are exactly the same. The difference is doing everything you can to help them express themselves - but you still cannot accept or give in to the tantrums. It's so tough. The trick is figuring out why they want before the meltdown and building in ways for them to learn to calm themselves down. If you believe that you cannot give in to tantrums because that will reinforce the behavior then you are probably a behaviorist at heart. There must be tons of parenting books that follow this philosophy. See what his teachers have to say as well. If its really bad you could consult with a behavioral psychologist.
      10 hours ago ·
    • Kate Gallagher Leong Sarah Urban, you expressed my feelings exactly. I over think things psychologically probably...but I always feel bad when Brian is so frustrated. It's obvious that whatever is bothering him is SO important to him and it's devastating to him that I don't know what it is. I get that this is a stage where he is exploring his independence and trying to manage how to handle all of his changing feelings...his needs and wants...his growing, etc. It's also devastating for him to be your Justin, Denise. I never want my kids to feel punished for having feelings...because I don't want them to grow up feeling like they need to keep anything from me or that their feelings aren't acceptable. Ever. But I also don't want to get into power struggles. I pick my battles...but now the battles are getting more frequent. And I won't always have time to sit and hug it when we need to get to school. Arrrghhhhhh! I love this advice, though...keep it coming! Nobody's methods will be judged on this wall because every parent and every child are different. I'm getting lots of great ideas.
      10 hours ago · · 3
    • Darcy James Patience is a virtue. My new mantra!!!
      10 hours ago · · 1
    • Sarah Urban I remember when my mom was sick the last few weeks of her life and she was on a respirator but fully awake and no one could understand what she was trying to tell us. Very frustrating. I finally made her a little communication system out of a 4x6 photo book and some index cards. Saved everyone a lot of tears. Maybe you could come up with something for Brians Ipad to help him tell you what he needs?
      10 hours ago · · 6
    • Marianne Orfanos I agree with the ignoring - or maybe with taking him out of the room and doing something else to get his mind off of it and help him calm down. Then when he is calmer, you might have an easier time figuring out what he needed. He's probably so worked up that HE doesn't even know what he wants anymore! Sometimes, I've seen with my nephew, that he just needs firmness to snap out of it in the heat of the tantrum. The detective work on why it happened and the soothing, comes later. Otherwise it seems he tantrums just to get the soothing right away.
      10 hours ago · · 1
    • Sarah Urban I know how to stop a tantrum at the store....water fountains. Kids love them and they can't cry and drink at the same time. Learned that when my niece was little. ;)
      10 hours ago ·
    • Stacy Long Lewellyn Putting him in his room to carry on and have his fit isin no way telling him to keep his feelings to himself. But teaching that there are social boundaries to his feelings. Yes it's ok to be frustrated and angry but it's not ok to rant and pitch a full body fit in the middle if target. I have always first givenmy kids the words to use. Boy it looks like you are really angry. I know ou want a cookie but you can't have one right now. But you can after dinner. Then leave it at that. As they get older, such as 4. I say, I don't care if you cry, but you need to go layin your bed until you are one. You can cry as lo g as you want, but not here in the living room. So I am telli g her 2 things. One....her feeling are ok to have and she can deal with them in what ever way she needs too and is not socially acceptable for her to deal with them in front if all these people, but in the privacy of her room she can. Soo she can apply this by, if she gets mad at school she shouldnt have her melt down at school but when she gets home she can go to her bed and punch her pillow and scream all she wants until it is out of her system. Especially having boys who tend to want to punch what ever offends them, they can't walk about town punching things so it's your job to teach him the correct way to handle his anger. Sometimes it's saying, I know you are angry because you didn't get xyz, you can't hit. E but here is a can hit that
      10 hours ago · · 6
    • Jen Stegner Semple Lots of great advice. I really like Parenting with Love & Logic. Some of the stuff will be a little old for Brian, but it really helped set my mind in the right place for parenting toddlers :)
      10 hours ago ·
    • Stacy Long Lewellyn Can't hit me that should say, sometimes I hate typing on my iPad!
      10 hours ago ·
    • Renee Lucas Haugen I say the same as everyone else. I actually say "I couldn't tell you wanted to ___ because you didn't tell me. If you want to throw a fit you can go over here ---> and come and let me know when you are finished."
      10 hours ago · · 1
    • Sarah Urban Do you and Ed have date nights with Brian? Probably a lot of what he is going through right now is normal toddler stuff but there will probably come a time where he feels like his is living in Gavin's shadow. Might do him a lot of good to have Mom or Dad to himself for an hour or two a week to do something special.
      10 hours ago · · 1
    • Tyler Thomas I'm big on asking them to "show me what you mean" if it's a communication issue. Usually they can show me if they can't tell me. I've always tried to give them feeling words from the beginning saying "i think you are crying because you are mad that you can't play outside in the thunderstorm." I think it help sthem learn how to express feelings sooner (but I'm not expert lol) it depends on the kid too. Miles? If you ignore a tantrum it will get so out of control he throws up and literally breaks out in hives. He reaches a point where he truly cannot calm himself so I've had to learn when to step in and help him. Sophia is different, the more you help or acknowledge the worse she gets. With her, since she is t yet 2, she goes to the pack n play to throw a fit if that's what she needs. When she gets older it'll be her room. I always first try to get them to use words or let me hug or calm them down but if they decide they are going to scream then they aren't Lallowed to do it in my face!
      10 hours ago · · 2
    • Jennifer Russ Carlisle Tell him "use your words", "show me" or "I can't understand you when you're crying". I have used them alone and in conjunction with each other. It takes a little time for them to accept what you really mean it, so consistency is the key. But then it becomes a very quick process. Most children will rise to your expectations. I have seen so many times with my own children and my friends/family's children, if you set a high standard of expectation, surprisingly they will deliver. They are smarter then we give them credit for :)
      9 hours ago ·
    • Brenda Ray Rhodes Kate, as a Mom of 2 in their 30's and grandmother to 3 that I keep, all I can say is this: read everything you see and want to read, take in all in, try what you want to try and throw the rest out. I don't think any one book applies to any child all the time. There will be pieces that fit and pieces that no way apply. Pray (a lot), be patient and be consistent with whatever method you choose. I totally understand how frustrating it is as my son didn't talk until 4 and then stuttered terribly! I also still have parent guilt. I don't think it ever leaves. Love them, nurture them in every way you know how, and I guarantee they will throw things up in your face at teenagers but will love you and appreciate all you did for them when they are parents. Loved reading all of these posts. They help me,as well, because I still learn more ideas to use as a grandparent. There is not one way to parent that works for everyone, hence the thousand of bestselling parenting books. It's is the most important job in the world and it doesn't come with a training manual! Go figure! Enjoy the years and pray! :)
      9 hours ago · · 2
    • Kerry Gans My girl's just started the whole tantrum thing. If I can intervene early enough, usually asking her to show me, tell me, or sign what she wants will get her to calm down and try to communicate. There does come a point, or sometimes she's just more fragile than others, when she goes past the point of no return and then it's simply a matter of letting her scream and cry somewhere safe and hopefully away from other people. She's not a hugger when she's upset-she prefers to be left alone. She had a grand meltdown this morning!
      9 hours ago ·
    • Vera Rudakewych-Lucky After driving myself and my husband crazy by reading and fretting, I stopped reading parenting stuff all together. My second born is a much happier child.
      9 hours ago · · 4
    • Adrianne Ward Burney ‎@ Jennifer: I so needed to read your posts; I have a daughter who'll turn 14 two days after her brother's 2nd birthday. I needed coping skills for the teen moreso than for the toddler!
      Kate, I mostly ignore crying or tantrums. When Sam realizes he doesn't have an audience, he'll stop, just as his sister did before him. If he doesn't stop crying, then I know there's a reason for it & I take care of it.
      8 hours ago ·
    • Marylou Johanson McAdams I'm not sure what issues you are dealing with, but I use "1-2-3 Magic" by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph. D.
      8 hours ago ·
    • Karen Childs Morley Wow, lots to read here. But here's my take. Assess your response to the tantrum. If you hold it with anger (darn kid, quit it!) or as if he's a victim (poor kid), you may not be effective. You must be his container for his emotion. "oh, I see that you are really mad." only after making the connection, acknowledging his feeling, can you set limits without sending the message that his feelings aren't valid. "I see how mad you are, but we can't throw eggs at the tv. Now sit down here and tell/show/help me see what's wrong. That's where some of the tips above fit in - iPad options, etc. But checking your response is key - containing your emotion is vital to containing his.
      8 hours ago · · 1
    • Lara Foligno Walden I have yet to find the *perfect* parenting book. That said, Sam is also going through a tantrum phase. I tell him that it's okay to be angry (or sad, or to cry, etc) but it's *not* okay to hit, yell, etc. Or it's okay to feel that way, but if you want to have a tantrum then he has to do it in his room. I will calmly (hahaha) tell him "use your words" and do my best to ignore the tantrum. I've found that a few minutes if crying and yelling in his room is enough for him to "get it out of his system" and then he's able to talk calmly and say what he needs.
      8 hours ago ·
    • Amy Essman ODell Colton had lots of fits between 20-24 months because he couldn't communicate well. I used "show me" a lot or asked specific questions that may lead me to what he wanted. We used re-directing some and it helped. I would also just say, I'm sorry Mommy doesn't understand what you want. That makes you sad but we can do ____ instead. And there were times when we had to just let him cry and deal with the evil looks from people in public. As he's been older we tell him if he wants to throw a fit he can go to his room and cry until he's ready to come out. The Happiest Toddler On the Block has some good tips.
      7 hours ago ·
    • Audrey Hershey Kate, I found "three's" much more difficult than the terrible twos. What worked for me with some success, was first to make sure that they never got overly hungry - even if that mean that they got a some what nutrious snack in a timely fashion than waiting until a specific time or event (dinner, 5 oclock) etc.. With my girls could pretty much predict a melt down if they got 'screaming hungry' and sometimes they didn't even know they were hungry. The other thing that worked for me was to tell them - even from an early stage - that if they had poor behaviour (tantrums, whining, repeatedly asking for a something such as candy at the check out line) and I said yes then I was failing them and that teaching them that they could get what they wanted with poor behavoir. The last thing - what works for one probably won't work for the other and often what works has a limited shelf life. Keep trying. It is hard to ignore the looks that you will get but there will probably be at least one looker that will be going "Wow - I remember that stage..... and I am glad that I am past that." This stage wil pass.
      7 hours ago ·
    • Danielle Moore Wann Happiest toddler on the block has a DVD version of the book! You can probably find at library. Does it solve all issues? No. But it did help me to understand some key points I may not have thought of by myself.
      6 hours ago · · 1
    • Amy Essman ODell I'm sending her the DVD.
      6 hours ago · · 1
    • Danielle Moore Wann ‎*score!
      6 hours ago · · 1
    • Stacey Dineen I fully understand the empathy that you have for a toddler who is frustrated - it's hard to see our little guys losing their stuff over something we don't even understand. But, I can't help but throw this out there: Toddlers are not small, non-verbal adults. I don't think that toddlers think like adults or even like older kids. Part of being a toddler is experiencing a huge range of new emotions and experiences. This is an essential stage of human development, and for what it's worth, I think it should be allowed to happen! I think there is a big difference between literally ignoring Brian's behaviour (not acknowledging him at all, putting him in another room all alone) and being ruled by it (running around desperately trying to prevent/end tantrums by figuring out what he wants and giving it to him). Both of those extremes feel like the wrong fit for me & my kids. Most of the time, I try to make sure that my toddler knows that I hear that they are unhappy. If possible, I try to put a name to the feeling that I'm witnessing, in hopes that it will help them to identify or understand their emotions, such as saying "Boy, you seem to be very frustrated right now" or "Gosh, you seem angry". Even when I know exactly what is ticking them off, I often do not choose to fix it (or can't, depending on what it is), but I communicate my understanding by saying something like "I see that you're very frustrated that you're not allowed to throw toys" or "I understand that you're angry about having to share your train". I can and do leave my child alone in a safe space to let their frustration out, but I let them know that I'm right here when they are done with their tantrum. Tantrums are never, ever a way to get something that you want, and I'm totally okay with my child screaming blue murder in WalMart, with me at their side, telling them that I understand they are feeling upset. :) I am no parenting expert, but this approach makes me feel better about tantrums. I don't view it as my responsibility to STOP the tantrum, or prevent it. Just ride it through as calmly as possible, and be there when it's done. Maybe not helpful, but that's how we do it here and it seems to work for us! ♥
      5 hours ago ·
    • Debbie Pekar Saballos Kate, you've got a lot of great advice here. I'll just throw in my 2 cents on a specific thing I've found that works. From the time my kids were tiny I wanted to avoid tantrums when it was time to leave a place of fun (park, playground, Playplace, etc...) so I always told them "If you don't come when I say it's time to go, we won't come back next time". I guess they need to know you mean it when you say something, which I am consistant with, but that has been the biggest help to me over the years. When we go anywhere and I say it's time to go, I have my 3 little kids running to me and all the other parents are like "how'd you do that?". If you're consistant, it works like a charm. This is for later, when Gavin and Brian are playing at the playground and playplaces together together :o)
      about an hour ago ·

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