23 answers

Coping Mechanisms

My youngest child is six weeks old and I'm finding it frustrating to deal with my two year old. I have to give a lot of attention to the baby, but the two year old often acts up--throwing food, crying, screaming, wanting me to put the baby in his crib. I never used to lose my temper when it was just my older son (who is 11) and my two year old daughter. Now, though, I find myself screaming at my 2 year old and hate that I do that. Does anyone have any ideas for ways to cope with a screaming 2 year old? I know I'm not getting enough sleep, but try to nap when my 2 year old and baby nap (90 minutes to 2 hours every afternoon). I also have a high school girl come over to play with my 2 year old in the afternoons. Sometimes my mother-in-law comes to play with the 2 year old in the mornings.

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So What Happened?™

First, thank you all for the wonderful advice. It's so good to know I'm not the only one who gets frustrated with the terrible twos! I try to make extra time for my 2 year old by reading, 'baking' (where she stirs the bowl, but that's about it), playing outside, etc. When she acts up after I tell her not to do something, I give her time out. When I get really frustrated, I give myself time out. She still thinks time out is like a game, but it seems to provide a good amount of cooling off time for both of us. Now that the baby is almost 4 months old, he's okay with sitting in his bouncy chair for a few minutes if I need to attend to my daughter. Thanks again!!

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This is pretty normal. The poor little two year old is dealing with something quite stressful - being replaced as the littlest and not the center of momma's world. The book Siblings without Rivalry is a great book and I highly recommend it. Also, try involve the 2 yr old in the things you are doing and remind him that he is loved. Maybe have the relatives look after the baby a bit so that you can hang out with the 2 yr old some more. I would carve out time just for him. Also when he is stressed, I would let him know that you are right there. 2 is a difficult age any way. A new baby adds to the 2s. I used a night doula for a little while a few nights a week so that I could get some good sleep. she would bring baby to me when she needed feeding but other than that she would mind baby from 10pm to 5am. It definitely helped with the sleep. Good luck.

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Best wishes,a

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Hi Mama- you're in a tough spot, but it's time to start training (not disciplining- but training) your two year old. If it's gotten to the point of screaming at your house, clearly her behaviors are not appropriate. I highly recommend "To train up a child" and here is their website: http://shop.nogreaterjoy.org/product_info.php/products_id/69
It is a really short little book, chock full of practical, common sense suggestions. It revolutionized how I train my kids. And now that they're all teenagers, I'm seeing the sweet fruits of early training. It's only a few dollars, and it's really the best thing I've ever read- and I think I've read nearly ALL the child raising/discipline/training books out there. It is overtly Christian, so if that's a problem for you, you can skip or ignore those parts. But it will equip you with the knowledge you need- and as a mom, knowledge is power! You can really do this- not just get through this, but emerge from this hard time victoriously, with a closer, more harmonious family, with happy well trained kids. Blessings on you mama- you can do it!!!

1 mom found this helpful

My friend had triplets when her daughter was about 2, and one of the best things she did to keep her oldest happy was to hire a mother's helper in the afternoon to watch the babies while she spent time with her 2 year old. The oldest still got her special mom time, and the babies were fine. It sounds like your 2 year old wants more time with YOU, not other people. Give it to her, and I think your life will improve.

Dear S., One trick for holding your temper is to reflect upon the fact that if you were in public, or friends were around, you would be able to hold it . This reveals the fact that you do indeed have control of your temper's effect on your actions. Now, it looks like stress builds and you are doing several things about that, naps, having a sitter and M. to play with daughter. Take little serenity breaks during the day, sit down and tune out as much as possible for 3 minutes and think about a peaceful scene or an especially happy moment, remember how lovable Miss 2 was only 6 mos ago, etc. These will do you more good than , say eating a dozen cookies. Next front is your attitudes. Today too many parents believe that they have to play with their children in order for their children to be entertained. There are some kids that do need more attention, but it is a good idea from the beginning to allow your child to develop their inner resources for playing by themselves. She's already two, I don't know if she has developed this ability. If not, then you will have to talk to her about it. Instead of feeling guilty and thus stressed when you cannot play with her, spend a minute talking to her about playing alone. Show her how to set up blocks, or pretend she is having a doll party. open up some books and suggest that she look at them by herself. She is two. She is frustrated by her inability to communicate her needs and to be able to do things by herself. When she gets upset try to figure out what it is about and verbalize that with her, "Do you want me to give you something? " "Do you want more ..... The answer is no, you cannot have that because......" Some times they are frustrated thinking that you don't know what they want when actually you are refusing it to them, so by putting it this way they understand they have been understood and sometimes they don't get what they want. At this age they are developing their ego, their personhood, and they are very serious about this task as they should be. But along with that, you need to help shape that ego into not being so selfish, into understanding that they don't get what they want always, that they share this planet with a lot of other people. It is a daunting task, and they have more energy than you do. Third, does baby really need to take up so much of your time? Try to be creative about ways to care for him with less effort and time on your part. Use swings, bouncy seats, etc. You see, Ms 2 is on the right track in that regard. Amazing, but God, or life, is always cueing us about solutions to our problems.

Sounds like your 2 yo just wants your attention. I would try having the teenager and your MIL come over and sit with the baby while you spend some one on one with your 2 yo. Good luck!

Wow; with the exception of the 11 year old child, I could have writen this exact post!! I have a daughter that is 2 1/2 and a 7 week old son. I have also been less patient and often find myself yelling at the 2 yr old and then feel terribly guilty. Here are a few things that I have found helps:
1. letting the baby cry for a few minutes to read a quick book or having a little extra "snuggle time" won't harm anyone.
2. TV will not "rot the brain." While you are feeding the baby, put on a program your child enjoys (my daughter likes Mickey Mouse Club House and Handy Manny); then interact with your child as he watches by taking to him about what's happening in the program. That way, he feels as though you are interacting with him, but you don't have to be actually playing/interacting directly.
3. Throw a random compliment to your child. "Wow, your baby sister is so lucky to have such a great big brother."

4. The special helper role is always good to help the older child feel valued and important.
5.Give the older child more choices so that he feels more independent. Let him pick out his clothes/p.j.'s, what he eats (within reason), etc.

I hope these aren't too common sense, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded (especially when sleep deprived). These are some of the strategies I am using with my daughter and seem to be helping. Good Luck!!!

Share the time with baby and the 2 year old. Let him help by bringing you clean diapers, lotion, towel, whatever you need. Don't forget to praise him for each individual thing he does and tell him how proud you are of him. Don't ever leave him alone with baby. The jealousy is trememdous and ends up in sibling rivalry at older ages. Make sure when baby is sleeping that you give special attention to the 2 year old. That's the special time you'll have with him that you won't have with the baby..they won't have to share you then and he'll feel special. Don't hollar, let him help and be the "big brother". And always let him know he is the 1st boy love of your life (daddy is a man).

even if you didn't have a baby that age can be tough! First make sure you and he are both getting enough sleep. At 2 they should still be getting at least 14 hours a day. So if he isn't getting 12 hours at night, adjust his bedtime to make sure he does or add in a morning nap. If his room isn't dark enough you can make it really dark by adding black felt - put up the scratchy side of self stick velcro and use a piece of black felt that is 12 inches wider and longer then the window. The felt can meld into the corners and really blocks out all light so even if it's not dark out it will be dark in the room.

Second you may want to watch The Happiest Toddler on the Block DVD to help you with communicating with him.

I have found that a little one on one time with you and him will help, but the majority of issues usually stem from being over tired.

We went through the same thing here when my daughter was born and my son was three. My aunt gave me the advice to respond to the older ones needs first whenever possible. The newborn will not feel neglected but your older child will. Also get your two year old involved with the baby. I often would "play dumb" and ask my older son, why is the baby crying?? What should we do? Where are those diapers?? When she feels needed the temper might lesson. Good luck. Soon they will be best buddies.

I agree with what the others are saying. Put your 2 year olds needs first. My boys are 22 months apart and one of the best tips I had was to put my oldest needs first. I would get his snack BEFORE I fed the baby, etc. His life just went on. My baby went to see firetrucks at 2 weeks old. I had read somewhere "How would you feel if your husband brought home a new wife?" That really put it in perspective for me.

I am going through a similar phase right now too. My baby is 12 weeks old and I have a 2 year old. You have to try and give the oldest as much attention as possible. You will probably have to let the baby fuss a little. Or what I do is try to involve my oldest by helping me with the baby. She loves it. She just decided last week that she wanted to hold her baby sister for the first time (of course with Mommy's help, lol). Try that! Now in the middle of all this she has decided she wants to be potty trained. So now she is getting a lot more attention and loving it.

S., this too shall pass. Take each day one at a time. My boys are now 6 mos and 3 years old. So my oldest was 2 and a half when my second son was born. I lost my cool way more often than I was comfortable with. However, I look back now and realize I did the best I could. You are sleep deprived with two small children (three total) that need you 100% of the time. Keep taking naps if you can and cut yourself some slack wherever you can do it. I think time is the cure here, but some of the stuff I can remember from when I was in your exact situation just a few months ago, is that I would get my toddler involved with the baby as much as possible. We sang songs to him, read books to him, danced around him, gave him baths - all with my toddler's help - and he began to feel a purpose with the new baby. He still does "baby" things now and then, but he has stopped acting out every single day and I have stopped yelling so much. It just took adjustment. Once I started getting more sleep, my patience slowly returned as well.
Again, this too shall pass, it is by no means easy, but you will get through. Deep breaths.
All my best, R.

Hi S., I haven't read all the posts so hope this isn't a repeat but someone just gave me some great advice - to put together a basket of special toys/items for the oldest to play with while you are feeding the baby. The basket gets put up away somewhere and can only come out when your nursing/feeding. That way they have something to occupy them while you can't give them attention. That seemed to be the worst time for me with my older one. He wanted me to do things with him and I couldn't because I was nursing.

Try to have a special time set aside for her everyday, maybe when the baby is napping, or have the baby sitter or your MIL watch the baby while you take that time for your two year old. Good luck!

Sorry - no advice other than ditto to everyone's comments. I have a 4 1/2yr old and 10week old - most of our frustration is through sleep deprivation for sure.
Just know you are not alone, that there are other Moms feeling the same way. It will get better once baby hits 2months and you can catch even more zzzzz. I have finally come out the other side of the tunnel.

This is pretty normal. The poor little two year old is dealing with something quite stressful - being replaced as the littlest and not the center of momma's world. The book Siblings without Rivalry is a great book and I highly recommend it. Also, try involve the 2 yr old in the things you are doing and remind him that he is loved. Maybe have the relatives look after the baby a bit so that you can hang out with the 2 yr old some more. I would carve out time just for him. Also when he is stressed, I would let him know that you are right there. 2 is a difficult age any way. A new baby adds to the 2s. I used a night doula for a little while a few nights a week so that I could get some good sleep. she would bring baby to me when she needed feeding but other than that she would mind baby from 10pm to 5am. It definitely helped with the sleep. Good luck.

When I had my third the older two were 9 and 7 so I got a babysitter for them in the afternoons for the first month or two. I thought...this will be great they'll go do really fun stuff with the babysitter who they knew and liked a lot. I was surprised when they both firmly said NO we don't want the babysitter to take us away. We feel like you're getting rid of us. So I ended up using the sitter for the baby a lot and doing stuff with the other kids. SO you can imagine that a two year - who can't express what my kids could - might feel really scared and left.
So I would say two things: use the sitters to take the baby a lot and do stuff with the two year old. BUT don't neglect yourself. You need sleep and some peace - you have to use some of that baby sitting time for yourself or no one will be happy in the long run. Once your two year old sees you are not shunting him/her aside...he/she will probably be somewhat OK with you disappearing to nap.
Good luck!!

I know that you have gotten a lot of advise so I will try not to repeat. It's good that you are trying to nap and it is wonderful that you are getting some help during the day to get some things done if... the only thing to get done is take a nap! You have a lot on your plate!

My father taught me this long ago. It's hard to do and requires a lot of practice. When someone is yelling, talk softly and slowly. I have mastered this technique with my children, since they were toddlers. Whenever you get into a very angry situation or you need to soothe a situation, just stop and talk softly. Yelling over anyone just elevates the sound volume. You can even use this technique when you are quieting a noisy room. I volunteer a lot with middle-school aged children. When a classroom becomes noisy, I use my soft, slow voice... then, suddenly, two or three children start screaming "EVERYBODY BE QUIET - THE TEACHER IS TRYING TO TALK!!! (which is a bit amusing!)" Then I thank them and move on. If I am upset with my children, they get all nervous when I start to use "the voice".

If a child is screaming, once their "inside voice returns", thank them, acknowledge their emotion and try to reason with them (as best as you can reason with a toddler!) For instance: "Daughter, I see that you are frustrated because (X) happened. Here's what you can do... you can do (this) or (that)". Giving your child two or three choices on how to handle a situation, teaching them how to act if they are frustrated (i.e. scream into a pillow in their own room for two minutes), or redirect their attention, are all good coping mechanisms.

Good luck.

Make sure your older kids (don't forget the 11 yr old) get to do things that "babies can't do". You can spend the whole day anticipating that Grandma (or you or Daddy or friend) is taking them to Dairy Queen...but ice cream is not for babies, so he can't go.

Think of all kinds of things that the baby isn't able to do yet, and make her feel like a priviledged "big girl". This may help at potty training time too.


So you are human like the rest of us! Ok relax! It is partically the lack of sleep. It is also the fact that we have a sib and feel lost. I think having people come to play is great. Could you spend a short time playing too? Could you get others to do laundry and cleaning. Can you just be there Mom and play? Have your son help with his baby. I know he can. You have to teach him how important they both our to you. Tell your older son you are real tired and need him to help you. Make it fun like a game. He can help with house work. Help make dinner. Help sort clothes, up stuff in the dryer etc. He cannot do it like an adult but he can have fun doing it.

I yelled at my kids too. They are 17 years appart. I got no sleep. I worked full time. My ex did nothing but go out. My little guy had colic so all I did was sit and rock him while daddy slept. I got up and went to work each day. I dropped off and picked up from daycare. I cooked, cleaned, mowed lawn etc. I was warn out. Then he quit his job thinking I would support him and our child. He was going to do work on cars with no education or ability for the work. He left because he could not understand what financial trouble he could get in. I was real stressed. I still get frustrated and angry. It does not help when things go so wrong. Someone drove through our house in December. Our house flooded and we are in a land of where do we live. I should say do I sleep.

Give yourself some slack. You are very tired. You need some good sleep. I think it would be great if all three of you could take a big nap together. It will only be like this a short time. Big brother will adjust. You will adjust. Baby will get to be five months and life will be some what normal. Do you ever wonder how people have large families. My kids are 17 years appart and I still suck as a mom. Oh well my job is to teach them to survive. I tell them life is full of choice you have to live with what you chose. I had two kids they are the best thing I ever did in life. They are also the worst choice I made in life. SOn number one is a good man. I hope son number two will acheive the same state of being. Like all mothers you will survive. Just love yourself first and love them also. Tell daddy you need a nap too.

My son was two when I gave birth to my twin girls in June of 08. Because he was still so young it was a little rough. However, I made it a point to make him part of everything we did with the girls so that he felt involved. I let him lay down on the bed with the girls with extreme supervision and let him climb into their cribs once they were about 4 months or so. There were times he would accidentally hurt one of them but they were okay. Now things are better. He still plays rough but I always wanted him to know that we did not love them more than him. My husband and I thought that was very important. Now he helps throw diapers away for me and gets things for me as well. I also found myself yelling a little bit more but I think that is just natural when you are stressed out. Just take a deep breath and try to be calmer. Hope this helps.

your two year old is looking for attention. When the babysitter comes over instead of the babysitter playing with your 2 year old have her look after the baby and spend some one on one time with just you and your 2 year old. Same goes for when grandma comes over. If you were looking for alone time with the baby at those times then try switching off. When the sitter or grandma come over, one time spend it with the baby and then the next time spend it with your 2 year old. The two year old just wants the attention that she got before this baby came along. :)

Well, I have 4 kids, 6, 4, 2, and 11 months, and I can tell you that pretty much with everyone, with the newest baby in the house, I had a lot less patience. Hormones and lack of sleep will do that to you! New babies are so demanding, and especially at 2, it's not easy to understand that mom can't always be there. But, the one thing that jumps out at me is that you have your MIL play with the 2 year old, and a HS girl come to play with the 2 year old, but what do you do with the 2 year old? I think that all that acting out is a desire for attention. When my youngest was born, my third child was 19 months. He went through an adjustment, wanting me to hold him, play, etc. Sometimes i had to let the baby fuss, or hand him off to someone else while I spent time with the him. I also tried as much as possible to do fun thing with him while the baby was sleeping. I would suggest that when you do have help, spend some quality time with the 2 year old. That might help make a world of difference in the behavior. Good luck! Babies are fun but a lot of work! Don't feel guilty about losing your temper - it happens to everyone!

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