August 23, 2008,
C.H. asks from Westland, MI on August 22, 2008
Sleep-deprived, Crabby 2 Year Old
My daughter's temper tantrums have gotten out of control lately. This morning she had one that lasted a good 20 min, included hyperventilating, because she didn't want to blow her nose. Now here's the thing, I can predict when her TT's are coming because I know she has had less sleep than usual. This morning she was up at 5 am, and yesterday took less than an hour nap. I KNOW she needs more sleep, but I don't know how to go about fixing this problem. Trying to get her to lay down & go to sleep when she is already crabby only starts another TT. I have had it with these TT's over the smallest things (doesn't want to get dressed, doesn't want to go to bed, wants to watch tv, won't let me put her shoes on, etc). Anyone have any helpful tips that have worked for your kids during their terrible 2's?
M.O. answers from Detroit on August 22, 2008
Gosh I understand how you feel. My son is 4 now, but we had and still have that problem occationally. Especially since it's summer and it doesnt get dark out till 10 and he wants to play all the time, he gets beat and he still occationally needs a nap.
Like your daughter, my son was very persistent in his tantrums. I found that letting him know in the morning, when he's calm, that he is going to be taking a nap that day actually helped. The days when i didn't tell him and then I just picked him up and told him it's nap time, he blew 5 fits in 1. If he did throw a fit, sometimes i just let him cry it out honestly. Sometimes it takes while, sometimes not, but the end result was a nap. I would put him in his room, put him in bed, tuck him in and then leave. I shut the door, but if you have a baby gate that works too. Everytime he came out screaming, i didn't say a word, i just gently picked him up and put him back in bed. (works on supernanny!) some days i thought i was going to loose it. Just hang in there!!!
E.A. answers from Detroit on August 23, 2008
I feel your pain! My 3yo daughter went through the same phase, and still has meltdowns when she doesn't get enough sleep (which is more often than not this summer b/c it stays so light). I agree with the other two moms who already responded: what works for us is sticking to a schedule (not always easy or convenient) and distraction. Sometimes, when I am feeling fried and she has a meltdown, I just walk away. We went through a phase at 2 where she wouldn't wear clothes, only pj's, so I said, OK, just let me know when you're ready to put your clothes on. Some days she just wore pj's all day, because I had to choose my battles. The Love & Logic books were great, but I felt like I had to read them every month to re-charge my thinking.
One thing I have noticed in talking to other moms and reading this site is that kids tend to have their sleep schedules interrupted in the summertime. Families are doing more (vacationing, spending more time outside) and it stays light later, so it seems to me like a lot of kids are sleep-deprived in the summer. Some kids deal with it better than others. My daughter is not one of those kids, so I have to be careful about keeping to a bedtime routine and keeping the extra activities to a minimum or else I pay the price b/c my daughter is nearly INTOLERABLE.
The terrible twos are BAD, but remember that the only constant with kids is change, and keep reminding yourself that you'll get through it! It helps if you can find a trustworthy person to watch your little one every once in a while so you can get some time to yourself to refresh and recharge.
GOOD LUCK! I will be praying for you!
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S.R. answers from Detroit on August 23, 2008
My kids are 8, 12 and 14 and nasty behavior w/o sleep doesn't go away! But your problem is the maturity and reasoning of a 2 year old, and I wish you every strength, because thats what it takes! Especially since you also work, I feel for you. My biggest hurdle is always my anger. And getting frustrated never worked. The book someone mentioned is one I've heard is good. We used "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, And How to Listen So Kids Will Talk" with a lot of success, and a lot of re-reading! I like books because they give practical advice and give me a life-line. As for what worked (and works still), is staying calm, and seeing the situation as objectively as possible. She screams and you respond in an even tone, "I can't hear you when you scream. If you use a quiet voice I will be able to understand" Or "If you continue to scream you'll have to go to the naughty chair" But what I've heard and seen is they really look to you to stay in control, even if they stay out of control. You seem to get that the issues are not anything to do with shoes or TV, etc., but with how she's coping. So if you try to approach it from the angle of teaching her or showing her how to cope, both with your behavior and with stated expectations and reinforcing her good behavior with rewards, it may help you. A good time to talk to her about the need for sleep and the need to not scream, is an evening where she's got a TT fresh in her mind, but is calm. Then you can have a chance of her hearing you, but at 2, it needs to stay simple and will need to be repeated over and over! No way around it. But if you tell her then that the behavior is not going to work and will result in a consequence (and of course the consequence has to fit the "crime" and be consistent and always carried through) and you say it with warmth and care, when it starts to happen and you say, "Remember I said..." and you are still calm and caring, just maybe she'll trigger the feeling she had during that 1st talk. Now, I don't get this right all the time, and now that my kids are older I can reason with them, but there's nothing wrong with telling your child their behavior makes you angry and when your angry you don't always do the right thing. 2 seems so far away for me but you do set the tone for your life of discipline with them, so you are wise to seek the best approach. Hang in there!
K.R. answers from Detroit on August 23, 2008
I can feel your pain! My son is almost Three, and sounds to have a similar temperament when he's tired! The only things I've found that help, is trying to keep him on a schedule, so he knows what's coming each day at a set time and not deviating from that. However, It's not always possible to be the rigid gatekeeper of OCD Time tables... so he still has meltdowns when we have a more "relaxed" day. In that case, the only thing that can get him to stop is to interrupt his tantrum with something like starting to play with one of his toys and ignoring the fit altogether, or having a bit of a tickle match with him in the middle.
Maybe one of them would work for you as well?