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Terrible Twos or a Terrible Phase!??

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Old 01-11-2011, 12:00 PM   #1
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Default Terrible Twos or a Terrible Phase!??

In general my son has been an amazing infant and toddler. He can be needy at times, but mostly doesn't cause to much of a fuss for no reason. The last 2-4 weeks he's been throughing complete temper tantrums over everything, completely emotional and cry hysterically. It was only at home at first, but yesterday his preschool said that he was just not himself and was crying a lot, sad and emotional. Being a first time mom I'm at a bit of a loss. We practice time out when necessary and we "ignore" the temper tantrums as best we can, but sometimes we have to give in. I'm trying to let him cry when I know he's not hurt or there's really no good reason to cry, but most of the time I just want to hold and comfort him.

Anyway, he's just not himself, he's been sick a good amount this flu season since being in school and he's just finishing with his two year molars, but other than just the good old fashion terrible twos I just don't know what is going on with him. Is this just a phase? He's had particularly needy phases in the past that have lasted a week or two, but this is different. The only other thing that is going on is that we've moved, but that doesn't seem to have effected him much. Any words or wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:12 PM   #2
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How are you reacting to the tantrums? My daughter threw one tantrum in her entire life because I didn't react. I didn't give in, I didn't flinch, I just sat on the nearest bench and watched her "make a fool of herself" as I put it. We were at Sea World and she couldn't have ice cream (I forget if they were closed or I just didn't feel she needed ice cream in March). She threw herself down on the ground, screamed, cried, and flailed. I sat there waiting it out. Oh, people walked by and made comments like "you should spank that child" or "terrible parenting" but in the end, I won. She didn't get the attention, I actually started talking to another mother while she was creating her scene and the woman told me she wished she had my restraint. When it was all over and she didn't win, she never did it again.

If you give in in any way, it will only lead to future tantrums. If you ignore the behaviour and he doesn't get his way or your attention, he'll quickly figure out there are better ways to get what he wants. Stay strong and just try to ignore the tantrums.

Good luck. Two is a hard age for the mother.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:21 PM   #3
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Awww, first of all, sending you some hugs! As moms, we want to make things better for our kids and it's stressful not being able to.

I'm on my 4th time going through the terrible twos. It does sound pretty normal. I think it's frustrating being two as they're living in between the baby and child state. They're getting older and know what they want, but can't either a) get it themselves, b) understand why they can't have it or c) can't get something to work/fit/ect. So, they express themselves physically and vocally.

I don't necessarily ignore the tantrum, but I do treat it as a non-event. If I've taken something away and my ds throws himself on the floor and cries, I'll say "Sorry, Mommy said no, would you like to *fill in the blank* instead?" and if he continues to tantrum, I normally said "Ok." and walk off. The tantrum is usually short lived and then I'll say "Do you want a hug?" and it's all better. If it's because he can't get building blocks to fit together and is frustrated, I'll ask if he needs help and he usually brightens at that.

It sounds like your ds had a lot going on with the sickness and the teething (those 2 year molars are a bear!). I promise the terrible twos won't last forever...and then you get to look forward to the horrible threes.

Hang in there!
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:32 PM   #4
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Is he tantrumming because he's not getting something? If my DS is going through a phase where he is really needy or clingy, or just plain emotional for no good reason that I can see I do hug and comfort him. He's not really having a tantrum, just upset. He doesn't quite have the language yet to express himself (he's almost 3, and getting better at telling me if he's upset, and sometimes he can tell me why) so it's frustrating for him, so I want to help him through those emotions. You may not think the move effected him but any change can be difficult for little kids.

If he is having a tantrum because I told him no, then I generally ignore it or tell him I'm sorry he feels that way and he can talk to me when he's taken a deep breath and calmed down. He comes to me afterwards and says "mommy I took a deep breath" and then it's over, lol. But if he's having a particularly hard time with something, again, I help him through it. It doesn't mean, in my mind, that I've "given in" because he doesn't get whatever it was I said no to. However, I do want to be there and help him. Anyways these little beings are challenging, aren't they?? Hope he's feeling back to his old self very soon.
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Old 01-11-2011, 12:36 PM   #5
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I thought teething too. Sometimes it seems to take forever. I also would look at what has been going on for the last few weeks in your family. I know my kids have a hard time after Christmas because of all the hoopla and crazy schedules, then they just crash. Sometimes it can be a small schedule change that he's not getting the quality sleep he needs. Or maybe a new teacher or new things at preschool that he is having a hard time adjusting to.

I think, when he hasn't just thrown a tantrum, cuddling him and exploring some of the things that you think might be going wrong, or new to him, would help. Kids know when they are tired or in pain but sometimes just don't know how to let you know. It's hard to be a mom sometimes. HUGS!! and good luck!
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:23 PM   #6
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In general the tantrums seem to occur when he's not getting what he wants or we're not doing what he wants to do. So in that case I'd say 75% of the time (which this is probably needs to be 99%) we ignore it and wait for the storm to pass. This used to pass very quickly and the tantrums were at about 1 per day. Now the episode goes on for quite sometime and is over every little thing like he's not wearing the shirt he wants to wear. It's just really out of character for him, thus my concern and great stress.
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:27 PM   #7
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You might need a trip to the pediatrician if that's the case. There could be some underlying cause you can't see. I can think of a few things but I don't want to scare you so I just won't toss them out. Just give the doctor a call and make an appointment. Two is a little old for teething issues that manifest in tantrums. Not knowing your son it's hard to say what exactly is wrong but I do think it's safe to say it's time for a trip to the doctor.
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:35 PM   #8
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1) The move is affecting him. Hence tantrums? Sometimes there's a delayed reaction.

2) How is he sleeping? Getting enough?

3) How is he eating? Somewhere around 2 is the weaning of some kind or starting new things of some kind in food world. Like off breastmilk or formula and on cow milk, more and more solids, etc. Could it be digestive upset? An ear/nose thing from unforseen dairy allergy? Wheat allergy? Because if his nose is clogged up, he's not sleeping well, if he's not sleeping well, he's cranky... the whole domino effect thing.

4)Has he got all his teeth? Molar probs? Any more left coming in causing pain?

5) How his output? Pee/poo?

6) Def hold and comfort, see doc.

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Old 01-11-2011, 01:45 PM   #9
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If it's really out of character, you might have a check-up just to make sure everything is OK.

BUT...75% not giving in means 25% giving in. There's a concept in psych called "intermittent reinforcement", and it's the best way to make something a habit. It's the same thing that keeps players at a slot machine playing until they've lost all of their money, and a main reason that consistency is so important. If a tactic (like throwing a fit) works some of the time, the person keeps trying it because, hey, it works. Meaning that if you give in 25% of the time, he's going to keep trying it, because sometimes it means that he gets what he wants. Intermittent reinforcement is the best way to get a behavior to continue...which is not what you want.

http://www.psywww.com/intropsych/ch0...forcement.html

To move the behavior to extinction (ie, make it so it doesn't happen any more!) you need to NEVER reinforce it.

I want to add that "reinforce" doesn't mean comfort or etc...if your child is upset, comforting him and helping him calm down are both good things. It only means not giving him whatever he was throwing the tantrum to get in the first place.
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:47 PM   #10
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1) possibly
2) sleeps well
3) He's a horrific eater, always has been. I'm not exagerating when I say he pretty much eats nothing but cereal and milk. I can occassionally get some fruit in him and he will eat mac and cheese and chicken nuggets, but milk is probably his main source of protien. I supplement with some viatimins.
4) He's last two molars are just about all the way in.
5) He pees and poos regularly, but he's never really had solid poo because of his diet
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Old 01-11-2011, 01:58 PM   #11
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If he is really that poor of an eater, you need to get him to a doctor and start being the mom in this situation. Cereal and milk plus vitamins are NOT the way to raise a fit child. He needs real food whether he wants it or not. It's time to take the bull by the horns and start making him eat. Food is not a choice, you know that, it's a necessity and you need to make him eat real food.

I really like what mandalinn82 said. She is spot on in regards to the fact that if you give in 25% of the time, he's going to continue throwing the tantrums.
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:06 PM   #12
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Cereal and milk plus vitamins are NOT the way to raise a fit child. He needs real food whether he wants it or not. It's time to take the bull by the horns and start making him eat. Food is not a choice, you know that, it's a necessity and you need to make him eat real food.
Thank you, I am quite aware and I can not begin to tell you the struggle this has been for us and the multitude of things we have tried to improve his eating. I understand that you are trying to be helpful, and it is very appreciated, but please don't assume that I'm not trying and have not tried repeatedly to correct the situation. I'm a little emotional this morning so I apolgize for likely overreacting, but given my history with food this is a bit of a sore subject for me.

We're preety much at the point we're going to have to let him starve for a few days by not allowing him to eat nothing but cereal and only what is offered and that is a difficult step to take...
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:15 PM   #13
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I was fully not assuming you weren't trying or hadn't tried. Sometimes we just need to hear someone outside ourselves say things we know to be true. I was in all sincerity and honesty just trying to help. I hope I didn't offend. I know it's tough raising kids. I did it myself with no help and no internet to ask for help on. You've got support here and I really meant no harm. I know being overweight it was hard for me to make sure my child didn't end up like me ~ she didn't, she's a skinny rail and very athletic.

Good luck. Hugs to you.
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:17 PM   #14
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That is a rough choice to make. But it does fall into the same "intermittent reinforcement" sort of issue...if he refuses to eat, he gets the foods he likes, therefore, he will continue refusing to eat.

Have you tried doing fun stuff with the food? (I know you've tried lots of things, so not trying to imply that you haven't...just making suggestions ) Letting him "paint" with a slightly steamed broccoli spear and some dressing on a plate? Making fruit into faces? Lots of kids do well when they get to dip something. What about giving him a small serving of cereal alongside some items he is less apt to try, and saying when he's done with the cereal that he should try the other item if he is still hungry? What about having him pick an item at the grocery store or farmer's market, and preparing it together or with him nearby? Sometimes kids will eat something that they picked out or prepared. What about growing some greens in a window box together? If he's watering them and watching them grow, he may be more apt to try them.

It's tough-going to help a picky eater adapt to eating on more normal patterns, for sure, but it can be done! Hang in there!
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:18 PM   #15
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he sounds to me like he isn't feeling well for some reason. Maybe fighting off a cold or something.

And kids sometimes are just stressed out. Could be christmas, could be him sensing you under stress and reacting to that could be a lot of things. don't underestimate how sensitive they are to your stress. Or it could be his own stress. My older son's birthday is right before christmas and the years between 2 and 7 he was an absolute basket case the entire month of december.

as to his diet, that isn't exactly uncommon in toddlers. My brother ate nothing but apples and peanutbutter sandwiches for years. the two bite rule always worked well at my house. They don't have to finish anything but they have to have 2 bites.
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