Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Terrible Twos

Drew seems to be in the thick of the terrible twos, which means so are Mike, Zach, and I. He's not naughty all the time, but he has these massive temper tantrums that there's almost no way to predict. Well, I take that back, sort of. Meal times have always seemed to be a trigger for Drew's tantrums, and we believe that's because he's hungry and can't deal with it. In the last week, Drew has had big tantrums that seemed to result from the following:
-his strawberries being cut (Sunday morning, lasted 20 minutes?)
-something else to do with his strawberries (Monday morning, lasted 30 minutes?)
-the fact that I changed his diaper, which he did not think was wet, but it was (Monday afternoon, right before his nap)
-the fact that I took his wet clothes off in the kitchen instead of the bathroom, and then morphed into the fact that he wanted to get his drink while on Zach's step stool, which Zach was currently standing on (Tuesday night, lasted 40 minutes, maybe, and ended with him going to bed with no books, no teeth-brushing, etc.)
-Zach being at a birthday party and Drew being at Grandma's, and then morphed into the fact that Grandma took his shoes off in a way he apparently didn't like (Wednesday night, not sure how long it lasted)

So, at this point, today is Thursday, and we started to have a little tantrum right at dinner time because he wanted to wash his hands a second time (the rest of us were sitting down to eat), and somehow I got him talked out of the tantrum. It's just so frustrating because the things that set him off are so small and bizarre. I think he must just want to be in control of every situation, and when he's not, he's pissed.

Tuesday night's tantrum was the worst yet. Drew and I came in from playing outside with his water table, and he was wet and wanted me to dry him off. I told him we were just going to go up and take a bath, so why didn't we just take his wet clothes off, and he seemed ok with that, but then all of a sudden, he wasn't, and he wanted those wet clothes back on. I was not going to put the clothes back on only to take them off as soon as we got upstairs. Eventually I got him upstairs, and his bath consisted of him standing in the tub screaming/crying while I poured water over him, washed him, and poured water over him again. He was so out of control mad, it made me feel sad for him. He got semi calmed down at one point by sitting with me in the rocking chair, but that's when he decided he needed a drink from Zach's sink. We went into the bathroom where Mike was brushing Zach's teeth and I filled up Drew's cup from Zach's faucet, and suddenly Drew insisted he had to have his drink while standing on Zach's step stool, which Zach was standing on. I told him he'd have to wait a minute, and then sent him into more of a frenzy. I decided this whole ordeal had been going on long enough, I'd given plenty of warnings that if he continued he would not get a bubble bath (which he did not get) or to read books, and now we were basically fighting against each other to get/not get his pajamas on. In hindsight, reading books may have calmed him down, but I'm not sold on that idea. He had already gotten his wet clothes out of the hamper once and was still perseverating on that idea and the stupid drink, and in order to not lose my cool with him, I knew I just needed to get him in bed and get away. Thank goodness he is still in a crib (for another week or two only, so what are the odds the tantrums will be done by then?!), and he doesn't climb out! So I finally put him in his crib, told him I loved him and good night. He stood in there crying, screaming, and yelling, "Mama!" for about 10-15 minutes, and I went back in with a glass of water. I calmly told him, "Drew, you did not get to read books tonight because you made lots of bad choices and you've been throwing a fit." He right away said, "I sorry I crying, Mama. Can I get out now?" I said, "Thank you for saying you're sorry. No, you may not get out. Would you like a drink?" Drew said, "I sorry I screaming, Mama. Can I get out now?" with his foot on the crib railing. I said, "Thank you. No, you may not get out. Would you like a drink?" Drew said, "I sorry I fussing, Mama. Can I get out and get my drink on Zach's step stool now?" I said, "No, you may not get out. You can have your drink here, or you won't have a drink at all." Drew said, "No! I want my drink on Zach's step stool." At this point he was holding the cup and sort of starting to shake it, so I was worried he was going to spill it all over his crib and I'd HAVE to get him out. So I took the cup back and said, "Drew, you have a choice. You can either take a drink right now, in your crib, or you will not get a drink, and I am going to leave your room and not come back until morning." He started to get mad again, so I told him good night again and I left. He yelled for another 10 minutes or so, and then got quiet. I figured he'd finally given up and was sucking his arm, which was fine by me. I checked on him before I went to bed and saw he had managed to take his shorts off, one last "Take that, Mom!" before going to sleep.

While Drew stood in his crib being mad, I spent the time reading Positive Discipline: The First Three Years, a book I had just happened to check out from the library that day. It maybe has given us a few ideas, but I'm not sure it's anything too different from what we've been doing. The book stresses using kindness and firmness, and suggests ignoring tantrums if it's possible (something we've been doing, which is why they sometimes last so long), and using a time-out not for punitive measures, but more for a cool-down period, so I've done that some, too. So far I've lucked out and haven't had to deal with any major meltdowns in public (please knock on wood), but I don't know that I'll be able to just ignore him in a public situation should it occur.
I don't know if I'm just having a selective memory or what, but I sure don't remember Zach being like this at age two, or ever, really, for that matter. It's not that Zach has never had a tantrum, but he's never had tantrums of this magnitude or frequency. It's a little exhausting, especially trying to stay one step ahead of him in thinking about what might possibly set him off. I'm always trying to think about what else might be going on with Drew to make him act like this. I think a huge part of it is just his personality, which is such that he gets totally focused on certain things and has a hard time moving on, and the fact that he is just very strong-willed.

My only hope is that not giving in to these tantrums this past week will have shown Drew that they are fruitless, and he'll figure out another way to voice his concerns. I've been trying to offer him choices (tonight's choice was to join us at the dinner table or go sit on the stairs until he was ready to eat) and stay unemotional, and I hope that works, too.

When Drew's not throwing massive tantrums, he says some pretty hilarious stuff. A few recent quotes:

-"You and me and me and you and you and mine dad and me and mine big brudder named Zach, and me go ____________." Drew gets so excited telling stories sometimes that this is how his stories end up coming out. There's always a lot of "you and me" parts to them, but my favorite is probably the "mine big brudder named Zach" bit.
-Me- "Drew, how was Grandma's tonight?" Drew- "Um, good. I have big fit." Me- "You did? Why?" Drew- "Because I like them." Maybe that explains everything.
-"My penis so heavy for you." This was after he asked me if I would carry him up the stairs and I obliged.
-"Mommy, can I please see your nipples?" This was during play group, and in case you're wondering, the answer was a definite "NO!" He and Zach think their nipples are really neat, so Drew will randomly ask Zach if he can see his nipples, and I guess Zach's not as modest as me, so he usually says sure and lifts up his shirt. Part of me feels like this is harmless, or at least I did until the question was turned on me. Of course, Zach thinks it's hilarious, so his laughter only encourages Drew to ask more often. So the question I'm left pondering is this- would I rather have Drew ask to see my nipples in public, or have one of his massive tantrums in public? Hmmm... that's a tough one.


Laura said...

Oh my gosh..."can I see your nipples" that is soooo classic!!!! I actually need to do more of using the appropriate terms with the girls..we've just always said, "girl parts/boy parts" and the other day when I said something to Livi about Connor's penis, she just rolled on the floor laughing and repeating "penis, penis"

Drew's tantrums sound tough...but you sound like you are doing a stellar job. I tend to get too emotionally involved and I think that can just enforce the tantrums.

My newest obstacle is Alivia and her constant pants wetting. I even took her to the dr. today to check for a UTI, but everything was good...dr.'s thoughts were it was a behavior/power struggle issue and essentially we have to go back to "training" Really??? Like I need that right now. But, we timer and actually time outs for not wanting to sit on the potty and wetting...she peed all over tonight at the park, and I made her sit on the bench and watch everyone else play until we left. I hope this doesn't last long:-)
(Sorry for the novel)

zinncaulfield said...

Wow! Who does he get this stubbornness from? :) Seriously though, sounds tough. Keep up with the choices--it gives him some control. See you tomorrow!

Tim Kasparek said...

no nipple flashing???? so disappointing! although I can definitely relate to his overly heavy penis!!! lol. good luck with the tantrums though, i know FOR SURE Cole will never have these problems.........a guy can dream, right??!?!?!