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Needing some help with tantrums and stuff :(

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  • Needing some help with tantrums and stuff :(

    I'm in a group on cafemom as well, and I've brought up tantrums there in the AP for toddlers group, but things are getting worse, and I really needed to find somewhere I can go to help me through these tough times. I hope this is it!

    My daughter just turned 2 on the 3rd of June. She has been slooowly working her way up to these tantrums. I have been doing my best to try and handle them accordingly. I bought the book Happiest Toddler on the Block(HTOTB), and of course I've already googled the crap out of any thing having to do with tantrums, including attachment parenting and tantrums. I understand everything I'm reading. I agree with, and wholeheartedly believe in everything I've read that pertains to taking care of tantrums in a very calm and loving way. It's just when it comes down to actually following through during the tantrum I have a VERY hard time doing it. I am good for about 1-2 minutes of it, then my blood starts to boil. I get extremely upset with her. I know that I shouldn't, because she is unable to handle herself, and she needs me to be her happy medium to help her cool down and regroup, but a lot of the time I find it SO hard to do. I don't have a journal that I keep, I'm no good at that, but I have been noticing that I usually start to get mad when she won't say anything but "NO!" or (even worse, because I KNOW for a fact, and trust me on this, that she doesn't have to go) "POOOTTTTYYYY!". I understand that she doesn't want to do whatever it is we are doing, whether it be getting in the car, going to bed, or, occasionally, going for a walk. I also get really ticked off when I seem to start getting a handle on the situation (she's not screaming and I'm able to talk to her in a normal voice), and she kicks me in my stomach or arms. Like in the book HTOTB (which I mentioned above) he says to acknowledge the underlying problem. For example, she doesn't need to use the potty, she just doesn't want to get in the car seat. So, I say to her, "Jasmine, I know you want down. You don't want to be in your car seat. You want to go play!" and so on. This gets her attention. She stops crying. I run those lines past her a few more times. Then I tell her, "But, Jasmine, right now it's not time to play. It's time to go to the store/park/see the kitties(petco)"...and it starts all over! I feel like I must be doing something wrong

    Last night it came to a head. She woke up screaming in the middle of the night, so I rushed to her side and told her that I was there, and everything would be ok. I tried to console her. I asked if she wanted up, to which she responded with a very angry, "NO!!!". She was throwing a huge fit in her bed so I felt like I should pick her up. At that point she blew her lid...And so did I. I went from trying to console her nicely, to being very, VERY angry with her, and back again. I tried everything I knew of, but nothing was working. Finally I swatted her (cloth diapered) butt a few times (which I now completely regret, because it obviously didn't do anymore than hurt her feelings) and put her in our bed, with dh and left the room. Se threw a fit, because I left. I calmed down I went in and picked her up and she calmed down. Well, she'd calmed down enough that we walked back to her room. I sit with her for a few moments while I tell her calmly that it's night time, the stars are out, everyone is sleeping, and she should be too. I lay her in bed and sit by her in hopes she will calm down. She was not having it and refused to calm down at all. She was screeching and her voice was cutting in and out she was screaming so hard, all because I laid her down, after she'd calmed down and we'd talked about it. I was furious. We were supposed to be getting up in 3 hours to go to Disneyland (which is not something we stressed on her, so I know that she wasn't anxious about it. We've been lots of times, it's not big deal)...I grabbed her and took her back to our bed and started all over again. This time she wasn't having any of it. I tried sitting her on my lap and talking to her, but she was uncontrollable. I had to restrain her from hitting me and kicking me. I try so hard to do the right thing, but in a moment of complete anger I swatted her again. I am still feeling horrible about it. I didn't know what to do. I tried laying down with her, I tried rocking her (she hates/hated that). I tried singing. Nothing. She was throwing the biggest tantrum ever right in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. (I also do not believe this was a night terror)

    Eventually she fell asleep with us. About a half hour later she woke up kind of crying, so I asked her what was wrong. She said she needed to potty. I asked her if she needed to go, really, and if I could take her diaper off, and she let me. We went to the potty, and she went. She was happy she went, and so was I. We wiped, and she started playing with the side of the tub. I sat next to her and talked to her about how it's still night time, and we needed to go lay down. She, of course, resisted, so I picked her up and took her to the bedroom where I was going to put her diaper on. She would not let me put it on, and at this point I have only had 2 hours of sleep, and was supposed to be waking up in 1 more. I know she didn't know that, but my emotions were getting the best of me. I am not going to do a play by play, because it literally took me 5 minutes (should have taken 5 seconds) to get her diaper back on. I, again, out of desperation, swatted her thigh a couple of times. Looking back, I see that these did either nothing at all, or hurt her feelings. At the time, I was hoping there might be something to it, no matter how against it I was/am. After trying every other way to calm her down and coax her into letting me get her diaper on, I had to restrain her while I fumbled all the snaps on. I finally got them on but she had made me so mad at that point I couldn't be around her so I left the room and told dh that he needed to handle the situation because I was afraid I would actually hurt her. He didn't handle it as well as I would have liked, but at least he wasn't yelling at her. I cried and regained composure and went in and she screamed and kicked and yelled then finally fell asleep.

    I am sorry that was so long, but I don't know what got into her last night. She was awake, because when I could finally get her to calm down for a few seconds she would be calm and talk about the wall, the light, the window, or ask what something was. I would respond to her, then get right back to what was important, which was her going to sleep, and she'd throw a fit, just like the ones she throws during the day.

    I don't know how much of this I can handle. She has tantrums from time to time, but with the right approach they are avoided usually. Yesterday was a perfect day. Only 1 minor set back, and she was ok. She took a great nap, and woke up happy. Had a good dinner and a nice calm down time before bed. I sat by her bed as she fell asleep. She didn't throw a fit, but she did protest a bit. She fell asleep great, and slept great until about 2 something when she woke up like she did.

    I know what I did was wrong. Yelling at her, hitting her, and being mean is not the right thing to do. It's not what I want to teach her either. But, in my useless defense (because I do KNOW that I was wrong), nothing was working. She screamed and cried for, not 5-10 minutes, but a half hour!

    I don't know what I am doing here. I have all the information. I just don't know what to do. I feel like I am quite possibly the worst mother ever. I do know that there is people out there who do worse things to their kids, but thinking back, how she felt seeing me so angry was probably really scary, and that is why I feel so bad. I should never make her feel scared of me. I am the one who is supposed to make her NOT scared anymore. Has anyone been through anything like this? I just want to curl up in a ball and cry all day. How can I raise my daughter right if I can't help her through these tantrums. I would say that 2-3 out of 5 times we handle the tantrums pretty well,the other part of the time I just can't handle it anymore.

    What do I do? I try to AP in so many ways, but I know I have failed at some. I didn't breastfeed, because I didn't know how important it was until it was too late to even consider re-lactation. Is it possible that I can try as hard as I possibly can to never let that kind of thing happen, and hopefully grow out of my own tantrums without going to someone outside the home? Is it possible that she will not be affected by my bad behavior as long as I can make sure to never let it happen again? I want to fix it so bad, but I'm so scared that there is nothing I can do to take back or at least cancel out what I did.

    Again, I'm so sorry about the length of this. I really needed an outlet. My daughter is acting like nothing ever happened now, but how am I to know that it didn't affect her? I can only recall 1-3 times I was ever spanked or had a tantrum, but obviously something my parents did made me who I am today, and that is someone who is NOT attached to my parents, and also someone who has a hard time doing what she believes in. My parents where never abusive, so that's why I am afraid that even though I am nowhere NEAR abusive, since a swat is, although not desirable, pretty far, in my opinion, from actual abuse, that she will be forever scarred from this incident and all the times I have yelled at her.

    Thank you in advance, even if all I get is a place on the internet to write down my thoughts. And also for the posts and articles I have read this morning that I will take with me to help get through this phase.

  • #2
    Also, for what it's worth, we were trying to co-sleep, but we're not sure it's right for us. She got mad and hit us, and pinched me, and I now have a bruise on my forehead from trying to avoid her. She's not a bad kid, though. She's very mellow tempered and not easily bothered. It's just when she does, she is like me, and has a hard time controlling herself.


    • #3
      wow, it sounds like you had a rough nite. i'm a groggy monster at night sometimes, so i understand how much harder it is to keep your composure at 2am.

      as far as hitting, make a resolve that you are not going to do it again. take it out of your parenting toolbox. then monitor yourself. if you feel like you're getting to the place where you want to hit, walk away. if she's screaming and having a full-on tantrum, you being that upset will not make things any better. give yourself permission to go calm down before coming back to help her thru her feelings. it's the old airplane/oxygen mask metaphor: give yourself air before helping others.

      it also sounds like you may have unresolved issues from your own childhood. have you considered talking to a therapist about it?

      have you looked at your daughter's diet? do her outbursts get worse after eating certain foods? wheat, dairy, dyes, juices, excessive fruits can make many children just batty.

      good luck and come back often for support. i highly commend you for all the research you've done and wanting to be the best attached mama you can be. none of us are perfect, though, so give yourself a break. we all make mistakes and will make many more. forgive yourself and commit to doing a little better every day.


      • #4
        Hello, You have alot going on...take a deep breath and center yourself!

        Find yourself a local in-person group of AP parents.. I think that might help....Here is API in CA groups. I don't know if anything is close by, but even if it is not call them...they might know of a few parents or other groups in your area they can connect you with.

        Forgive yourself for not breastfeeding.... You can still be a wonderful AP parent regardless of that!

        Like Paxmamma mentioned I think you might have some of your own 'stuff' left over from your own childhood. The book Connection Parenting has some work in it on that you might want to do. I feel like you need to reach deeper inside yourself a bit!

        I think it is important to remove yourself (mentally) from her when she is tantruming. DON'T think "she is doing this to piss me off." If you feel like you are getting to the point where you would hit or swat, make sure she is safe and remove yourself from the situation. A great book for me was (and is!) Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime It has a great mantra in it that I STILL say to myself sometimes!
        "Your child is not out to get you"
        Please read it!

        I also enjoyed this article
        Cry for Connection: A Fresh Approach to Tantrums
        By Patty Wipfler

        Paxmamma also suggested that diet might play a key for your daughter.
        The Feingold Solution: Assessing the Role of Diet in Children's Behavior Some children are very sensitive, worth thinking about!


        • #5
          Ok, first realize that none of us is perfect, and yes, you can still be wonderful parent even if you didn't bf, and accidentally spanked.

          Now, have you tried to find out how your daughter reacts under different methods for her tantrums? I know alot of momma's here have children who need help getting through them, but mine tend to need alone time to just be mad. I usually just say, "honey, when you are ready to talk to mommy, then let me know" because if I am in their face, they just stay mad. For us, walking away (for 2 yr. old, that usually means 2 ft. not out of the room) and giving them some space works best. As soon as they start hitting, "I will NOT allow you to hurt me, come and get me when you are ready to talk". Believe it or not at 2, they DO understand most of what you say, though stay close (not out of the room but far enough away that they cannot reach you) so they can SEE that you mean to be there for them when they are ready for you.

          Also, with mine, when trying to calm them for bed I usually talk to them about the next day. We started this when they were infants, but something like...

          Tomorrow is a BIG day. We are going to Disneyland, YEAH! But you need some sleepy so that you aren't too tired to have fun. That would be sad if you were too tired to see Mickey Mouse. Do you want to see Mickey? Yeah, ME TOO! Now we need to calm down and get some sleepy time, OK.

          Usually this calms them enough to at least START to fall asleep. If they start to ramble about things in the room, I just go "uh huh" "yeah" but don't converse on it, and all the time I am rubbing their head, back, temples, etc.

          If you are getting too stressed though, they will feel it. So it is better to walk away then let them feel your stress. Let dh deal with it for a while and if he starts struggling then you take back over after you have had a breather.

          Hang in there, these times do pass.


          • #6
            Thanks everyone. She's really a good kid most of the time. It's just that when she has her outbursts of anger/frustration, they really take a toll on me. Yesterday she had a tantrum that lasted 25 minutes! Again! I sat with her, talked to her, we changed rooms twice to get away from things that just kept making her mad. It went on and on and on...I kept my cool though, and it felt really good to make it through a bad one.

            I think I'm going to keep up on just trying to tell myself she is just so frustrated and confused at why things have to be the way they are, like I have the last day or two. If I think I'm starting to regress to any behaviors that my parents may have instilled in me, I'll talk to my husand about finding some help. I just hate that it's so easy to be a bad person, but so hard to be good! It's frustrating!

            I don't know about the foods. She doesn't eat anything processed. Yesterday's tantrum was after a good nights rest, woke up happy, had some oatmeal, a banana, and then after she had some yogurt she had the tantrum. It was Horizon Organic Strawberry or something. Is there sugar in that? Other than the natural sugars? That's the only thing I can think of that may be why. The sugar that she would usually burn off being hyper (she just gets super hyper if she ever, which is rarely, has processed sugar) may have fueled her tantrum.

            I'm glad I have support here. I'm not saying my husband wasn't supportive, but all he could do was tell me, "It's ok. She's fine" along with a half-assed hug, lol. And you know, not to go off on another subject here, but something I don't get is that his parents were the farthest from attached you can get. My mom didn't let me CIO totally, but his did. They propped the bottle, he was in his jumper all the time, and they only had him part of the time, because they'd drop him off at his grandparents so they could go screw around with drugs and stuff. And they still BRAG about it. He had a pretty horrible childhood, some would say, but he has never raised his voice, never hit, and only ever told her to "shut up" like twice, out of complete frustration. Why, if my childhood, in comparison, was so much "better" than his in quality and all that, am I the one who can't control myself?


            • #7
              i'd watch the yogurt. see if next time she reacts the same way. it could be the milk, or the sugar. although it's not refined sugar, yogurt is incredibly high in sugar, even more than ice cream. your body still process sugar the same way, whether it's from fruit or candy. my kids get really cranky after too much dairy, too.

              don't compare yourself to your husband, either. that will send you down a dark road. you are doing the best you can. so is he. we all process our experiences differently. yours is not 'wrong' and his 'right'. just focus on what you need to be doing in order to remain balanced.

              i also highly recommend reading "Attached at the Heart" by our co-founders, and "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn. they will really help you in your parenting journey.


              • #8
                Good article--
                Anger Management for Moms


                • #9
                  I know every child is different, but what has been successful for me (DS is 3yrs) is the "less is more" approach to tantrums. I let him know that I am ready to hold him when he's ready, ready to listen when he's ready to use his "normal" voice, and that I'm not mad at him and then I just wait silently close by. It was hard at first, because I wanted to be able to help him, but sometimes I guess I just made matters worse. I think I sort of feel that I really cannot rescue him from his feelings - he needs to be able to deal with them himself with me in a support role rather than being the one responsible for his emotional state. Does that make sense??? And then, whatever it was that set him off gets dealt with. He still has to pick up his trash, help wipe up the spill, or get into his carseat or whatever.
                  I also think that if you have a game plan in place ahead of time rather than trying to remember what to do in the heat of the moment - kind of mentally rehearse what you will do next time, whatever that happens to be. (I'd make a fine boy scout)
                  Best of luck!


                  • #10
                    Hi, Mommy2Jasmine . . .

                    I felt compelled to reply to your post, because there are parts of it that I could have written myself lately and I wanted to tell you that you're not alone and you're not crazy. I'm not sure if that helps one bit, but sometimes after I've had "an episode" with my daughter (um, today around 12:30 p.m. after leaving Target), it's important for me to hear that. There's nothing worse than feeling alone with your feelings when they're that strong and thinking that no one in the world would/could possibly understand or even worse, is judging you.

                    I'm in a similar boat with my almost 2 year old daughter who is as spirited and strong-willed as they come. Like you, I am struggling to keep my cool during her tantrums. Today was particularly hard, and we both ended up in tears. And I, as usual, feel completely traumatized by the memory of contributing to my daughter's meltdown (even more so than if she was just having a tantrum) and have been beating myself up for the past three hours.

                    I've come to the conclusion that my trigger is the combination of her physicality and loudness during her tantrums and my inability to get any space during those times. I just get to the point where I'm so oversaturated with "no no no no no" or screaming or hitting (which is a hard thing for me, because it's so intrusive and I've never been hit any other time in my life) or kicking that I think I snap and want to just move her away from me. Unfortunately, my methods are not always gentle or controlled. And I will regret those times maybe forever, I'm not sure.

                    The other thing that I've identified for myself is that it may be a bit harder for we AP folks at times, because we're so physical with our children. And for me, it's been such a gift all along. And now she's two, and the physicality has shifted a bit. I still get the magic of the cuddling at night, but I also get the brunt of the tantrum, which we continue to work on. It's a big shift and one that is very hard for me to handle sometimes. I just feel sad about it. It's a loss of sorts, from the happy, content baby that I could make happy almost all day long to a little person who is experiencing her world in a very big way that sometimes doesn't include me anymore. I've been delving into that as well.

                    The other thing I'm trying to keep in mind from a purely cognitive perspective is what I want for her: to have her BIG feelings on her own and with my support without her feelings having a corresponding BIG feeling from me. I grew up in a household where my feelings were often enmeshed with my mother's, and I don't want that for my little girl. I want her to have space and respect around her feelings, and I don't always do a good job of giving her that space. So, I have a mantra now that I just came up with that I hope will work: These are her feelings, not mine. It's my job to help her understand them. (repeat over and over again).

                    Anyway, none of this may be helpful to you . . . me going on about my process. I just wondered if you might relate to the physical part, since the "snapping" seems like such a strong component of your struggle (as it is mine!). And I wanted to see if any of my thoughts sparked anything for you that could be helpful.

                    I'm sure you're a wonderful mother. You obviously love your daughter very much, and I'm sure she knows it. I hope you know that you're not the only one out there feeling bad when things like this happen. Sometimes I think I am until I read a post like yours and know that I'm not a monster . . . but I do have a lot to keep learning about myself to keep myself more centered for me.

                    Also, I love two books: Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller. Both have chapters from mothers about when they snapped and did things they weren't happy about it and the subsequent feelings from a mindfulness perspective. Both are my bibles for the inner work of parenting, which I don't think we talk so much about these days. So much more focus is on techniques and behavior modification. For me, the inner work has been non-stop and the real "stuff" of parenting my little love bug.

                    Okay, I've written quite enough. Hugs from this corner of the Universe, and try to be kind to yourself. Sark says in her How to Really Love a Child piece,"If they seem unlovable, love yourself." And I always loved that.

                    Take good care,