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A combination of "unfortunate events" that you can't handle

  1. Miss Ariel

    nectarine / 2210 posts

    @Madison43: yes to this! I remember going places with my mom being upset and she'd threaten me that we couldn't go somewhere which only made me cry harder. I remember being a kid and wondering why my mom would make those threats when she never followed through and instead just made me more upset.

  2. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    Thank you all for your replies. Sorry I can't reply because I feel I'd say something wrong and upset some of you ... so I am going to stop. I just want to extend my hugs to all of you who had nice, constructive and supportive words and advices to say. xoxo

  3. Raindrop

    grapefruit / 4731 posts

    I totally agree with the above... EXPECTATIONS! That is the main problem.

    Don't worry I think everyone falls into this slippy slope. I have greatly lowed my expectations over the time of being a mom. Parenthood is not sunshine and rainbows but it's still worth it in the end.

    *Big hugs*

  4. JoJoGirl

    cantaloupe / 6206 posts

    @irene: Please don't worry about upsetting us, everyone in this thread is just trying to help

  5. looch

    wonderful pear / 26210 posts

    The swim lessons, omg, my son hated them and I felt like the only mom that had a kid that clung to her neck the entire time. I did two sessions at two different pools and we were both so much happier when we stopped them.

  6. Purpledaisy

    nectarine / 2973 posts

    We ALL have been there. When we try to do something extra special for our kid and they act like a butt-head.

    BUT this is normal behavior for a 3-4 year old. I have found that lowing my expectations is key. This past summer we took DD to an a big aquarium 3 hours away... She hated! She was scared of the sharks and it was super crowded which she hates and she cried and clung to us the whole time. The best thing you can do is just to let it go. Who cares in the long run?

    Also, kids are people. Sometimes they just have a bad day. You cannot take it personally.

    I know that you are going to take this as being "mean" but I definitely do not mean it that way. How you're reacting to his behavior is not ideal. I grew up with a mom that would react very similarly. Trust me, there is a good chance of your son learning to react the same way when he's upset. I have had to relearn in adulthood how to react to being mad and frustrated in a reasonable way.

  7. pregnantbee

    grapefruit / 4717 posts

    Well, the food situation sounds spot on (see photo, which is a regular occurrence over here). We all have bad days and 3-year-olds can be Jekyll and Hyde. It's extra hard if they are crazy when you've put time, effort, and money into planning something special. Hugs.

  8. JoJoGirl

    cantaloupe / 6206 posts

    @pregnantbee: @Purpledaisy: agree with you both!!

  9. KateBee

    apple seed / 1 posts

    This comment has been deleted by the original poster.

  10. deerylou

    pomegranate / 3003 posts

    @KateBee: I agree with this. I know sometimes we get responses we don't anticipate or like very much, but they can also provide solid insight we might otherwise overlook, in our state of exhaustion. Like someone up thread said, we need to be aware of the behaviors we exhibit in front of our children, even when we personally feel overwhelmed. Those experiences can and do carry into adulthood.

    ETA: Yikes, I see the comment poofed. My bad.

  11. Ginabean3

    pomegranate / 3401 posts

    I have nothing more to add to this post....I think you got a lot of great advice from others! I just want to say thank you for this thread because reading it and all the advice was actually a good reminder for me today! I have an almost 3 year old who can be challenging at times and all the great advice given on this thread is totally applicable to our relationship right now!

  12. hellobeeboston

    honeydew / 7235 posts

    @irene: you've gotten some great advice already... I have a "spirited" 3 year old and I've been listening to Janet Lansbury a lot (especially now since we have a newborn) and she talks a lot about re-setting YOUR priorities, and not projecting them onto our kids.... check out her podcasts.... I listen when I'm having a tough time with my little man to help re-frame the way I'm thinking about things. Its often that I expect too much from him (he's only 3 years 4 months) and it helps to remember that..... ALSO, my DH is like this - he gets all excited about a plan or whatever and LO often doesn't react exactly as DH would like and he tries to make the best of it, but it's a work in progress!! Hang in there, try to find some fun in what you can, this little 3/4 year olds are tough!

  13. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    @hellobeeboston: Thanks - I tried to listen to her before. I just couldn't relate to it. She sounded like such a calm, sane, in control person which I totally am not. I have very very very low tolerance and I just don't even know how to get to half of her calmness.

    Honestly - for everyone who is saying oh you shouldn't exhibit such behavior in front of your child. It is sad that you guys all think I didn't try. I tried and I couldn't! I don't like to scream either and honestly it doesn't usually happen until that one day when all stars align for that perfect storm. But I will try again to listen. I was just looking and it has one on "how to help a frustrated toddler" (or something like that) - I need one that says "How to help a frustrated mom with low tolerance". Sigh.

    @deerylou: I really didn't want to say the above because I'd get tons of attack potentially. And honestly thats not what I am looking for. I am just a fellow mom who slipped and I apologize for not being as calm as you can be. I am not going to read anymore.

    Thanks again all.

  14. hellobeeboston

    honeydew / 7235 posts

    @irene: haha, I KNOW. I also am also not that calm/crunchy - but I realized I was yelling at my son non stop and I needed to change something. She had been recommended to me by other moms. I take what I can from it - i can't do her style 100%. Good luck, parenting is HARD.

  15. T.H.O.U.

    wonderful clementine / 24134 posts

    @irene: http://theorangerhino.com This challenge really helped me and helped me as a mom realize when I was escalating. I think practicing staying calm in less stress/more minor situations has helped me stay a bit calmer is the "perfect storm" type situations. She also talks about how to identify (as a mom) the triggers that effect you.

    I think like others have said, toddlers will be toddlers. Janet whatever her name talks like you said about how to deal with toddlers. Orange Rhino talks about how you as a mom deal with the crazy toddler situations (because realistically you can't change toddlers that easily)

  16. gingerbebe

    cantaloupe / 6131 posts

    @irene: FWIW, I don't really subscribe to the Janet Lansbury kool-aid. Its one of those things I've read and looked into as I've culled through different parenting resources and philosophies and while I'm glad I have the insight available to me, its not my jam.

    And also to add, my mom was a big screamer when I was growing up. She has a low tolerance for BS, is a neat freak, and was pretty much exhausted all the time from working full-time and dealing with cultural expectations that required her to do all the cooking and cleaning solo. I was apparently pretty obedient but my younger brother was an EXTREMELY spirited/destructive child with an explosive temper that led to CRAZY public tantrums. To add insult to injury, he was also an EXTREMELY picky eater until like college.

    Blah, blah, blah, we got yelled at all the time, especially my brother, and we got spanked too. We're fine. I'm not saying do what my mom did - I'm just saying cut yourself some slack. My brother and I both know unequivocally that (1) my mom loves us like crazy and (2) my mom did the best she could. And the first thing my brother says now of his childhood is "God, I was such an a$$hole to mom." Like I said before, YOU'RE DOING A GOOD JOB. EVEN WHEN YOU CAN'T HAVE A MOMENT OF ZEN AROUND YOUR THREENAGER, YOU ARE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN AND NO ONE CAN PARENT THAT KID BETTER THAN YOU, NOT EVEN JANET LANSBURY.

  17. pinkcupcake

    cantaloupe / 6751 posts

    @deerylou: I agree 100% with what you wrote and feel like it came from a kind, rational place

    OP, I think if you post something like this, you have to understand that people will respond honestly. I know tone doesn't convey well over the Internet and I hope what I write isn't miscontrued or taken as an attack, but when you say you screamed at your 4 year old for changing his mind about wanting scrambled eggs or gave him the silent treatment - well, you have to understand that people will say that's not that an appropriate reason. That doesn't mean that everyone else is perfect. It just means that you posted that and people are giving constructive feedback and saying, yeah, that's not an ideal way to respond to such a young child.

    I don't think anyone here is saying they're an awesome parent who never loses their temper or has perfect reactions to their frustrating child. I know I've lost my temper more than I care to count. But I think it's important that we realize that those types of reactions are NOT okay, and that we need to continually improve and make conscious efforts to be aware that these are little people who dont always respond rationally (and honestly, they shouldn't at this age).

  18. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    @T.H.O.U.: Thank you so much for this - I will look into that..... xoxo. I was looking at the FB group and wish it wasn't a public group!

    @gingerbebe: Thank you and hugs xoxoxoxoxo. I really appreciate what you said.

  19. cascademom

    coconut / 8861 posts

    3-4 years old has been our toughest age yet. I can relate to the tantrums and expectations versus reality. Someone posted something on here where if you look at the tantrum or the boundary as them as a mental patient, it makes the situation easier. He's not necessarily doing it to upset you or challenge you. They're doing it because they're learning boundaries and how they fit in the world that they're beginning to understand. I've stopped taking my 3.5 years old tantrums less personal and account for him being tired, not enough sleep, too much stimulation, etc. The tantrums and drawn out bedtimes have gotten more bearable that way. I'm eagerly awaiting for this phase to be over with.

  20. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    @cascademom: Hugs. When is this phase going to be over with? I am awaiting this to be over as well. I agree with the "mental patient" thing but it would have been easier if he wasn't so advanced. Which really makes me think he knows he is doing this on purpose, which again, I know it is not true.

  21. ldh112

    kiwi / 556 posts

    @irene: Another way to look at it if the mental patient thing doesn't work for you, is just remembering how many more years will be until his brain is fully developed. The part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) which helps you reason, empathize, and make more mature decisions is the last part of the brain to develop ..which is a good 20 years away!

    Basically what toddlers are good at is "flipping their lids" because they don't know how to control their emotional responses yet. They just react. Dan Siegels parenting books are great for expounding on this! If anything, his perspective has helped families I work with (I am a child therapist) reconstruct expectations, take things less personal, and have more empathy. Here's a couple links just to give you an idea!



  22. Foodnerd81

    wonderful cherry / 21504 posts

    @irene: thank you for posting this today, because I thought of it and some of the advice people have posted just this afternoon, when neither of my kids would nap and my toddler was being a crazy person in her room instead of resting. I *wanted* to yell at her, but instead I (mostly) calmly explained why I was disappointed that she didn't nap. And I really thought of this the whole time.

    And yes to them seeming so smart or advanced making it harder. This is another conversation Dh and I had last night. She seems to understand and know so much so it's easy to forget that no, she's two. Not an a$$hole, just two.

  23. gingerbebe

    cantaloupe / 6131 posts

    @irene: Someone told me once that we all arrive on Earth with a gallon of feelings and a small container. Hopefully by the time we're adults, the size of the container will have grown to a nice, roomy bucket, but until then, we're all just dealing with a lot of feelings and a flimsy, too-small container so sh*t is going to spill over. I guess our tots are dealing with lots of feelings and Dixie cups to hold them in.

  24. MoonMoon

    pomegranate / 3392 posts

    @irene: Irene, honestly, the way you're asking us to be patient and supportive and gentle and understanding with you? The way you want us to control our reactions to your actions? That's all your little boy needs from you, but he doesn't have the tools to ask you. You are the bigger person. You're the adult. You have the tools. Be as understanding and empathetic with him as you're asking us to be with you. Everyone deserves that. You do. Your son does.

  25. gingerbebe

    cantaloupe / 6131 posts

    @MoonMoon: I agree with what you're saying in theory, but its not like @irene: isn't trying to be patient and understanding to her son on the reg. She just lost it (as adults are prone to do, whether its to the toddler population, our friends, our spouses, or the jerk who cut you off in traffic this morning), and looking for other adults to blow that steam off to since she's obviously not getting that empathy from her kid.

    Its like when you're venting to your husband about something dumb that went down and instead of just listening and saying "that sucks, I'm sorry that happened, I love you" he tries to tell you how you should have handled the situation better and tries to help you "fix it." Its just not helpful.

  26. MoonMoon

    pomegranate / 3392 posts

    @gingerbebe: I agree with you and getting empathy and commiseration is very important and Irene deserves it. I'm not trying to fix anything, or telling her what to do. I'm basing my response on this, and previous threads, where Irene had mentioned losing her patience, screaming, and giving her son the silent treatment. Her tone in many posts, taken together, leads me to say yes toddlers are infuriating and difficult but at the end of the day she's the one who can change anything, not him.

  27. Eminthevalley

    apricot / 343 posts

    I totally feel your frustration. I have twin three-year-olds and have totally lost my shi*t with them lately. But I heard something recently on a podcast that really resonated with me, and I think it's helping. It was something along the lines of, we have to model self-control for our toddlers. If that means you saying, Mommy is very frustrated right now because x, and I need to calm myself down. Then your toddler sees you trying to calm yourself but also understands that frustration is normal...but also learns a healthy way to deal with it. I wish I could remember which podcast or the context but did I mention, twin 3 year olds?? I have found Janet Lansbury alternately helpful and maddening...as with much parenting "advice" I think, well, you don't have twins. My frustration with the type of situation you describe would be that one would be melting down while the other is ready to go, shoes on etc, so I struggle with trying to manage both of their opposite personalities. But that's me. I think it's pretty normal to feel out of control, but we also have to think of how we model that to the kiddos and if there's a healthier way to go about it. It's a daily struggle.

  28. Ginabean3

    pomegranate / 3401 posts

    @gingerbebe: I love this analogy! Describes exactly how I try to explain the mood swings of my little one!

  29. sarac

    pomelo / 5093 posts

    @Eminthevalley: Someone told me once that 'our children borrow our coping strategies', which really, really resonated with me. If I can't keep it together, I don't expect that they can.

  30. Applesandbananas

    pomegranate / 3845 posts

    I will say that even though I don't drink all of l the Janet Lansbury kool-aid either (I do like some of it), I do like her thoughts around introspection about why my kiddo's tantrum pisses me off so much. It's usually not about him at all and taking a breath and realizing I'm really just tired/sick/hormonal or whatever, it helps me get into a better frame of mind... Sometimes. And sometimes I lose my shit. It happens, but not every time or most of the time, but I'll cop to not being perfect.

  31. mediagirl

    hostess / wonderful persimmon / 25556 posts

    I'm sorry you are struggling so badly. It sounds like things are really tough right now. I think about this blog post often. It's how we react that helps de-escalate the situation. http://www.majesticunicorn.biz/blog/2015/10/20/broken-things

  32. Mrs. Lion

    blogger / grapefruit / 4836 posts

    I find that a lot of the same things are triggers for me, and that even though I studied child development and in my head I know the right way to handle these situations, sometimes my emotions get out of control, just like my toddlers do. I just recently started seeing a therapist because I began to recognize that it is my job to be the parent and to cope with my emotions in order to help my son with his. No parent does this perfectly,but I really do find Janet Lansburys podcasts and posts helpful. The more I begin to understand why my son behaves the way he does, and the more I dig in and try to figure out why his behaviors trigger me to become so angry, the easier it is getting to manage. It's not easy, but I feel like it is really important for me to do the work to continuously grow so that I am not repeating the patterns that I grew up with in my own home as a child.

    Sending lots of hugs and support. These years are so so hard.

  33. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    Thanks again all, again I can't reply to all of you but please know that I really thank you for taking time to think about this.

    @ldh112: Thank you for the links! I watched the video and it was really helpful. I get this better than Janet's podcasts. I still have to read the other article. Thanks!

    @Foodnerd81: I am glad my bad day(s) helped. Honestly. hugs!

    @gingerbebe: Thank you, thank you for that analogy. That really really makes a lot of sense to me and in line with the brain video @ldh112: posted! And thank you so much for your other analogy of I just want to vent on a bad day / parental choice / breakdown that I am not proud of and didn't want negative + nonconstructive judgement (I am also not sure why everyone assumes I said screaming and crying in front of a child is an OK behavior. When did I say it was OK..?). Yes exactly what you said. Thank you for putting this out. I want to marry you lol. xoxoxoxo

    @sarac: I know what you are saying, I also remind myself of that but it simply doesn't work. It is because that's who I am and I just have very very little patience. Again I am not saying it is a good thing. IT is a bad thing. But that's how I am and I can't control it. I need ways to tame it but I can't just say I need to model for my child therefore I need to do xyz. My problem is I can't do xyz. I tried and I can't. I just need to figure out a way to convince myself in order to change me. Which I am still trying to figure out.

    @mediagirl: Funny, a similar thing happened to me too. When LO was 2 years old, we were at a restaurant eating with a friend also with a 2 year old. LO didn't get that plates can shatter when they reach the ground. He got ahold of a plate in his hands. While I was saying oh don't drop it don't throw it on the floor he threw it on the floor with full force and smashed it. His face was in shock. Everyone in the restaurant looked at him. He just froze and didn't even cry. You can tell he didn't know this would happen and he was sorry. I was completely ok with that. The waiter came and clean up and I said calmly that see, this is why I said do not throw it on the floor. Plates get broken when you do that. Can you please apologize to this gentleman who is cleaning this up? He quietly said sorry. And that was that. And that point you knew he learned. And he never did it again. It is the things that I am not understanding that pushed my buttons. This big mirror / plate breaking I can deal with no problem.

    So far the things that really helped me and I need to write it down big and remind myself:

    - "REFRAME" unrealistic EXPECTATIONS
    - Say what I really mean, and FOLLOW THROUGH
    - Young child's brain is NOT developed, they can not help it, even though they appeared to be rocket scientists already
    - My son couldn't help it and he also wanted understanding from me in the moments that he couldn't control himself, but he didn't have the tools to tell me
    - we all arrive on Earth with a gallon of feelings and a small container. The container will hopefully grow bigger when they grow older.
    - Orange Rhino challenge

    Thank you so, so much everyone!

    To recap on today - I picked DS up, he ran into my arms screaming with a high pitch voice (indoors, not normal, I told him to not do that as we are indoors). I pretend nothing happened and we went back to the parking lot. Everything seems cool. I apologized to him for screaming in the morning while we were in the car he said it is ok. I said it is not OK and I will learn to change. He said he is sorry for crying. We went home and while he helped me pull the recycle bin back home and we had fun, he threw another massive tantrum when I closed the garage and I didn't know he wanted to close the garage. I was able to calmly deal with this one (honestly, I can deal with single events when I had NO EXPECTATIONS, just not when multiple of them happen together and I expected a great day lol). I explained to him that he will be able to close the garage tomorrow if he remind me. He went to his room to continue to throw his tantrum but he was fine afterwards. I went upstairs to talk to him and he said he felt better. The rest of the night was good overall. It was a lot of I love you mommy and I love you too baby. I think both of us realize what happened and we were not our best selves. I kept in mind of the orange rhino challenge when I raised my voice a bit (eg. he didn't want to stay in bed after bedtime... another one of my buttons). I just really have to spend some time to list out all of my worst buttons and figure out how to deal with them and in the meantime I'd have to write something on the chalkboard to remind myself

  34. Kemma

    grapefruit / 4291 posts

    @irene: FWIW I think that one day you'll probably read or hear a piece of advice that you'll relate to and all of a sudden it will click and you'll be able to start reacting differently. For some people that's Janet Lansbury, for others it will be the orange rhino!

  35. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    @Kemma: Yes and my son will be 23 years old then lol

  36. littlejoy

    pomegranate / 3375 posts

    Your response to @sarac: really struck me:

    "I know what you are saying, I also remind myself of that but it simply doesn't work. It is because that's who I am and I just have very very little patience. Again I am not saying it is a good thing. IT is a bad thing. But that's how I am and I can't control it. I need ways to tame it but I can't just say I need to model for my child therefore I need to do xyz. My problem is I can't do xyz. I tried and I can't. I just need to figure out a way to convince myself in order to change me. Which I am still trying to figure out."

    I think that therapy would be a place to learn these tools ... "I tried. I can't." If you aren't able to read a book, and absorb those thoughts, a trained professional would be an amazing tool for you. -- Your son's behaviors are completely normal. When he's acting out, it's like he's saying, "I need to count on you to help me through this. Teach me how to handle it." ... When you throw tantrums yourself, or react (even a negative reaction is a reaction, and they know that it gets your attention), it teaches them that's how we cope with stress. It's not surprising at all that he keeps having tantrums. It's what he's learning.

    It's hard. So hard. SOOOO HARRRDDDD! Toddlers & young children have little to no impulse, but WE (as the adults) should.

    I find myself going back to: "What kind of parent does my little one deserve?" -- the answer is someone who is kind, mature, and can keep their shit together. If I feel that slipping, I remind myself of my parenting goals. If I couldn't get it together, I would absolutely seek professional help (without any shame at all), because I know my child deserves a parent who she can trust & express feelings to.

    I know that Janet Lansbury isn't for everyone, but one simple tip has helped me. When I feel frustration creeping in ... I step back for a moment and take a deep breath. In my head, I just think, "Keep it calm. Keep it together." ... It always helps.

  37. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    @littlejoy: Thanks - yeah JL really doesn't help but last night I was really looking at orange rhino and I resonated with it a lot more. I am even filling out their work sheets So like @Kemma: said, just different things work for different people. I think I can do it and I will find my way. Just please let me figure it out. Thank you

    PS: I went to therapy too, also didn't really help as much as I wish it would.... Honestly, some of the suggestions here helped me more (!) maybe I should try a different therapist but I also don't have buckets of cash for me to do that...

  38. Kemma

    grapefruit / 4291 posts

    @irene: just something else to think about but it does take practice to change your reaction and attitude, especially when you're changing what has always been your go to and is deeply ingrained in your subconscience. I'm a firm believer that if you want it enough you will do it, and "I can't" will no longer be a good enough excuse for you.

  39. Mrs. Lion

    blogger / grapefruit / 4836 posts

    @irene: This post just came up on my facebook page and it made me think of this conversation. Some of these strategies sound over the top, but I can really see them working. Just thought I would share. I will be trying some of them myself. Hope your week is going better.


  40. irene

    nectarine / 2964 posts

    @Kemma: @Mrs. Lion: Thanks! Actually now I am trying to do the Orange Rhino challenge of not yelling for 30 days (or longer). I find it very very, very helpful and refreshing that she listed 7 levels of tone, and I am now watching my tone when it reaches something like a "3". The other day he almost ran into the road without holding my hand and I raised my voice, and I quickly remind myself of my tone. So now I am often very aware of my tone of voice, it is very very refreshing and I have never thought of that! So we'll see.

    These past 2 days he's been very good so I can't say I have a challenge yet.... I am cautiously hoping the skills and tips from everywhere and everyone will apply when that storm comes.... wish me luck!

    The thing I truly wonder is, if we couldn't express our anger and often swallow it back in when we are at the boiling point, will we all get cancer within 5-10 years? I am seriously wondering if anyone did any studies.

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