2013 Clean Out: Surviving the Ups and Downs of Toddlers

 

This is part of my end-of-the-year cleaning of draft posts. I wrote it when the boys were about two and a half to document some of the chaos. The dinner/bath/tantrum thing still happens but the biggest issue we deal with now is them bugging the sh*t out of each other. Enjoy our pain from the past.

The “Terrible Twos” are supposed to be every parent’s worst nightmare. Tantrums, hitting, throwing, screaming, and mood swings are commonplace. To make it worse, the “Terrible Twos” don’t always wait until two. I know a lot of people who said they came early and I think the Taylor household can join them. The boys have been a bundle of confusion lately. Mood swings have been so vast that we are afraid to breathe because we might just set one off. Both of the boys have had their share of nuclear meltdowns which have resulted in less-than-fun nights for the whole family. Here’s the kind of stuff we’ve been running into:

  1. We hate dinner. There was a two-week period where the boys simply refused to enjoy dinner. We’d get home from work, sit them down, and give them their meals.They’d acted hungry and started eating just fine… for about two minutes. Then they would both erupt into total meltdowns – kicking, screaming, and refusing to be cleaned. There was no time for us to eat as we had to manage the boys who not only wanted dinner to end but also wanted to be attached to us. So no food for Mommy and Daddy unless we wanted to hear screaming all night long.
  2. We hate baths. There was a short few days when bath time ended in tears for both boys. Luckily that didn’t last long. At least for Adam. Zach on the other hand has decided that, although he loves water, the combination of water, soap, and Adam is not so attractive. Getting him anywhere near the bathroom has resulted in tantrums so intense that I’ve been tempted to give him a paper bag to breathe into. Zach’s tantrums are epic and I’ll talk about them in more detail later. As a result of all of this Zach ended up not having a real bath with soap for about a week and went days without even dipping his toe in bath water. It all came to a head earlier this week when I had to force-bathe him which was not any fun but at least ended up with a clean baby. The good news is that Zach has had a couple of baths since them with some help from his GiGi. He even shared the tub with Adam and didn’t have a melt down.
  3. Zach’s epic tantrums. Adam generally whines more than Zach. As a result, we’ve learned to filter it out a bit. If we let him go for a while, he will usually stop. Zach doesn’t whine as much, but when he gets mad you better watch out. If Zach starts having a fit it will not end until he gets what he wants. It starts with a look of anger or distress followed by an open mouth that doesn’t make any noise. You can see it building as the tears start to flow but no sound comes out… He basically stops breathing for a few seconds while he gets worked up and then finally lets out such a high-pitched wail that it’s almost in the range that only dogs can hear. The next 10, 20, 0r 30 minutes is full of tears, screams, and spasms. We’ve tried to leave him on the floor to get over it but he bangs his head on the tile or hard wood while he rolls all over the place. Picking him up usually isn’t much better because we can’t give him what he wants and he can’t tell us. The only thing seems to get him to stop is to watch Caspar Babypants or Calliou on TV. These have been happening at dinner, bath time, randomly in the evening, or even in the middle of the night. They are very difficult to deal with because he doesn’t respond to being left alone or being told that his tantrum is not acceptable. We’ve had to resort to “time out” crib time in a few instances but that doesn’t really do it either.
  4. Zach’s temper. If he isn’t having an epic tantrum sometimes Zach will give us a temper. If he can’t get what he wants he turns into this little version of the Hulk and starts throwing things. He will stomp around the living room kicking over toys that are on the floor and finding things in the toy box to throw. Unfortunately for us it is absolutely hilarious so its hard to do anything but watch and laugh. He looks like a little Sue Sylvester terrorizing kids on Glee.
  5. Biting, hitting, pushing, and hair pulling. Both of the boys are guilty of this one though Adam is the most frequent offender. The boys love to play together, which is great, but give them enough time and they will eventually get close to each other and start to wrestle which turns into biting and hair pulling. The pushing and hitting is usually reserved for jealousy or toy conflicts. It’s not uncommon for Adam to take a toy away from Zach, push him, and then run away. Not only is it not right, but it also can trigger an Epic Tantrum. Hitting is more of a Zach thing. He likes to run up to Adam and hit him in the face then pull his hair. Oh and the poor dogs. They’ve been poked, prodded, and smacked so often that they get aggressive even when the boys are being genuinely nice to them. We always watch the boys closely and correct them as they do these things but it takes a lot of correction to make this stuff stick.
  6. Not listening. GAAAAAH. I hate this one. Both of them usually know when they are doing something wrong but they do it anyway and laugh at you when you correct them! SOOO FRUSTRATING. Those are the situations that usually result in time out.

Boy, that sounds pretty terrible, doesn’t it? We have had some not-so-fun evenings and weekends where all of these things happened together. The result has been screaming babies with screaming parents wishing they were handling themselves better. We’ve started to get used to the random changes in interest. If they don’t want to eat dinner for a week or take a bath then fine we can deal with that. We are getting better at dealing with the tantrums and coming up with a way to stop the tantrum without giving into it. Its fun. I guess this behavior is the flip side of all of the wonderful things they do – the cuddling, the helping, the talking, reading, playing, laughing, and general cuteness. As long as the nasty stuff isn’t the majority of it I guess I’m fine.

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