Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Losing the battle

Graham loves his babysitter.

She’s my mother-in-law’s best friend. She was at my wedding. She truly adores Graham and it’s obvious he feels the same way.

So it’s all the more frustrating and perplexing that getting him out the door in the mornings these days generally involves a full-blown temper tantrum.

They appear to have become a favorite sport for him. It starts with him turning away, laughing and making silly faces when I first approach with socks and shoes. But giggles and mock protests quickly escalate into full-blown power struggles involving crying, flailing, screaming, kicking and slapping. (On his part, of course, though I have to cop to some occasional screaming of my own).

When Graham is finally wrangled, red-faced and screeching, into his car seat, he’s usually barefoot and without a coat and I am usually close to tears.

Never mind that he generally starts cooing happily from the back seat within minutes, the tone for the day has been set.

And it’s a negative tone, an angry tone: a tone that makes me feel like a failure.

Anyone else feel like they’re losing the battle?

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68 comments:

InTheFastLane said...

Yep! Been there. I have given up on requiring that he is fully dressed. whatever I can get on him, gets on and the rest goes in a bag. Even if it is cold out, I figure, that sooner or later, he might care that he is cold, but I get tired of fighting it. BTW, Jack Jack LOVES his grammy, who babysits him, and I don't think it is the sitter as much as it is asserting their independence and there sweet little ages.

Kbreints said...

Oh there are those days... sorry this was one of them for you!

Lori said...

I just blogged about a tantrum last night too! I hate how frustrating it makes life. I can't imagine dealing with it while trying to get out the door... I hope it gets better and quickly!

Kitty said...

Oh yes, I remember it well. The beginnings of asserting their will. Keep on keeping on and you'll get there in the end. It does get better ... a bit ... kind of.

x

Not Your Regular Mini Van Mom said...

Tantrums. Ugh. It does get better, it is just a stage, but boy are they yucky. I don't have any great advice, just good luck! And don't give in, if you give in they know that the tantrum works and they will use it more often. When they realize it doesn't work, they move on to something else. Good LUCK!

SaraLynn said...

isn't it fun?
Yeah, we have been heading into the tantrum phase and, like you, it sets a tone for my day.
If we are in the car, I play music and usually that gets me out of the funk.
Jax of course is already cooing by the time I finally him into the car seat, too.
I feel for ya

Cee said...

I had a hard time getting the kids I babysit to do necessary things like: brush their teeth, put on their PJ's and NOT GRAB TOYS from each other. When the five month old is screaming at the top of his lungs for no reason on top of it, I want to give up and cry in place. then I think, why the heck am I having kids? I thought it would be easier when they are your own...

Beth said...

I feel your pain sister! I feel like every morning is a battle and I wish I could tell you it gets better with age. My kids and 3 1/2 and 5 and if it's not one of them that is grumpy and fighting me it's the other.

The only good mornings we have are on Fridays when there is no preschool. They get to sleep in and we usually don't have to be anywhere before 10:30. So they can wake up when they want, eat when they want and have plenty of time to play before we have to leave. Things go much more smoothly. This is the only reason I am looking forward to summer!

kittenpie said...

Been there! Pumpkinpie, who loves her daycare and most days asks to go, went through a phase of a couple of months this winter where I started to seriously wonder if something was going on, because she did NOT want to go. I asked her, but no, nothing was wrong. The thing I think made it worse, made it continue, was that it was so maddening, I would be cranky and angry and soemtimes shouty, which I think helped make her more clingy. It passed, though, apparently on its own. I wish you the same, but maybe speedier!

Karen MEG said...

You are so not alone. And tantrums always happen at the best of times don't they?
Hope your morning is better tomorrow!

April said...

Oh, man, those are SO annoying. I think a good first step is to save this post, and present it to him when he's brought his first girlfriend over for dinner!

Angie said...

I once read to simply ignore and step over the child when this was happening. This works around the house and in the store (if you can take the angry condescending glares and I CAN TAKE THEM ANYMORE). However, when you have the leave the house. Not so much. Maybe if you told him it was time to go several minutes before and igorned his tantrums just long enough that he stopped by the TIME it was time to go? Yeah, probably not. He's 2.

KEEP BELIEVING

Are You Serious! said...

♥ Temper tantrums are pretty familiar around here! It does start the day out bad at least for me too!

OHmommy said...

Oh yes!

I wish I could tell you they get better. But they don't. We just grow better able to stand them. The tantrums.

LoriD said...

I have started carrying Maggie out of daycare football style with no coat or boots, just the clothes on her back. Then, she cries all the way home that she wants her coat on. Definitely loosing the battle.

ourlittlefunnybunny said...

Definelty there my friend 6 days out of 7 involve a tantrum...wonderful!

Gabriella

MommyTime said...

I remember going through exactly this -- where every item of clothing involved a fight, and where he would manage to wriggle out of the shirt by the time I got the pants on...there were days when I literally held him down locked between my knees to force clothes on him. If I could get the whole body dressed, then he would finally stop. But the tantrum would result in him crying for a while, both of us red-faced, many shrieks from him, etc. There was nothing that really stopped it -- though there were days that I did leave the house with him not wearing shoes or whatever because I didn't have the energy. It was a very short-lived phase, though. And so far NOTHING in the two years since has come close to its awfulness. So, take comfort in the fact that it's normal, brief, and perhaps the worst it gets. Hang in there, sweetie. I know it's hard.

MommyTime said...

P.S. I say "perhaps the worst" only because I don't have teenagers whose driving terrifies or some such. But as far as infant-preschool goes, nothing beats those tantrums.

Tracey said...

My advice? Don't even try to put shoes or socks on him. Don't act like you're getting ready to leave, just grab him and go when he's not expecting it. Like, at the breakfast table. Buckle him (wrangle him) into the car barefoot. If it's really cold still for you, well, turn the car on early and heat it up?

Oh, and maybe start having extremely good treats in the car for him. Give him one after buckling him in, even if he's rotten, the first few times.

Then, remind him of the treat as you're buckling him in but only give it as a reward for good buckling in.

Do that for a bit. THEN, start offering the treat for a good buckling AND socks on. Then with the shoes, too. You get my drift...

Melissa said...

Hi! I was having a horrible time with my girls in the morning, and just like you said, it set a horrible tone for the entire rest of the day. Then one day, out of the blue, both of the girls got dressed "nicely". At that moment I said, "HEY! Do you guys want a sticker for getting dressed so well?" Of course they did. And from that day on I give each of them a sticker for every day they get dressed "nicely". For every five stickers they earn, they get a special treat. (Most of the time it's a roll of smarties -- so nothing extravagant.)

I avoided the whole sticker-reward system for years, but their temper tantrums were ruining our family harmony. I can't tell you much this has improved our mornings and thus our days. I wish you all the best!

Heather said...

I was going to suggest pretty much the same as Tracey. Don't even do the shoes and socks for a while, just bring them with you. When he sees it's not a game anymore he won't be running away, etc.

It's not worth it to have a fight in the morning when you're going to be upset about it all day. It's obviously not ruining his day!

I still have trouble picking my battles though too. After I fight with my kids about something insignificant I wonder why it mattered that much to me.

Dawn said...

I'm so sorry...I've been there. I worry about what I'll do when my son gets big enough that I won't be able to just pick him up kicking and screaming and buckle him in the car. I think they are starting to taper off a bit though (hoping).

flutter said...

every day, only not with any kids.

Brittany said...

We are CERTAINLY having more tantrums, these days. It's severely frustrating! I guess we just have to rest in the fact that it will pass and that it's just a phase!

Reluctant Housewife said...

Absolutely! That was Monkey last year. Tantrums everytime we had to do anything... HUGE full-blown violent screaming tantrums four times a day sometimes. It was awful.

The good news? He doesn't do that anymore. At all.

I know how you feel, though. It's so upsetting.

Lisa b said...

Every.day. the girl freaks out saying she doesn't want to go and then as soon as she is out the door she is fine.
who knows.

Valarie said...

I Let's face it....we are ALL losing the battle.

Queen Mommy said...

The battle is never won or lost, it just goes on and on!!!

My middle has the hardest time with this. And in turn my day starts off horribly as you mentioned.

I decided long ago that if walking outside without a coat gets him out of the house and he won't die, I let him do it. I do plenty of warnings and I also let them have cozy time in the morning. And Middle cannot be rushed in any way shape or form. It takes a long time but it helps from the tantrum perspective. I do things like, shirt and let him walk around, then pants let him walk around, then one sock let him walk around...you get the picture. Like I said, it takes a long time, but it does help!

Good luck!!

Rima said...

Unfortunately, most of our battles take place in the morning, when it's time to get ready to leave for school. When it goes awry, it sets the tone for the whole day and there have been many times, actually, when I've cried in the car.

One thing that seems to help is preparing them for the transition.

Good luck!

Momma said...

You know, the one thing I can assure you of is that the battle will eventually end. I say that because my tantrum-throwers are now 20 and 24.

My daughter's tantrums in stores were getting out of hand when she was in her terrible twos. Well, one day I decided not to give in and give her the attention she wanted. She threw herself on the floor by the checkout when I refused to buy her some little trinket she wanted. She began shrieking and thrashing about.

The cashier looked over the counter at her.

"No worries," I said. "She's just break-dancing."

I then proceeded to walk out of the store (it was in a mall with no door on the front) and I tucked myself away, out of sight. Soon, the shrieking stopped, followed by confused sniffles.

She finally ran out of the store, looking around and shouting, "MOMMY???"

I reached out and took her hand, and we went home. She never did that in a store again.

Of course, my son required other tactics. Each kid is different. I wish you all the luck! D

Yvette said...

Yep, been there done that!

I know you didn't really ask for my advice but I'll tell you what I did and it worked for me (Note: this may not be for everyone).

It was a VERY LONG DAY. CJ was tired and cranky and throwing yet ANOTHER tantrum. I had had my fill - so I calmly walked to the kitchen and got a cup of ice cold water, which I carried with me to the hallway - where she still sat, kicking and screaming - and I THREW it, right in her face.

I had a little bit of a mess to clean up afterwards, but it shut her up and I haven't had THAT problem since.

Best of luck!

Susiewearsthepants said...

Starting the day off like that is definitely hard on both of you. My daughter is out of the temper tantrum phase, but some days get off on the wrong foot for us too. Hang in there.

Law Student Hot Mama said...

Heh - I had a loser mom moment today. My son (8 months has a cold and he was tired and fussy. These carpet installers came to install my new flooring and they totally destroyed several pieces of antique furniture. And I totally yelled at my 8 month old. Like it was his fault. I think we all feel like we're losing the battle sometimes!

Lisa said...

I think we as Mommies are like a fine wine - we grow better with time...
That being said, I about completely lost it today when I turned my back for .06 seconds & found Lulu giving her baby doll a bath in the toilet....

Lisa said...

As I'm writing about loosing it I hear my almost 4 year old sobbing upstairs because she just pottied all over her bedroom floor on the way to the bathroom....yes, I've officially lost it!

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

Take deep breaths. This to shall pass...

I found ignoring the tantrums and staying calm and consistent helped the most.

MCmommy said...

YES. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I'm waving my white flag...and it's tattered and torn. The boys must have gotten ahold of it.

Becky said...

Every single day of my life, sister.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My youngest's (now 13) entire year of kindergarten. I would shove her into the carpool hysterical on a daily basis. My neighbor would call from the corner every day to tell me she was fine. I love him forever for doing that.

tommie said...

Mine (ages 3 and 4) both go to a Montessori preschool everyday from 8:30-12:30. Since it is on the way for Husband, he drops them off. EVERY morning my little girl throws the biggest hissy fit! Once they get there, they love it. So it kills me to see them leave the house in tears every day.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Aw, honey, been there. Whenever I really needed to be somewhere at a certain time and especially when I had all the kids by myself, my now 4 year old would throw a tantrum. He would kick off his clothes and same thing, I would end up carrying him to the car sans shoes and coat and wrestle him into his car seat. This started just before 2 and hasn't happened for a couple months now. I would then have to go back and get the now crying little sister:)
I kind of wonder if he was picking up on my stress of being in a bit of a hurry. He also is a real homebody and hates to have to go almost anywhere, especially if we have been out a lot that week.
I think there is an end! Hang on there, you can make it.

Do some deep breathing exercises once he calms down, listen to some soothing tunes and refocus.
Thinking of you,
K

Mandy said...

I see by the comments you've had lots of feedback. I have had the exact same situation with my son. I usually find that the days I am tired and battle his bad mood with mine, the day goes horribly. If there's a way to make a joke or get him to smile, it can sometimes turn the tide. Sometimes. Not always.

But like any phase it passes. And then you're knee deep in another one. Seriously, why is there no manual with these dang kids??

OHmommy said...

Ugh!

What I meant to say is that although the tantrums might get even worse we, as mothers, tend to ignore them better.

When that happens, so do the tantrums.

Hang in there. It does get better. Perhaps I should dye my hair blonde... it would match my stupid comment earlier. I wasn't thinking that I could sound like a poopie head.

Elaine A. said...

OH girl, I hate to say it, but this is just the beginning. Mine just turned 4 and I posted earlier today about our trials. God Bless us mothers, every one!!

Awesome Mom said...

Harry frequently has meltdowns before we go anywhere. I think it is a toddler thing.

LaskiGal said...

What? They throw tantrums? Huh? Why didn't people tell me this????

Seriously, you are doing way better than those moms on Super Nanny--YIKES.

And hey, listen to that happy cooing. He's fine. He just tied you into knots. I'm with awesome mom--it is a toddler thing, heck, a kid thing. Just stay calm, trust yourself (you are a great mom!), and stay strong.

Listen to me trying to give advice. I have an 8th month old . . . what the heck do I know.

Good luck! Remind me of this when I blog about J's tantrums . . .

Momma Mary said...

Every. Day. Well, not every day, but close. Getting Little Monster into the car has become an issue here too. No issue with the shoes/socks/getting ready.. But We're having the back-arch, bloodcurdlingsurelyimustbeabusingmykid screams from the backseat. The whole time I'm telling him "you're going to LIKE it!" He's fine by the time we leave the driveway. I'm not. I'm a bad driver when I'm upset. I feel ya.

Huckdoll said...

Oh yeah, totally losing the battle daily. If it's not Twin A, it's Twin B. Or both.

Sass E-mum said...

What is it with footwear? I'm getting the same with Ellie whenever I try putting anything from tights to jeans over her feet.

Maybe it's not just about going out. It might be to do with their burgeoning independence and feeling powerless when someone else holds their feet.

How about getting him to put on his own shoes - wellingtons or crocs? (I don't like crocs, but I'm going to give them a try).

Laura said...

Sometimes, a few times a day!!!!

These little people sure are mighty!!!

Hang in there!!!

Trudie said...

Your son is in the middle of the Terrible Twos but I can assure you, this too shall pass. That's scant consolation when you're standing there with a screaming kid in front of you and a sock and shoe in one hand... I know, I've been there! The only advise I can give you is the same as what others have said: Don't give in, but don't beat yourself to a pulp in the process. Put enough clothes on him that he won't die from exposure outside the door and take the rest in a bag.

Family Adventure said...

We went through it too, but it didn't really last all that long. Once they realized there was no way around it, they seemed to give up on that game...and start something else instead.

Try not to take it personally. You know he loves his sitter, and that he's happy there! Keep that thought close. You are NOT a failure, he is just being a toddler.

Hugs - Heidi

Dayna said...

I'd say if it's the shoes and socks that start the process - I'd be picking him up, putting him in the car, and putting the shoes and socks on at the babysitters. You know, that's just me, I'd throw a wrench in the little routien and see what happens.

Kelly said...

He's just showing you that he wants to be boss ;) Gotta give the little guy credit for speaking up for himself LOL

BIG HUGS - he will eventually stop

Amy said...

Tantrums are a fact of life when you have young ones. Getting out the door tantrums are the worst.

Al la Super Nanny, 2 minute warnings and a running commentary on what is going on next, where you are going, what you expect really work. Especially on a 2 or almost 2 year old. At this age thay are struggling for control and understanding of their world. Gone are the days that you can just grab them and put them in a car, peacefully. By keeping him in the loop ("In 2 minutes we are going to put on your shoes", etc.) it allows him to feel some control over his morning.
I'm not sure if you wanted advice or not. If you did, I hope this helps.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

My youngest just turned 3 and has been protesting "school" (daycare) very loudly in the mornings.

I'll be honest with you...I bribe her with something yummy like cereal in a little bag or even a couple of jelly beans.

My name is Jamie and I bribe my children!

Molly said...

I'm right there with you. Ladybug, 19 months old, fights with all the strength in her little body to avoid getting in the car. She arches her back so I can't fasten the belts and tries to slide off the seat, all while screaming, crying, hitting, kicking and pinching. She is a little she-devil. It is driving me to drink, I tell you.

Mental P Mama said...

I remember those days...believe it or not, I kinda miss them.

Motherhood for Dummies said...

there are always guilty moments. I know I have yelled at my baby and gosh she is only 6 months. I espesally felt bad when she was being crancky and non stop screaming...then I found otu she had an ear infection....yea...I felt bad :(

Sass E-mum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sass E-mum said...

So I couldn't leave this one alone.

It might just be terrible twos, but that's associated with their growing sense of self - so how about using a visual schedule to show him what's coming next and to encourage him to do some of the work himself.

CC did a post on this...http://ifonlyihadsuperpowers.blogspot.com/2008/04/wordles-wednesday-visual-schedules.html

When Ellie tantrums, I sometimes leave her on the floor to shout and scream while I've go and load the car or do some other job out of sight. I leave her saying, 'Okay angel, you have a lie down there and tell me all about it, while I go and have some more fun over here.'

She usually appears after a shortwhile - quite cheerful again. This is also how the childminder deals with tantrums. You could check if you and your sitter are consistent.

It's okay for her to go from 1-60mph in a second, but it's not for me. I keep talking, verbalising the difficulties and what I imagine she's thinking. It keeps me calm and keeps panic/confusion at bay.

But then, what do I know? Maybe she's really going to hit her stride at 3 - then what will I do??

Sorry to go on and on.

zoom said...

I remember my son used to cry when I dropped him off at the daycare centre, and then cry when I picked him up at the daycare centre. I remember how disheartening it was for me. In retrospect, I think he was just going through a phase of automatically resisting change. It lasted a couple of months, and then disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared. (This seems to be true of pretty much all the things they do at that age...the things you hate AND the things you love...they're all transient.)

How is Graham when you pick him up?

skiplovey said...

Wow that sounds rough. Haven't been there yet but what about if you put his socks and shoes on in the car? Change up the routine a little so he doesn't get realize you're leaving until you're already out the door?

Assertagirl said...

I totally go through phases like that, and I step away for a bit and come back refreshed, when I have something I feel is important to say.

Don't worry about it, this whole business of blogging is totally cyclical, and if you didn't feel the need to prioritize your beautiful family ahead of virtual friends, then there'd be something wrong happening.

Hope to see you Saturday night!

(P.S. I'd love to be added to your blogroll!)

nomotherearth said...

Yes. Why does EVERYTHING have to be so hard? And now the baby is screaming at me too. Good times.

Mental P Mama said...

I'm still here...and living my youth all over again! Keep on keeping on. xoxo, Mental Mama

Shan said...

We have the same problem here too. Mostly my two year old, but the five year old likes to throw one now and then for old times sake. Our strategy is to get up before them and be ready to go. Then get them up so we can devote all our attention to them and we aren't short of temper because we're trying to get us and them ready at the same time.

LunaNik said...

I am very lucky that my kids haven't developed this type of tantrum yet. YET being the key word here.