Thursday, September 29, 2011

The "terrible twos"

Everyone has at least heard of the dreaded "terrible twos".  Whether you have kids or not you've certainly heard of it.  And there are always a few people who insist it wasn't so bad for them with their kids.  And that always give you hope that it's not gonna be so bad.  But then you hear the horror stories from others & you worry it's gonna happen to you.  But you hope it won't.  And of course part of me feels like if I just don't talk about it I can remain in denial & pretend it's not so bad really.  But it is bad.  At least for me, with Lil J, it is bad.  A friend asked me how the tantrums were going so I decided to just write a blog about the topic.

Next month Lil J will be 2 1/2, on my stepdaughter's 24th birthday actually.  I keep hearing people who say it only gets worse when they turn 3, that then I'll be begging for the "terrible twos" to return, but we'll see about that.

So there have been times in the past when Lil J has had disasters.  There were times when he played in the dirt in a planter in the house & there was dirt all over the whole dining room & living room.  There was a time when I was organizing the kitchen pantry cabinet & he stole a box of cornstarch without me noticing & he was having a blast spreading it all over the living room without me realizing. 

But a couple of weeks ago when I came in from the garage, from working out, (the door to our garage is actually in our master bathroom, weird set up, I know, but that's how I busted him so quickly) & he had the bowl from his potty chair & was scooping water out of the toilet with it & pouring the water all over the floor.  And when he had scooped out all the water, he had flushed the toilet & left the flush knob turned to keep it flushing, so he had a never-ending supply of water to scoop.  Luckily he hadn't been at it TOO LONG, just a big puddle right where he was standing.  I could see by his face that he had no idea what he was doing was bad.  And so I didn't freak out, I just made sure to tell him to never do that again, that it wasn't ok to do that.  And he helped me clean it all up. 

Lately when it's nap time I just tell him it's "quiet time" & he plays quietly in his bed (which is in the master bedroom) & then he goes to sleep.  I know that at some point he's going to give up his nap, so I'm hoping to be able to keep the "quiet time" going so I can have a break myself.  So a few days after that toilet fiasco it was time for quiet time.  So I put him in the room & told him it was "quiet time".  I heard him playing for a little while & then it was quiet, so I assumed he had fallen asleep.  Quite some time later I had walked to the entrance area of the house (which is right next to the master bedroom & bath) & I heard water running.  So I went in & found him flooding the bathroom in the exact same manner.  This time he had continued doing it for quite some time before I caught him & there were INCHES of water on the entire bathroom floor.  The carpet in the master bedroom was SOAKED & water was literally pouring out the door that leads to the garage.  I honestly couldn't believe my eyes.  And this time I could clearly see on his face that he knew it was wrong.  This time I did spank him.  It was such a nightmare cleaning it all up.  It took me a really long time & it still took several days to get the carpet in the bedroom dry.

So you would think he learned his lesson that time.  But no.  A few days later hubby put him down for bedtime.  About 20 minutes later I was going to go give him a kiss good night.  As I opened the bedroom door I saw that the bathroom light was on.  I asked hubby if he had left it on (Lil J never needs a night light, we never leave lights on for him) & he said no.  It was then that I heard water running.  I told hubby & this time he got to bust him pulling the exact same stunt.  Luckily we caught him really early so there wasn't much water to clean up.  Hubby spanked him as well. 

And the very next day I went out & bought a toilet lock.  Hopefully we've put an end to that.

So then yesterday I put him down for "quiet time" & I noticed he was awake for a really long time.  I had a lot to do & was busy, just listening over the baby monitor.  About 2 hours later it got quiet, so I had assumed he finally fell asleep.  At the time I was putting him down he kept yelling "potty, potty" & wanting to sit on the potty chair (this is becoming a trend, a trend that I need to put an end to).  So in my impatience I just took his shorts & undies off & left him to potty on his own & put himself in bed when he was done.  So it was quiet for about 20 minutes & then I heard something.  So I went to check on him & he had pooped in his potty chair & then proceeded to play with it.  He was literally head to toe covered in poop & had smeared it EVERYWHERE.  I had to take a deep breath & then throw him in the bath tub & while he soaked in the tub I worked hard at cleaning up.  It was a horrendous sight to see & a horrendous job to clean up.  Unlike any other mess, there's the fact that feces contains lots of bacteria.  So a simple wipe down isn't gonna cut it.  I had to also disinfect every surface as well.  Just trust me that whatever image you conjure in your mind while reading this, it was worse.  That's all I can say, I can guarantee it was worse than you can imagine.  I told my hubby I would've taken pictures, but I know my hubby would never use the bathroom again, LOL.  So I definitely cannot leave him bottomless at quiet time & I need to work on putting a stop to the "potty, potty!!" screaming deal that he's starting lately.

And of course there's the temper tantrums.  I had read that a lack of magnesium can lead to behavioral issues, including temper tantrums.  Upon searching for a good source of mg I found chlorophyll listed.  Since it's a liquid it's easy to give & I already had some in the house, so I've been giving him that once in a while, in his milk (be warned that it WILL STAIN if you want to try it).  It seemed like it was helping at first, but it doesn't seem to be anymore.  :(

I still do "time outs" when he's in a bad attitude & being disobedient.  I've always done them in the play pen & the first one is 15 minutes & each additional one throughout the day gets another 5 minutes tacked on.  He used to spend the first couple of minutes screaming & crying & then he'd calm down (however, if I took him out early he would just return to the bad attitude almost immediately).  But now he's kicking & screaming for a long time in there, sometimes trying to climb out.  I simply add more time to his time out when he does this, but it's becoming a regular thing.  The time out is still effective though, just takes a little longer now.  I know for some kids it doesn't work at all, but it has always worked well for adjusting Lil J's attitude.  When he comes out I still sit down & have a talk with him making sure he understands WHY he got the time out & I am now teaching him to apologize for his behavior.

As I said before, his latest thing is to scream "potty, potty!!!" & want to sit on the potty, usually when he's being forced to do something he doesn't want to do--time out, quiet time/nap time, bed time, etc.  So I'm working hard at breaking this.  This is a tough one cuz I worry that he might legitimately have to go potty & I don't want to just ignore him & have him wet himself.  BUT I am starting to recognize the pattern of how he yells it when he's faking it.  And I just tell him he doesn't REALLY have to go & he has to do (fill in the blank) right now. 

The "terrible twos" is a tough topic to write about.  Even when you read it it doesn't fully convey how hard the situation really is, day in & day out.  But yes, we are in full swing with the "terrible twos" & I am waiting to see how much worse it's gonna get for the rest of the twos as well as the upcoming threes next spring. 


Danielle-Marie said...

Do you think perhaps 15 minutes is too long of a time out? I do 2 minutes with Landon. He has a naughty corner and he knows not to leave the corner. I'm only bringing this up because when I took a parenting class the teacher of the course said 15 minutes is too long for a toddler, as a toddler won't understand by the end of the 15 minutes why he was put there in the first place. Dunno if there is any truth to it or not. We do the same thing you do with J. We have a talk at the end of time out about why he was in there and I ask him to say he's sorry. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. Time outs have been effective for us MOST of the time. Nothing is effective when he's absolutely bound and determined about something. I chalk it up to being the terrible twos but I'm fearful that he's just ever stubborn like his father, lol. I am SO glad Landon doesn't like getting his hands dirty. He would never do any of what you had to deal with above because he'd be more disgusted than I would be. Hannah on the other hand...I shudder to think what's in store for me. She is not afraid to get messy and I imagine I will be in your shoes a year from now. I understand how you feel though. When I look back on my day, it doesn't SEEM as stressful as it actually feels to me. Landon's temper tantrums are terrible. He screams (he'll do it in public too) and hits himself and smashes his head off the floor. For Landon, it's best that we ignore him when he's in a fit of rage. At first it gets worse but it then he quiets as quickly as he got worked up, because he's not getting a reaction out of us. This parenting thing...not always so easy.

Frau Guten Tag said...

If I do less than 15 minutes his attitude doesnt change & he continues to be bad. I know there are lots of "experts" out there saying all sorts of stuff but ultimately I know my child best & will do what works for him.

Calfkeeper said...

Oh Lord, Frau. I am sorry about how hard the 2s have been for you. The flooding and poop sessions had to have been awful.

I don't have any practical advice for you. I think you know best what works for him and what doesn't.

The only thing I can say is; stick to your guns...just be consistent. I promise that after awhile you will see changes and results. Yes, he will be on to different behaviours you will have to deal with, but he will soon learn to control his temper and all. It might be a couple more years, but it will happen.

It may sound trite but I always remind myself of the scripture Galatians 6:9. It helps.

Calfkeeper said...

Oh, and I forgot to add.

Ellen has started doing that; "I have to pee, I have to poop" thing when she doesn't really have to. I think it's totally a control issue. So far it's not too frequent, but I am also having to nip it in the bud. You aren't alone. :)

Frau Guten Tag said...

Thanks CalfKeeper!! I always try to remind myself that each of these phases are TEMPORARY.

Danielle-Marie said...

Absolutely, I've always agreed with the phrase "a mother knows best." I remind myself that these phases are temporary too...not sure how else I would get through the day! Haha.