Friday, January 25, 2008

Help!


UGH - I swear Brynlee has to be the most difficult child on the planet. (in actuality, compared to G, any child would be difficult, but who's comparing?) I know I've posted about her extraordinary tantrums - where she holds her breath until she turns completely purple and then she makes herself vomit. It doesn't take much to evoke a tantrum either. She pretty much loses it anytime she doesn't get her way. For the most part, I try not to give her attention when she acts that way. I just make sure she is in a safe place with a towel nearby, and let her freak out - a tactic that works well during the day. But now she's having tantrums at night.

She wakes up screaming, usually right around 3:30 am, with her body rigid and fists clenched. And she screames with such a fury and rage that I have often wondered if she isn't being possessed. I wouldn't be suprised if her head turned around, just like in the Exorcist. At first when these episodes started happening, I assumed she was having night terrors. But the more I read about them, it really doesn't describe what she is doing. I'm convinced she's just having tantrums at night.
The problems with tantrums at 3:30 am, is that I don't know how to deal with them. Letting her "cry it out" doesn't really work when she wakes the entire house. Poor Daddy is working 2 jobs, and needs all the sleep he can get. And her screams upset Burton, who stands outside her door and barks. She's already had 3 of these episodes this week. Its turning our house into utter chaos. And Mommy is t-i-r-e-d!
Last night she woke up asking for a drink. So I went in with a cup of water, fully expecting her to drink and go right back to sleep. But she decided she was finished sleeping, and proceeded to scream for 10 minutes. I want to teach her she has to sleep at night, and that she must be in her own bed. But I was so frustrated with her last night that I caved. I picked her up out of bed, and took her out to the computer. We listened to Barbie Girl by Aqua on iTunes about 3 times before I convinced her it was time to go back to bed.


I just don't know what to do.

Then there is the issue of her beating up her big sister. She hits, pulls hair, yells, etc and poor Gracelin is too sweet to fight back. I've tried disciplining her every way I can think: time-outs, yelling, etc. Nothing gets through to her. She doesn't even seem to understand that she's in trouble. With G, I could yell or put her in time out, and she'd be completely devistated. Bryn doesn't even seem to care when she's sitting on the naughty bench - sometimes she laughs at me. One particularly bad day, after the 1000th time of Bryn pulling G's hair, I sat the girls on the couch next to each other. I told G that she had permission to pull her sister's hair, so show her that it hurts. With tears in her eyes, G looked up at me and said, "but mommy, I can't pull her hair. It will hurt". This from a girl that had a bald spot from having her hair pulled out.

I feel like I'm at my wit's end. The other day, I even did something I said I'd never do: I slapped her hand. Even that didn't faze her though - she looked at her hand, looked at me, and then LAUGHED! And I'd slapped hard enough to make her hand turn red. All it did was leave me feeling awful.

Ben and I have always said that we will never hit our kids. It stems from an experience we had when we were newly married, and living in our old neighborhood. We were having dinner at a neighbor's house (a neighbor who shall remain nameless, because any of my Jordan Meadows readers will know them). At the dinner table, the brother hit the sister. Nothing serious - just typical brother/sister stuff. But the dad pulled his arm back, and slapped the brother on the side of his head hard enough to make both Ben and I very uncomfortable, as he exclaimed "don't hit your sister". Waking back home that night, we discussed the hypocracy of teaching your children not to hit by hitting your children. I'd always known that I didn't want to hit my kids - that experience just solidified my opinion. (I'm not trying to condemn anyone for spanking, etc. I'm just saying its not for me).


At any rate, I'm out of ideas. I don't know how to teach Bryn to be well-behaved. Its almost as if she has no understanding of proper behavior. One minute she's a little angel, and the next she's the Spawn of Satan. So, moms of toddlers (or who have at one time been moms of toddlers) help me please! I need all the suggestions I can get on how to deal with her behavior before she turns into a monster.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi! Just want you to know you are not alone, we have a baby monster as well. We do spank our kids. Not like you described. Just a swat on the butt that really results in no reaction from my baby monster leading me to believe it is not affective. My daughter, (his victim), you can look at her wrong and reduce her to tears. I do not think she has had a spanking in her life. My 21 month old (baby monster), he will pull her hair and then put himself in time out! I think they are less affected by yelling when they are subsequent kids because noise does not phase them. The oldest is used to a calm environment and when you raised your voice for her she was taken back. The younger kids are like "whatever, you raise your voice all the time". GOOD LUCK!!!

Christie said...

Maybe I should have clarified why I'm so anti-spanking. There is the hypocracy of it all. But I also don't trust myself. I have a pretty volitile temper, and I'm worried if I started hitting, I wouldn't know how to stop. My dad hit us kids - especially my brother - and I watched him lose control like that more than once.

The Gatherum Family said...

Well, I am no help. I have a 3 year old who when he is good, he is an angel and when he is bad...watch out. We timed him the other night-45 minutes straight of a huge tantrum. I am at a loss too. I do swat my kids on the bum but only when I am in control of the situation. I am with you, if I am really angry, I would be afraid of not being able to stop...well, good luck and pass along any good tips you get. Sorry I'm not any help!

Kristina said...

I don't spank either - and Lochlan is EXTREMELY strong willed and some days I'm just worn out from the endless battles. So it's not always a second born thing!!

Think positively. You're really at risk of labelling G the "Good Girl" and Bryn the "Bad Girl" because they're behaviours are so different. The good thing about a strong personality is that no one is going to beat her up at daycare or at school, no one is going to walk over her, no one is going to make her do anything she doesn't want to do. She'll succeed at everything she does because she'll MAKE it happen. She'll never believe someone if they tell her she can't do. So you want her to be strong willed. But you also want her to respect your authority.

But it's hard to parent - and it's different for every kid. You need to figure out what is making her freak out - not necessarily the specific event, but is there a theme to her tantrums? Does she want more control? Does she want more independence? Try to find ways of meeting her needs that work for both of you. Get her to talk to you - she if once she's calm she'll tell you what going on.

Then watch her - how's her behaviour at daycare? Lochlan does well there because he has a lot of control over what he does and he's encouraged to be independent. He freaks out much more at us. I also find there is a short wind up period where the tantrum is coming and if you can catch what's bothering her in time you can avoid it.

As or the hitting and generally beating up on G... maybe the problem isn't your discipline methods it's that G won't defend herself. So it doesn't matter how much you put Bryn in time out, she'll keep doing it because G is an easy target and if you don't catch her then she gets to have fun with no consequences.

So in addition to disciplining Bryn - you might want to start teaching G to defend herself. She can (gently) push Bryn away and yell "NO" or "STOP." Between consistent discipline and G defending herself she'll probably stop because it won't be much fun anymore.

Really it's consistency. Figure out between you and Ben what you're going to do when Bryn has a tantrum and then do it. Every time. She will eventually realize that screaming doesn't get her what she wants and it will stop.

For a few weeks until something else gets her riled up!!!

Good luck!!

Christie said...

Kristina - I swear you should be a psychologist. Between what you said to Pithy early in the week, and now this - I am amazed at your insight. I never considered helping G to deal with the situations - my goal has always been to get Bryn to stop. And thanks for helping me to look at the positive side. She is so strong-willed and smart - she probably will be an amazing adult. Assuming we can survive the terrible twos.

Julia said...

Okay well I'm one of those non-helpful commenters, but I just wanted to respond.

My 19-month-old boy can be real hell sometimes. His tantrums don't last as long as Bryn's seem to and THANKFULLY they don't occur during the night. My problem is that when he does have tantrums or hit (me because I"m the one there) I don't know what to do with him. He doesn't dare do anything to his dad. I don't know how Jeff put the fear in him, but I can't do it. I know Jeff has swatted him on the bum and hands a couple of times and that has done the trick. However, even on the rare occasion that I swat him, Landon just swats me back!

Does Bryn act different with your husband (regarding discipline)? I've found the same to be true with Ellie my step-daughter. She was never a hitter or biter, but she likes to talk back. At almost seven years old it can get to be very tiresome. I just have to stop talking to her or leave the room. But if Jeff says one word, she shuts her mouth. Doesn't quite seem fair, right?

Anyway, good luck with your situation. It's funny how you can have two completely different kids.

janae said...

Christie,
This was so interesting to me. We have the SAME situation at our house. Big sister is a sweet, caring angel and little sister is a terror. Big sister is really starting to act out though because I think she's tired of being beat up by little sister. I like what Kristine said. I too have tried letting M show B how it feels and it didn't work. I have never thought of having M look her in the eye and say "NO" or "STOP". This could help her in life too. I am more afraid for M out in the real world. B won't take anything from anyone. My mom is thinking it's pretty funny because she says I was just like B growing up. Good luck and let me know if you have any other tips. Oh, and by the way...I've been dealing with this for a couple of years and it does seem to get better, as I'm able to reason with B more as she gets older. (By the way, I love her hair and her name).

Everyday Superhero said...

I'm on the Kristina bandwagon. When my boys started to fight (over toys, lashing out in anger with each other etc) the first thing I said was that I wasn't going to be their moderator. Unless it was a dangerous situation, of course. The second thing I did was teach them how to react properly. If someone takes your toy, say "No Thank You. That's my toy." (Alright, I actually taught them "No. Mine." but I'm working with speech delays here.) Or if someone hit you to respond with your WORDS instead of your fists (not that you have that problem with G).

You need to teach G that it's ok to stand up for herself. Bryn isn't going to be the only child that will recognize G as an easy target. And you won't be there to moderate it outside the home. This is actually an important lesson for G to learn early on.

I have found that I'm much more demanding of my difficult children than my easy ones. Thing 1 pushes my buttons and earns himself time out after time out... but when The Littlest Thing has a tantrum for the same reason as Thing 1 I want to wrap my arms around him and make it all better. He's just so sweet. Part of Bryn's behaviour might be a cry for attention. It's hard to be the child who is always in trouble.

I know what it's like to have a child who makes you nutty, I really do. I found with Thing 1 that all of my discipline made the days long and awful. I started working really hard to find things that I could praise. Every day, every time he wasn't making me crazy. And he has come around. He's still willful, but he's much more pleasant and compromising. It might not work with Bryn because she's still little, but it never hurts to try.

You might find between lots of praise and consistent reactions to her naughty behaviours things get better. Keep us posted! Good Luck!

Erin said...

Oh, I wish I had some tried and true advice to give you. I would just research and pray to find a certain method and stick with just one thing. If it's time-outs, make sure you are on top of immediate time-outs right when the bad behavior occurs. I think it may take a while but if you are consistent, it will work. Good luck.

Lynita said...

Okay I am sitting here thinking at least I am not the only mom who is living a nightmare! I am with Kristina and Everyday Superhero...it seems like a cry for attention. I have to make a conscious effort to treat my kids the same with regards to discipline, because they are so different. But Kaitlyn, my 4 year old, is always watching how I dote on her little brother. Ethan is just a sweetheart, and Kaitlyn must be acting out some jealousy at how much I hug and kiss him. The truth is that I used to be that way with her, but she never liked it as much, and he is a total snuggler. So it is hard, but I try to give her more kisses and hugs too. There are just some days that no matter how hard I try to do special things for her she is going to be a little monster. I have a friend that has two boys who are so difficult and she told me today that a family physcologist told her something very profound. She said that parenting is more of an art, not a science so not everything works for everyone, and some people just get lucky! Wow! Good luck I know you are a great mom and that Bryn knows you love her and that is the most important thing ever!