Tuesday, November 9, 2010

If this is Two... Can I Skip Straight to Three?

My precious daughter is not quite two. But she's rapidly descending, and it will not be long before she celebrates with us her second year of life. I love my daughter more than there are stars in the sky... but lately, I've had moments where I havn't... well... liked her all that much.
Angel child becomes...

There, I've said it.

I've never felt this way before now, and it gives me the guilts. Big time. But I can't help it! My daughter has - almost overnight - developed certain personality traits that grate on me like fingernails on a chalkboard. Screaming when she doesn't get her way, for instance. Shouting "NO! MINE!!" when children come over to play and dare to touch one of her toys, for another. My daughter, when she wants something, has no patience waiting for it. We have about 2 milli-seconds to get the said thing she wants before she goes into full meltdown. My daughter has developed a frightening addiction to her dummy and the idea of extricating it from her fills me with horror and dread. She demands 'bitties' (biscuits) when she knows she can't have one. She thinks it is funny to stand on my bare feet with her shoes on. When my back is turned in the supermarket I turn around to find her standing precariously on the seat part of the trolley. Just to spite me.

Other days, my daughter is a beautiful perfect angel and I pat myself on the back for having such a delightful child.

Lately those days are few and far between.

In my heart, I know it's not something I've done. Not consciously. But has my over-indulgent-first-time-parenting created a not quite two year old monster? It all came on so suddenly that I have no idea how to cope or what to do about it.

... she monster. Or maybe just a bad hair day?
A friend kindly suggested recently that this behaviour can be a sign of great intelligence! But at this rate, I'll be enrolling her in baby-Mensa! It's true (jokes aside) that my daughter's language is exploding at a rapid rate of knots; her level of understanding and comprehension is very impressive and she seems to be able to count to ten. And, let's face it... she's smart enough to have wrapped her degree-and-life-qualified mother into a tailspin??!

I havn't got any 'toddler manuals' - perhaps you could recommend one to me? Or give me advice on how to cope with this little person on the cusp of terrible-2? Or assure me it will all go away as suddenly as it descended? Dear friends, I want my angel back!


  1. hahahahahahahahahah.......who said parenting wasn't fun????

  2. um, threenagers are worse! sorry to break it to you.

    there's an old book called "Your three year old: friend or enemy" oh yeah...

  3. The different in the two pictures you posted in this blog are so hilarious that I seriously laughed out loud while my daughter stared at me. HILARIOUS. ahahahhahahahaha.

    As for the reassurance - I do play therapy with children and this stage is very normal. And actually has very little to do with you! It's quite the opposite, it has to do with *them* starting to test their limits, develop their own identity away from you, and explore the possibilities of this world. The best thing you can do is give limits & stick to them, because this teaches them that there *are* boundaries. Always offer them another choice when you set these boundaries (that's how we empower them to make choices).

    For example, in play therapy we might say, "My walls are not for drawing on. You can draw on this paper, but you may not draw on the walls. If you choose to draw on the walls, you cannot draw any more." For a 2 year old you may have to simplify the language a little, but always offer them the more appropriate choice and HOLD YOUR GROUND. The *second* you cave in to one of their tantrums - that's it. It takes a LOT longer to reverse that type of reinforcement!

    You can do this!!!! :) It will pass! In the mean time, please keep taking pictures like the one above because they're horribly cute & hilarious!

  4. Hey Nicole, I can't offer much in the way of advice, but I do love your blog as you know, and this post made me feel for you. I completely empathise, and am not looking forward to the terrible two's myself. Don't beat yourself up for admitting something so natural and human!!!! I didn't like my 9-week old much today, as it happens. Don't know if you can get hold of her in Oz, but try googling Supernanny, aka Jo Frost. She is full of down-to-earth advice, which all seems to make a lot of sense without being too harsh or too lax... Anyway, good luck with it all xxx

  5. Oh, I know the feeling! I thought you were writing about my child!! This happened to me recently when my first born (and only), placid, perfect little munchkin changed in an instant around two (he will be three in March). He started hitting us when he couldn't get his own way, growling/screaming at people when we were out, refusing to eat, tantrums...aargh!! The change was very sudden and I wondered if I had done something terribly wrong!! I was so overwhelmed by it all I actually went to see a psychologist who gave me some behavioural management tools. They have worked!!
    As Kalen mentioned above, offering more than one choice has really helped to make my little one feel that he still has a say! Obviously, make one choice much less appealing :)!!
    I am also in the process of reading 2 books that I have found very encouraging - Taming the Toddler by Christopher Green and Children are from Heaven by John Gray (author of Men are from Mars...). It has helped with knowing what boundaries to lay down, what behaviour to respond to/ignore and making sure we as parents respond in a tender way to bring out the best in our strong-willed little delights :)!!
    Also, make sure you surround yourself with encouraging friends who reassure you of what a great job you are doing as a mum. We are all doing our best and pointing out how people could be doing it better does not help!!
    Hang in there lovey!! You are not walking this 'terrible twos' journey alone!

  6. Ahh, I feel your pain Nicole. I've just spent the last year juggling toddler meltdowns and a new baby, often resulting in a Mummy meltdown to rival said toddler's. I know just what you mean about not always liking them much, just know that it's totally okay to feel that way, I assure you, she will not always like you either. It has nothing to do with love, as I'm sure you know :)

    The main things I've learned this year are (1) Have a plan and (2) be as consistent as possible. As Kalen said, don't cave. Routine and distraction are your main allies for avoiding toddler tanties. It helps to know that this is a very normal stage of development and the work you put in now (however hard and frustrating) will pay dividends by the time she gets to kindergarten, well that's what our health nurse tells me :) I hope she's right!

    Books I've found helpful are:

    Politically Incorrect Parenting by Nigel Latta
    The Mighty Toddler by Robin Barker
    Toddler Taming by Christopher Green

    Good luck. Stay strong. Love the photos, I had to laugh, I love the way every thought and feeling is so transparent in kids, they carry all their emotions close to the surface, when it's not driving you nuts, it is pretty funny (and cute).

  7. Hi Nicole,
    There are two books I recommend that help put things into perspective when dealing with toddlers. They are quite different from each other and I don't necessarily agree with everything in the Christopher Green book but there are bits of invaluable advice there: 'Toddler Taming' - Christopher Green and a book by Pinky McKay (crazy name but smart woman) 'Toddler Tactics' which I really clicked with. Hope this helps, I'm just heading into the 2's this week with my second daughter. Flick.

  8. I can totally relate as I have a little girl who will be 2 in Jan and I also have a little girl who is 3 (plus a boy who is 5)... sadly I think 3 is harder than 2. I know it gets easier but when I am tired and just wanting the nice little girl that I know is in there to come back, it can be really hard.
    Fingers crossed it gets better .... and soon!

  9. Ahh.. welcome to the wonderful world of toddler! Where the Queen is Fern and you are but a minion slave... put on this earth to serve her every whim ;o)

    I feel your pain lovely! Isobel is EXACTLY the same... she has the most torturous tantrums, demands Icy poles at 7am and wont eat brekky, says 'WHAT?' to everything I say in a "I am two going 15 voice" and when she is not being a complete fart, she is absolutely delicious and I want to gobble her up with love. Izzys language is well advanced as well - and I do think that compounds it.. there are lots of developmental changes happening at once.

    But this is not about Izzy... so, my advice? Skip the manuals as there is no 'one fits all solution' - follow your heart and tread gently. They are delicate little souls but we are also human and we will not damage them if we have the odd tantrum ourselves every now and then. And as one mother of three Diva girls has said to me (and I think its the best advice I have got so far)...This is the time to set boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries.....I am still working on that but apparantly it helps.

  10. I just read what Kalen said! That there is great advice... I am going to run with that too :)

  11. This is why I keep a blog -- THANKS SO MUCH GIRLS!! Each of your advice is so helpful. I think the key message here is 'boundaries' -- something I aspire to create but tend to give in on. Note to self -- I am 34, daughter is 2!! Why am I the one who is intimidated here?! Thanks again.... xo

  12. Oh Im feeling ya! When my oldest turned almost 2 I was exactly where u are. It did get better with time and consistency but then we hit 4 and oh boy!! But I think it has to do with his current testosterone surge so u may be spared from it :)

  13. Hi. I recently found your blog. I am a mom of 3 in Seattle, WA USA. I have a 13 year old girl (fasten your seat belt for this age), 11 year old boy and 3 year old girl. I can't really recommend any books but I can tell you that these stages of behavior do indeed come on out of nowhere and can also disappear just as quickly. I remember vividly thinking that aliens had come in at night and snatched my perfect kids and left me with one of "theirs". Then when I least expected it, they would come back to me.

    There is a term for it...a state of equilibrium (everything is calm and normal) and disequilibrium (when they take on a new personality -- this part is usually more common on the half birthday. But maybe she is just hitting it now.) Think about how much she is developing right now. If her language is exploding, so is her brain and she is probably having a hard time reconciling everthing that is so new...she has to try it all out, good and bad. Let me just say again, it will pass and she will be back to her old self. And yes, set those boundaries because when you least expect it the behavior will come back again. It is a cycle and if you are consistent with your response it will become less painful. And when she hits puberty (like my older daughter), hopefully you will have laid the groundwork for more appropriate behavior.

    You seem like a great mom. Make sure you get some rest...and try for a girls day out...it will go a long way to making everything more manageable.

  14. Hi,

    Matilda is 2 and a half now and we've had stages of this kind of thing on and off for the past six months. I think you just have to hold on through it and stick to your guns but make sure to have fun with them when they're being well behaved so that behaviour gets rewarded too. I've heard it gets really bad at 4 years though and I'm not looking forward to that! (and at the rate we're going, Matilda may still have her dummy in her mouth but then!).

    PS how cool would a matching old school desk be!

    Take care!

  15. You crack me up Nicole - I can totally relate to this post as Grace is starting to test the boundaries lately too. She is obsessed with swings and the other day when I told her it was time to leave the park, she had a MAJOR meltdown and screamed the whole 20 minute drive home while I tried everything from ignoring, growling and talking in a calm voice. Nothing worked until we got home to HER swing :) It left me thinking that perhaps I should get a few toddler books out from the library soon so I'll have to check out the suggestions above. I have read the Pinky McKay one which had some good suggestions. At least we can all empathise with each other on here :)


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