Is it unreasonable to find the toddler stage SO hard?

(42 Posts)

My DD is 2.5 and I must admit I'm really struggling at the moment.

She is so frustrated and upset a lot of the time. She's really sensitive and has little meltdowns over the silliest of things. If she drops some food, or her drink she's saying "sorry" and acting really concerned about it. It makes me feel like I tell her off all the time, when I never do (she's not really naughty - I don't see this behaviour as naughtiness) She also seems to be getting a bit of separation anxiety and her sleeping is suffering. I'm trying to work out if she still needs her day-time nap. If she doesn't have it she's very tired and grumpy by 4pm. If she does have it, she won't got to sleep until at least 9pm and then she doesn't get a full night (still wakes at 7am) so is grumpy the next day.

I don't get the anxiety...our home life is very stable. At the moment as we're both looking for work, we're both at home nearly all the time with her, she gets a lot of one on one time from both of us. We don't argue (in front of her, and rarely do anyway), we're both laid back. In certain situations she's incredibly confident. With adults, and at baby groups etc. But if I put her on a swing she totally freaks out (what toddler doesn't like swings??)

Sorry, it's quite hard to get all this into a cohesive post that makes sense. My nerves are frazzled and I've ended up in tears the last two days with her random tantrums...Reading the post back, it doesn't sound that bad, but I'm having a real hard time coping with it. Nothing holds her attention for long and she's terrible when she's bored.

I know parenting is supposed to be challenging but I feel like I'm failing her somehow...surely she should be happier?

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Thu 20-Jun-13 19:19:39

My 1st DD was like this very emotional needing careful handling, v hard work. It is exhausting, please don't feel like you're a bad parent for feeling this way, it seems so exacerbated because she is highly strung on top of being a toddler, she's probably bright for her age too? My daughter is nearly six and is still an anxious and grumpy little thing at times but when she's happy it's like the sun coming out. Sometimes it can feel like you are the only one whose child seems 'miserable' but I think they all have different moods/personalities just like us.

Without wanting to sound big headed, I do feel she's quite bright. I'm not going to list things she can do but people often comment and say she's advanced etc (I've not much experience with young 'uns so not much to compare it to).

Thanks for your reply...she is lovely when she's happy, and so much fun. I just feel constantly stressed and I try so hard not to be snappy with her, but it's REALLY hard.

TeWiSavesTheDay Thu 20-Jun-13 19:23:31

You aren't a bad parent. Small children are really, really hard. partly because they're so different it's hard to know what to expect/how to handle them. It gets better when they can communicate more I think.

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Thu 20-Jun-13 19:27:21

It does get better but is does feel like a grind some days I know, I asked about her being bright as they seem to get bored easier and frustrated with things when they are x

FredKiller Thu 20-Jun-13 19:27:53

My toddler has ruined me today. Various meltdowns, culminating in a huge tantrum whilst demanding an ice lolly after bath time (obviously after not eating dinner). I'm exhausted and find it very hard too. I feel your pain.

<ignores massive baby bump and the fact it's about to get way much harder>

Oh and DS hates swings too. Loves a slide though. I thought he was the only one!

VinegarDrinker Thu 20-Jun-13 19:29:37

No real advice but sympathy by the bucket load. My DS (2y4m) is actually fairly ok most days but does the same with naps and so we get days like today when he napped yesterday but went to bed late and woke early so was pretty horrid from the word go. Everything is a total drama.

I shipped him off to nursery and felt seriously sorry for the workers, but at least they are paid to deal with it! DS is quite a perfectionist which doesn't help, he'll meltdown over spilt drinks etc but also over not being able to do things perfectly first time. When I arrived to collect him from nursery they were making 'passports' and he had a massive lying-on-the-floor meltdown because he couldn't form all the letters of his name perfectly by himself. He's 2 FFS!, and I can guarantee the pressure doesn't come either from us or nursery (nursery is free play based and very non pushy).

Anyway, sorry for the ramble. We do find sleep is usually the root of particularly bad days but like your DD he stills does seem to really need that nap some days.

Other than that, gin, wine and lots of deep breaths seem to be my main strategy. This too shall pass, right?

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Thu 20-Jun-13 19:31:49

I also think a myth that toddlers are these happy little creatures, I think some have little sunny natures and that's lovely but don't feel like a bad parent or that she's unhappy because of it, I know that's easier said than done.

grin DD has just got into slides. She loves going over the park but all she does is run around and touch things. She's nervous with things but very confident with people.

You're probably right 1veryhungrycaterpillar - she does get bored easily and I get the feeling sometimes she gets very frustrated with herself because her brain is ahead of her body and she wants to do things that she physically can't.

She sounds very similar VinegarDrinker. She's very into Duplo at the moment and if she can't get the bricks to line up properly she gets very annoyed. There are times when her tantrums are so ridiculous it's funny, but when you've had a few a day, the novelty wears off.

VinegarDrinker Thu 20-Jun-13 19:46:27

Oh yes, I've had to take certain toys away for a few days after getting exhausted by the meltdowns about not being able to do it perfectly. He likes swings but needs a lot of encouragement to do new physical challenges, he didn't walk until he could do it perfectly etc and still can't jump! But verbally/"intellectually" he is pretty ahead.

The 'brain ahead of body' thing definitely rings true.

Eyesunderarock Thu 20-Jun-13 19:48:59

Mine are 18 and 22 years old now.
The toddler stage was the toughest. Both times round.

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Thu 20-Jun-13 19:49:17

It really does, my DD said her first words at around 8 months but didn't pull up until 18 months and couldn't walk until 22 months, imagine her frustration

DD walked at 15 months so later than average, 22 months must have driven him mad! She started walking when we got our dog as she wanted to chase him around! She knew all her alphabet (with names and phonic sounds) and could recognise all the numbers up to 10 by the time she was 13 months. She does make me proud, the crazy frustrating little fire-cracker that she is grin

I've heard 2 year olds talk far more comprehensively than she does (in terms of sentences etc) but her vocabulary astounds me and she only needs to be told the name of something once and she'll remember it, even if she doesn't see it again for ages.

Anyway, I hate going on about things like this, I don't want people to think I'm a massive twat.

FamiliesShareGerms Thu 20-Jun-13 19:55:04

OP, I could have written your post word for word. Remember: they don't call it the terrible twos for nothing...

It will pass - DD is now 3, and almost overnight she became the happy, relaxedlittle girl we used to only get glimpses of on some days.

ARealDame Thu 20-Jun-13 19:55:11

Yes, toddler stage was the hardest in my experience. Its incredibly physically demanding and emotionally demanding. Babyhood, by comparison, I found an absolute breeze.

However, I think it is also one of the most delightful phases. I look back at photos and am still amazed how beautiful my son was then. And I feel that about other toddlers I see back on the street. I'd go back in a flash if I could.

My sons 3 and hes very apologetic. Not me but to things. He drops a fork he will say 'sorry about that fork' etc. He apologised to the slide because he tripped over it at the park grin

He tantrums over very silly things like garlic bread and if he cant see the moon (at 1pm)

He walked at 10 month but only started talking this year.

some days he can be hilarious like Tuesday when he became a door mat or today when be thought he was a man because he had faint hairs on his arm. But he can also be a handful and have me rocking in a corner

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Thu 20-Jun-13 20:02:22

I love their sticking out little bellies

VinegarDrinker Thu 20-Jun-13 20:05:29

Scarlet they sound so similar! Right down to walking at 15 months! DS has suddenly 'got' blending the phonic sounds this last couple of weeks and is suddenly reading tons and tons of simple words. It's really quite astonishing to see but I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to talk about it for fear of sounding like a total twat.

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Thu 20-Jun-13 20:08:11

He does sound bright VinegarDrinker and that is simply stating a fact

BoomChicaBoom Thu 20-Jun-13 20:10:55

Your dd sounds exactly like my ds - he is just 3 and is finally showing signs of chilling out. He gets so frustrated if he can't do something. He used to ask for help if he was struggling but now he won't accept help, he HAS to do it himself. This is good in that he is obviously persevering at things he finds hard but if something doesn't go right after a while he screams bloody murder! He has also started to get a bit obsessive about time - he can tell average time by looking at what number the small hand is pointing to and if we say 'dinner is at 5 o' clock' and the hand is slightly past then MELTDOWN!!

Lots of sympathy op, and I'm sure as she approaches 3 things will get easier also, she will soon be able to go to pre-school

1Veryhungrycaterpillar Thu 20-Jun-13 20:18:19

Little perfectionists

VinegarDrinker Thu 20-Jun-13 20:25:19

Boom DS has been agitating or ages about learning to tell the time and I am deliberately holding back because of imagining that issue! DH and I are definitely of the spontaneous, laid-back lazy disposition so really don't fancy constant grilling on exactly what time everything is going to happen!

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Thu 20-Jun-13 20:30:29

Ahh, I had one 'easy' toddler and one errr, difficult onewink I can look back and laugh now (actually I miss it, I'm finding the early teen bit harder)

Both mine hated swings until about 6.

Tailtwister Thu 20-Jun-13 20:35:20

YANBU, toddlers are a nightmare! Given me a newborn any day, at least they sleep.

I found the toddler stage very hard with both my DC. I do think that very bright children are harder work as toddlers. They are further ahead than most intellectually (if that's the right word!), but still very limited physically. I think they get frustrated as all toddlers do, but it's exacerbated in their case.

I found that keep them busy and out and about helped. I never seemed to get the sleeping thing quite right. I often found that they needed to nap on one day but not the next. It was a bit like hitting a moving target.

Squitten Thu 20-Jun-13 20:39:54

YANBU. I remember finding the toddler stage of DS1 so very hard and constantly panicking over what kind of monster we would end up with if we didn't fix him somehow!

DS2 is now embarking on his toddler stage and screams over really bizarre stuff like not getting to open his own bananas grin We laugh about it.

It's not permenant and it will pass - promise!

bedhaven Thu 20-Jun-13 20:44:54

I feel your pain, am currently sitting on the stairs doing repeated returns to bed all because DD 2.5 fell asleep on the way home. It does seem to be the cusp of the end of naps. It started with refusal to nap at home followed by an early evening from he'll, now the evenings are better so long as there is no nap. I'm still unsure what the best option might be? Maybe a short nap? My friends tell me it will never be as bad as it is now, so I'm going to cling to that hope!

VinegarDrinker Thu 20-Jun-13 20:47:00

Mine has just fallen asleep 1.5 hours after being put into bed. He had an hour's nap at nursery (tbf I don't blame them, he was in such a grumpy melodramatic state anyway I dread to think what he'd have been like going all day without a sleep).

BoomChicaBoom Thu 20-Jun-13 21:18:06

Vinegar, that is very wise, wish I'd had that foresight! Dh and I also of the laid - back disposition that you describe!

Tailtwister, we are also having that nap inconsistency thing, he usually doesn't sleep in the day, but occasionally he'll crash out like it's all caught up with him. Always makes his night time sleep a nightmare though so I sympathise with the constant change. Also makes it difficult to plan things sometimes.

BoomChicaBoom Thu 20-Jun-13 21:22:33

Oh, and sudden random upsets like the fact that he didn't want to go on a pirate ship - completely out of the blue, no suggestion had been made that he did go on a pirate ship! Amazing what pops into their heads...

Afritutu Thu 20-Jun-13 21:48:01

I have one of these, she is 3.5 now and is basically a sensitive flower, can be very shy and clingy around people she doesn't know or when I am around to cling too. Her sleep has been awful for last 6 months, she wakes frequently and wants to sleep with me (which is only way any of us get any sleep). She is very big on imaginative play, and I think her mind is very over active which is why she seems to blow up a lot over very small things (tears more than tantrums) and is extremely sensitive. She is lovely, but it is exhausting.

morganster Thu 20-Jun-13 22:00:47

Toddler years were the hardest for me I think. But mine's not a teenager yet so I don't know if we've been through the worst. It's fairly normal I think to be driven to tears - well it was for me anyway. There are certain things that hold their attention for longer. For mine it was sand and water table in the summer. Or some plastic animals - she'd play for hours with them. But other things - you'd get it all out and she'd be bored in minutes. Sleep and eating (having been fine before) went to pot at age 2. She started waking at 4 or 5am, despite the fact we'd not managed to get her to sleep until 10pm. And refusing lots of food. I don't know how we got through. You just do. But don't be worrying is what I wanted to say. Just do what gets you through and don't worry if things aren't perfect. It's just what they do. I have a reasonably normal 7 year old now and life is considerably easier. Keep calm and carry on and all that smile.

MoetEtPantsOn Thu 20-Jun-13 22:04:53

I have a 2.5 year old and it's just the same. My older one was awful until she was about 3.5. Sorry.

On another note I have since found out that often children who have ear problems hate swings. My older one has had repeated ear infections and grommets put in twice. She has always hated swings. Apparently it makes such kids very nauseous as they find it harder to regain balance.

Thank-you so much for all the replies, it's so nice to know we're not alone!

Her favourite thing at the moment is she loves going to places....but doesn't like being AT places.

When we're at home she's all "Go to Nanny and Granddad's?? Go see friends??" etc....as soon as we get there she wants to leave and she's saying "Go see Daddy!" or "Go see Jake!" (our dog). She could walk around outside (she much prefers walking to the buggy now) all day, but as soon as we get somewhere she's off again!

Ah well...at least it'll help in my weight losing quest grin

Plus, I've just given myself new hair which always makes me feel better! I feel more "me" whereas for the last few weeks I've just been "Mum".

DoctorRobert Thu 20-Jun-13 22:37:18

Oh OP, I feel your pain! DD is 2.3 and this is definitely the hardest it's been so far. The added difficulty we have is that she's quite behind in her speech, so there is frustration all day long in not being able to tell me what she wants.

Earlier, she got so upset about being in the bath that she actually threw up in there. That was definitely a low point for me! She hasn't napped in the day since she was 18mo & we're both exhausted by bedtime.

She also hates swings (I thought she was the only one!)

My DS is 2.4 and a nightmare. He throws proper tantrums now (I especially enjoy BUT I WANT TO DRIVE THE CAR), and massively favours DH over me just now. Previously he was so sunny, easy going and a complete mummy's boy. It's breaking me in two tbh.

This too shall pass.

Until it does, I shall drink copious amounts of wine.

robertal1978 Fri 21-Jun-13 06:26:27

I think at this age they are so funny!...my son tells me he wants a new mama n dada if we tell him off for anything and the dog gets put in a headlock for nought lol

Snog Fri 21-Jun-13 06:51:48

What is her dad like with her?

Dad is the fun one, she is definitely a Daddy's girl. Most of her tantrums/meltdowns are because Daddy's gone out and she wants him hmm

So yeah...I'm with you "BuntyCollocks* - it's hard sometimes.

He is great with her though, we're both looking for work at the moment and he's quite prepared to be a SAHD should I find a decent job first.

jamdonut Fri 21-Jun-13 07:50:12

YANBU, but it doesn't get any better! Teenagers have meltdowns etc,etc and are just as hard work!!!smile

grin Thanks for that jamdonut

I'm hoping she takes after me as I was a really easy going teenager, whereas DH was the complete opposite.

PickleSarnie Fri 21-Jun-13 08:03:16

I love toddlers. If I could give birth to a two year old, I'd have loads. Although it would sting a bit I imagine.

I find the baby bit getting there bloody relentless and a slog though.

Everyone is different.

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