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I would really REALLY appreciate any advice or suggestions for dealing with an overtired tantrumming early waking 2 year old, before I tear out the last of my rapidly greying hair

(22 Posts)
poachedeggs Fri 12-Oct-12 06:34:32

She wakes at between 4 and 5am most days. She has a BF at this time so I can probably stop the waking by dropping it, but as she shares a room with DS it will be disruptive to him so I haven't braved it yet.

This morning is fairly standard in that she asked for porridge for breakfast about 45 minutes ago. I try to wait until 6am, so held off a bit (mistake!). I then asked if she was sure she wanted porridge or would she prefer toast. She wanted porridge.

Now we're having an epic tantrum because the porridge was porridge and not toast. I'm not making numerous different things - she had the choice and she chose porridge. Twice. Each time she calms down she asks for porridge then hurls herself on the ground screaming when she gets to the table. I'm now BFing her to calm her down properly because she's completely beyond herself.

This sort of yes-no-yes-no-yes-I SAID NO-yes-no-YES-NOOOOOOOOOOOO situation happens all the bloody time. DS didn't really do tantrums so I'm at a loss but I doubt that being exhausted helps sad

xkcdfangirl Fri 12-Oct-12 06:50:28

Sorry to hear about this, it must be very distressing - BUT she is (sbconsciously of course, she's only 2) doing this to test boundaries and work out how much in control of her life she is. You need to be the parent and set the boundaries.

You don't say how old DS is but you might be surprised what he can sleep through, and if she does wake him you can instruct him to be firm that it is still sleepy time. At the moment you are letting her be in command and no wonder it's driving you over the edge.

You could get a gro-clock, at first set the waking-up-time to only about 20 minutes later than she is normally awake and institute a system where she can have a sticker if she is quiet till the sun comes back. Once she is in that habit, gradually extend the time set by 10 minutes a week until its at a sensible time you can all live with.

Nothing to suggest about the breakfast tantrums, but perhaps they will lessen once the tiredness is less?

crackcrackcrak Fri 12-Oct-12 06:52:32

Why did you offer her the toast?
My dd (3) funds it hard to wait for food. I stick her in the high hair and give her random kitchen items to play with until the food is ready. She is still a bit high maintenance but its better than her being loose in the kitchen when I'm cooking.

poachedeggs Fri 12-Oct-12 07:06:08

She's back in bed - fell asleep!

I shouldn't have offered toast but she usually gets to choose from two things at breakfast time. She was dead set on porridge though,until I'd made it!

DS is 5 and she really does disturb him. It's been a problem for a long time. I think I'll drop the feed next week while he's still on holiday from school.

We already have a bunny clock. She laughs in the face of the bunny clock.

I don't mean to let her be in command. I thought tantrums were just what two year olds did? I try to avoid them by offering controlled choices but sometimes she she doesn't know what she wants.

More tea needed. DH got in from work at 3am. I'm working at 9am. DS is already being an argumentative little bugger. Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

ZuleikaD Fri 12-Oct-12 07:41:51

OP, for a start waking at that time is pretty normal for a toddler - most just get early starts - so I wouldn't bother trying to put her back to sleep. She's too young for bunny clocks, neither it nor rewards will mean anything for a while yet. How long does she sleep for in the afternoon? If she's getting a couple of hours in the afternoon and then going to sleep by 7 then she's probably not overtired, she's just developing fast.

IMO you did the right thing by holding off till 6am - the breastfeed may just be encouraging her stomach to wake up for food at an early hour so ditching it might help. Holding off anything until 6 may help (a bit) but you may find she just wakes up early. Both my two do. The best you can manage if you want your DS to keep sleeping is just to get up with her and take her downstairs.

The breakfast is a separate issue. Tantrums aren't just what two year olds do. A few are inevitable but others are to do with frustration and not having the words to communicate.

On the choice front: if she's asked for something already I wouldn't subsequently offer a choice, and don't ask her to reconfirm, either ("Are you SURE you want porridge?") - it will make her feel that she might have got the decision wrong and start to question herself - then comes confusion and massive upset. If she doesn't ask for something specific THEN offer toast v porridge. But not with such a long timelag that she has a chance to think about it. If it's toast, then let her sit on the side while it cooks in the toaster and choose what she'd like to put on it. If it's porridge let her pour the oats in the pan and the milk and the water and give it a stir before putting it on to cook. Let her be involved. Your instinct is completely right to start teaching her about choice, but don't give her too much of it (ie by questioning whether she's sure). If she's chosen porridge then she gets porridge. It's important to remember that toddlers don't understand time, so she won't grasp that this isn't her last breakfast ever - she might feel she'll NEVER have the opportunity to pick toast again. If she screams for toast after choosing porridge, let her know she can have toast for a snack later, or for tomorrow's breakfast (or even after her porridge once she's eaten it). Reassure her that toast is still an option and she might find that calming.

Am a bit shock at crack having a 3yo still in a high chair!!

MacMac123 Fri 12-Oct-12 07:50:46

She's not too young for the clock. Think you need to be firmer tbh. Had similar tantrums with my DS now 4 at end of 2. Was so depressing. But they are plenty old enough to understand and are just pushing it.
I saw each one as a battle that I had to win or he'd end up ruling the roost. Got it under control by giving him a warning then removing favourite things. Ie you have one warning to stop behaviour a/b/c or youre losing tv/toy/book for the day. Or youre going to your room. This causes more tantrums once they realise it's lost!! or that they are in their room.
But you have to follow through and very quickly the behaviour stopped at the one warning mention.
A friend of mine who has older kids told me this and although in the short term it is painful as they kick off even more in the long term it works.
Also, she's 3? Maybe get her out of the high chair and drop BF and do a bit of 'you're a big girl now'

MacMac123 Fri 12-Oct-12 07:51:54

Sorry just realised its someone else who has a 3 year old in a high chair!

ZuleikaD Fri 12-Oct-12 07:55:27

OP, is she just 2 or is she closer to 3?

poachedeggs Fri 12-Oct-12 07:57:42

Lol Mac she's just turned 2 and she's been on a dining chair with a cushion to sit on since last winter!

I shouldn't have confused the issue by offering toast, I know.

I do think the feed needs to stop because she's obviously tired and needs more sleep. She only naps for an hour most days.

I don't know how I can be firmer with tantrums though. I tend to let her get on with it until she comes to me for a cuddle. She's often forgotten what she was upset about and is shaky and exhausted.

BegoniaBigtoes Fri 12-Oct-12 08:01:16

Oh OP the tantums are so exhausting aren't they. My 2yo DD has tantrums exactly like that. She also often wakes early or in the night wanting to get up. <sigh>

I thinking stopping BF and making a big deal of her being all grown up may help eventually (of course you'll have to deal with a fuss at first). We have a "waking up time" of 7 am when the family gets up - if she's up before that, she has to be quiet. I sometimes say she can help me have a bath - she likes pouring water on my head to wash my hair etc. - this helps me get part of my morning routine out of the way and relax at the same time, and entertains her.

Withe the tantrums I try to stay calm and just remind her what's on offer. So "I'll just put your porridge here, it will be ready when you want it." I let her throw herself on the floor and scream while I just talk to her normally, get on with things etc and offer a hug now and then. Eventually she will look sheepish, have a hug and go and eat the porridge or whatever. The essage is "Knock yourself out dear, the porridge isn't going anywhere" but without getting angry.

(I should add I know it's not easy to maintain the calmness especially after a long day! - I don't always manage it at all. But when I can it seems to get the best results)

BegoniaBigtoes Fri 12-Oct-12 08:05:58

x-posted with you, sounds like you share my approach anyway! Sorry. All I can say is it should get better one day!

ZuleikaD Fri 12-Oct-12 09:23:22

At just 2 I think she's definitely too young for the clock - she just won't understand having to wait and rewards won't work, punishments will just upset you both and be pointless.

crackcrackcrak Fri 12-Oct-12 14:35:02

To be specific - dd (3) is in a Phil and teds me too at present. What's the issue? We have a breakfast bar and I panic she will fall off the seat. Anyway she likes sitting in in when I cook. She can't reach the table a lot of the time and I still use a booster seat with straps sometimes.

MacMac123 Fri 12-Oct-12 14:57:14

My little boy understood the clock from just 2, although we had it a good year earlier!!! I'd get one. It didn't always work at that age but it does now, he sticks to it like, ahem, clockwork! (hes just 4).
At 2, he would wait for the clock more often than not. Definitely get one and start training her on it!! grin

Ozziegirly Sat 13-Oct-12 05:38:07

We also have the "toast, no toast. Toast, NO TOAST" discussion now and then....

I think having choices is good, and I also try to give the controlled choices "toast with vegemite or hummous" but sometimes I think he wants neither, or both but isn't quite there with understanding yet that he could have both or something else, so we get the indecision.

Or it could be something totally else. Who knows?

I also try to let these sort of nonsense tantrums (as opposed to tantrums over a "real" issue) sort themselves out, by just saying "ok, well toast is here if you want it, if you don't, that's fine too" and then just ignoring (or offering a boring running commentary of what I'm doing) until he calms down.

blondieminx Sat 13-Oct-12 06:00:13

This too shall pass.

Tantrums are hard work on your ears and sanity. If it helps, read this smile

aufaniae Sat 13-Oct-12 06:05:38

What time does she go to bed? Can you move her bedtime to an hour later to give yourself more sleep?

aufaniae Sat 13-Oct-12 06:07:00

Assuming that means she'll wake an hour later in the mornings of course smile

aufaniae Sat 13-Oct-12 06:12:05

My DS wakes between 7-8 and has done since he was little. Friends of mine with early-waking babies say I'm lucky, but then they put their DCs to bed at 6pm / 7pm. DS went to bed about 9 or later even when he was 2. It may sound late, but if he'd been going down at 7 he'd have been up at 5 and I couldn't have coped with that! He's never slept as long as babies are "meant" to.

It did mean we got little time to ourselves, but I needed the sleep more!

(Now he's dropped his daytime nap he goes to bed about 8ish).

poachedeggs Sat 13-Oct-12 07:13:00

Hahahaha! We've tried a range of bedtimes up to ten pm and she resolutely wakes early. But is more tantrum prone grin

aufaniae Sat 13-Oct-12 13:05:46

Oh well, it was worth a try I suppose!

Karoleann Sat 13-Oct-12 21:59:02

I was going to suggest stopping the breast feeding, maybe leaving a beaker of milk on the side of her cot so she can drink herself (hopefully back to sleep).
Bunny clocks don' seem to work til they're much older.
My oldest two boys used to wake at 5.15, we had. Tv and DVD in our room and they would sit and watch that - I think we had pingu, in the night garden and brum. I distinctly remember ds1 sitting there shouting ping ping ping when the DVD had finished!
I'm surprised you're not Abingdon overtired tantrums too

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