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DD2: meltdowns, meglomania and mummy guilt... I'm crying at work, which WILL NOT DO. Please help...

(31 Posts)
designerbaby Fri 30-Nov-12 10:38:22

I've just had it this morning.

It's been a whole week of tantrums power struggles and out and ought fights over EVERYTHING with DD2 (2yrs 8 months). It's such a shame, as we had a lovely day together (without DD1 who was at school on Monday) but from Monday night onwards, and tbh, generally over the past few months, her behaviour has just been really unmanageable.

She fights over having her nappy changed in the morning. Fights me about getting dressed, (physically fights me – I have the scars to prove it) what she will and will not wear, won't come downstairs for breakfast, won't put her shoes on. Won't eat. Throws food/toys/clothes. Won't have her hair brushed. Won't out her coat on. Won't get in the buggy. Once put in thrashes around so that I'm worried she'll injure herself. In the evening, she won't get undressed, won't get in the bath, won't allow me to wash her, put her nappy on, out her jammies on, won't sit still for a story, won't have a cuddle...

I just feel like I'm permanently at war, and it's exhausting and upsetting. I alway try to give her (limited) choices for things "DD2, which tights/dress/jumper would you like, this one or this one" kind of stuff, because I guess this is about control, but it doesn't work.

Time out works pretty well to calm her down, (it's the only thing which does, really) but I feel like she's spending too much time in time out and it's depressing. I want to be with her, for us to be together.

Background info:

I am working 4 (short) days a week running my own business. DD1 is in school (Rec), DD2 is in nursery tuesday-friday, and we have Monday just the two of us, when we do fun stuff together.

I think she misses her sister, as they used to spend a lot of time together at nursery.

She's also moved down from toddlers to the preschool room at nursery.

DH has been away this week with work. TBH it doesn't affect their routine much, he usually takes them to school nursery but otherwise doesn't really see them Monday - Friday.

My mum has been down this week to help out while DH is away. She used to look after DD1 when I first went back to work and we were waiting for a nursery place. As a result they have a very close bond. DD1 dominates her attention and DD2 struggles to get a look in. Mum tries, but because DD2 resorts to bad behaviour to gain attention, it doesn't really work...

I'm working quite hard at the moment, but very much scheduled around the children. I work from early until school finishes, pick up DD1, give her supper, do her homework with her, pick up DD2, bring them both home, have a snack and a drink with them, do bath, story bedtime, make supper for me and DH and then start work again in the evening. So although I'm working hard, I hope it doesn't impact them too much. I am tired though, which probably affects my ability to cope with DD2.

I feel guiltu that DD2 is in nursery 4 days a week and DD1 wasn't at this age as I was on mat leave. I feel guilty because I don't know how to handle her behaviour. I try really really hard to keep cool calm and collected, and usually manage to, but it's exhausting, and I feel like it's a constant, unrelenting fight, and every now and then I get really cross, because she just pushes and pushes and pushes.

I feel guilty that when I'm with her I'm constantly having to discipline her, when all I want to do is enjoy being with her and have fun with her. I try to ensure I praise good behaviour (even the smallest thing) but it's so outweighed by dealing with the bad bahviour.

I feel like we're in a vicious cycle. I feel like DD2 is struggling, but I don't know why. I feel really really miserable about it all.

Any insights/experiences/advice please? I'm at the end of my rope, tbh.

I just love her to bits. She was delightful all day on Monday, so I know my lovely little girl is still in there...



designerbaby Fri 30-Nov-12 12:20:46

Shameless bump...

amyboo Fri 30-Nov-12 12:33:32

I can't comment direcly on some of the things, but I was just wondering if perhaps giving her a bit more independence on some things might help? My DS1 is exactly the same age and is potty trained for precisely the reason that he started not wanting to wear a nappy. Could your DD be trying to tell you that she doesn't want to be in nappies any longer?

We also haven't used the buggy with DS1 since we moved house 6 months ago, as it was a huge battle to get him in it. So, now we just allow more time to get where we need to go, and make sure that he holds our hands. When we first stopped putting him in the buggy we made it clear that if he didn't hold our hands on the street he'd go straight back in the buggy! Would this work with your DD perhaps?

FWIW, DS1 started maternelle (Belgian preschool) full time in September and he was a nightmare for weeks. He'd been in creche fulltime for 2 years before that, so we knew it was just a reaction to all the changes. I do think that at this age they find it hard to adjust to big changes in their lives. So, it could be that she'd just finding the nursery changes hard at the moment... I do find that sometimes it's easier to give in on the small battles (what to wear for example) and to kind of battle with which him over the things that are most important to me.

BellaBearisWideAwake Fri 30-Nov-12 12:34:08

I haven't got a clue but I am bumping for you as someone must have some good advice - all I can offer is 'This Too SHall Pass' which only feels true in retrospect ...

BellaBearisWideAwake Fri 30-Nov-12 12:34:30

ah see, someone did! cross post

I don't know that I can help but I didn't want to read and run. I am having similar issues with DS who is 22 months, I think the reasons are having a new sibling, back molars coming in and usual toddler angst/pushing boundaries - so even if I can't help know you're not alone. Much of your DD's behaviour sounds like my DS and your reaction is similar too. I'm a SAHM and we're together all day so I don't think the time thing makes a difference. I think toddlers just need a lot of reassurance and comfort in a crazy world - hopefully someone will be along with a proper answer in a bit but I feel your pain (whilst listening to a child shout for more water when all he wants to do is bite the top of the cup and tip it everywhere when he should be napping) sad

amyboo Fri 30-Nov-12 12:38:15

Ooh, and will she maybe wash herself in the bath? dh often gets in the bath with DS1 so that they can both washe faces, arms, etc at the same time - it's worked quite well with DS, wo also doesn't like being washed by us.

And also, DS's maternelle teacher has aught him to put his coat on, which is a great way to get him out the house in the morning: "Can you be a big boy and show Mummy how you put your coat on?" works very well... Yu basically lay the coat on the floor with the hood facing the child's feet. They bend over, put their arms in the arm holes and then kind of pull it backwards over their head, and voila! coat is on, and tantrum avoided....

FireOverBabylon Fri 30-Nov-12 12:50:50

A couple of things strike me, reading your post:

- the relationship between the girls and their dad - "[dad] usually takes them to school nursery but otherwise doesn't really see them Monday - Friday". Why not? Could he have more to do with them in the evenings? Could you work one / two longer days with your DH making tea and swap your DD to 2 or 3 and a half days at nursery so you also have an afternoon together, or she and your mum could have a 1/2 day together on their own?

- How is your daughter settling at nursery - to me, if she's playing up only on nursery days, I suspect that may in part lie at the heart of it. My DS has just moved up to the big class at nursery. He's been fine but some of the other children have not - regressing in potty training, refusing to leave parents in the morning etc. Has you daughter had to leave a friend behind in her old room at nursery? That move to the pre-school room is a biggie. DS was at great pains to point out that he wasn't a big boy, although he moved up a room, and was still our baby. I think the move generally unsettled him and he wanted assurance that not everythng had changed.

Does any of this ring true? Is it worth considering a childminder so she gets greater adult attention?

BabyGiraffes Fri 30-Nov-12 13:38:07

Oh poor you sad. I'm in a similar situation with dd1 (Yr1) and dd2 (2.10). I also feel guilty that dd2 is in nursery when dd1 wasn't at this age because I was on maternity leave/unemployed... My dd2 is also very stroppy at the moment but it hasn't quite reduced me to tears, so I think your situation is worse. It does sound like your dd2 feels a little out of control at the moment because so many things have changed (her sister going into reception and leaving her behind, moving up to preschool...). It could also be her age. My dd2 has become much more independent and is very aware now that her big sister tries to dominate her (mostly in a good way, but often bossy) and she doesn't stand for it any more. I've also had some shocking sibling rivalry when my mum stayed for half term and it was the first time dd1 has shown real envy when she had to share granny. (Again similar to you dd1 has a much closer bond with her granny than dd2)/

Your job sounds very busy. Is there a way to cut it to three long days a week (can your dd1 go into after school care for an hour or two?). Or alternatively, could you collect dd2 from nursery first and then make a bid deal out of getting her big sister from school, then having a nice snack at home for everyone to chill out? I try to do this when I can and after a snack more often than not they go off to play together for a bit and all is well in their world.

Is there a way your dh could get home a bit earlier at least once a week to play with your girls before bedtime? dh invents the most wonderful games when he's home in time and it really helps. I am always the practical one, just like you: making dinner, supervising homework, bath time, hair drying, teeth, bed... I don't think I am liked very much sometimes because I'm the one putting down the rules! Whereas dh is the fun person. Oh, and I have cut bathtime to twice a week which takes some stress out of the evenings.

I don't think you are doing anything wrong by the way and wish I had a solution sad. Keeping my fingers crossed your dd2 settles down a bit.

ScarlettOoHara Fri 30-Nov-12 13:51:47

It's just her age. I have one, she's our fifth and final. She'll be alright by the time she's four. I thought our oldest would be a delinquent by now he aas so naughty. He's lovely now he's ten. Until then we'll enjoy sending her to nursery where she is as good as gold. They can't believe she's a monkey at home.

Goldmandra Fri 30-Nov-12 14:23:27

You're doing the right things which are the three golden rules of parenting a toddler.

Stay calm and keep things consistent.

Offer praise whenever you have the tiniest excuse.

Pick your battles carefully and, once you've engaged, don't change your mind.

It does get better and IMO feisty children are the ones who are go-getters as adults.

designerbaby Fri 30-Nov-12 15:33:47

Thank you all,

Sorry, will reply in more detail later, as am rushing to get something out of the door before going to pick up DD1 & DD2.

You've all made some really good, relevant points... and I'm feeling a bit better about it all...

I've read everything and will respond properly after the girls are in bed.

I didn't want you all to think I wasn't grateful or had done a post and run...


Tgger Fri 30-Nov-12 15:53:11

A lot of it really is just her age- please don't beat yourself up. 2 or 3 can be horrendous and I think if you can be calm, consistent and kind, then that's about the best you can do.

My DD at this age was a delight at nursery and could be hellish at home. I was the same as you and genearlly stayed calm but sometimes didn't blush. It got easier as she got a bit older, and also when I was stricter (ironically- or maybe not ironically! DH put me onto this as he is a stricter parent and generally they behave better for him!).

It's hard to tweak others behaviour (re your Mum) but perhaps you could give her a piece of paper with 2 or 3 things she might do with each of your daughters- activities they are into- just be low key and say "I thought it might be helpfulf for you to know what the DDs like doing at the moment (as then she will be easier and behave better)" you can choose whether to say the last bit or not!

Don't fight when you don't need to- she doesn't have to have a cuddle if she doesn't want etc. Do you give the negative behaviour (when she won't do things) attention- it's very easily done. If you can just ignore it a bit more it might go away?

swanthingafteranother Fri 30-Nov-12 23:14:58

I would pick dd2 up a bit earlier from nursery so that she can be part of the afternoon with her sister, even if it means that temporarily you can't get on with supper and homework. Eventually they will play together and there will be more time for you to get on in eves, rather than the struggles atm. It is tempting to give loads of time to dd1 because she has started at school but if you were SAHM you would be lugging around toddlers etc when you pick up, so it is possible (if not ideal wink I know it is stressful doing school run with two whinging kids in tow, but it might just get afternoon off to a better start for dd2. She could help you pick up dd1 for example?

Another thing that might help is a meal that everyone can eat, including Dh, even if in two batches? So less work for you?

Also a brilliant book called How To Talk So children Listen, which explains how much children want to be independent, and ways to get them on your side, by being on their side.

Also things like coats, can be optional. I often found a toddler will put on their coat when outside because they realise it is bl***dy cold. Inside they can't see the point. What she wears doesn't matter either does it? Just let her wear what she wants, for now. Who cares if it doesn't match? I've seen enlightened mum send their kids to nursery in Spiderman Pjs. Child happy, parents happy.

I've been looking after my 2 year old niece recently and it was so familiar to me all the flareups; my toddlers have grown up to 10 year olds now, but I see a lot of battles can be avoided, if one cares less!!!smile If she doesn't want a story, try a little chat in her bed instead. Or a pretend picnic on the bedroom rug, or a rolling around session. You can do what you want when you are the mum! I think playfulness/distraction gets a lot of problems solved. When you are v tired it is often the last straw to have to think out of box but it often helps. You sound like a lovely mum, and toddlers are very testing, despite all the love you can give and more. HTH

designerbaby Sat 01-Dec-12 10:17:52

Hello lovely people. I pretty much passed out not long after getting the girls to bed last night...

There isn't much to be done about the work situation... As it is I get in four short days (finish at 2.55pm) which isn't really enough. If I was to try and pick up Dd2 first I'd have to leave at 2pm. I have clients who need to get hold of me, 3pm I can swing, 2pm... Ironically, the reason I set up
On my own was primarily to be able to do school pick ups etc and not have them
In after school club and whatnot... I DO have flexibility, I just also have too much work... It'll get easier when I'm able to have a few more staff, in Jan, hopefully.

DH, well that's another story. He's away entirely for one week each month. The rest of the time he's rarely home before 8pm. Have tried to negotiate that he does one evening school run a week, this sometimes happens, sometimes not. He's very busy, I appreciate he does the morning drop, which allows me to be in work at 8am.

I'd like him to come home more often to see the girls before they go to bed, but that's not going to happen.

DD2 will join her sister in the nursery of the school in April, so she will also be doing 5 short days. Hopefully she'll be much less tired then (she recently dropped her nap, so I think she's massively overtired much of the time). Logistically it'll be WAY easier and should mean we all get more time together.

Nursery is great, she loves it there. But it is both horribly expensive and totally inflexible. If I only wanted her in for a half day they'd still charge me for the whole day. I can't afford to do that if I'm not working during that time...

I find it hard to balance allowing her free choice with the needs of the rest of the family. And also, at the moment I really can't allow her to go out to school in her short pyjamas... As there's just me, we have to do what works for the whole family... DDone's needs can't be ignored, and I can't be in two places at once...

My fear is that DD2 is a bit of a pocket sized tyrant, and I can't let that continue. She needs to understand that she doesn't actually rule the roost...

It is good to hear that they don't necessarily continue like this and maybe by the time she's ten she'll be delightful again... I was having flash forwards to a teenage hell...

I think she is naturally feisty and string willed. I guess this will stand her in good stead as an adult!? DDone is a real people pleaser, which is great, for me, now, but I do worry about that going forward.

I also think she's massively unsettled by changes to the routine, but rather than getting upset as DDone might, it manifests as anger. That's it, really. She just seems utterly furious much of the time. sad

Weirdly, she was the most delightful, sleeping, eating, smiling angel baby... then she turned one....

I guess we're all just a bit tired and strung out. I just don't feel like there's much to be done about it. But DD2 evidently is coping less well than everyone else (except perhaps me... I'm crying a lot at the mo. sad).

You're all great though...

swanthingafteranother Sun 02-Dec-12 14:32:11

hope things are going better today. And remember she is just a baby still! With big dreams!

CecilyP Sun 02-Dec-12 19:55:47

Yes, she is still just a baby so don't project too far ahead. DS was a toddling tyrant on some days, but turned out to be a trouble free teenager and a pleasant, not particularly assertive, young adult.

butterflyexperience Wed 05-Dec-12 04:10:55

I have one of those too!
I'm putting it down to her age 2.9 and hoping she out grows it by 3.
Most of it is a power struggle... She wants her own way yet still needs me to meet her emotional needs.

Can I suggest you give her some independence through responsibilities?
Like potty training?
Helping you to tidy up - she has to find all the socks in the clean laundry
She can get herself a snack or make her own sand which for lunch

May help?

designerbaby Wed 05-Dec-12 09:26:52

Hey all. Well, last night was a terror. It was all fine and then after the bath she just kicked off. Hysterical flailing, scratching and pinching, over what pyjamas she would wear – i.e. none of the ones we own.

I'm not proud but she got a light smack on the bum and some time out. Didn't know what else to do. I'd been superhumanly patient. I'd offered her choices. I'd not tried to rush her. I'd been very gentle. But she just kicked off anyway, over who knows what. I didn't lose my temper as such, but I needed to out a stop to the behaviour and had run out of options.

But I feel like shit about it. She's only ever been smacked once before in her life. She, of course, is fine today, but I'm beating myself up about it.

We are going to attempt potty training over Christmas. I have my doubts. She's not really showing any signs of being ready, but we need to get her reliably trained by the time she's due to start school nursery in April. She loves sitting on the loo and wiping herself with extravagant amounts of paper, but has never yet produced anything in it. Often she will sit there for ten minutes, then hop off and wee on the floor two minutes later...

She is my little helper in the house, helps me with laundry, cooking allsorts.

I probably do need more time with her 1:1. But I don't see how I can make that happen at the moment...

Feel so fucking guilty over everything.


Goldmandra Wed 05-Dec-12 15:48:39

She's not really showing any signs of being ready, but we need to get her reliably trained by the time she's due to start school nursery in April.

This would not be a good idea. The nursery are not allowed to expect any child to be potty trained before they are ready and certainly not as a condition of accepting them.

If you try to train her before she is really ready you are setting her and yourself up for an awful lot of unnecessary stress. I really don't think you need that right now.

Don't beat yourself up about the smacking. It's not ideal but it's also not going to have done any long term damage.

Keep doing what you're doing and it will get better.

designerbaby Wed 05-Dec-12 16:33:46

I probably need to ask if they NEED her to be potty trained. They have said they would LIKE her to be trained... But that's different. There are lotf of things I'd like...

But it would take the pressure off. TBH we'll be paying them a lot so... I could be more chilled about it at Christmas if it wasn't a set deadline.

I'm keen to do it anyway, as a) the nappies are VILE, and b) nappy changing is often a point of conflict - i.e. she doesn't want to be changed, even if dirty. She doesn't like anything being 'done to her' wants to do everything herself, but she's 2, so she can't.

I should have seen this coming really – her first phrase was "GET OFF" (aged 10 months...).

I'm just tired of fighting with her. I don't have the energy any more. I love her to bits and it breaks my heart. I don't want to be at war all the time.



Goldmandra Wed 05-Dec-12 17:03:00

They can't 'need' her to, full stop. They would be breaking the law if they insisted. They could be awkward about it but they would be taking a big risk.

Keep sitting her on the potty without expecting her to achieve anything. If she does a wee or poo give lots of praise but assume it's a fluke. Don't try to drive it forward because you really don't want her to have a reason to be oppositional about this.

Every time you remain calm and consistent and get a battle over and done with you have made progress because she understands a little bit more about what she can and can't control. The process is long and hard but there is an end in sight.

Also remember that she's not angry with you but with the fact that she is not being allowed to be in charge. It feels horribly personal but it really isn't.

You're doing the right things. Just keep swimming..... smile

swanthingafteranother Wed 05-Dec-12 18:35:03

DB I've been pushed to that point too sad If it helps, think of yourself as a very large person, and her as a very small person, and then you will realise she is less powerful that she appears (in her effect on your emotions I mean]

Dd was ready for potty training at 2and half. However, it was a powerstruggle from beginning to end although superficially she was trained incredibly quickly. I met quite a few mums at that time who confessed they had realised it was all too early and put their daughters back in pull ups, just so that they didn't have a constant fights/upsets about wet pants. The great thing about a pullup is that you treat it like a pair of pants. From child's point of view, pullup should not be a nappy. I really wish I hadn't got so stressed about the wet pants, and pullups might have helped.
She sounds as if she is very very tired, and that's why she is behaving so appallingly. Could you try putting her to bed a bit earlier maybe, with special attention then? The other thing is, that in the end it DOES NOT MATTER IF SHE GOES TO SLEEP IN SOME OF HER NORMAL CLOTHES. You can always take them off when she is asleep and put some easy pjs on then. Please don't worry about principles. The key is to outwit them, not teach them rules grin

swanthingafteranother Wed 05-Dec-12 18:38:03

PS, mine went to a nursery from 2.5 (just a morning session term time nursery) and they expected potty trained children. That put fear of God into all the newbie mums, as we were expected to change them if there were any accidents. However the oldtimers said this was just designed to frighten us into submission anc most of the children were there in pullups!!! Also nursery will do a lot of work for you, as once you see other kids using the big loo, it is such an incentive.

designerbaby Wed 05-Dec-12 19:01:59

You guys are lovely. Thank you.

I'm pretty sure if DD2 isn't potty trained they won't turn us away and not take all our lovely money... hmm.

However, I'd always thought pull-ups were the "enemy" of potty training. But I was a bit OTT with DD1, tbh.

If she'd have gone to bed in other clothes I'd have been fine with that. Possibly not the wet muddy ones she'd come home in, but still... But no. She wanted "my Catty jammies!!" "MY CATTY JAMMIES!!" wail, flail. etc.

We don't own any "catty jammies" and all the jammies we do own were in front of her to select from...

I think she is overtired, and I am trying to get them both in bed earlier than 7.30. Ironically, it's her tantrums and non-co-operation which is generally preventing this. Bed/bath time is taking an AGE...

I'm trying to figure a way of getting them home earlier, but, short of leaving work at lunchtime, picking her up from nursery at 2.30pm and then going to collect DD1 I can't see how... And I can't afford to lose half a day's childcare for which I will have to pay anyway if I'm not working to pay for it. IYSWIM.

I just feel caught in a catch 22 at the moment.

Not trying to do that annoying thing were you all give me advice and I give you reasons why I can't implement it. Even though that's what it sounds like..



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