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Terrible twos - I know they're normal but I don't feel I'm coping very well

(13 Posts)
Nutgirl Sat 15-Feb-14 13:43:08

My son is 2 years and 4 months and I'm really not enjoying my time with him at the moment. I would say he has been demonstrating symptoms of what you'd call 'the terrible twos' since he was about 18 months, but lately, it's getting really bad and is making me feel like I'm a rubbish mother sad

He is good at sharing, so I'm thankful for that. And he generally eats and sleeps well so I know I'm lucky for these things. He is also good as gold on the 3 days a week he goes to nursery when I'm at work (and also relatively good for my husband) so I find it hard not to take his behavior with me personally. The days he is with me he is a nightmare - kicking off at every nappy change; running into the road / refusing to hold my hand in car parks or to cross roads; undoing his car seat (have sorted this now by buying the Cybex Pallas which doesn't have a harness, so he can no longer undo it); and just lately he has started to hit other children / throw toys and even hit me. This is really upsetting to me as he has always been really kind (he always shares his toys and even his food which is the love of his life!)

I know that all this is normal toddler behavior, but I feel like I'm not coping because I'm increasingly losing my temper with him. And then we both get more upset. I know you're supposed to stay calm and ignore / not react but this is really hard when you need to get out of the door on time.

I do 80% of the childcare, because my husband works shifts and so often isn't around in the evenings or at the weekend, so I do all the taking to / picking up from nursery, nearly all the getting up / getting dressed, nearly all mealtimes and most bedtimes. Bedtime is the most tiring, especially if I've been at work all day, I just haven't got the energy to deal with him running around throwing the bed-covers everywhere / refusing to lie down for nappy changes / refusing to brush teeth etc so I end up shouting and then I feel horrible.

I've been saying for ages that I need to get on with potty training, as he's showing signs he's ready, but I really can't face it whilst his behavior is so bad. I have a feeling he'll know how much I want him to use the potty and that he will use this as a weapon against me.

I'm new to MumsNet and I know there are probably a million posts like this, I guess I'm just looking for some moral support and practical advice.

We do the naughty corner, but he isn't remotely bothered (and it's not always appropriate if we're out). I take toys off him if he throws - again he doesn't care and just picks up something else. When he hit a 10 month old baby with a truck at playgroup yesterday, after telling him off at the scene and getting him to say sorry (which he is happy to do) I said no to CBeebies at lunchtime, but I'm not sure he made the connection as it was an hour after the event.

I guess my underlying worry with all this is that we're currently trying for another baby as we want him to have a sibling, but I'm really worried about how I will cope and having to go through all of this again with another child. I don't want him to be a single child, and my husband has his heart set on us having another, but I'm really worried about it all.

Anyway, sorry for massive long post and brain dump. Any responses will be very gratefully received.

HelenHen Sat 15-Feb-14 14:35:19

I don't have much advice but hope someone can help soon! Just wanna say you're amazing for working and doing all that. I'm lucky enough to be sahm and dunno how people make it to work on a daily basis!

I guess some options might be to cut back hours at work or stop caring so much about little things that really don't matter. It's easy to say though! Are there fun things that you and he could work into your evening routine? Maybe have a bath together or let him have ed a shower?

TheGreatHunt Sat 15-Feb-14 14:44:06

You need to go easy on him and yourself. He's 2! He's testing boundaries and his independence.

A few suggestions:
- running in the road etc then use reins. It's not comfortable for a toddler to hold an adult's hand if it has to be raised up high IMO.
- find tricks to make life easier. I give dd my phone to play with for nappy changes.
- teach "gentle hands" ie the phrase and what to do. We use this when dd tries to hit.
- I stopped going to play groups when ds got to this age. He much preferred being out in the park as did I.
- adopt a seriously cheery voice and give him two clear choices. This works well for dd if I want her to do something.

Is he having a nap? Both of mine were/are demons with little sleep.

I would stop the naughty corner - clearly not working!

exhaustedmummymoo Sat 15-Feb-14 15:17:25

Ok first up, stop worrying your next child will be the same they won't! My first hit terrible twos at 14 months, and I was preggers at that stage, she was ghastly! but my second is now just over two and reasonably easy going (of course he gets frustrated that's normal, he wants to be able to do things and can't he gets cross has a small tantrum, I let him get on with it!, then all ok)
Next think of the last time you tried to do something and couldn't how did it make you feel? Up set, angry, despondent? on a much bigger scale that is how your son is feeling, but don't forget he doesn't have the speech to verbalise it!
Keep going with the naughty step, my daughter seemed to live on it at that age! Oh and you can make a naughty step anyway! I used to use a change mat that I would put on the ground and she had to sit there for her allotted time, if she came off she went back on and stopwatch started again....yes it was hard work but eventually she got fed up and started to tow the line.
Next YOU ARE NOT A RUBBISH MOTHER! you are doing your best and although your son is pushing boundaries you clearly love him SO STOP FEELING BAD, brining up children is really really hard work!
Finally go and get super nanny book by jo frost. She transformed my relationship with my daughter who used to vomit every time I ticked her off, once in mothercare and once in Asda...oh the humiliation! I have to admit ASDA staff were really fab coz by that time I was ready to drop with second baby, and I just burst into tears! It does get better nutgirl now she's nearly four and good at communicating she is soooo much easier. Hang on in there and stop fretting about your next ;x)

MsPickle Sun 16-Feb-14 00:08:11

With ds I found verbalising the emotions for him helped me stay calm and him to start to understand so I'd say things like "I understand you're cross because I said no and it's fine to feel cross but not fine to keep shooting at me. Time out" or similar. I loved our little life back pack with rein, kept him safe and me san(er). Also had a piece of wonderful advice : don't hold grudges and channel a cbeebies presenter to stay cheery! It's hard and I'm dreading bits of dd getting to that stage but ds is now a delightful 4 year old. Most of the time...and generally lovely with his little sister.

scrivette Sun 16-Feb-14 07:43:13

Oh I could have written your post. I don't have anything helpful to add apart from to say you are not alone (and keep remembering this too shall pass!)

upjacobscreekwithoutapaddle Sun 16-Feb-14 08:00:33

I could have written your post a few months ago. Ds2 has been a very challenging 2yo. It came as something of a shock after a relatively easy toddler time with ds1. I literally had to start from scratch with my parenting. EVERYTHING has been a battle, he's very very stubborn and if his dad or i lock horns with him about something then he simply will not back down. I felt like I was walking on eggshells with him and I'm not proud to admit that I have lost my temper with him/burst into tears on more than one occasion.

We decided after a particularly bad week that he couldn't rule the house anymore. We used the naughty step with reasonable results (still do and his understanding of it has improved), we picked our battles, we got down to his level and explained calmly and firmly when he had done something wrong/was in trouble and we stayed firm on the non-negotisbles ;Road safety and if I had to pick him up screaming and crying because he wouldn't hold hands then so be it.

Hang in there. There is light at the end of the tunnel! :-). He is 3 in a few weeks, I can reason with him and am having more hours in the day when I'm seeing my funny, cheeky, gorgeous chap rather than this cross frustrated little boy with the lovely bits few and far between!

WorkingBling Sun 16-Feb-14 08:09:41

Oh, I so understand how you feel. Ds goes through phases ofbehaviourthat is so unacceptable and difficult I want to cry constantly. I have found that often the awful behaviour precedes a growth or developmental spurt. I'm slowly coming to recognise that and give both of us a break accordingly eg I accept now that he actually needs more time spenting doing things I think are "bad" like watching tv when he is in this phase because he's tired. A week later he will be back to normal. (Obviously I am not suggesting this as a solution for you as I am still struggling with the idea for myself. I am just trying to explain how you have to figure out how to survive and act accordingly).

We also had to initiate a zero tolerance policy on hitting and biting. Naughty step every single time (or against a wall somewhere if in public). Worst two weeks of my life, but did stop me worrying he was going to punch an innocent bystander in his frustration.

Good luck. It's not easy. Some children are harder. But we all get there in the end.

BeeMyBaby Sun 16-Feb-14 08:24:47

In the same boat as well with screaming two year old, it's feeling worse than my dd1 was, but I think it's likely I just blocked that out. Luckily dd1 actually helps me with dd2

mrscog Sun 16-Feb-14 08:37:13

I could have written your post Ds is 23 months and I've felt similar for about 3 months now. In fact so much so I've gone back to full time work as I have an excellent nursery in place and I genuinely feel he gets a better developmental experience there as he's not just with someone stopping him from doing what he wants all day.

I hate the way every nappy change, getting dressed, teeth clean, meal time is such a physical and mental battle. Some weekend days I just feel as though I've just spent the day literally wrestling the whole day. So I know how you feel.

Saying that, now I work 5 days a week it's improved as I'm suitably refreshed to be able to deal with him at weekends/in the evenings and I don't run out of ideas of what we could do in the same way I did when I was working 3 days a week.

He's also reluctant to play at the moment and would always rather just race around the house emptying bins and destroying stuff. However, I've found that if I start a game/start reading a story to myself in a really fun way it is only a matter of seconds before he joins in.

I really do love my ds with all my heart, and he's a lovely, fun, loving (when he's not hitting or biting) and bright gorgeous little boy but this 18 month+ stage has been So So So hard, so you're not alone and it will get better thanks and wine

BeeMyBaby Sun 16-Feb-14 08:42:16

Sorry dd1 just posted before I was finished- anyway, she helps calm dd2 down and also is a good interpreter when dd2 is not able to clearly tell me what she wants which helps this time round, she also helps to remind this is just a stage. So please don't worry about having another child over this is basically what I'm trying to say.
With regards to potty training, with dd1 I trained her just before she was 2, precisely because of these battles, and she took to it well- she got lots of positive attention so didn't want to use it 'against me' and removing those battles made her a much happier toddler overall, just one less thing to scream about so if you feel you've got the patience then it may be good for you to try.

Nutgirl Sun 16-Feb-14 12:57:42

Hi everyone, thank you so much for all your responses. I feel so much better knowing I'm not alone (obviously I knew I wasn't, but it's just so nice to read your responses and know that's we're all going through the same thing.)

TheGreatHunt and exhasutedmummymoo that's so true - he's only 2 and I need to remember that. I think because he has quite sophisticated speech and language for his age, I assume he understands how to behave, but actually he gets just as frustrated as any other 2 year old and he can't control his emotions. He does still (mercifully) have a nap after lunch, and I've noticed that his tantrums are worse before nap / bedtime so it's usually connected with tiredness.

I've ordered the Jo Frost book so hopefully will get some good tips from that! Thanks for the tip.

It's funny how up and down they are - this morning we've been swimming and he was as good as gold (my husband was there too though - not sure how good he would've been if it was just me). He saw another little girl having a tantrum in the cafe afterwards and being carted out by her dad and he said 'I not being naughty, I being a good boy' smile so to some extent he does understand emotions. We also avoided a poo in the pool disaster as he told us he needed one and got out of the pool just in time. Was so relieved! I find it so much easier to cope when husband is around (obvs) and I think DS recognises this and his behavior is better as a result.

Have started doing pasta in a jar when he's good as well - so far so good and he seems to really enjoy the visibility of the jar filling up with pasta. When he gets to 10 pieces he gets a little treat.

Anyway, thank you everyone, I feel much better today (maybe it's because it has finally stopped raining and the sun is actually shining!) I know this phase will pass and things will get easier.

Jaffakake Sun 16-Feb-14 18:12:30

I could've written your post too, although my ds sounds slightly less challenging. We've taken the side off his cot this week & I'm missing being able to put him in bed & immediately walk away & have a nice quiet evening. We've had 3 nights with him messing about till almost 9 o'clock. He's also in the process of dropping his nap & as a result I'm thinking I should increase my hours so I get more peace! It makes me feel sad that I think like this sometimes.

So the mantra "everything's a phase" is being forced round & round my head as its been true for 2.5 yrs & I doubt it'll stop being true now. That's all I got, although the Supernanny book is ok.

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