clash of personality

I love Eddie.

I have to start with that.

He is my heart and soul and we have a deep connection due in part to our rough beginning, but also because of how alike we are in every possible way.

We get each other.

That is why I posted about our sweet moments yesterday.  They do happen.

But.

There are also the other moments.

The ones that seem to take up so much space in this house and in this family lately.

Which is what has been on my heart lately.

This post is an honest plea for advice or reassurance or honest feedback.

My son is going through what I really hope is just a tough phase.

But sometimes the doubt creeps in.

I don’t even know how long it’s been going on.  It feels like forever.  I know it started before Charlie got here five weeks ago, but it’s worse now that he is here.

I try to tell myself it’s just Eddie’s adjustment period, but it’s rough.

It’s like he is walking around with a faulty anger switch.

One moment he is sweet as pie, and the next you better check to make sure your head is still attached.

Each day at 5pm, I watch as Cort pulls the truck in the garage.

I listen for whining or chatting.  I watch out the front window to see how/if Eddie bounds to the mailbox with daddy for the paper and the mail.

When the door opens, I wait.

I let him talk first.

Most days I get, “Hi, Mommy!” before he even sees me.

Some days he is already crying because of something daddy would not let him do.  Those days I am extra cautious.  One ridiculous question (how was your day?) will get my face barked off with an angry scream.

He will be playing ever-so-sweetly with his toys or watching a show nicely when BAM!  A toy will fly through the air or he will walk past the coffee table and with one swipe whip everything onto the floor.

Or he will send his sippy or empty snack bowl sailing through the living room.

When I tell him to pick it up and put it away, he yells, “NO!  I DON’T WANT TO!” and then grunts and possibly slaps a piece of nearby furniture.

At dinner he will be eating nicely and then he will randomly start dumping food onto the floor.

We will tell him to stop and he will look straight at us and do it again.

We have taken away dessert and snacks and treats and TV time.

We have taken away the toys he throws.

We have issued time outs

He seems stunned each time a consequence happens, but it doesn’t stop his angry behavior.

He just starts hitting things (luckily, he almost NEVER hits people) or screaming as loudly and long as he can.  Or grunting at us like an rabid animal.

Even time outs have become more of a struggle.  He used to go, sit, and cry.  Now he is getting more rebellious and trying to scoot out.

We send him to his room to do his tantrums there.

50% of the time that works.  He will go down to his room, cool off, and come back.

But the tantrum is never fully over.

He will sweetly ask for the item (Mario Kart time, screen time on Cort’s tablet or my Nook, craisins before bed, or an episode of a show on Tivo) that he originally lost with his bad behavior.  When we tell him no, he loses it all over again.

Each time I sit and watch him.

I want to cave.

I know that is awful to admit, but it’s true.

I want to give in to his demands because I like to see him happy.

But I know in the long run that will create a horribly spoiled and demanding person.

So we stand our ground.

The other day he wouldn’t stop spitting at dinner.  Because I couldn’t set him in time out without taking five minutes to clean his hands and face of dinner, I snapped.  I grabbed his face and squeezed his cheeks together so he couldn’t spit.

“STOP SPITTING!  IT’S GROSS AND RUDE!” I said in a voice that I didn’t know I could use with my little buddy.

I held for one second longer before I let go, sat down in my chair, and stared at my plate.

After a pause, he started hysterically crying, “OWWWWW!!!!  Mommy HURT me!”

I wanted to crawl in a hole.

I wanted to pick him up out of his booster and hug him to my chest and apologize and shower him in kisses.

But I don’t want him to be the kid that spits.

I know he is also overdramatic.

My mom says it’s uncanny how much like me he is.

When I was that age, I used to stomp off to my room and moan, “WOE IS ME…NOBODY LOVES ME.”

He is like that.  Exactly.

I know I didn’t really hurt him.  I know I scared him because he has never seen me do that, but it didn’t hurt.

I would never hurt my children.

But I did scare myself.

I’ve always said I don’t believe in punishing with physical pain when my beliefs are that violence and pain do not solve problems.

But now I am questioning it.

My parents didn’t hit us (ok, an occasional butt swat, but it was never a first resort), but they did grab our face or under our upper arm when they needed something super annoying or out of line to STOP. THIS. INSTANT.

Do I feel good about it?

No.  And now I know they didn’t either.  It sucks to have to do that to what you love best in the world.

But what else do I do?

I can raise my voice now and give a look and Eddie cowers and quits what he is doing.

I sort of hate that.

And I try not to use that.

But he WILL. NOT. LISTEN lately.

Sigh.

I am frustrated.

I want more of the sweet moments back.  The ones we have at bedtime (when he is not fighting or stalling).  The ones when he and Charlie and I are all piled in my chair and watching Busytown Mysteries or Sesame Street.

I hate having to get angry, and I feel like I am getting angry most of the time.

Is this normal two-almost-three-year-old behavior?

Is my kid overly anger?  Does he have anger problems?

Am I doing the right thing?

Help. I feel like I am failing.

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About Katie

Just a small town girl…wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. kate – we have the same issues w. sully and he’s almost 4. They have their moments, but he to get so angry SO fast and then can snap back. I have no advice for you on this one, just wanted to let you know you’re not alone. {hugs}. C.

  2. Oh hun you are not alone and I totally understand the grabbing of his cheeks . . . sometimes it seems to be the only way to break them out of their anger induced haze.

    Toddlers can be very angry little folks. Frustrated that so much is beyond their control and my god but do they feel the need to share their frustration with everyone. My little guy is more into the dramatic hysterical crying rather than anger outbursts but my best-friend is going through the exact same thing with her 2.5 year old guy. He acts out in some pretty shocking ways sometimes and completely ignores his mom. I have had to put him on time-outs before because he will ignore her and get up or worse he will try and hit her.

    That being said, when both of the little guys are in a loving mood wow they love hard! Perhaps he is tired. I wonder that about my little guys. They have long and busy days and perhaps they are just worn out. I know that I struggle to cope with life some days when I am worn out.

    Basically know that you are not alone and hopefully this phase will pass very soon.
    Jenn

  3. Oh boy. I can relate. I feel like I’m failing too. I have the sweetest 3.5 year old little girl that can make her head spin in seconds. I just attended a “how not to yell” class that has really helped me. But honestly, I still lose it every once in a while. Between the age and the new baby, it is challenging for everyone. I don’t have any advice but “they” say this too shall pass. Hang in there. You are a great mom and this is just one more milestone that won’t last long.

  4. I have the same issue now. When Bella’s sister Grace came in and took over 90% of mommy’s and daddy’s time and in the first few times of negitive attention lead to more attention to her. So she stepped it up to 11.

    I have been trying to spend mommy and me time with out baby. It’s curtailed her behavior slightly, but she still has her moments. I think as Grace gets more independent the better her attitude will improve because she’ll have her mommy back and some one to play with.

  5. I feel like this is normal behavior for those toddlers that are close to three. But it’s hard to deal with gracefully all the time, especially when sleep-deprived.

    What has helped for us was to figure out if there were any triggers that were more than likely to lead to this behavior. For us it was the TV and sugar. I’m not anti-tv by any means, but when my son watches it he gets wild and is more likely to get angry and have a tantrum later on if he’s been watching a lot of it that day. So by limiting TV his moods are more stable.

    Also I think he’s really sensitive to blood sugar spikes and falls. He is really grumpy when he’s hungry or hasn’t eaten in awhile, but isn’t likely to actually tell me that he’s hungry. And when he crashes from a sugar high it isn’t pretty. So I make sure to give lots of sensible snack throughout the day and lots of protein at breakfast. And if I give in to his demands for sweets, I know I am going to pay for it a few hours later.

    I’ve also heard good things about The Happiest Toddler on the Block, but haven’t read it myself.

    Good luck!

  6. Oh man, I hear that frustration, I do. Aric has been getting worse and worse as the weeks go on. Last night, out of nowhere, he chucked his sippy right at the dog and hit her square in the ribs (FYI – we have a very small dog).

    We do time outs, too. And after every time out, we talk about what he did that was naughty that got him into time out. I’m sure he doesn’t understand most of it (though he shocks me daily with what he knows). But after time out, it’s like a fresh slate. He gets a re-do. If he went into time out for throwing a toy, he will get it back with a warning that if it gets thrown again, it’s taken away for the rest of the night. I think 2-3 is far too young to have something taken away for long periods of time, simply because their memory isn’t developed enough to really grasp WHY it’s being taken away for the entire night.

    But some nights, especially when he’s tired, nothing works. You can look at him wrong, his toy won’t play EXACTLY THE WAY HE WANTS IT, the wind blows a leaf in the yard and OH MY HELL THE WORLD IS ENDING. This morning was a full blown tantrum because he didn’t want to get dressed.

    This is a very challenging age for kiddos. They are learning that they have different emotions (frustration being one of them) and they don’t understand it. There is something not right about their situation, but because their brains haven’t developed enough, they don’t really know why. So they react the only way they know how: screaming (and eventually throwing and hitting).

    I guess in the entire novel of a comment what I’m trying to say is: You’re not alone. It isn’t you, it isn’t Eddie. It’s his brain trying to keep up with his surroundings. You aren’t turning him into a spoiled kid if you take a toy away and give it back AFTER the tantrum has completed. It’s when you give the toy back DURING the tantrum just to get it to stop is where you can start that spoiled child syndrome.

    Also, apparently all the behavior management and child development classes I’ve been taking are paying off 😉

  7. Ok, first of all, I know exactly where you are coming from. Three has been a touch age for us. They’re in this funny in-between stage of being a baby and being a kid. They’re figuring out what they can get away with. They’re testing boundaries. We go through the some of the same issues with our almost 4 year old daughter. And it’s nothing new. It comes and it goes. I feel like we have a particularly stubborn girl. Just last night was one of those nights…we had our struggles. I’m not even sure what sparked it, but she was being ornery about something, then decided that while I was out putting dinner on the BBQ she’d take my slippers…being funny at first, then even after I asked her nicely for them back, even saying please, something in her snapped and she refused to give them back. So, I grabbed her arm to lift her out of the slippers while at the same time saying “I asked you to give them back, blah blah blah” then walked into the kitchen to tend to the rest of dinner. She fa-reaked out “OW, that hurt me!” Then at dinner, even though I made something I KNOW she likes, she told us she didn’t like it. Another freak out session. At one point after dinner, when she was interrupting her dad & I for the 50 millionth time, I looked at her and said “Would you just STOP talking for a minute!? Your dad and I are trying to talk and you keep interrupting!” She looked completely defeated and slinked off to the living room. I felt like a total ass hole, but seriously…WHY can she just not listen the first time we ask/tell her to do something!? It’s not always this way, which is why it REALLY doesn’t make sense to me.

    Ok, so I guess all of this is to say, I get it. I get what you’re going through. I’m not judging. It’s tough stuff. I don’t have the answers, but one thing I do know is consistency pays off. Good for you for not caving.

  8. Oh yes. I read this and the whole time I was nodding and thinking, “Yes. This is so DG.” She is starting to get slightly better, but it seems to go in cycles of good times and rough times.

    I get tired of the constant time outs, taking stuff away, “No, stop that,” etc, but I don’t know what else to do sometimes. And just when I think my head is going to explode from the difficulties, she becomes the sweetest thing since ever and my heart totally melts. You are so not alone.

    I hate to say it, but I think it’s pretty typical of 2 going into 3 and 3 yr olds. I call 3 year olds the “Tragic Threes” because everything for DG is such an EPIC tragedy! And the worst part is that I never know what will cause the tragedy to occur! Will it be me asking/saying the wrong thing, not being able to find something, not being able to do something?

    I have some luck w/ telling Darling Girl, “in our house, we use our words to talk about the problem instead of throwing/hitting/whatever” or something similar. She knows that if she won’t use words, it means a consequence of some sort until she’s ready to talk to us about it.

    I’ve also started working REALLY hard to compliment/praise her for doing something she should be doing. Even simple things like, “Thank you for listening when I asked you to…” or “You’re doing such a nice job of…” or “Thank you for eating nicely.” I realized she does some of this for attention whether good or bad so if I give her good when deserved, the bad lessens. If that makes sense. But a lot of it is just riding it out. Not awesome, I know.

    • oh yes. THIS. exactly all of this. and I am SO wanting to steal your “tragic threes” phrase – I’ve been wondering what to call them, and that fits perfectly. wow – I had no idea that there was so much drama involved in being 3!! We also tell Goose that if she’s going to cry (about something for no reason, not if she’s hurt/scared) or whine that she needs to go do it in her room, and can come out when she’s done (which of COURSE goes over SOOOO well!) 😉 we’re doing the praising/thanking as well!!

  9. First off, you are NOT failing. You are a loving mother, and you are a GREAT mother.

    I don’t have any experience with this (since Noah is only one and has no siblings yet), but I do have a couple of thoughts that came to me as I was reading this.

    I think one thing I would try to do is be observant of his behavior and WHEN these tantrums seem to happen most. See if you can find any common denominator. Are they after he has been away from you or not had your undivided attention for a long period? Are they more frequent at certain times of the day?

    The other thing I think about is maybe trying to make sure he gets some one-on-one time with both you and Cort. Let him know that things have changed but not everything has changed. Maybe that would also give you an opportunity to talk to him about when he has “yucky feelings.”

    For all I know you’ve already tried these things. I’m certainly no expert, but this is just what came to mind as I was reading your post. You are a great mama, and I think the feelings you have about this situation are normal.

  10. Oh my gosh. Your boy is totally normal! Every kid is different and everyone experiences “normal” differently, but seriously….this is the HARDEST age. I always say 4 is so glorious because 3 is finally over, and I am not joking even a little bit!

    The only thing you can do is guide him and love him and NOT take it personally. They have to work through this stuff in order to learn. That’s why kids need parents. But he’s not mad *at you* or *at your husband*. He’s just testing the world to see how it works and I think sometimes you HAVE to be firm so he will know how it works once he finally understands.

    You are a good mom and Eddie is a normal kid. No one understands him or loves him as much as you do. Period. So trust yourself!

  11. My youngest son is three and this behavior has been ongoing since he was a bit over two. It comes with the age, unfortunately. My son gets angry a lot at the dinner table if he acts out and is punished for it. He’ll deny the next bit of food he loves if he hasn’t had any for several minutes then it’s back to normal. Time out for us works best but like you, it’s not really a dinner time option. Sadly, when we ignore the bad behavior at dinner, he gets over it in a hurry. I wish I could say they grow out of it but as a mother to three sons….I really don’t think so.

  12. You are a great mom. I have a similiar struggle with my oldest. We are so much alike in personality. She is so dramatic. I thought that she would be getting better once she turned four. I think that we have finally figured out some of the issues. She is starting to drop her nap, so it’s been a horrible adjustment. We need to rethink our bedtime routine and monitor her food intake and her activity level.

    As a toddler, she would get so frustrated because she couldn’t express herself like she wanted to. She had a tough adjustment with her baby sister, and there is a three year difference between my girls. It will get better. I wish I had more words of wisdom. Just sending you hugs and understanding from a mama who gets it.

  13. This is normal. This a phase. They all go thru it. Toddlers are a bit nuts. They have anger issues. You’re not as bad mom for squeezing his cheeks. He’s got to learn that that behavior isn’t okay. Hang in there, you’re doing just fine!

  14. It really sounds to me like he is just going through a phase, albeit a rough one! I’ve experienced your same frustration many a time, my friend and I know how you feel in your Momma heart, I SO do. But you are human and sometime the frustration just takes over. Just the fact that you are writing and asking for advice speaks volumes.

    Just try to be as firm and calm as you can (easier said than done, I know). I believe he’s just testing you and that yes, the change of having a new human in the house is a bit stressful for all. Hang in there. xo

  15. erinasmommy says:

    Oh mama, I am there too! And you shouldn’t feel like you’re gonna get strung up for this. This is real and this is life with a 2-3 yr old. I am there too. I have been using the phrase jeckel and hyde, or wild card lately. Cause that sums it up. My boy can be sweet as pie or a crazy maniac. Within a few moments. I love him to pieces, and sometime I just want to grab him up, shower him with kisses and make all this nutty behaivor go away. But I can’t.

    And I often feel pushed to the edge, with snapping sometimes happening. Nothing awful but I sure do feel that way. The biggest thing I have to remind myself of when he is being terrible, is that I cannot have a tantrum myself. They are acting that way because they cannot control their emotions; we have to be able to control ours, even when it’s hard. But both of us lashing out is going to be a disaster. Easier said than done, so I remind myself this often when the blood starts to boil.

    My boy is really physical and many times NOTHING gets through to him except physical. Meaning, talking, reasoning and time outs do not work. And not physical as in hitting, but more like physically removing him from a room, holding him firmly in my lap, or picking him up.

    Ok this is babble now, but my point is you’re not alone. And I hope these comments give us all the support and ideas we all need. Thanks!

  16. Last night was a rough night here. K was working late; at one point we called him and I told him that if he was lucky, we would both be alive when he got home. It was a frustrating night. In the grand scheme of things this is minor, but it’s one small incident among many: I was trying to fold laundry. B comes over and starts grabbing folded clothes and tosses them. I tell him to stop, ask if he needs a timeout – “no, I listen.” I tell him to leave the laundry alone. He starts grabbing clean clothes and tossing them in his hamper. I try to redirect, teach him to fold something, thinking if he has a task, maybe it will help. Nope. Now, I raise my voice and tell him to stop. He crawls up on me and ends up accidentally smashing his head into my eyebrow. Ouch!! I yell and tell him to go play with his toys; to leave me alone. He runs off, comes back, and kicks the clothes. I’d had it and swatted him hard on his diaper-clad butt. He stopped “mommy hit me!” Then he stopped and went to play. Later, we talked and I apologized for it, for yelling, and explained why it had happened.

    So, you’re not alone in not wanting to do physical punishment, but having to break it out once in a while. We try time outs. They don’t always work. We did find recently that we had to switch to having him sit in a chair versus on a rug. We also do re-start the timer if he gets out.

    I have no clue what’s going on with Brian lately, but it seems like he too has gone completely crazy. It has got to be something with the age. People have told me 3 is worse than 2 … it seems to be coming true for us. Blah.

  17. You are not alone, my four year old son still has outbursts like this. I think it’s totally developmental and normal. I think that you are doing the right things with Eddie – he’s had a lot to go thru these past few months – and now with the new baby. He’s frustrated and doesn’t know how to convey that is what he is feeling – I’m sure he’s haven’t really felt it before. The weird thing is that parents usually don’t talk about it, either they are afraid they are failing as a parent or that they will seem too harsh with them. Try to keep your chin up – but also stay strong!

  18. so, SO sorry you’re dealing with this Katie, and I have to agree with others – you are NOT alone. Goose just turned 3 in January, and we’re dealing with the same types of things – and have been for about the last 6 months… I’m praying it’s the age – people were so right when they said the “terrible two’s” were nothing compared to three! I’ve been exactly where you are, and actually just the other night grabbed Goose’s upper arm when she was trying to get away with something that was dangerous – she also claimed I hurt her, when I know that I was barely holding her, but I still felt like the worst mom ever. She also has gone from crying in time-out to REFUSING to get into time-out, having to be put there instead, throwing screaming fits, crawling out, testing the limits… between her flip-a-switch behavior, both of our lack of sleep and my holy-crap-I’m-having-another-one-in-a-month pregnancy hormones? My patience is at an all-time low, I’m quicker to snap orders/demands, and pretty much the first sign of crankiness or whining from her has me on the edge of my seat. I feel crappy about it. MEGA crappy. IT doesn’t help either that one word from Hubs in a specific tone gets her back in line right away, whereas with me it requires raised voices, yelling and threats of time-outs, loss of treats/rewards, etc. before she even acknowledges that I’m talking – and even then she only listens half of the time.

    You are so very definitely not alone. You can believe it. I wish I had some helpful advice, but all I can offer is commiserating sympathy, and virtual hugs. now I’m going to go read the other comments fully so I can have some of that as well 🙂 *HUGS*

  19. oh babe…I have four kiddos aged 7, 6, 4, and 2…and though I most days I walk around with a muddled expression on my face, I can assure you that all of mine went through this phase where I swear I wanted to give them away….I would call my hubs during the day crying because whatever child was going through that phase simply wouldn’t listen and I was so frustrated I didn’t know what I was doing. Did I cry in the laundry room? Sure did…why, I just did that a couple of weeks ago….
    You are doing great..there’s a new baby in the house, and that’s hard for Eddie to adjust to, and your hormones are probably still all over the place….
    Just breathe babe…you’re doing the best you can…

  20. It is completely normal. Three sucks. Big time. It is all about asserting their independence. And they still experience a great deal of frustration and emotions they don’t know how to handle. And the behavior began before SB’s third birthday. It can be very hard to deal with. We have all had moments like the one you had at the dinner table. Do not beat yourself up about it.

    I have a number of ways I deal with this behavior. It really depends on the situation. But overall, I am working with SB to identify and name her feelings, and find better ways to express them. We are very clear about rules and consequences for breaking them. We use a behavior reward chart with magnets. That has worked wonders. It allows us to reward SB for positive behaviors, and spend far less time disciplining negative ones.

    Email me and I can tell you more about it. It has really worked wonders for us. Or maybe I need to write a post…

    Hang in there. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. But know that you, and your sweet Eddie, are going to be OK.

  21. dude, it is SO normal. louise is such a brat right now, it sucks, i figure it’s just the terrible twos, but i can’t WAIT until this phase passes, it’s such a bummer.

  22. I am so sorry you are feeling frustrated. But I think this is pretty normal behavior for this age. Isn’t this why it’s called terrible twos? And I’ve heard that sometimes it stretches into threes….but I hope not because oh my goodness.
    My son is two and a half and we have/are dealing with similar behaviors. I think the biggest and hardest thing to do is be consistent. We only do time outs or logical consequences. If he throws something, we take it away and he goes to time out. If he hits or spits, he goes to time out. If we have asked him to do something and he is blatantly ignoring or doing the opposite of what we say, he goes to time out. Each time, we make sure we tell him “We don’t (hit, spit, throw.) If you (hit, spit, throw) you go to time out.” We have tried to be very consistent with this, so now he knows that those are the consequences and he will even tell us, “Mommy, we don’t hit or we go time out.”
    I also try to give him words for his emotions and use words for mine. When he is making me very mad and I struggle with lashing out, I say, “Noah, Mommy is very mad right now.” or “Mommy is starting to get very frustrated.” And when he lashes out with hitting or yelling I identify not just the behavior but also the emotion. I will say, “You are feeling mad right now. But that still doesn’t mean it’s ok to hit.” On days when I feel really in tune with him and can see he’s starting to get to a bad place, I will say, “Noah are you starting to feel frustrated? How can I help you?” We’ve been identifying both his emotions and ours, and now he will say, “Mommy I am mad.” or “I am fus-ta-way-ted.” To which I reply, “I’m sorry you are feeling frustrated. What can Mommy do to help?”
    Of course, it’s not a 100% guaranteed method, and he does still have his moments. But I always, always ignore temper tantrums and say, “I will not talk to you when you act this way. If you would like to talk to Mommy you can use a nice voice.”
    I went to a parenting lecture a little while ago and one of the things I took to heart was a funny thing she said regarding dealing with tantrums and two year olds. “Never negotiate with a terrorist.” She said it’s so important to be consistent and stand your ground now, because even at this young age we are teaching them what’s appropriate and acceptable and what we will and will not tolerate from them.

    Whoo, so sorry to write a book on your post. I am definitely not the perfect parent, and I also only have Noah, so we are not in the middle of a transition with a newborn like you are. But I have noticed that by being consistent with time outs and by giving him (and myself) language for our emotions, the tantrums have cut down TREMENDOUSLY. We are actually in a really good behavioral patch right now and I LOVE it. But of course, who knows what will happen next week. 🙂
    You are doing a great job with both of your little ones.

  23. I could echo what everyone wrote above, but I will just say, yes, yes, and YES. My daughter turned 3 yesterday. We also have a 4.5 month old. Her behavior began to switch from sweet to “challenging” about 6 months ago. And now? Her tantrums are EPIC. And about nothing.

    So that’s the bad news. The good news is, you’re not alone. Myself and everyone I know with a child this age is going through the exact. same. thing. Terrible Twos are a myth. Threes are far far worse. I don’t have any other great advice other than stick to your guns, keep breathing, and remember that there are lots of 4 year olds out there with surviving parents.

    At least, that’s what I’m doing. With the occasional glass of wine 😉

  24. Well, reading this was like reading about my own day. So, yeah, you’re totally not alone. My kid is the same way (and I can’t even blame it on a new baby!). I think it’s the age, mostly, and also personality–some kids are just wired to be…MORE INTENSE (I think most kids are intense at 2-3-4, but some kids take that intensity and ratchet it up about 10 notches. That’s my kid).
    We do find that there are triggers, some days. We finally put a list up on the fridge, which makes me feel dumb sometimes, but in the midst of epic meltdown #430 of the day, it’s helpful to look at the list and go “ok, yeah, it’s just how he is sometimes.” Anway, our list is similar to the “why is the baby crying list:”
    –Is he hungry
    –Is he tired
    –Is he overstimulated
    –Does he need undivided Mommy/Daddy attention
    –Is he bored
    And if all else fails:
    –Is he just being 2?

    Often, one of the questions helps things. But if not, it’s just a good reminder that, hey. Sometimes, he’s just being two. (God help us get to 3).

  25. Wow the responses you’ve gotten in just a few hours! How heartwarming! I didn’t take the time to read the responses, but I’m sure there’s not much more I could say other than . . .

    Raising kids is the hardest thing to do in this world hands down. The best advice I can give is for you to remember that discipline is the biggest gift you can give your son. So don’t look at in a bad way due to his reaction, but rather a good way because his reaction shows he heard you. Children will rebel against correction from their parents and they will raise the bar, meaning throw bigger tantrums or fits, to fine out the boundaries and try and get over them. If you stay firm and consistent he will learn them quickly.

    To be honest I’m a spanker, but my 3 boys rarely go beyond the boundary because they know what’s coming if they do. I will say though spanking isn’t my first resort. I started with them at an early age by counting to three, of they didn’t shape up then consequences came after three. Still to this day I count and my oldest is 11. if I get past three, then there’s a time out no matter where we are. The time out minutes depend on their age. My oldest gets 11 minutes. Spanking comes mainly in a safety incident that needs immediate correction, or after they’ve done something consistently against the rules.

    Bottom line though is every child is different. You know in your Motherly heart & instincts whether it’s a phase or something that needs medical attention. Listen to that intuition, because it’s usually right.

    From my heart to yours!
    Sherry from City Chic on a Farm

  26. Twos are not the terrible ones, it is the threes. That being said, you are not alone and Eddie is perfectly normal. Continue with your consistency of consequences. I have always loved the Baby Whisperer’s quote of “mean as you go on.” Be consistent and your child will follow. Is it easy? Hell no. But it works. I pray for your patience and strength. You are the one who knows best. God made you Eddie’s mom for that reason.

  27. My daughter is 3-1/2, and everyone who has said that 3 is way more terrible than 2 has nailed it. You’re not alone. I’ve asked so many of my mom friends if THIS is normal and it is. Everyone–I mean EVERYONE has gone through it, at least for a while. It is a phase. Our kids are figuring out who they are, and that means they are also figuring out how much they can get away with. Of course we’d never hurt them, but sometimes scaring them (like that scene in Bull Durham where the GM calls them lollygaggers and throws bats at them in the showers?) is enough to get their attention.

    Good luck. Hang in there. We’re all there with you. xxoo

  28. Awe–these phases stink. Our oldest daughter is well out of that stage, but her and I still clash in personality DAILY. We are so much alike that it is painful. We’ve now moved to the stage where I have to ask her (a million times a day), “Who is the mommy, me or you?” because she SO wants to be the boss of everyone, including me. A little nudge, pinch, squeeze back into reality isn’t a bad thing. I know the “experts” often say to not let your children see you angry at them, but we’ve found that letting them know when they have crossed the line is a-ok. You are not alone! Hang in there…tomorrow is a new day!

  29. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Been there. So been there.

    I grew up in a family dynamic that I loved. And I love it more now that I am a parent of my own. And we have a secret attitude adjustment weapon. Dd1 is 4.5 now and I can’t remember the last time she needed her attitude adjusted for her. Does that mean she isn’t a rule challenging, boundary pushing, sometimes defiant little girl? Nope. But she does seem to be more able to get a handle on her frustration and temper.

    Whenever my brothers and I were growing up, and we needed an attitude adjustment, dad always did the adjustment if we wouldn’t do it for ourselves. Not that we weren’t permitted to have emotions, but like you described, the totally off the deep end no end in sight, someone is going to get really hurt if this train doesn’t get back on track derailments that sometimes happen. What would happen is that dad would scoop us up in his arms or pull us in real close, gently pinch a bit of skin right above the belt buckle (the point being to keep you in close, NOT to hurt you) and whisper the dreaded “we need to talk about your attitude… X y z is not acceptable. You may … Or this consequence will happen.”.

    On the other hand, Friday night I asked the 4 year old to open her mouth for teeth brushing (something we do every day) at bedtime and overtired, showing off for her friend 4 year old responded with: Shut. Your. Hole. O.o. I would be lying if I said I didn’t see red. I am guilty of saying a lot of things, but that is definitely not one of them. I very quickly brushed her teeth, sent her instantly to bed, and sent her friend back to her dad (downstairs where the guys were hanging out). As horrified as I was, after about 20 minutes of screaming in her room, with no prompting, 4 year old came out calmly to me in the living room and whispered, “mommy I am sorry for the manner I was speaking to you.”. Hopefully this means I am doing something right.

  30. I want to say in advance thar this is not a hater comment
    I know that often if you comment on someone’s blog without phrasing them and/ or agreeing with them you’re labeled a hater.

    EDDIE’S behavior is most definitely just a phase. BUT PLEASE PLEASE know thar being physical is not ok. Walk away, Get counseling, whatever you need. Don’t let your kid be scared when you look at him. These phases are SO hard but I’ve also seen so much damage to kids by parents

  31. Who lose their cool. We all need better anger management when dealing with little ones.

    I accidentally hit publish that’s why I have 2 comments

  32. You could have described any day with Felix there. It is a natural thing, especially with the transition to having Charlie real and in person, and his age.
    You know what, good for you for standing your ground, and while it’s never fun to lose your temper, you didn’t hurt him. Felix loves the “YOU HURT ME!” line when I pick him up to take him to a time out chair.

    No, I didn’t hurt his body, but I did hurt his feelings. Sometimes No is going to hurt his feelings, but he has to learn a boundary or two. You’ve got that covered. Don’t sweat it. He knows you love him, the tantrums actually show that. He feels okay expressing (however annoyingly) his angry feelings because he knows it’s safe to do it. You’ll still love him when he’s done.

    Oops, gotta go. Felix’s fighting me about snacks. So yeah, it happens to lots of us.

  33. You are a good Mom. Please do not EVER doubt that.

    I have to echo what everyone else before me has said.

    It is a phase. It is the age.

    They say that twos are terrible but three is worse. It really is.

    Stay strong and keep doing what you’re doing, Kate. You are NOT failing. Promise.

  34. Oh my gosh, I thought it was just me. I though B was the only three year old that acted like a complete maniac. When I tell him NO he actually can NOT play another minute on my Kindle after he’s already been on there for an hour–he freaks his freak!!

    Or if I tell him he cannot have a brownie for breakfast. Or really, just any time I tell him NO! You are so NOT alone. We are almost at 4, and Im hoping and praying its going to get better. Just try to keep calm, Mama. Your doing great!

  35. I see that there are a ton of comments, so what I’m about to say has probably been covered, but you sound like you are in the midst of horrific threes. This is the age nobody talks about. You hear all about terrible twos, but never horrific threes. I think most parents have blocked out this age from their permanent memory simply because of how bad it can get as you have written. I am a the end of several years of horrific threes. My son left them, just as my daughter jumped right in. And even though she is now 4, she is still holding on to the horrific threes for dear life.

    So, with all of that experience, I should give you some advice. The first piece is it WILL pass (at least I think it will for all kids). My sweet, sweet son who rarely gave us problems was a hellion at 3 (late 2 to almost 4). Then one day, my husband and I noticed that it had ended. We didn’t know when, but over time, our son stopped being so angry, so obstinate, so bi-polar. My daughter is getting better too, but I must remind her at least 4 times a day to use her words and not scream at me when she doesn’t get her way. It is so hard, especially when you feel like your child is being punished all of the time.

    We’ve learned to be better with our punishments. We try not to take things away for very extended periods unless we absolutely have to do so. Because, like you said, having to remind them that they lost tv hours earlier for being naughty, when they are being good right then, is hard to understand. Sometimes though, the big guns have to come out. And while it is hard to stick to the plan, consistency is key. My daughter lost calm down tv on Saturday and she didn’t complain when she had to sit in the computer room reading a book while her brother got his 15 minutes before bed time.

    Another thing we have learned that has really, really helped with the anger and yelling at us, is positive reinforcement. When our daughter calms down, we thank her and talk with her. We also make sure to praise her when we catch her getting angry and she curbs it. Now, she will even tell us “I was going to yell, but I didn’t.”

    This age is so hard because the kids just need to test all boundaries. And they are learning so many things, including fear. It will get better. It will. Just keep telling yourself that it will get better. Be consistent and he will learn.

    Once you survive horrific threes with a newborn, I think you will deserve a huge party.

    Good luck!!!

  36. Oh my! I have some good news & some bad news. I’ll start with the bad news. Two years old & three year olds can be awful. They test you each & every day & when you’re tired & your resources are low, they sense it & test you even more. The good news is – it’s normal & won’t last forever. I promise.
    Eddie’s gone through a lot of changes recently. He’s not only getting used to having a brother taking up your time & having to share you he’s getting used to the fact that the little boy that hangs off you isn’t going anywhere. He’s also, in his own way, adjusting to his role as big brother. While we prepare ourselves for another baby, our toddlers can only adjust & adapt when the baby’s arrived. And also, he’s a toddler & learning how to push boundaries, express himself & get your attention & assert himself & think he’s all that & some. It’s a bloody tough age anyway & having another baby makes it even tougher.
    And I have some even better news for you – you’re reaction to him spitting was normal. Everyone I know (who will admit it) have done one thing or another similar to squashing cheeks together. Once O was being really rude to me & as she walked off tripped over & started crying. My reaction was to say ‘serves you right’! Really!? I was disgusted in myself for days & then I forgave myself because at the end of the day I’m only human. And she was behaving like a three year old & that’s what they do.
    Kate you’re a wonderful mum. You love your boys to the moon & back & hard days & tough times are awesome because it’s validation that you care so much. We could all do without the hard times, but you know what, an easy ride would just be boring & not teach us anything. Hugs to you xoxo ♥

  37. Friend. Have I told you about Pea? My answer (and I’m not expert, I have only one child) is yes? this is normal behavior for his age and that no? It doesn’t end here (this is what other parents have told me) and that “three is the new two.” With that, I respect your choice to not be physical, I think, though, if you know you didn’t hurt him, but really wanted to demonstrate to him that his mouth needed to be closed to stop the spitting it’s fine. You love that boy. To death. And that gesture was both out of love and sheer frustration at not knowing how else to explain to him that you needed the spitting to stop. Stand firm, girl. Hold your ground through his tantrums and spitting and yelling and hitting. Been there, done that, with Pea. When she knocks things down, I make her (by asking kindly) to go back and pick it up and explain/reiterate why it’s not appropriate. I feel like I don’t have any advice because I’m still a new mom, but you know what’s best for Eddie. xoxox

  38. We went through the identical behavior with my then two year old right after my youngest was born. It was so hard. The book 1-2-3 Magic helped me. It’s a time-out discipline system but it differs because you don’t engage with the child or negotiate for better behavior. It’s a simple (and calm 1-2-3) and then time out. When time out’s over, you just get them out and pretend that the bad behavior never happened. If the kid won’t go to time out, the author says that you should remove yourself and everyone else from his vicinity for the time out period, but do so without fuss and by basically ignoring the child. Any attention, even negative attention, reinforces his behavior. This book saved my ass during those days when my oldest transformed into exactly what you’re describing here. I thought I was going to have to find an old priest and a young priest and keep a spray bottle of Holy Water. The best thing about 1-2-3 Magic was that it taught ME to stay calm. I don’t know if this book works for every kid, or if Will was just in a phase but I can say that it really helped and I can tell you that I have my sweet boy back. I really do feel your pain. It was exactly like this after my second was born.

  39. Have you ever heard the poem “The Little Girl”?
    “There was a little girl,
    Who had a little curl,
    Right in the middle of her forehead.
    When she was good,
    She was very good indeed,
    But when she was bad she was horrid.”

    My sister tells me it was written for me, describes me so perfectly. And it describes Caitlin in all her three year old glory. Most days, she is an angel. She puts toys and snacks away without complaints (usually) and at the store, when told she can’t have something, puts it back on the shelf and doesn’t complain. But there are times. Times like when she screams her head off because her blanket isn’t just right, or she throws her lighted turtle on the floor and wants us to pick it up. Times like when she takes the hairbrush out of Kinley’s hands and then gets angry when we take it out of hers’ and scold her for being rude. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to admit she can be “horrid”, but I am ashamed of how I react sometimes. I have done the face squeezing, in which the reaction after fills me with dread and self-hate and shame, even tho I am am aware it didn’t hurt. I hurt her feelings by reacting that way. It’s so hard to remain calm. SO FREAKING HARD. And hopefully it will get better soon. For all of us. Just know we’re here. And we love you. And we get it.

  40. Everyone has already said it all. As you know, my kids are older now, and I still want to squeeze the cheeks of my 12-year-old to stop whatever words or attitude is spewing from her mouth. Different issue, same squeeze. This is why it’s so important to go watch them sleep…to see those little angelic faces. I still look in on my kids while they are sleeping. It’s amazing that 20 years later, my daughter still has a hint of her baby face (and I still remember when I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast…thank you menopause). It’s all normal. It’s frustrating, exhausting, scary, but it’s all normal. Here’s a post I wrote about my now 20-year-old (who was amazingly difficult from about 15 months onward, and I mean beyond the normal difficult). It might give you some hope 🙂 http://tempolifecoaching.com/life-coaching/sweet-sassy-and-wonderfully-mine/.html

  41. My daughter Ainsley is sweet as pie. She is well behaved, she listens, she is nice and kind. However, at almost exactly the time she turned 3 a lot of things happened…she got a baby brother, my husband had to move to a new town for work while I stayed behind with the kids, my sister in law moved in to help us out. She went through a terrible phase of acting out and throwing tantrums. I would say it lasted about 6 months. I spoke with my pediatrician. She didn’t think anything was wrong but said to me “They call them the terrible twos, but three is way worse.”

    I remember one day we were in the car. We had been running errands and I needed to nurse the baby. I sat in the back between their carseats and did it. Ainsley kicked Freddie (the baby) in the head. I sternly told her to stop it. She stared at me and did it again. I could feel my blood beginning to boil. She continued to do it, but instead of getting angry I moved to the floor. She managed to wiggle her way out of her straps and lean down and kicked him repeatedly. (Sidenote – this was not a dangerous, hard kick…more of a tap, but I knew why she was doing it, just to get under my skin).

    I lost it. I’ve never lost it like that before. I smacked her leg three times and yelled like I had never yelled before. I got in the front seat and cried. It was one of the worst days of my life. I’ve never used spanking since then to discipline.

    So I’m rambling on and on to say that I think every parent has these moments, and every kid is going to go through these phases. They are hard, but I think at this point you probably don’t need to worry. You just have to push through. He probably does have a bit of a temper and he’s not sure how to control it at this point. He’ll learn. Plus there’s a new baby, so there may be some jealousy and he’s acting out on that emotion as well.

    But I know it will all work out.

  42. I want to tell you, from the distance of long years, that this is a phase. It is temporary. I promise. (OK, in Carter’s case it turned out not to be temporary at all, but there were dozens of other signs that something was very, very wrong.)

    Temporary. This too shall pass. It sucks and it’s hard and it makes you want to claw your face off but it will pass.

    In the meantime, this method worked great with our neurotypical kids: http://www.amazon.com/1-2-3-Magic-Effective-Discipline-Children/dp/1889140430/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334772615&sr=8-1

  43. Hope you get things figured out, stay strong, you’re a wonderful Mom!

  44. You are not failing! My daughter is just a little ahead of him in age, and there have been many times over the past months when I wonder if I am raising a sociopath. I had kind of pooh poohed the terrible twos because, even though she had some very short tantrums, she never really had any major behavior issues. But two going into three? Yikes. Totally irrational behavior, screaming at the top of her lungs for LONG periods of time. Hitting things. Hitting herself. Hitting us. It’s been really stressful. I do wind up apologizing to her for behaving too harshly sometimes. I wind up in tears almost as often as she does. It’s actually good to know we’re not alone. Thank you for sharing and hang in there.

  45. You definitely aren’t alone. Brayden has just recently started talking back and saying NO! all.the.time. You aren’t failing. When I attended the Hearts at Home Conference recently I attended a session on parenting by the Duggars. Now– I don’t agree with ALL of their tricks of the trade, but ONE thing she said really hit home: she said that our kids get frustrated because they don’t know what we expect of them. And I was sitting there thinking no…Brayden knows that when it’s time to leave he has to sit still to put shoes on, etc. But then it hit me. He DOES get frustrated easily and it’s because I am not doing my job to communicate in such a way that he can understand. It’s true. I GET frustrated and then exasperated and he is left confused.

    I struggle with being consistent, because sometimes I get so frustrated that I start doling out punishment. Not good. And lately I have been alone with the kids 100% of the time while hubs works crazy hours, so there’s that. You aren’t alone. We aren’t perfect. But this was a perspective changer for me so I thought I would pass it along. 🙂

  46. You just described my Monkey (2 years, 3 months) to a T. He’s all smiley and happy one minute, and the next, he’s raging against something – the iPad, the TV, me, his water bottle, the coffee table. And he hits ME. Which makes me VERY mad. I have to refrain myself from overreacting (or even react). I grab his hands and issue a quiet verbal warning. Which usually just results in him getting angrier and struggling with me, and I end up yelling more often than not. He then sobs and I feel like such a terrible, terrible mother.

    And 5 minutes later, he’s fine and his usual happy self.

    I can’t offer any answers or solutions. Just this – you’re not alone. Their behavior does not appear abnormal, because it seems that every 2/3 year old I hear about/ come across, does the same thing. They are asserting their independence, testing boundaries, and yet, they still need us.

    Hang on in there, stay strong.