throwing tantrums

Eddie has never been a tantrum-thrower.

When he was a toddler, if we told him “no”, he would listen, but he would cry.  If he was sent to timeout, he would stay there and mournfully cry.  He didn’t thrash about or throw himself to the ground.

We went through a phase where he would grunt out of frustration because he didn’t have any words. And even when he did, we had to work to break that habit.

We thought these defiant grunts and the loud crying from his room were what people meant when they referred to kids having tantrums.

And then we had Charlie.

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Oh he tricked us with his calm, laid back demeanor for the first year or so of his life–always so laid back, just taking things in. Always being all happy and content unless he was tired or hungry.

He was always so easy to please: give him lunch or put him to bed.

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He is one of the happiest kids…until he is not.  He has one weakness: The word “no”.

Oh you guys. This child has a FIERCE temper of which I have not seen before.

I don’t remember when Eddie started saying “no”, but I can tell you it was one of Charlie’s very first real words. He furrows his brown and wags his finger at us when he is displeased and firmly says, “no NO!”

He will also tell things he is not supposed to touch (lamps, the TV, lamps) “no, NO!” as if it’s their fault he gets in trouble for touching them.

If we tell him to do something he doesn’t want to do ( “come here,” for example), he will firmly say, “NO!”  If we try to take away the remote, the ice cream scooper, or a pair of scissors (home sluice is a stealthy drawer-raiding ninja) he throws himself to the ground and screams at the top of his lungs and writhes about.

If we won’t let him run amok in the bathroom simply because his brother forgot to close the door behind him, we have to drag him from the premises while he flails and wails. It’s good that we don’t have close neighbors on most sides because I’m sure it sounds like we are stabbing baby seals every time Charlie is displeased with the rules being enforced.

Tonight Cortney had to remove a mischievous Charlie from the bathroom so Eddie could take a bath. When Cort picked him up, Charlie arched his back and screamed. Cort had to set him down in the hall way on his back where he continued to scream cry for another couple minutes while we all ignored him.

Then he spotted a toy and was fine.

In fact, I think he stood up and sort of pranced to the toy and then did this little football huddle-like dance while giggling like a fool.

That is how The Bird rolls.

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I’ll be honest, the first time Charlie threw a tantrum I just stood there staring.  And then started to laugh because WHAT WAS HAPPENING?  My sweet, chill boy turned into something that seemed demon-possessed. It was ridiculous.

That is when it hit me: this is what a tantrum looks like.

So I did what I could, I walked away from him.

There is no reasoning with a 19-month old anyway, especially one mid-temper-tantrum.

Plus watching him only exacerbates things because he tantrums harder because he wants you to stop looking at him.  No one said toddlers were super bright.

Honestly the tantrums are not a problem. Yet.  They are how Charlie is starting to show frustration and that is healthy, but it’s just another reminder to me how different children are.

But they have one thing in common: they know how to push each other’s buttons. Charlie knows exactly what will make Eddie yell, and Eddie knows how to launch Charlie into an epic tantrum (hint: tell him “no” or take something away from him. Then take cover.).

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Charlie working REALLY hard to get Eddie to freak out. It worked. About 30 seconds after I took this, Eddie had a meltdown about Bird being in his space.

As much as the yelling and screaming and seeing who can make my ears bleed faster can drive me batty some most days, it’s so fun to watch these two grow up together.  It’s REALLY fun to see Charlie’s personality take off now that he is learning to express himself.

Even if that expressing happens to be in a tantrum of epic proportions.

 

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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