Who will win the war

We seem to be fignhting a never ending battle in The Mad House at the moment with minimad.  Mothership posted today about seeing yourself in your children and it got me thinking and I finally decided to come clean about an issue we are having with MiniMad.

I have always said the mini’s were headstong, their own men, independant thinking, but it is just an excuse really, just a polite way of saying, that they can be stuboarn, hard headed and bloody hardwork at times.  This stage with Maxi wasnt too bad, we were able to negotiate, distract ot tickle our way out of things, but my oh my, with Mini it is a complely different story.

Take this morning for example.  We were all up dressed, ready for the school run.  We only needed to finish our food and pop on our wellies.  For me and Maxi that was a 2 min walk in the park.  Well Mini didn’t want to drop Maxi at school, so what ensured was a 25 minute tantrum of massive proportionss, which resulted in a second pair ofb rokenn glasses, me carrying him to the car, getting hit, kicked, bitten and screamed at all the way and a very sore back for my trouble.

You see if mini doesn’t want to do something, then it all kicks off and our world is turned upside down.  The thing is this now leaves me cowering in the corner unable to deal with it in any sensible way.  Oh just put him on the naughty step you say, OK you try carrying a 3 and half year old tasmanian devil somewhere he doesn’t want to be and get him to stay there.
Am I hearing timeout in his room – yep tried that too.  He trashes the place and I fear for his safety, in these tempers he appears to have super human strength, he has thrown his bedside drawers and the kitchen table
Hold him, restrain him, again tried it and I can not do this. I have tried on numerous occasions and failed.
You can not reason with him when he is in this state either.
I used to watch Super Nanny and think what sort of parents couldn’t control their children.  I used to pity them, feel for them, but also ridicule them.  Well the truth is I am at the end of my tether with Mini.
I love him dearly, but fear what each day will bring, we were late for school this morning, which left Maxi in tears begging his little brother to get his coat on and it is not as though I can leave him in the house.
We now also have to visit the opticians and get 2 pairs of glasses mended that he has broke over the weekend.
You see I dare not mention this to my mum, as I know the response I will get “Oh that is nothing, you were a horrible child, ha ha ha”  no advise, oh no, just my mother smug that life is getting its own back on me.
Yep, I am and have been all the things that Mini is and much, much worse.  I don’t think I was a very nice child and it turns out that mini is my life getting its own back, but that doesn’t solve anything.  I don’t want this to continue in this vain.  We need a solution, we need to work on things,  I know consistency will be the key to what every we do, but I need some help.
So parents out there, have you experienced this and if so what did you do, please help, please comment, please, please, please.  I don’t want this to effect the way we are and love as a family.

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31 Responses

SnafflesMummy | 01.11.10

Oh no huge hugs. Here is hoping its just a phase but still doesnt help in the meantime if his behaviour is not acceptable to you.

I think whatever you decide should work provided you are consistent. What about a reward chart? You could promise a weekend treat if he gets X many stickers on his chart. Doesnt have to cost money, could be he stays up 15 minutes longer or gets to choose a fiml to watch etc.

Laura | 01.11.10

Oh my God!
Hoorah! You are so not alone. Hector is 4 and 3 months now and very lovely, but from birth really he was a complete handful. At 1 and a 1/4 I was in tears at the health visitor's, when we would go out everyone within a mile radius would know his name from my screaching, and it once took me an hour to physically transport him about 100 metres. The amount of times I have felt other people's thoughts as they look on and think 'she is one dreadful Mother,' is uncountable. My mother-inlaw was NO help and would give him a biscuit every time he started to moan/whinge/scream/bite/kick and she wouldjust look at me and say distraction always worked for her. Distraction has NEVER worked with Hector.
I like you tried everything and all I can say is at times it was so hard I would be in tears too and left wondering what was wrong with me. Hector is now much better. We still have our moments, but he is more able to communicte through them.
My advice is to stick to your guns. When he is in trouble just limit the eye contact and try and stay calm ( I am not too good at this). Sometimes I would end up locked in his room with him and I would repeat 'You are not coming out until your behaviour is better,' Eventually after 30-45 minutes he would calm down. This, admittedly was not easy to do when you have another younger child.
I feel for you, and you are not a bad mother. You just have a very strong willed child who knows his own mind and who will one day grow into an amazing man.
Good Luck with it all and sending you a hug. It will get better. Love Laura x

Luluquack | 01.11.10

is there anywhere he could go for a time out that he cant destroy anything? My mum used to put me and my brother in the hallway (although once i did start kicking the glass front door) I was a terror too and have a mini terror who started tantruming at 10 months :( everyone feels they have the right to comment and that i am "too soft" but i have always been firm with her she is just very head strong and will throw a fit everytime I remove her from a situation where she is doing something she shouldnt be or if i want her to sit in her carseat/get out the bath/get her nappy changed etc….

bekimarie | 01.11.10

First of all, HUGE hugs, sounds like you need them.
My Mum was pretty much the same with her attitude but of late has sympathised as she has seen what the little man can be like. Although I have to say (touch wood) this past month or so he has been much better.
I think the reward chart is a great idea if you can reason with him when he's calm about it. I think the naughty step is a total waste of time and Super Nanny has a lot to answer for there.
Have you tried ignoring him? I would say walk out of the room but there's always the danger of what harm they can come to.
My Daughter is 11 and can have a hissy fit as good as any 2/3 year old at times and rather than scream back at her i'll ignore her. This works a treat because she soon realises she's not getting the attention she wants but will get it when she calms down and apologises.
I don't mean that this goes on forever, DD is just going through a hormonal tweenie phase at the moment and i'm sure little mad will outgrow it.
Just remember, you're a fabulous Mummy, anyone can see that and there's always light at the end of the tunnel.

Love and hugs
Beki xxx

bad penny | 01.11.10

Im going back several years here but it was my first who had the tantrums – yes Darling Daughter would throw herself down screaming. Bedtime was a nightmare.

The one minute (left before going back to re-settle ) two minute, five minute, ten minute, TWENTY MINUTE ! thing eventually worked.

I don't know how you could apply this when time is limited by getting to school but you could talk calmly & sternly "we are taking Maxi to school. This is what we are doing…"

A good friend had awful trouble until her lad began to talk – he was simply frustrated.

I feel so much for you here – we have all bundled up a screaming tot & shoved them into the buggy or car seat so try not to worry about caring who sees you !

A reward system may help.

Hope some of the comments you get today give you ideas & strength – it does get better – I promise xxxx

I'm sorry, but I probably won't be much help at all as my daughter is autistic and we went through very much the same when she was 3, and 4,5,6,7,8,9 and now 10!! But that's part of her autism. However, staying calm, cool and collected, showing Mini that his behaviour is getting him nowhere, and encouraging him to do something else to stimulate him may divert his attention from destruction and tantrums. I don't know whether it's a phase or an age thing. But I do know that there is professional help that, may have always been a last resort in the past, but can sometimes help. I'm not talking Super Nanny but someone in an educational field as he may have a very high IQ which needs to be recognised.

In the meantime, I'm sending you a big hug and hoping you manage to sort something out.
CJ xx

Sandy Calico | 01.11.10

Hugs, hugs, hugs and more hugs.
I felt the same as you and watched Supernanny with a smug 'my children won't act like that' look on my face. The of course I had children!
Presley has screamed for most of the morning. I ignore mostly. When I go over to him I hug him and tell him I love him. Of course we haven't got school to go to. If he's hurting his brother, or damaging something in the house I put him in the playpen for a couple of minutes, but I expect that's not an option for you!
I don't have any answers, but you have my sympathy. If you need to scream you can always ring me. I'll email my number – just in case.
By the way, I mentioned you on my blog today x

Suki-Lou | 01.11.10

Sending big hugs your way…my Little Miss is nearly 18m and I have discovered she has The Worst temper…worst still she can seriously hold a grudge! So I sympathise with you big time!! The naughty step doesn't work as she is too young to understand, so I have had to try (& fail!) other ways.. The things that work best for us (for the moment anyway) are: happy hugs which are very quick calming hugs (this is before her bad mood escalates), and when it gets to beyond reasoning I leave her to it (obviously making sure she is in a safe place)…both hubster & I have found that ignoring her temper tantrum is the most effective method…so far…I dread the day Little Miss ups the ante…best of luck!!

You poor thing! I'm also sending hugs your way. I'm not sure I have much of value to add to the other comments, but my two pence worth would be:

Stay calm and try not to get angry. I find this very difficult sometimes, but situations where I'm calmer seem easier in the long run. Also, I feel less likely to be judged (by onlookers) if I'm being uber calm during the storm.

Stay resolute. Don't back down or give in, as this just encourages the behaviour. If you decide halfway through the tantrum that you want to compromise, back off, then come back with a slightly different offer, so it's not a sign of weakness – if you see what I mean.

Avoid situations which trigger it where possible. This isn't always going to work, but I've found that now I realise that when she's tired, hungry or bored LittleSquishy is going to kick off, I try to avoid pressuring her to do my thing at those times. So I schedule around her weaknesses.

Have a backup plan for when you can't avoid it. So if you can't avoid, like at school run time, you can still get things done. For me this involves a buggy with a very good harness! When LittleSquishy is impossible and tantruming in the middle of the Disney Store because she won't leave, I will manhandle her into the buggy, do up all the straps and leave, with her carrying on all the time. I will appear to keep calm, and talk to her throughout saying this is why I'm doing it. She will normally wear herself out, at which point we'll stop and have a cuddle.

Give them plenty of choices. LittleMoo went through a stage of tantrums, and someone advised me to let go of the details. So I let her choose her own clothes each day, choose her lunch, plate etc (in fact every little detail I didn't care about). The theory being that if you give them control over more areas of their life, then they're less bothered when they have to do it your way.

We give time warnings to help ease transition. So we'll say "10 more minutes then we're going to …" and "5 minutes" etc (to be honest, my minutes are a bit vague in length, but they get the general idea).

Oh and finally, lots of postive re-inforcement and verbal encouragement. And don't get into a negative discussion with anyone about his behaviour within his hearing. They understand EVERYTHING we don't want them too.

Hope that some of this helps. If all else fails, my Mother in Law gave me a valuable piece of advice, gleaned from raising 3 kids – it's just a phase. While it might be awful at the moment, they will grow out of it. And into another phase, but don't worry about that till you have to.

Michelle | 01.11.10

I really feel for you. I was also that awful child apparently. My Dad tells me that my Miss M was sent to repay my awful behaviour as a kid! Thank goodness I only got 1 naughty twin!

The only thing I can say is that I find when I wake in the morning in a good mood, early and decide that nothing will be rushed and nothing will phase me as I expect tantrums etc then my day is far better. When I expect good behaviour of my kids I tend to be dissapointed, thats sounds terrible doesn't it? I hope you now what I mean.

Sometimes things are a self-fulfilling prophesy and if you believe your kids will act out they will, they lock right into our mood and react to it.

Now obvioulsy I do not know you and I have only read your blog a short time so I am not trying to suggest this is you, but it is me and it might be something to think on. Try it tomorrow, set your clock 15 mins early, get all the clothes, lunches etc ready the night before and have a nice cuppa and chill before the kids get up – see if it helps.

Things will get better, everything is stage with kids.

Mich x

OMG. I've just seen how long my comment was! Sorry about that!!!! I'm so wordy. Can't help myself. :)

I have nothing but sympathy. I suspect a post like this is in my future. It's a phase? A phase I hope you come out the other side of.

Oh Mad, sounds like a very rough start to the day. I have had some VERY testing times with my toddlers…..
Read a great book once "when your child pushes your buttons, and what you can do about it" or something like that…will have a look for link for you- I found it very helpful for troublesome behaviour
Am a bit exhausted and frazzled just now (have just shouted at my own girls :( )But will have a think and give you more sensible reply tomorrow….

Oh dear. All I can offer is an ENORMOUS hug sent your way – unfortunately I cannot give you any advice. Professional help sounds sensible to me. I believe that an 'outside' person can give you an objective view on what's happening. Maybe that's all that is needed?

xxx MM

Emily O | 01.11.10

Oh dear that sounds tough. If it's any consolation my four year old's tantrums are now far worse than when he was in the 'terrible twos', I thought children grew out of them by now but there's no sign of it happening. I'm ashamed to say we have a stairgate on his bedroom door so he can be shut in there because when a child like that is in full flow you feel you have to do something or put them somewhere. It's not ideal because he then trashes his bedroom and throws things down the stairs from his room. My response now is to put anything he throws down the stairs 'in the bin' (it's hidden away instead). We've started a reward chart but when a child is in the throes like that threats, rewards and reasoning just don't work. They're not in control of themselves. I usually let him thrash it out and then pay him attention when he's calm again. But when you have to go somewhere (which often triggers it) you can't ignore the behaviour. I sympathise with you and don't have many suggestions I'm afraid, all I know is that it makes me cry seeing him like that and I can't wait for the tantrums to finally end.

Sounds like we've all been there. Libby (my youngest) used to be like that. Her biggest tantrum ever was when I asked her to clear away the lego she'd got out. It took her an hour and a half to clear it away (inbetween screams), and then she screamed for another 2 hours after that. I put her in her room as I'd tried everything else to get her to calm down but with no luck. Eventually she fell asleep exhausted. I know it feels awful when you're in it, but it really does pass. As soon as they can communicate better what the problem is, the screaming becomes less and less, and usually stops completely.

xxx

Nicola | 01.11.10

Oh dear – I have my own version of the mini-mad it appears in Johnny Drama. So I have read with interest the comments – but am sorry that I don;t have any wisdom of my own to share. The only thing that works with JD is remaining totally, almost icily calm (even under extreme provocation), and walking away from drama scenes so that he doesn't successfully gain my undivided attention by having a full blown strop. Not always practical.

bad penny | 01.11.10

I hope you have had some comfort from all the wonderful replies ! It will pass – stay strong you are not alone !

Glowstars | 01.11.10

You'll win the war, because that's what us mothers do!

The boy went through a big phase like that last year, mainly with me and not the husband, leaving me bruised, battered and scared of him and his violence when he kicked off. No matter how bad Mini gets, my advice is to show no fear – it only lets them win. Unfortunately, as to what to do with him when he does kick off, it's a case of trial and error. So many of the suggestions here didn't work for us then, but do now. A lot of it is about tailoring them to Mini to see if they will help. *Hugs*

Morning! There's loads of great ideas here already but I just wanted to say 3 things I've learned from my daughter. 1. If I boss her / give strict instructions she gets p'ed off with me. Our mornings run much smoother if I whisper in her ear that I could do with a great helper this morning who can show the others how to get ready 2. A photo chart (see my link) works wonders for us as it reminds her what she needs to do without me having to nag. 3. If all else fails I've let her be really late getting to school one day and expected her to explain to the teacher why we were so late. This really brought home to her we have to get ready properly not because mummy is a horrible bossy woman who trys to rule her world but because there's a knock on effect if we're late. Good luck!

amberlife | 01.11.10

When my (now nearly 17 year old) son was little he did exactly this – trashes his room, destroyed everything that was precious – I sewed the legs back onto his toy frog more times than I care to remember and it worried me that he internalised and then externalised all this temper and frustration. When he was 8 (I know that seems forever away) he started doing karate and this proved to be the making of him – somewhere to blow off steam, discipline (the classes are run by a prison officer who commanded absolute respect without ever raising his voice) and somewhere to channel all that energy / frustration in to. He became one of the youngest black belts at 14. We still have the internalisation to an extent and I'm not always his favourite person to communicate with but the karate thing certainly worked – as something completely different / discipline / achievement and he became a far nicer and clamer child as a result. I know that your children are little but maybe there is something comparable out there?? Good luck – toddlers – some of the most trying people in the world!!

You are not alone! There are many many of us mothers dealing with behaviour like this, so don't worry and don't beat yourself up.

I find that letting everyone know what is coming well in advance of it actually happening can be helpful. So there is a constant – in 10 minutes we are going to leave to go to nursery – in 5 minutes we are going to have to put our boots on. Somehow, with my two, if they know what is coming and what they are expected to do it is less of a battle when the actual time comes. Sometimes anyway.

Good luck, try to stay calm (I can talk, I'm hopeless at staying calm) and good luck. You know it is a phase. You know you will come out the other side. Big big hugs. xxx

You are not alone! As you can see by all these comments! I have been there, worn the t-shirt, etc. And I know how you feel, I can remember the frustration, the looks from others who just don't understand! I had terrible problems with my son (still do! And hes nineteen now!) tantrums, screaming rages, broken objects…. trouble at school. nightmares really. have you noticed there is always someone somewhere who seems to have perfectly well behaved children stood on the sidelines looking down their noses and seeming very smug! Or people who haven't had children yet who think that all you need is a want of how it should be and it will be. Ha! thats not reality, this is reality, but it does pass eventually, honest! Some children just are harder work, some children are stubborn and won't sit on that naughty step! I know from all your posts and all the lovely things and time you spend on your children that they have a lovely home and a very special caring Mum! So don't go feeling bad about it as I used to do!
On a lighter note I have done a post tagging peeps now!

big huge enormous hugs form me to you! suzie. xxx

Mary Poppins | 01.11.10

Ohooo my goodness I have one of those too. Master Poppins is 3 years and 5 months now and Ohooo he really is a little terror sometimes. I know for me he should probably be at pre school, have been told would help me in my circumstance, but as you may know from reading about my relationship with him, not ready to let him go off in the big wide world yet.

Norty step, mats, don't work for me, he wont keep still long enough, the only real ammunition I have is Daddy, he is braver and stronger than me ;) Apologies I have not helped you have I. Well for what it is worth, Keep calm and carry on :)

Hugs

And thank you for your lovely words, been thinking of you lately and hope that you are well

X

Mary Poppins | 01.11.10

think Master p has broken 27 items in the last month alone, hope that helps a little :)

X

My heart goes out to you. My 5 year old acts out when she needs attention. Yesterday I was upstairs on the computer too long and when I came downstairs, it was to find cottage cheese all over the hardwood floors and a window sill. She had helped herself and then got creative in my absence. Fortunately our basset hound, Scooter was up to the task of cleaning it up since I had to be out the door to pick up the older kids from school and head them to the dentist.

Hang in there. You grew out of it and turned out to be a rational, responsible adult. And by all of the comments left, you aren't alone!

(((hugs)))

Kelly | 01.11.10

I have no advice to offer, just big virtual hugs x

Pomona | 01.11.10

It does get better, I promise. My stubborn awkward little boy is now 19 and my best friend and we can actually joke about it, although at times I was totally at the end of my tether. I found Toddler Taming by Dr Christopher Green really helpful, and after 3 children I would say, reward good behaviour copiously with lots of attention and praise and remember not to reward unacceptable behaviour with negative attention (which is difficult but does work in the end). Try to keep your patience (also difficult, I know) so that you are giving him a good model to follow and try to hide any anger, anxiety, impatience so that he can't see that he is pressing those buttons. Try to avoid any flashpoints – for example, my younger boy used to have tantrums if he lost a competitive game, so for a while we just didn't play them! And sometimes in a crisis bribery can work – eg if come along quietly now about taking your brother to school, we can then go to feed the ducks together, or play trains together, etc, afterwards – so then it is as if school is just on the way to the nice thing. Sometimes you have to repeat these things calmly, almost like a tape, to get through, and then if he is OK, he can see an immediate reward, and if not, then don't take him to park or wherever, calmly explaining why.

Sometimes they just can't cope with being rushed in the morning and getting up earlier and taking it slower can help. Also a fixed routine so they know what is coming next, and keeping them occupied and keeping them moving.

And remember that your health visitor is there to help with under 5s – don't suffer alone if it is getting all too much for you. My oldest boy was deaf from glue ear, and it took me a long time to realize that it accounted for much of the difficult behaviour. Sometimes even talking it over with a professional can either reassure you that you are doing fine, or they can just give you that bit of extra help that everyone needs at times.

I hope that you can find a way through your present difficulties – I know that times I really struggled, but with hindsight I can now say that parenting is like any other skill, it takes practice and lots of hard work, and a bit of encouragement and help from others does not go amiss, either! But somehow you do come through the other side, and now I am desperately sad that my awkward little boy is big enough to leave home and those days are all gone.

Pomona x

geekymummy | 01.11.10

Lots of great advice for you above so I won't add much. We have similar issues with Geekygirl (I'm sporting a nice scratch now). I love this book-link below "raising your spirited child" It helps you identify things that trigger the tantrums, helps you figure out your child's personality type and how it compares to your own, and has some good strategies for dealing with these types of issues. It also helps you see the good qualities in a difficult child (and even discourages against using such negative labels, as this colors how a child sees himself)

Some kids are just harder to parent. Qualities that make wonderful adults; strong mindendess, powerful ideas, etc can make for very challenging three year olds. I was told by a therapist that kids like this really need strong boundaries and rules, and that following through with promises and threats is really important. They suggested using consequences such as taking a toy away for a period of time if you have a kid who can't handle time out (which many 3.5 year olds are not developmentally capable of).

I find revisiting incidents with talking to be useful; ie "remember how mad you were this morning? How did our body feel when you were angry?". This type of conversation helps kids to recognize when they are about to exlode and learn to control their emotions.

Practicing appropriate responses to frustration is good too, and giving the message that it is OK to feel angry; stamp a foot, tear up some paper, hit a pillow, but it is not OK to hit, scream and throw. My daughter has an "angry noise" that she tries to make instead of hitting and scratching (it is kind of cute, I try not to laugh).

All my friends tell me that 3 1/2 is the worst age. Hang in, he is a gorgeous little boy!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060739665/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0060923288&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0TSDHABDFTB2VYVGA3ZB

I really feel for you but he WILL get better. My motto was 'never negotiate with a terrorist' and eventually I used to say to Child One, when she was old enough to grasp it, 'you will never get what you want by shouting. As soon as you start, whatever you want is NOT going to happen.' It was tough but she is a great teenager (so far!!). Good luck!

Amy | 01.11.10

big hugs hun, i am having the same thing with my 3year old she just screams the place down if she doesn't want to do something or doesn't get something she wants and then sulks for ages. I am hoping it is just their age and they will grow out of it. keep strong and i will think of you when i am facing my next 3year old tantrum. we can get through this!!!!!

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