About this blog.

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 24 months. I created this blog to bring meaning to the often-confusing label. Sometimes I have answers. Other times, just more questions.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Terrible twos at age three and why I'm a bad mom.

So terrible twos are upon us. It's mostly garden variety oppositional behavior, only delayed and exaggerated. Delayed because the onset is at almost age 3, and exaggerated because he's so very rigid. For example, often Brad will get into a snit just because Jeremy speaks. Or dances. "No, no, no!!!" he wails.

So why am I a bad mom? It's the limit setting. With Jeremy at this age, I was a model parent, setting limits firmly and consistently, using timeouts as needed.

With Brad, the limit setting isn't going so smooth. I'm neither firm nor consistent. I've identified five reasons:

1) I'm a softie. I just don't like to see Brad upset.

2) He's my baby. We're done having kids, and I cherish...I dunno...mommying him.

3) He's so far beyond reason. Even the action/consequence reasoning which provides the basis for time-outs doesn't seem to work. I can give him a time-out 20 times for the same thing and it doesn't resonate.

4) He's stingy with the sugar. Until about 3 months ago, he didn't hug or give me any sort of affection. So when he gets upset and he turns to me for comfort, I want to give it to him, even if he's completely in the wrong. I'm just so happy that he's in touch with his emotions and I can comfort him.

5) The frowny face. Brad has got the saddest little frowny face. And he often internalizes when he has a tantrum, quietly crying with a frowny face. I can't be firm to frowny face.

But I can't indulge the rigidity because so much of his unreasonableness is aimed at Jeremy, and that's not fair. Any advice?


Erica said...

No advice, only empathy.

My 3.5 year old PDD-NOS son, who sounds a lot like yours, is only just now getting into the "terrible twos" with lots of oppositional behavior and extreme rigidity ("NO! Turn the car around! Go the OTHER WAY home, not this way!"--WAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!) where there previously was none.


It may help you to know that I AM firm AND consistent with time outs (unless the tantrum is clearly anxiety-based), and yet it sounds like we are both in the same rocky boat.

Laura said...

Hey, I'll take empathy. I'll take whatever I can get. :-)

Stimey said...

Oh my God, you've just described my "typical" kid Quinn. He was great at 2 and kind of a nightmare right around three. He still gets mad if someone says the wrong thing.

But I totally get the difficulty with discipline. I had to discipline Jack completely differently than my other two kids.

Quirky Mom said...

I have no idea, because we've been in the terrible twos for two full years now (since Apple hit 14 months) and I'm still a softie. Actually reason works well with him, but first we have to get her to listen, and that's the challenge.

rainbowmummy said...

You're not a bad mother Laura.

I guess if I had two kids, and one was being nasty to the other, I would put all my attention to the other.

Time outs don't really work with Egg, though I use them as I need him to get his tantrum out my F-ing face, or if I need to get the screwdriver out to fix the phone(he pulls it out the wall :0/)it is easier to do when he is out the way with his tantrum. The last time he broke the phone (he doesn't really want to break it, he is trying to free the socket to use as a key hole, ugh) he put himself in time out!! When he is in his time out he is usually bashing his drawers, one day I gave him a scare as he was told several times to stop, he continued so I went into his room and pulled his chest of drawers into the hall!

Sometimes I take his toy and put them in the locked kitchen.

1) Is Jeramy getting upset, or does he take it in his stride as the cool older bro?
2) Buy a kitten!
3) It will work out, as he gets older, that's what I am telling myself!
4) Buy a kitten.
5) Buy a kitten with a frowny face.

Casdok said...

No your not a bad mum! Empathy here to!
Good luck! :)

Laura said...

Stimey and Casdok - thanks!

Quirky mom - yeah Jeremy had flashes of the 2s starting at around 18 months, and then it was full on around age 2. With Brad, the flashes came this summer and just now we're full on.

Rainbowmummy - LOL, no kittens. And yeah, we use timeouts mostly to diffuse, and it basically works for that purpose. That's funny that Egg put himself in timeout. I do the 1-2-3 method, where I show him one finger and say "that's 1!", and then two fingers and say "that's 2!" as a warning. But of course, with Brad being the model of routine, when I say "that's 1!", he just smiles, says "time out!" and looks to me for affirmation. Not exactly a punishment for him.

We also put the toys in time out when they don't share.

As for the Jeremy/Brad dynamic, it's not quite as black and white as I presented it. Jeremy takes joy in pushing Brad's buttons, even if it's just saying something. So my refrain is "don't bother Brad!" Which isn't really fair because most of the time Jeremy isn't doing anything wrong. That's why I feel like I need to switch this up a bit.

~ April ~ said...

I, too, wanted to offer empathy!

For Isaiah, who is very, very persistant, I've been using big bear hugs with a lot of success. For example, if he's hell-bent on touching the extremely hot pot (or tackling Abbie because he wants to wear her socks, or wants the [dirty] green dishtowel hanging up instead of the [clean] white one, or having a meltdown because we are out of dishwasher powder, etc), I'll get down on the floor, put in in a full-body hug, wait until he calms down, and then simply explain the situation.

The majority of the time, he'll calm down and move on to something else. This is the ONLY thing that I found to work. Time-outs, distractions, reasoning never worked, as it's like he can NOT stop what he's doing once he starts, or else cue anxiety and/or huge meltdown. I think Isaiah just needs that deep-pressure stimulation, as well as a forced separation from the situation to calm down enough to move on.

I was a little hesitant to try it, because I was worried he would equate hugging/contact with punishment, but it's actually the opposite. I'm finding he's starting to initiate big bear hugs on his own when feeling stressed. He'll pull on my arm to tell me to sit down, plop down in my lap, and start rocking back in forth (the latter is a new thing, but I guess it goes into the whole craving vestibular input thing).

Anyhoo, sorry for writing a novel. I just thought I would share our experience. It so simple, yet I didn't think to try it until recently, and it's been absolutely amazing. No more physical fights over trying to prevent him from doing XYZ dangerous (or "mean" to Abbie ) behavior.

rainbowmummy said...

Laura, you will step things up, you have, after all, made the first and most important step (unlike me with lossing weight),you have blogged about it, now you have too!

I wonder if the boys share a room?

Laura said...

April, thanks for the note. Interesting. I've heard that works.

Rainbowmummy - no they don't share a room. I'm not against it - just haven't done it.

Anonymous said...

Chee hit the Terrible Twos late as well. The summer she turned three was a horrible summer. Horrible. I tended to be of the mindset to let a lot of things slide.

Timeouts were ineffective. The bear hug mentioned before - not good for us. I would find Chee putting herself in a bear hug type position and "punishing" herself. When I saw that, I never did another bear hug.

We got through it eventually. (For hitting, I had to lock her in her room for a 3-minute timeout. It worked. I only had to do it once.)

I see her displaying some rigidity now and then and what I usually tell her is that if she doesn't like what we're doing (or what her sister Ess is doing) that she's free to go in another room. I'm not saying it works, but it gives her a choice. Often she will go in the other room, and often she'll quit her whining. And sometimes not.

Mostly we just ignore that kind of stuff. I try to give negative behaviors very little attention.

The best advise I have is just know that it won't last forever. The Terrible Twos is just part of growing up.

Laura said...

goodfountain - thanks for the words of wisdom. Hey, you survived LOL. That's worth something. I'm so looking forward to the day I can speak of this phase in the past tense...

Anonymous said...

I recently read an article (by Dr. Harvey Karp, I think) in Children's Hospital magazine that says age 3 is the new 2. So Brad's behavior is possibly not delyayed and more typical than you think.

Would some sort of token/rewards system work to reinforce him every time he does what's expected of him?

rainbowmummy said...

I was only asking as it would be stressful to do time outs etc!

Laura said...

janeil - ha, but what's the new 3? :p

rainbowmummy - oh I thought you were advocating it - like for bonding or whatev.

Jen said...

Kind of the same thing here.
Because Evan is so much younger than the others, I think I'm maybe a little more lenient. Also, I was a SAHM when the others were younger; I think the guilt of working plays a role in how I'll "let things slide."

Laura said...

Jen, I hear you - I work too. I just don't blog about those issues because it's kind of a landmine.