How I’m Failing At Parenting My Toddler

I’m just going to come right out and admit this. I’ve spanked my son. More than once.

And I don’t like it.

I’m not saying this to condone or judge or anything else. I’m just saying I’ve come to the point several times (not daily, not even weekly, but a handful of times) where I’ve run out of options, out of sanity, out of patience… and I’ve spanked, hoping that it would be the thing to finally snap him out of it, to finally get him to behave, to listen, to calm down.

But it’s never worked. It’s never done that thing I want it to do.

Instead, to be entirely honest, all it does is confuse us both. Kendall looks at me and will say things like, “Hey mommy! Why’d you do that? I need my boo-boo bunny (the little rag bunny wrapped around an ice cube that we give him when he gets hurt).” And then I just feel terrible and have no idea where to go from there because we’re big on not giving other people “owies” in this house, and I have no idea how to follow up at that point other than to just apologize, talk to him about why I got mad and why he’s in trouble and move on. And then? He usually does the same damn thing an hour later. Clearly not working.

I stayed up until 1 last night, sacrificing precious sleep that I so desperately need this week, reading 1-2-3 Magic on my Iphone in bed. I HAVE to figure out how to more effectively deal with Kendall. I feel like I spend my days and nights yelling half the time, frustrated most of the time, and not able to cherish our relationship. This book came recommended by a few readers and a few Facebook friends, so I figured I’d put it in the Kindle app for my phone and read it while up late at night with Leyna.

It was like a punch in the gut last night when I read the following:

Ninety-nine percent of the time that parents scream, hit and spank their children, the parent is simply having a temper tantrum. The tantrum is a sign that (1) the parent doesn’t know what to do, (2) the parent is so frustrated that he or she can’t see straight, and (3) this adult has an anger management problem.

That’s exactly what’s happening. I’m tantruming right along with my tantruming toddler. I’m exasperated, have no idea what to do, and am having a hard time controlling my emotions.

How am I supposed to ask my two year old to behave calmly and politely when I can’t even manage to do the same?

And it’s not even entirely about the spanking because, like I said, that’s not a super common occurrence. No, it’s not something I’m proud of or something I want to continue, but I have much more control over the spanking. I can stop it. I make a very conscious decision to do it before I do.

It’s the yelling. The yelling has to stop.

Too often, my frustration escalates to yelling, and THAT is much, much harder for me to control. And, personally, I feel like it’s damaging. I can see it in the way Kendall expresses his frustration. He yells and screams as a way to get his point across just like we do.

It’s all a vicious cycle of yelling and screaming around here. He does something he shouldn’t, we tell him no, he gets frustrated and yells, we get frustrated and yell, he screams, we scream, and on and on until it’s level 10 chaos.

By the time I get him to calm down, I barely have enough time to calm myself down before he starts up again. It feels like I’m in a constant state of annoyance, perpetually frazzled because of this, so subsequent tantrums set me off even faster, and by the end of the day, I’m just… done. I have not an ounce of patience in me. The “witching hours” before bedtime I probably throw just as many tantrums as he does.

I hate putting him to bed at night and thinking all I did was yell at him that day (and he at me). I also hate the sense of relief I so desperately look forward to when I close his door behind me at night. I hate that we so badly need a break from each other at the end of the day.

I’m only a few chapters into the book, but I’ve already started some of the techniques it talks about. The hardest for me, I know, is going to be the “no emotion” rule. I’m a very emotional person. Anyone who knows my husband and I well knows we’re a loud couple. We’re loud when we’re happy and we’re loud when we’re mad. We yell when we argue, but it’s never hurt us. It works for us, as a couple, to get our frustrations out and move on.

However, dealing with our child should be a completely different approach, and I know we both need to work on that. So, starting today, I’m doing everything I can to stop throwing tantrums. I shouldn’t have to wait for bedtime every night so that I can finally find time to calm down.

How are you handling tantrums or how have you handled them?

Kendall is 2 years 9 months and Leyna is 6 weeks old

  • mamaphan - Um, I could have written this post myself, and I’ll be picking up that book ASAP.

    All too often, Deacon pushes my buttons a little too hard and I tantrum right along with him. I get so frustrated when he starts crying and saying, “I don’t know!” when I ask him why. Like you, I’m very emotional & things that shouldn’t really rattle me tend to do so.

    Thanks for mentioning the book. I look forward to reading it.ReplyCancel

  • mamaphan - I feel I should also add that my … short temper? with Deacon has gotten worse since Rory was born.

    I never thought parenting two children would be this hard. :/ReplyCancel

  • Joanna - Thank you for sharing this. We’re not quite there yet… we’re just beginning our tantrums and at this point they are cute & pathetic and have not escalated to daily and mind numbing.

    That being said, I think we’re a lot alike. I’m loud, super emotional and I know I’m going to have a hard time dealing… especially with a newborn. I remember losing it at times when Madison cried… as a baby. And as much as I hate to admit this because it makes me sound like a monster, I yelled at my newborn. Yelled at her to stop crying when she was just itty bitty. I look forward to reading the responses and bookmarking this for when I need help.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - Joanna, when Kendall was in the midst of colic and I was running on negative 3 hours sleep, I screamed at him one night to “shut the fuck up.” And then I cried and convinced myself I would be the worlds worst mother. (ReplyCancel

      • Jessica - Jill, I have done the same thing twice. M is only seven months old, but she’s already a yeller… when she’s happy, when she’s bored, when she’s mad, when she’s sleepy, when she’s hungry, when the dog walks by, when the sun is shining. It. Never. Stops.

        After 14 hours of almost nonstop pterodactyl screams at window-shaking levels – and did I mention I attempt to work a pretty demanding job from home? – sometimes I just can’t take it anymore. And every time I freak out, I give thanks that she can’t understand my words yet and then wonder what the hell I’m gonna do when she can.ReplyCancel

      • Susan - Jill and Joanna,
        I just wanted you to know you’re not alone. I couldn’t handle those newborn nights… and screamed at my little baby girl on more than one occassion. In my case, it was a symptom of PPD/PPA, but it still makes me cringe to think about it.

        And I also wanted to say that the “no emotion” response gets easier with practice. I was an elem teacher for years before having my baby (who is now Kendall’s age) and so all that practice disciplining without emotion (SO much easier to do when they’re someone else’s kids) has helped prepare me for having a toddler. I still sometimes lose my cool (especially between 5 and 7pm), but it’s really helped me to approach toddler discipline as if we are both just slaves to the rules.

        Hang in there – it will get better. BTW, it takes huge mom balls to admit that something you’re doing isn’t working and then to change it. Kudos.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - This is the book our Ped suggested at our 2 yr check up. I’ve read it but am not very good about using the technique all the time. I need to get my husband to read it too, then it will probably work better!ReplyCancel

  • Bobbi Janay - Good Luck, I know how hard this can be.ReplyCancel

  • Monica - As always I have the exact same problem as you right now. It makes me soooo sad when I think back to when he was a baby and I said I’d never spank or yell at my beautiful little boy and wondered what kind of heathen could do such a thing. yeah.. makes me cry sometimes.. that’s mostly what I do.. cry or yell.. I’m so annoyed most of the time though my crying is out of sheer frustration. Just recently I started counting to 10. It’s not helping! Last night tried to go to bed at 8pm ’cause I thought maybe if I give in and stop doing anything I want to do and just go to bed on time (like I was taught when I was younger) then I won’t need to get annoyed from lack of sleep.. baby woke up an hour later, followed by 2 yr old..

    Right now as I write this.. my kid is taking every single pair of pants out of his dresser and putting them on.. usually I’d get annoyed.. but I’m ignoring it.. I give in. I GIVE IN!ReplyCancel

  • sara - I just wanted to step out of “lurkdom” to say that I am working on being a “reformed” yeller too. Its REALLY, REALLY hard ( for me anyway) but so far for me it can be done.Cut yourself some slack and know that there is a learning curve for all of you once you add another family member. From what I read you re a great mom and this will be one more hurdle that you will get over :) ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - Thank you so much for this post. You have no idea how bad I needed to hear that I am not the only one feeling this way. Last night I was at my breaking point. I literally locked myself in our bathroom to give myself 5 mins to calm down. I’m going to check this book out! Good luck to you, well, to us both!ReplyCancel

  • Sara - I could have written this post! My two are 2 and 10 months and 18 months and I have a third on the way. I truly believe children model their parents whether it is attitude, mood, behavior, etc.

    I am also a very emotional and high strung person and I see it coming out in my oldest so I have been trying to calm myself down before I discipline him so he doesn’t emulate that stress and emotion. It is hard! I am also a yeller and a screamer and you’re right….it accomplishes nothing!! I have spanked a handful of times and all it does is confuse him since on a daily basis I say “we don’t hit”.

    Hang in there. I hope we get some good suggestions. I fear for my sanity once baby arrives in July!ReplyCancel

  • Heather - That is because he is nearly 3. The threes are absolutely worse than the 2′s. Mine is 3 and a half, and i’ve cried more in the last year than in the 10 years before combined. (it’s my way of tantruming) I have resorted to the no emotion thing, but then my oh so concerned daughter will climb up in my lap and incestantly ask if i am happy, therefore irritating the hell out of me. However for all her concern, when I tell her I’m not happy because she _____ (fill in the blank) she just keeps doing it. Ah, the joys. Someday she’ll be 12 and won’t want anything to do with me…. someday….ReplyCancel

    • Jill - I am so, so, so scared of 3. Shaking in my boots scared.ReplyCancel

      • Heather - Well, mine started the terrible two’s at 18 monthes, and the terrorist 3′s at about 2 and 3/4, so you can hope and pray that you’re already in it early and that it doesn’t actually get worse. I hear 4 is a breeze, so I am biding my time, and ignoring all 4 year olds in the meantime so that my bubble won’t be burst!ReplyCancel

  • Jess - I could have written this post myself, I just bought that book on my Kindle and I will be reading it during feedings with Ms A. Like you guys, we are a loud family, in good and bad times, and I hate at the end of the night telling Aiden I am sorry for yelling at him…I hope to get some great things out of this book.ReplyCancel

  • Megan Willenborg - Awww this post made me teary eyed! Its awesome you can identify issues like this. I have a problem of doing that. I just go on and act like nothing. We don’t have bad tantrums…yet. Lucas is 2 yrs 2 weeks. I’m sure its coming. When we do have bad ones its when he is tired. We ignore the tantrum. Within 10 min he usually stops and once he calms down we put him to bed. We figured out ignoring the tantrum works best for us. He feeds off of being consoled or if we yell he will match. :) ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - My first son is 3 months younger than Kendall and my second son is one day older than Leyna, so I’m 100% in the frazzled, annoyed, emotional boat with you right now.

    I was in tears at the end of several snow days two weeks ago when I just felt like the toddler was screaming, tantruming all day and I couldn’t stop being annoyed at him. And I was annoyed at me because I created this situation by having another baby. Not fair…but still feels bad, you know? My husband suggested that maybe I try giving him my FULL attention for short spurts of time every so often to see if that helped him calm down.

    At first I was annoyed with that suggestion. I’m pretty sure I muttered “You give him YOUR full attention.” But as I thought about it, I realized that I could definitely detect a pattern in escalation stemming from my own emotional responses. So I tried his idea.

    And it worked. During a baby naptime, or tummy time or even just calm awake time, I sit on the floor with him and do whatever he wants for 5, 10, 15 minutes. Then, I give him a warning that I’ll be getting up soon and he’ll play by himself. And he’s generally okay with that. But it seems like those few minutes to recharge us both lowers the starting point for the next escalation. Does that make sense?

    Although we still have tantrums and lots of timeouts, it’s helped me to a) not yell and b) not feel like I’m failing him by getting so annoyed at him all the time.

    And can I just say, I am SO loving your honesty here. I’ve been reading your blog since Kendall was born and it’s been so encouraging to be following along so closely with the same struggles and milestones. THIS is what mommy blogging is about!ReplyCancel

    • Jill - I read your comment earlier right before I logged off for the morning. I did what you suggested, devoting a full 10 minutes every 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to him, and it worked great! Thank you for the suggestion, and thanks for the kind words and reading and chiming in.ReplyCancel

  • TheNextMartha - I didn’t yell when I had one child. I wasn’t as tired, stressed, pulled in a million directions. Since I’ve had two? I feel it’s all I do. Especially now that they play together? I’m like the referee yelling out fouls left and right. Since I’ve started using the laundry room as the time out spot, it’s been better. I don’t even yell. I just say “Tegan-to the laundry room” I then set the timer (5 min) and when it’s over I’m cooled off and explain to him why he was in there. Tegan is a stinker. He’s been a hard child to parent. But we’re getting there. Good Luck. Love you.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea @arrrj - I am thankful that we’re not fully into the tantrum phase with B yet (he’s almost 16 months). He gets super whiney when we tell him he can’t have something or to stop doing something. So far it’s working for us to do timeouts where I tell him to stop and if he doesn’t he’ll get a timeout. If he does it again, I take him to a specific spot, tell him that I told him to not do X and then I try and keep him corralled there for a bit. Then I tell him I love him, give him a hug, and send him off to play. That is usually enough of a diversion to get him to stop the offending behavior.

    Last night though he threw a glass of water and was being a pain while K tried to clean it up. I wasn’t home and K ended up just putting him right in the crib so that he was out of the way and knew that daddy was unhappy with him. He definitely seemed to catch on.

    I’ve heard great things about that book and will need to pick it up. I am sure we are going to need it.ReplyCancel

  • Jami - This sounds just like my house. Although I will say as my older son gets, well, older, it is helping. But I too find myself yelling WAYYYY too often. And it shows in my 4yo’s responses to my husband & me. I’m downloading that book to my IPhone today. I’m sorry I don’t have a magic answer for you, but I can at least reassure you that you are not alone. If that even helps.ReplyCancel

  • Mama in the City - I think it’s a mix of parenting and the childs personality too. My son is almost 2.5 years old and is just starting to have little bursts of tantrums. So far, I’m not having too hard of a time but he is easily redirected and calmed(personality). Luckily my husband and I are on the same page and handle those toddler mood swings the same way.

    Good for you for picking up a book and trying to find your solution. Your little guy might be a bit more testy with being in his new big brother role.

    Hope you learn some new tricks from the book!ReplyCancel

  • TheNextMartha - I’m trying to find the study done recently that studied parents at their child age of 6mths versus when their kids were 3-4. The parents of kids 3-4 were MUCH LESS HAPPY people. If I can find it (it was within the last 2 weeks) I’ll send it your way.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - Thank you for this post. We are pretty much where you’re at – newborn and a toddler in the midst of the terrible twos – and it’s awful. I will be downloading that book TODAY.ReplyCancel

  • TheFeministBreeder - You’re not alone – no matter what else people WON’T admit to, I have been around enough mommy playgroups to see that no matter how “perfect” a parent you are, sometimes we all just lose our shit.

    Two stories:

    Story #1 –
    I was at a LLL meeting a couple of weeks ago where one of my good friend’s good friends was there too. She has two kids, almost my kids ages. Her husband is loaded, and she’s the crunchiest mom I know (still breastfeeding a 5 year old, ya know, bonefide crunchy.) She’s been a SAHM her kids’ whole lives and never leaves their side. To me, she’s the Mothering Magazine poster girl, and I’ve always thought she had every bit of this parenting thing – ESPECIALLY THE GENTLE PART – down pat.

    But that night was HILARIOUS. She yelled at her two kids and chased them around the room the entire two hours of the meeting. It didn’t bother me one bit though, in fact, I was SO RELIEVED to see that no matter how much money you have, or how many recipes you have to make your own granola, or how you never, ever, ever leave your kids – even THOSE moms fail at the Gentle Parenting sometimes.

    I learned later that after the meeting she called our mutual friend had said, “I’m sooo embarrassed! Gina came to the meeting and the kids were being douchebags and all I did was yell at them the entire time!” So I told our mutual friend to tell her Thank You from me. I NEEDED to see that.

    Story #2:
    This time last year I was taking a psyche class. We had to come up with a “behavior modification” project in which we took on one personal habit changed we’d like to make, and we had to seriously document every bit of this behavior and the results.

    My behavior modification? I chose to try to stop yelling at my kids. I come from a family of yellers, and I feel like ALLL I DOOOO in this house is yell. Part of it is sheer volume control. The kids are both insanely loud, and sometimes I just HAVE to yell to get their attention or talk over them. The noise level in this place is at 11 all the time.

    I tried for 8 weeks to modify my behavior for all the same reasons you listed (it’s a parental tempter tantrum, it’s abusive, etc.) Needless to say, I still yell today. I do what I can to curb it when I can, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I AM the mom from the TV show Malcolm in the Middle. A couple of really loud, really mischievous kids can take down the best of us.

    So long story short? I commiserate. And I’ll pay their therapy bills when they’re older if all they can find to bitch about is what a crappy mom I was because I yell a lot. You’re doing the best you can. We’re all doing the best we can. And don’t let the internet convince you for one minute that your kids aren’t ridiculously lucky to have you.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - My favorite sentence in all of the internet right now “And don’t let the internet convince you for one minute that your kids aren’t ridiculously lucky to have you.” Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - And by the way, I too have spanked a few times, but I’m a counter… when I am getting irritated at what she’s doing, or refusing to do, I give her to the count of 5 and I tell her what will happen if she doesn’t obey, (spanking, removal of toys, having me do it for her) and then I count to 5, in a row (my husband will go one, two, you better do it, one two three, i’m serious, one…) and that way when she gets a spanking at 5, she knows exactly why she’s gotten it and what she could have done to prevent it. It probably depends on the nature of the child, but I only reach 5 about 1 out of 30 times i count. Also a huge key is trying to relax about what they’re doing. Is he pulling all the books off his shelf and lining them up around the room? Annoying? Yeah. Is it doing any real harm? No. Will fighting about it take more energy and emotion that just picking it up later? Absolutely! And that way, when you do enforce something, it means more because you let the little stuff go and aren’t constantly on his ass… Sorry for so many words.ReplyCancel

  • Barbara - I don’t want it to sound cliched, but we do the Supernanny time out technique on our two year old. If you do it exactly the way she does, it works like magic.

    Example: this morning we were late and had to go catch our bus – but my son refused to walk to the bus stop. Being 7 months pregnant, I’m not going to carry him the whole way. He started in on a tantrum, and I gave him his warning and then put him in time out.

    Outside. In public. On a busy sidewalk. On the side of a building.

    It was a parenting nightmare, but two minutes later he’s happy as a clam and we walk to the bus stop in good spirits. It seriously works.ReplyCancel

  • Somalia - I am so struggling with this right now and I totally could have written this post myself. My husband and I are at our wits-end with our son (who will be 3 in April. It’s actually gotten much worse since his little brother came along a few months ago. Not so much because of his *jealousy* toward his little brother or anything. I really feel like having a newborn that has been sick and doesn’t sleep, has really taken a toll on us as parents. Most days, I am in a zombie-like state from exhaustion. It’s no excuse for how I treat our older son though. I hate the way I feel at the end of the day, like you said. And that phrase you pulled from the book? Yeah, it made me tear up. Why? Because it completely hits home. The parental yelling and tantrums has to stop.

    I just want to say, Hang in there and you are not alone at all. Thanks so much for sharing, because it feels good to know that I am not alone either. Thanks for the book rec too. I’ll have to download it to my Nook. I am up for any suggestions right now!ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - You are SO not alone. Don’t beat yourself up, all toddlers are frustrating. We all have our moments of “I’m done”…I had one at 8AM this morning! My dogs and my 18 month old were pushing me over the edge…I swear I need the Dog Whisperer and Super Nanny to pay me a visit!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer (The Vintage Chain) - You are definitely not alone! This is exactly how I’ve been feeling almost everyday. Just last night, I threw the biggest temper tantrum in front of my kids which then caused me to not speak to my husband the rest of the night. I had so much anger I couldn’t even talk to anyone! Unfortunately for him, he walked in the door just as I had put the kids to bed and I was ready for MY alone time.

    The worst part of all of it, is when my kids look at me and say, “mommy, are you still mad at us?” Major.Guilt.

    Today is a new day though…and I’m going to have to get that book!

    Thank you for this post.ReplyCancel

  • Nanette - I’m reading that book, too, and that passage you quoted stuck with me, too. I think about it each time I start to get worked up about what turns out to be trivial behavior on my tot’s part.

    I haven’t implemented the 1-2-3 yet because I’m not done reading, my husband also needs to read the book, and the few times I’ve tried it, my daughter just thinks we’re practicing counting and she counts along.

    Hang in there, mama. You are not failing as a toddler mom. :) ReplyCancel

  • amber - I never thought of my yelling as a tantrum, but you’re totally right. I’m going to have to get that book.

    This was a great post – and one we apparently all needed to read.

    Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - I’m having the exact same struggles with my almost 3 year old, and I definitely see all my worst traits coming out in him. I’ve spanked a couple times out of anger and had the exact same results. The instant “oh my god I’m so sorry” and my little one saying “mommy, hitting is naughty”.

    One quick trick that is working a little, is to say “look at me”. If that doesnt work, I turn his head so we are eye to eye. We seem to communicate so much better when we are making direct eye contact.ReplyCancel

  • Erica - It is SO much harder with two kids! I have a 21 mo. old and 6 mo. old and it is a challenge for me every day! I definitely will be picking up this book too.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle McD - I’ve read countless books of parenting and have degrees in psychology and social work and still nothing prepared for me actually being a parent myself. I can give out advice to clients and think I’m really good with working with families, but when it comes to my own child I often find myself at a loss. I think it’s because I have such a vested interest in my own kid and I’m not able to be objective because it’s me and I’m inside of me with all my own emotions and issues. As parents we all have different personalities, different parenting styles, and were shaped by how we were parented (good or bad). It’s very hard to separate who you are internally from how you want to be because we are somewhat driven by all these influences. Not every technique is going to work for every parent and every child and the goal is to find what works best for your family through research, advice, experience, and a bit of intuition. Here’s some techniques that have helped me and I’m still learning to put into practice:

    1. Separate the person from the behavior: Instead of telling Mary, “You’re bad.” say “Mary, coloring on the wall is a no-no.” However, us the opposite technique with good behavior. Instead of “What a great picture!” say or add “You are a great artist. You should be proud of yourself.” You can say you are proud too, but try in instill a sense of self pride too.
    2. Focus on positive statements. Instead of “We don’t run.” say “We walk when we are inside, remember?”
    3. Remember to reward the positive. Comment as often as possible when the child is playing quietly, being helpful, etc. We often forget about this and end up just giving attention for the negative.
    4. Separate the emotion from the discipline. Put the child in time out and use that as a time to cool down yourself. Practice not yelling but using a stern, level voice. Time out is used to remove them from the behavior and give them time to reflect. So if they don’t cry it doesn’t mean it didn’t work. Don’t view it as a punishment–you’re not trying to get even with the child. The goal is to teach (the root of the work discipline is disciple).
    5. Try not to blame. Use “I,We statement” I’m (insert feeling) that (insert issue) what can we do about it together? Instead of saying, “You didn’t pick up your toys” say “I’m upset that the toys are still out. What can we do about that?”
    6. Apologize when needed. We ask our kids to be forgiven by us and so should we be forgiven by them. We’re not perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny B - That book has been recommended to us as well! I have it on my Amazon wish list. One book we also read is “Love and Logic” which I think is probably very similiar. But, it doesn’t really work for a toddler who can’t fully understand English or speak yet, which is what we have. OH GOD THE WHINING. It is enough to make me lose my mind!!! I am guessing it is only going to get worse in 3 weeks when Baby #2 is born…gah. At least I will remember this post and feel better that I am not alone…ReplyCancel

  • Jacqueline - I was spanked, and yelled at as a child, and before I had kids I just assumed that since it was what I knew I would resort to the same. I have made a conscious effort to do differently, and I love a book called Discipline Without Distress by Judy Arnall. The first time I read through it, I first thought to myself “this will never work!!” But it completely changed my views on discipline and empowered me to be the kind of parent that I want to be.ReplyCancel

  • Brad - You are so not alone on this one. Our 2 year old is great at pushing our buttons and being outright naughty. He even gets that twinkle in his eye before he does something he knows he’s not supposed to do.

    We too feel a sense of relief at night when it’s time for bed. Not always, but probably more often than we should.

    Based on everyone’s comments so far, and my own feelings, I don’t think you can say that you’re failing at parenting your toddler. If that’s the case, then there’s a WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE that are also failing. Toddlers are…to be honest…a pain in the ass. I think all anyone can really hope for is to not sell them to the circus before they stop being the devil and turn back into a human for a few years.

    Then we get to do it all over again when they hit puberty. ;) ReplyCancel

  • GreenInOC - You might really enjoy listening and/or reading this:

    http://www.kpbs.org/news/2010/jun/03/are-temper-tantrums-normal/

    They are specifically talking about a public temper tantrum but really it’s universal! I love they talk about the science and development of tantrums.

    Kudos to you for being willing to examine yourself. Double kudos for recognizing an “adult temper tantrum”!ReplyCancel

  • Kaylin - Wow- I could have wrote this exact post (although I am sure it would have turned out no where as beautifully as your’s is composed.) I have spanked my daughter (2.5 yrs old) maybe 2 or 3 times. Each time I thought “how can I tell her we don’t hit, and then here I am hitting her about something.” It is truely an adult temper tantrum. I also find myself yelling at her a lot. My mom mentioned something about my yelling a few weeks ago, and since then I have tried to not raise my voice at her, and she has been so much better about listening. I am still ready for a break when my husband gets home, and I can’t wait for her to go to bed each night. I feel horrible about this. Some nights my patience is SO shot that I can’t even imagine following a “bed time routine.” I just want to throw her in bed and be done. I am definitely going to look into the book you recommended. I know I have heard of it from other people to. Now I just will need to find the time to read it between my 2.5 yr. old and my hopefully almost done with colic 5 month old.ReplyCancel

  • Garden Variety Mama - Thanks for sharing. I have 3-year-old twin boys, so I’m right there with you, and then some. I so often feel like the world’s worst mom, but I think we all do. A friend of mine recommended that book as well, so I’ll have to check it out. Good luck to us all!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I hear ya. No judgement here. We’ve spanked, and still do on occasion. However, the best discipline we have found to date is running. I kid you not, our preschoolers are forced to run laps in the backyard, until it is no longer fun. At the end, they are either less defiant, or to tired to fight, but either way, it works for us.

    Otherwise, we are love and logic fans. 2 choices, Logical consequences, and a serious lack of emotion. Great example, little guy threw a nasty tantrum yesterday over wanting juice not water. Result? No drink. He was still ticked, but he is only allowed to throw fits in his room,so he was there a while, and I bet he’ll think twice next time.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - Okay, I have to LOL at running laps. As soon as this weather clears up and we pick up dog poop out back, I’m SO making him run laps. If anything, he’ll find it hilarious and we’ll be able to move on from the negative. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • dianthe - another yeller here!! don’t worry – you’re not alone – i wake up every day with the goal of not yelling – some days i make it and some days i don’t – some days are great and i feel like a rock star mom – and some days suck and the only time i’m not yelling is because i’m just too damn tired

    i learned the “no emotion” thing in Love & Logic – they call it “going brain dead” – the thing is, it’s hard to remember all those parenting rules and tricks when all you want to do is pull your hair out!!

    i took the Love & Logic classes (twice) and while i don’t follow it to the letter, what i have chosen is really working for us – it took several months but Sydney is really starting to respond – that doesn’t mean we both don’t still have temper tantrums, but i’m able to control my temper better and handle her meltdowns better

    hang in there mama – this being a mom shit is NOT easy – you’ll find your groove and figure out what works and you’ll be Mom of the Year again before you know it! ;) ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - I need to pick up this book. I haven’t spanked Aidan, but I’m right there with you on the yelling. When I reach my breaking point, that’s what I do. Scream at him, to the point that I can tell he’s scared sometimes. Ugh. But that paragraph is absolutely correct – we’re throwing a tantrum, too. And that’s not helping either of us.ReplyCancel

  • Jules - You are not alone. As always, I feel like you know what we are going through in our house. For us it’s not the spanking as much as the yelling. I just.get.so.frustrated. Keep me posted on how things go with the book, I might have to check it out.ReplyCancel

  • jeri - We have 4 children ages 12, 11, 5 and 3. I can’t begin to count how many nights I have lost sleep due to the guilt of yelling all day long. All. Day. Long. I can tell you that it gets better. With a toddler and an infant, just the lack of sleep is enough to turn a normally rational adult into a tantrum throwing maniac! Add in the isolation,the pressure to get every parenting detail “right” and beating yourself up over every mis-step and you are going to get a major mommy melt down! The bottom line is that you are looking for better answers and doing your best to hold it together. I promise you that it gets better; usually after a great night’s sleep. Hang in there and cut yourself a little slack.ReplyCancel

  • Kristal - Thanks for this post Jill! And I think it’s obvious by the number of comments just how many moms can relate. I, too, am loud. I come from a loud family and I’m definitely a yeller, both in happy and mad times. Im also very emotional and no question, I have my own temper tantrums. The part you quoted from the book totally hits home with me. My son is only one, so no real tantrums/frustrations yet, but I know it will happen and I’m trying to prepare myself now. I’ve never heard of this book but I’m going to check it out. I’ve heard great things about Love and Logic, which I’m guessing is very similar. Best of luck Jill, and I hope you share more if this journey with us!ReplyCancel

  • Upstatemamma - I’ve never read that book but I would say I agree with not getting emotional about it. Whatever it is. Set a clear rule and then enforce the consequence for it. With my son when he would throw a tantrum we sent him to his room. Calmly. A few times we had to pick him up and put him there but that was also done with no emotion. If he was throwing a tantrum he had to do it alone – we were not going to watch. With my daughter we couldn’t use her room since she shares it with her sister and she will sometimes throw a tantrum not at home. So, we use the stairs or a corner or other excluded area if we are somewhere with out stairs. But it is the same idea – if you need to throw that fit we are not going to be any part of it. Overall it has worked. They don’t get anything out of it and they stop doing it. It’s not an easy stage. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Krista - This is EXACTLY where I was about 9 months ago until about 3 months ago. I hated myself for yelling at my 2 yr old, who was 19 months old when his brother was born. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I yelled at him one evening when we were trying to take pictures. He looked crushed, just completely helpless. It was a rough few months but it’s getting better. The baby is almost one and I’m not yelling much these days. I will say that it does make me reconsider wanting to have more kids though. Not because they are awful, I just don’t like the person I am when I’m sleep deprived and an emotional wreck.

    Hang in there Jill. You will get through this.ReplyCancel

  • julie gardner - You are so not alone. My kids are now 11 and 13 so I have moved into a different arena of issues –

    But when my son was two? Holy hell did I feel betrayed by every parenting magazine, ever article of advice I read.

    Nothing helped. I would do everything. Then find myself saying, “Now what?”

    Hang in there. And don’t be hard on yourself. Just the fact that you self-examine your behavior and are working toward better options means you are a good mother.

    And again: You. Are. Not. Alone.ReplyCancel

  • JJ Keith - Hey there. Delurking. Belated congrats on the new baby!

    I have a 2yo and 4mo so needless to say, I totally relate to this. I’ve heard good things about that 1-2-3 book and have been meaning to pick it up because I’m a total yeller.

    But I sometimes wonder if (and hear me out here) maybe yelling isn’t so bad? Maybe when I yell I’m not having a temper tantrum. Maybe I’m honestly expressing my emotions and I’m modeling for my children self-expression. Of course, for this argument to hold any water I must never insult, name call, or intimidate. “Holy shit! Are you drinking out of the goddamned dog bowl?!” must become “Stop drinking out the dog bowl. It makes mommy angry because that water is dirty and bad for you.” I’m working on it.

    Have you read Nurture Shock? One of the arguments that the author makes is that it’s good for children to see their parents fight, provided the fight is constructive, non-abusive, and gets resolved. Children need conflict resolution modeled for them. I wonder if learning to yell appropriately might model emotional honesty? Maybe it’s bad for our kids to watch us suffocate our feelings and then slink off to beer at the end of the day? Maybe not. I don’t really know.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - Thanks for delurking!

      You know, I totally hear what you’re saying. I think it is important for them to learn to express their emotions, and I’m not anti-yelling all the time. Like I said, we’re a loud family, and I’m not sure that will ever change.

      But there’s me yelling and expressing myself and then there’s me yelling and totally losing my shit on the regular, you know? And while I don’t want him to think he has to bottle everything up and never yell when he’s really mad, I also don’t want him losing it every other minute, either.

      Good points.ReplyCancel

  • Molly - I will be picking up this book ASAP. We had our first full-on tantrum last night, and it left me wondering what to do next. Can you put a 14 month old in time out?

    I hope that the book helps you.ReplyCancel

    • Bethany - Time-outs are not recommended until your child is around 2 years old. They have to be mature enough to understand basic cause and effect in their actions. You can re-direct or ignore. Most other reactions on your part likely won’t be terribly effective.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - I really admire and appreciate your honesty on this blog, Jill. I’ve been in a similar situation lately with my 2.5 year old and it’s had me feeling like a pretty crap mom. For me, it’s the yelling…I’ve never spanked my daughter, but I do lose my temper and raise my voice when she’s really getting to me (and then feel totally ashamed about it later). It kills me because I see my daughter do the same thing when she is frustrated – her entire body tenses and her face gets red before she starts screaming – and it’s hard to ignore myself in her at those moments. I want her to learn better from me, so I will definitely check out the book you’re reading – sounds like there could be some valuable suggestions in it.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Please, please, please go easy on yourself. You have a very high-maintenance kid. He’s a wonderful kid. A lovey kid. But he’s hard, really hard. And at a super hard age.

    I have a super easy kid, who rarely does things she isn’t supposed to, and when she does, it’s not dangerous or really destructive so stakes are low.

    I’m not saying this to brag, I know I lucked out with her. I’m saying this to let you know that having to repeatedly and again and again and again and again stop your child from doing what he shouldn’t – what he damn well knows he shouldn’t – it would be enough to drive anyone to distraction, to yelling. Honestly, I don’t know how you do it.

    I pretty much collapse when my kid takes a nap and spend the entire nap recovering from the morning. Your job is so, so hard, it just really is.

    I really think you need a break. I know you do the mother’s day out thing, but I think it’s time to look into regular pre-school or part-time daycare for Kendall. Or a regular mother’s helper or something, anything to give you two a break from each other. I can bet he wouldn’t be the same with someone else, or at least not as “bad” or defiant. I know you feel it’s your job to be with him, but I think if you think about just what’s best for him, a break for both of you might be it.ReplyCancel

  • Stacy - We are definitely there with two 27 month olds! We recently read Love and Logic and really like it. I found their advice about giving away the control you don’t need especially helpful.ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany - We have found that the ONLY thing that will work for Mason is time out. We screamed, spanked (which we only reserve now for DANGER situations) and just walked away.
    Walking away sometimes works (especially at home) because all he wants from me is attention so when I stop giving it to him, he usually snaps out of it. But of course you can’t just walk away in the middle of Target.
    We started putting Mason in time-out until he stops crying in a room where there is no distraction (the formal dining room). When he flips out in public we head for the nearest bathroom and take a time-out. Now it’s actually to the point where we say, “Do you want to go to the bathroom?” and he stops.
    We also recite “No crying, no whining, no tantrums” before we leave/before stressful situations and he gets that too.
    Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Steve - Since I’m replying on my iPod I didn’t take time to read 53 comments. I’m sorry if someone else mentioned prayer.

    In these situations I pray! I often pray outloud if no strangers are in ear-shot and always when at home or in the car. I normally first say an Our Father” (The Lords Prayer) then ask God for help with the situation. I then thank him for everything I have In my life.

    *side note for Christians who might not normally pray often or feel worthy of asking God for help* Prayer does not have to be perfect, God knows what we’re saying even if we don’t express it “perfect”. I even think he helps us if we swear in our request for help! If you say something like “please help me from going fucking nuts” God understands and cuts us slack. Afterwards, mostly before I go to sleep I appoligize to God for my words and ask forgiveness.

    Try it, I hope it can work for you. If this idea sounds like I’m some religious nuthead then just tell to stop Steve from offering his dumb-ass comment!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - We aren’t deep into this, yet, but when I’m feeling frustrated I find it easier to treat him the way I want to be treated if I get down by his face, grab his hands and ask him to look at me. By the time he does, I’ve had a chance to take a breath. At the very least, it’s really really difficult to YELL in someone’s face! ;)

    Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Monica - Thank you for being honest, and sharing!! If I saw someone yelling at a 2 year old on the street, I would be appalled, but when my baby was born, there I was yelling at my daughter day after day. SHE was infuriating me and I didn’t realize how unfair I was being to her and she was reacting to me more than I was reacting to her. Hindsight is always 20-20. Now that the baby is almost 1 and she’s over 3, and I’ve figured myself out a bit, we’re all a bit calmer here. But be gentle with yourself, ask for more help than you think you need and keep breathing. It’s hard, this parenting stuff.ReplyCancel

  • jen - oh man. don’t be too hard on yourself. it’s so great that you’re trying to make things better – and by “better” I mean more in line with how you *want* to parent. that’s really all any of us can do. nobody’s perfect. it’s a learning curve.

    I’m at the bottom of the learning curve so this post is really speaking to me. we’re getting our first backtalk and tantrums from our 20-month-old son (just posted about it actually!) and scrambling to teach ourselves how to teach him. good luck and please keep writing about it if you feel comfortable doing so, it’s so helpful to hear how other mothers are handling real life.ReplyCancel

  • Dagmar ~ Dagmar's momsense - Oh, I hear you! And I understand your struggle. I have felt the same way. I also wrote about spanking my son for my first (and so far last) time and how awful it was for both of us: http://www.nycmomsblog.com/2009/11/why-spanking-is-not-for-me.html

    I have found that I sometimes yell at L when I’m stressed about getting out of the house, but I was the one taking so long and it wasn’t his fault at all that we are late. Hmpf, motherhood is not easy.

    Try to give yourself a bit of a break, you now also have a baby to take care of. Hopefully the book will help.

    Hang in there, mama, you are a great, concerned mother :)

    DagmarReplyCancel

  • Allison - I think we are long lost sisters separated at birth! I feel so bad about myself at night after I put my kids to bed when I feel like all I did was YELL at them. I love 1-2-3 Magic and this past week, which was particularly bad for ME, I reminded myself that I need to read it again! I feel like all I do is tear down their self-esteem, and for what?! Ugh. I’m right there with you Jill and thanks for sharing because we all have gone through this or will go through this!ReplyCancel

  • quazydellasue - I wish I could give you a giant hug right now because I so totally understand how you’re feeling. Yesterday I was World’s Worst Mother for a good 10 minutes when Della had a spectacular nuclear meltdown (prompted by me asking a little too much of her when she was totally exhausted) and I reacted with a nuclear meltdown of my own and was so totally ENRAGED with my little girl that I could have broken every bone in her body and not cared at that moment. (How’s that for honesty?) All I did was yell and scream, but my thoughts were violent. And then 5 minutes later I was just awash with guilt and remorse because WHAT THE FUCK is my problem, she is a toddler, it is MY job to keep it together.

    D started at a new school recently which is really big into “non-violent communication,” and I’ve been learning a lot from them. Tantrums have actually declined by about 80% around here. Obviously I still have terrible moments, like yesterday, but they are so much fewer and farther between. And it’s because I’m learning how to DEAL with her when she freaks out. The other night she started to lose it because she wanted more bubbles in her bath and she wanted me to get in there with her and a simple no was not gonna cut it. So I got on her eye level and took a really soothing tone and said, “It sounds like you are a REALLY wanting to have more bubbles and have mommy in the bath with you! I’m hearing in your voice that you really, really want that. But we have a limit in this house that we only pour the bubbles in once. I know it’s a hard limit to hear, but it makes sure we don’t run out of bubbles for tomorrow. And I know you really want me to get in there with you, but tonight that isn’t going to work for me because I don’t want to get my body wet. I want to be dry tonight. Maybe tomorrow night we can take a nice long bath together.”

    And she just SMILED and started playing, tantrum gone. All I did was copy the stuff her teachers do with the kids when they freak out, and I was honestly stunned that it worked.

    The bottom line is that yelling and spanking and even time outs just don’t work very well because they don’t communicate anything to the kid beyond anger or silence. It doesn’t help them make a connection in their brain. When we find a way to get through and really make them understand that we need their behavior to be different, it’s amazing how quickly they respond.

    But let me say again I am NOT saying I’m some kind of goddess or know-it-all because I haven’t gotten this down pat in any way whatsoever. Just learning.ReplyCancel

  • Tricia F. - Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood.
    Buy It!

    I now enjoy my 2.5 yr old son, love parenting again, and feel closer to him more than ever. This stuff works! Be diligent, follow thru, and reap the rewards.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - Oh I throw tantrums as well. But I’m trying harder to stop. Time out and taking away toys works well for the little one. When we are out and about though, that is where it gets hard. I try to bring distractors and snacks, but sometimes they just need to express that they are frustrated and tired. When I was a behavioral therapist we were taught to put kids in a “safe place” where they can throw there tantrums and just ignore it. Don’t let them know you are razzled, just ignore. If it’s not working, they will get the idea and stop.ReplyCancel

  • Blair@HeirtoBlair - oh, Jill. Thank you. Thank you for being honest about this because I’m stuck at a crossroads right now where decisions have to be made – are we going to spank? Are we not going to spank?

    I was spanked as a child & grew up respecting & loving & never fearing my parents, but when I think about actually laying a hand on Harrison, I feel terrible all the way into my gut.

    & I would like to do something different as a parent. I just don’t know what yet.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - BA, I was spanked, too. And, like you, I don’t feel like it hurt me in the long run, but I also don’t think it’s a parenting style I want to adopt. I’ll be honest, a lot of that comes from my fear of getting caught up in the moment and going too far.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@ The Southern Belle Baby - We are dealing with so many of the same issues, so thank you for sharing this!! It’s incredibly frustrating to deal with a child that is pitching a tee-total fit and doesn’t understand why what they’re doing is wrong. I have found myself having more than one tantrum, too! It’s incredibly difficult, and I have been praying a lot for more patience- although I think sometimes God’s answer to a prayer for patience are more impatience-causing moments!!ReplyCancel

  • LauraBee - In a society where spanking is suddenly being considered child abuse, it takes great courage to say what you have said. I was spanked as a child as a last resort. I love and respect my parents today and grew up to be a well-adjusted adult.

    I think that as a parent it’s easy to get to our wits end and take the road that will make the most impact on our child to get their attention and let them know that Mommy means business.

    If it’s not the path you want to take, then it’s going to take a lot of diligence on your part to get K to learn to be disciplined without needing a spanking.

    I’ve probably been watching too much Supernanny for my own good, because this is a topic that has been on my mind. I’m terrified of what the 2′s have in store and don’t know if I have the patience to drill home what a time-out means.

    Discipline is hard on everyone.ReplyCancel

  • Jill - Thanks so much for all the responses, everyone. This was a really vulnerable post for me, one I was afraid of publishing, but you all are amazing. Thank you for the support, for commiserating, for not calling me a child abuser. I hate that so many of you are in the same boat, but I’m glad we can all come together to give everyone a big virtual hug.

    I just want to clarify by the title of the post I’m not meaning to imply I feel like a failure of a parent, but more that I feel like this method of handling his behavior is failing us both.ReplyCancel

    • Misty - Im having a horrible time as a recent divorced, single mom of a 2 1/2 year old. Its me and her in our apartment day in and day out, no family or visitors. So, when im not working online with my degree I take her to the park. Before we moved here we were active everyday with dance class, park, bike rides, church three days a week, library story time, bouncey house or cupcake bakery, something we would do everyday to keep busy. Now, we don’t live near those sort of things and she is bored and acting out. Its hard to keep from loosing my cool when i can’t just leave while some one else watches her. She pitches fits or tantrums when we leave the park, all the way in the car and up the stairs to our apartment flopping on the floor after fighting me all the way up the stairs. I feel like im going to have a stroke or pass out from the screaming and fighting and yelling she does. Theres no reasoning to her. My family has spanked me and were spanked growing up, but i dont want to hit her, i love her. but its come down to it the past few months. i feel so guilty!! Now i feel like never leaving the house because she throws those tantrums in public when we leave church, dance class or something fun where she is interacting with other kids and people. She doesnt want to leave. ANY advice on that?ReplyCancel

  • cocoschmoco - I loosely subscribe to the Alfie kohn/unconditional parenting model – basically, I don’t believe in time outs. However, if my son is hurting someone or doing something that directly bothers another family member, we will put him either in an area by himself in our living room, or on his bed in his room. Usually ignoring works when it’s just grouchiness, though. We do talk about his fit and give hugs when he’s done, and then just let it go, as he’s still pretty small (he’s about to turn three). When I yell, it scares the absolute shit out of him, so it’s actually a good reason for me to remember to stay calm, bc I HATE seeing him that scared.
    Can Scott do bedtime? Having a break in which I’m only doing the baby’s bedtime has been really good at our house. Also, doing one-on-one mom/big kid outings helps a bit, too. Hang I there, my second is 4 mos. And life is already a lot smoother than those first few weeks.ReplyCancel

  • Alexandria - We spank and I don’t really have a problem with it, except to say that it doesn’t really work. It usually just pisses him off and he screams louder so I honestly don’t spank that often because right now its simply not working.

    But figuring out how to discipline Phoenix is a daily struggle. And I find myself more upset because I’m yelling & frustrated then upset with myself because I spanked.

    The only thing that really seems to work FOR ME is timeouts and just ignoring him during his timeout times while he throws a tantrum. Eventually he’ll stop, but its still not a 100% fix but its a start.ReplyCancel

  • Jehefinner - I do smack my kids, sometimes. For me, the golden rule is “never smack in anger”. I always warn them that if they do XXXXX again I will smack them, and I rarely use the threat, because I don’t want to dominate my kids, I *try* to reason with them and explain stuff to them. But sometimes all the fluffy-bunny parenting techniques fail, or aren’t applicable, and I find I’ve got to look them in the eye and say “if you do that again/don’t do as I’ve asked, I will smack you”.

    However, I yell all the time.

    I too Fail at parenting

    You’re not alone by a long shot!!ReplyCancel

  • Erin - Jill,
    I’ve spanked James on more than one occasion. I’m not proud of it and it’s not something I want to do again, but when nothing else is working I’ve done it in an attempt to get his attention and make him stop his behavior, but it has never helped. If anything, spanking him makes the situation worse and makes it drag out longer.

    I’ve read 1-2-3 magic recently. James has responded well to the counting, it does work “most” of the time. We still have our days of back to back time outs and exhaustion. I think the most important thing about 1-2-3 magic is ALWAYS following through…which is hard and can really take it out of you…which brings me to my next point of why having things like pre-school, mom’s day out programs, and just support and help in general is SO important.

    Good luck, it will get better. Believe me though, I absolutely understand your frustration and what you’re going through. ((Hugs))ReplyCancel

  • Heidi - Thank you so much for this post. Your honesty made me feel so much better. More days than not I feel the same way you do. Good luck & keep your readers posted! I’ll have to look at that book you’re reading for sure!ReplyCancel

  • karie - Wow-this so is my life some days. I will say-now that my very dramatic daughter is 3 that it does seem to get better. When my son was born (6 months ago) there were so many days I thought I was going to lose my mind. I was exhausted and the emotional battlefield that was my daughter was so draining. And we did time-out, and empathy, and warnings, and huge cheering when it was right, and yes, we spanked. But really the thing that helped me the most was when I read that she does this because her brain is so busy working on language development that emotional development actually gets by-passed. Suddenly every time she used a word like ‘delectable’ I could be amazed by her and realize…her brain can’t process it all. So we did lots of distracting and rejoicing over the good days and on the bad days…I didn’t change the rules or the expectations, just my expectations of what dinner would be :-) Take-out anyone?
    Hang in there. Spring is coming.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - My 18 year old step son is so much more frustrating than my toddler. I had a good friend tell me to try and find one positive thing to say to him every single day. When I rolled my eyes, she shared with me the time she thanked HER 18 year old step daughter for tying her shoes. Seriously, that was the only thing she could find that day to give positive feedback on.

    The 18 year old is too far gone for this to work effectively, I’m sorry to report. But my 14 year old step daughter AND my almost 3 year old respond amazingly well to the approach. Our daycare also takes this tact. If a child does something wrong, they have a stick that is moved from a ‘green can’ to a ‘red can’. It’s all very matter of fact. No yelling, no spanking, no time out – the stick gets moved from one can to the other, the child does it himself. They then LOOK for positive behavior, ANY positive behavior, to reward the child, praise them and let them move the stick back from the red can to the green can.

    For what it’s worth…

    And we ALL have those moments!

    hugs,
    MReplyCancel

  • Autumn - Let me just start by saying our kids are exactly the same age apart and same gender (same order)–mine just have a few months head start on yours. So everything you write has been a near echo of what I just did and felt.

    It does get better.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself.

    The most important thing is what you do after you loose your temper. Loosing your temper happens. (I read this in a magazine and it made me feel better. I was as desperate for strategies as you are now.) Here is what I do. I apologize. I sit my son down and explain that I got angry and why. I ask if he can forgive me. If he says he is angry at me I say, “It’s okay to be angry”. Then I end the whole thing by saying, “I forgive myself.”

    We might be modeling that we loose our tempers and are less than perfect, but we can also model that conflicts can have calm resolutions, that we care about someone else’s feelings and can forgive ourselves for slipping up.

    For Discipline: a lot of time out, consistently. I do a lot of counting with giving limited options. If my son won’t let me brush his teeth I say, “River, I’m going to count to three and if you are not in the bathroom when I get to three, you are going in time out.” And even if it seems stupid to put him in time out for something so minor, I do it. And now he usually listens!

    I also will take away favorite toys if he refuses to cooperate. If it is a transition thing (going out somewhere/returning home) I give many warnings, have him verbally confirm he understands, explain what will happen when you go our/when we get home that will be fun, and come to consentual agreements if he is very stubborn. “How about we leave after we read one last book? Do you agree on this? You pinky swear?”

    I found that I often lost my temper when I was trying to get him to sleep. So I put that chore onto my husband and dropped River’s naps soon after my daughter was born. (no nap means earlier bedtime. Hard to do without, but we’re used to it now!)

    If I feel myself loosing control and getting pissed, I tell him I am having a bad time and he needs to play by himself. If he won’t, I give him 15 minutes of time in his room so I can have a breather. That little bit of time refreshes me.

    I still have my guilt moments when I slip up but things are no longer hellish around here!

    Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - I can totally relate to you! I am currently taking a class called Parenting on Track. Unfortunately the teacher lives in Vermont but she does offer the course online as well as their is a book and online coaching with her that is available. Although it is a challenge to implement some of the techniques with the younger ones it totally puts things in perspective. You are not alone though! :) ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability in this post.

    I am in the same boat and trying to figure these things out as well!

    Blessings on the journery!ReplyCancel

  • Brandi - First of all, you are not failing at parenting a toddler. You haven’t given up & are searching for/actively trying to improve the situation which is the root of good parenting. :) Second, everyone has their “bad mommy” moments because we are all human.

    Talking to a toddler is just like talking to a man while he’s watching tv. You must physically get between them & whatever they are doing, make eye contact, & then ask them if they understand. Otherwise I just assume I’m not being listened to.

    On days that simply aren’t going well, I make sure I get down on her level, ask her to look me in the eye, say what I need to say & then ask her if she understands. On super bad days, I ask her to repeat it to me. This way I KNOW she gets it & if she continues the bad behavior it’s a simple time out.

    I’ve also pulled, “You can come out of your room when you’re done crying.” Typically she’ll cry for 5 minutes, find a toy or books to read & stay quietly in her room for 30-60 minutes.

    My youngest is 8 months old tomorrow & my oldest is 3.5 years. The next few months are going to be tough. It takes a lot of extra energy you don’t have to squat down with a baby in your arms & put that effort into communicating with an unhappy toddler. However, it will get better! The first 6 months were extremely difficult for me & MANY MANY MANY times I wondered why I decided to mess up my happy little family by having another baby. However, the last 2 months have been so much better. The baby is fascinated by his older sister, they both love the swings at the park, the interact more & everyone is happier.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - I know the last thing you want to do at this moment is read another book, but I also want to highly recommend Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood. I’ve read it and 123 Magic, and I prefer the Love and Logic approach, at least with my almost 3 year old. It really does eliminate the screaming (on both your parts). It gives a lot of perceived control to the toddler, and really, isn’t that what most tantrums are about?ReplyCancel

  • Emily - It. is. hard. End of story… but now you have to figure out how to manage. His little world was thrown a curveball by the new baby and he’s dealing with a changing brain and body that he doesn’t know how to manage, let alone emotions and feelings that he has no words for. You understand how that is hard for him because it is hard for you so you have to cut both of yourselves some slack. Next, find a coping mechanism. I came from a single mother home where she didn’t know what to do but spank and scream because that’s all she knew. It doesn’t work, my brother just got more aggressive I just recoiled. There are both positive and negative consequences in any reaction you have and also you can choose to either react or not to react. Think this over for a minute and think about what that means to your family. Is it an option for you to walk away from him when he is being ridiculous or does he follow you and tantrum for your attention? If you can walk away do that and count to 100 or sing a song in your head. Anything to make time between his action and your reaction. Next, if time out is an option that you can do with a baby in arms try it! If he constantly gets out of time out and you must replace him over and over that might be impossible with baby so think of a method other than locking him in room that might not be best because if he is sent away he could feel further rejected. Most importantly as soon as you have a free second, baby is napping, husband is home, etc. give him your UNDIVIDED attention for a long time. Not just a few minutes here and there. And praise praise praise good behavior. It will get better. Tantrums are so hard and something that gives us tunnel vision but you will come out on the other side. Trust me I work with children with autism as well as my own child and you can come up with something that works for him as long as you are adamant it will just take experimentation. Good luck and you are a good mommy… You might need a mommy break too so that you aren’t so burned out!! Seriously just an hour or two a week can help:)) HuGSReplyCancel

  • Emily - One more thing, get him to change perspective. So get him out of house to play as soon as weather permits, or give him a task or duty when he starts to elevate that can sometimes stop fits in their tracks.ReplyCancel

  • Nota - As someone who was yelled at a lot as a child, and has a mother who never ‘got it’, I’m grateful that you’re realizing this when Kendall is so young and trying to make a change.

    Some of the things my mother has yelled at me still echo around in the cobwebs of my head – and let’s just say none of them are words of love and encouragement.

    I haven’t spoken to her since 1998. I have no intention of speaking to her ever again. And that feeling of relief you get when you close Kendal’s door is the relief I anticipate feeling when my mother is being lowered into the ground. Oh, I’m sure I’ll cry a bit too, b/c there were good moments, but mainly I’ll feel relief that there will never be a day where she can make me feel so badly about myself ever again.

    If that’s horrible to you, good. Keep it in mind.ReplyCancel

  • Lynet Witty - Thanks for that book reco. My 2 yr old has been acting up a LOT. Saying NO to everything even when he means yes…and he refuses to obey. I spank when he doesn’t obey. I send him to his room to cool down, and when he stops crying, he’s allowed to come out. That’s what was working for me…NOW it hardly does. So what needs to change?
    *sigh*….kids.ReplyCancel

  • Leah - When I feel like I’m going to throw a tantrum (and I do, I yell, in his face, kind of to startle him which usually results in him crying because I’ve hurt his feelings – and I hate it too) I give myself a time out. I just walk away from him screaming on the floor. And take deep breathes to calm down. Sometimes he follows me which just pushes me over the edge, but it’s better to try to get away than to take it out on my boy.

    Ugh, I hate discovering things like this about myself so I know a little of how you feel.

    When I was a kid I hit my little sisters a lot. I swore I would never spank my son because for me it’s a sign of lost control (I’ve heard of parents spanking “in control” but I don’t know what that would look like). Yelling is lost control too. Yuck. (that’s directed at me, not you. I have much empathy for you. You can do it!)ReplyCancel

  • Robyn - what has really helped us has been to use the rule of saying yes as often as we can. little kids are told no all the time, about almost everything, so i make it a rule to make yes my default answer. if i can’t come up with a good reason to say no, i say yes. oh, and explaining why i have to say no works wonders. they understand way more than we think. sometimes the answer is simply, no because that isn’t safe, and my 21 mos old dd understands, and stops doing what i told her not to do. i also feel like by giving her a valid reason, i am teacher her to not just do things because someone told her to, i’m teaching her to reason.ReplyCancel

  • New To Mom - I have spanked Jack a couple of times. The first time he just looked at me and kept doing what he was doing The second time he just laughed and moved on. So obv it doesn’t work for him.
    His 2s were good but his 3s have been horrible. I could literally sit here all day and tell him to get his coat on so we can leave and he won’t. He has no desire to listen. at all. The other night, I’d had enough of the loud dump truck in the kitchen and I repeatedly told him to get it out. Finally I broke. I yelled, in that scary way where he probably couldn’t understand what I was saying. He continued to just look at me. So I took a deep breath and removed the toy. He ran to his room and was crying. Then he said, “I’m so upset bc my mommy is mad at me”. UGH. heartbreaking. When I went in to explain why I was mad and why I yelled, he told me that he didn’t want to talk right now. He came back into the kitchen with a different toy. He said that he was going to play with that one bc it was quiet and I wouldn’t get mad. I felt so awful.
    I’m going to have to check out that book. I’m at my wits end on what I’m supposed to do with him.ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany M - I could have written this whole post, word for word. I hate feeling so frustrated that I’m just constantly screaming and resort to spanking at times. I am not at all proud of the way I handle his discipline most of the time and, it is sad too say, but, I see my mother coming out in my parenting and I especially hate that. (I love my mom, but don’t agree with her parenting methods she used when we were growing up)

    They have had some presentations of that method at work, I have thought about checking it out. I would love to hear more of how it works for you.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle White - I just discovered your blog today and you are not alone! My youngest will be 1.5 the day after my oldest turns 4 on April 7th if that gives you any idea. I never wanted to be be the yelling or spanking kind of parent but OMG there are times he drives me to near violence. At home I can put him in his room or walk away but when he acts out in public it is even more frustrating. I have read books, prayed, bribed etc and have recently come to realize that toddler boys are the equivalent of a preteen girls with their mood swings, back talk and over all crazy ass bs. Today he had a major meltdown so I laughed at him until I cried and then he started laughing. It is a vicious cycle but it is worth it. So sorry for the ramble but your post really hit home!ReplyCancel

  • jessi - I so hear you. I need to stop yelling too. I’m totally throwing tantrums along with him. I’m going to read this book too!

    Thank you for writing this post.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - Thank you Jill, for such an honest post. I’ve taught parenting classes, helped hundreds of others to learn to communicate better with their children and I promptly ordered 1-2-3 Magic from the library upon reading that snippet.

    I have raised one child (22) and my little one is 4. People say to me, “Oh, you must have found parenting so much easier the second time around.” I just paste a smile on my face, nod and LIE, “Oh yes, so much easier.”

    It isn’t. I was spanked, beaten and screamed at as a child and it is not easy to get over or avoid repeating.

    So despite what I already know, I figure there’s always room for more knowledge. Thank you, thank you, thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle @ Analytical Mom - Thank you for this very honest post! I think a million moms have been where you are, and you sympathize with all of them!

    My 2-year-old is about the same age as yours, so I am no expert, but we have had a ton of success with extinguishing for temper tantrums (I’m sure you know this, but extinguishing is very intentionally ignoring the behavior, in a very obvious, “I must have my earplugs in because I’m right next to you folding laundry and I can’t hear your screaming” way.) My mom works with 1-2 year olds in a childcare, and it is her all-time favorite way to end unwanted behavior!
    Wishing you all the best with your little ones, and I hope you really, really benefit from the 1-2-3 method!
    If you’re interested, there is a rather pointed response to this post at http://mindofthemother.blogspot.com/2011/02/in-defense-of-spank.htmlReplyCancel

  • Penny - I am lying in bed with the guilt eating me up. I just spanked my 2 year old for the 1st time. I feel sick about it. He is the youngest of 4. It has been a long day and I am exhausted. I just wanted to get them all into bed and have a moment to myself. But he had other plans. I snapped when I heard him get out his bed and he started throwing all the blocks that had just been neatly snacked. And yes…..I am a moron for even having the blocks in the room. While I am not really a spanker, I am a yeller. I battle this daily. I do not want to raise my children to become yellers and I already see it happening. I am crying as I write this. I feel like I am screwing them up. I try to give myself a time-out…to give myself a chance to compose myself…and sometimes I do a really good job. But then inevitably, I fall off the wagon and start screaming again. I just do not know how to get a handle on it. Maybe I need to seek professional help….I just don’t know….ReplyCancel

  • Brett - 1-2-3- Magic has helped us a lot. We have a daughter who is turning 4 at the end of March and twin boys that turned two in September. Needless to say, I’ve struggled with guilt just going to work and leaving my wife to quarterback that trio at home.

    the 1-2-3 thing has been so helpful giving us something to go to for just the same reasons. We’ve both been in tears wondering why we’re not anymore patient. I”ve had people laugh at me saying it’s not a long term solution. It’s been a few months and it still helps (when we remember to do it).

    But we also have to remind ourselves: they’re toddlers. They’re supposed to be shoving at boundaries nonstop.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney@ChaosIsUs - Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Sometimes we feel so alone…like it is just us. With 3 boys ranging in age from almost 6 to 15 months i spend waaaaaaaay to much time yelling. i have spanked and as you said it does me no good. Sometimes i feel like my boys only hear me when i scream but maybe it is my fault. Maybe thats the only way they hear me because that is what they are use to. My almost 6 year old and almost 5 year old yell constantly because they see us yelling constantly. It breaks my heart to think i am passing on my anger to them.

    Thank you! I will be reading this book asap!ReplyCancel

  • Whitney - Jill,

    I applaud you for posting this, because if we can’t be honest about our struggles, there is no room for growth. It takes balls to be honest about spanking, especially on the internet where people are so quick to judge under the cowardly veil of anonymity.

    I relate 100% percent to your situation, and each new day as a parent seems to throw me more curve balls. I have a very strong-willed 5 year old daughter and a very sensitive 21 month old son. If I had a nickel for every mommy-tantrum I have thrown, I would be rich. And there is nothing like the guilt that comes with parenting, eh?

    I highly recommend “The Five love Languages of Children”, and I am going to read “1-2-3 Magic” now.

    Also, have you tried yoga? Sometimes it is the only thing that saves me from a complete meltdown. Ayana loves it, too! I can recommend a great website that has a ton of yoga workouts of various lengths and skill levels… the best part is that you can do it at home, whenever you can squeeze it in.

    Keep up the good work! What matters is that you are willing to put in the work to be the best parent you can be.ReplyCancel

  • And Then I Met The Man Who Saved My Sanity | Baby Rabies - [...] How I'm Failing At Parenting My Toddler 106 comment(s) [...]ReplyCancel

  • Brandi - I am so happy to read this tonight. It’s like a huge weight has been lifted. I have had “one of those days” today where bedtime is looked forward to. Both my 2 year, 11 month old son and I have had a horrible day full of yelling and tears. The hubby is out of town this week and I’m like… “what day is it? Oh, only Tuesday.” Sheesh, Both my little guy and I were taking deep breaths in the car. He was like (deep breath) “now your turn mommy…” LOL It’s crazy. I just feel so bad, and it truly is me tantrumming right there with him!!! I need to check out your book and keep up with your blog. It’s so great to also read all the comments. It makes me feel like I’m not alone.

    Thank you so much.ReplyCancel

  • lyn - Reading all of this has helped me so much. I have been crying for a week every night hating myself for spanking my daughter which is four. I feel so guilty and evil. I love her so much and i just hate myself for spanking her. When i put things together it is my stress. I have been having lots of family problems and lots of financial problems. It is to the point were im scared that ill lose my home and i dont want my kids to starve. I have been so emotional and i burst and spanked my baby. This will take time to learn but thank you all for this informationReplyCancel

    • Jill - Oh, Lyn. I’m so sorry to hear all that. Please know you’re not alone. Take some time, deep breaths, you’ve got this. It will all be okay.ReplyCancel

  • Sherrie - Since I’m commenting at the bottom of the list, I’m hoping no one will read this admission. I’m a 47 year OLD mom, I mean OLD. I had a baby at the worst possible time in my life. I have a chronic illness with chronic pain and am lucky the baby made it. I stay at home with him and I can barely manage myself, let alone him. For the last year it has been hell. He is 3 now and we scream at each other all day. I have no help, no family close by, no one to give me a break. I need to lay down most of the day, especially after I take my medicine. Here is my beautiful, bored 3 year old pulling my arms to go out to play. I get sooooo mad, I just want to be left alone. He throws stuff at me and I snap, smack him in the back of the head. He cries, I cry. It happens again 5 minutes later. All day, he whines and I just want to run away for some peace. My first son is in college and I don’t remember it EVER being this hard!!!! He wakes me up all through the night still, I”m just exhausted and I want to quit now but I can’t. It’s terrible, but I can’t wait for him to get bigger or for me to croak.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - Sherrie, thank you so much for commenting. I am really sorry to hear all this. Please know that you can find support. If you really need it, you can find it. I will HELP YOU find it. I will, I swear. That does sound like such a challenging situation. I know, for us, Kendall acts out the most when he’s bored. He was off from school for 3 weeks in August and it was pretty awful. I had a ton of work to do, and I couldn’t play with him the whole time. Do you have a Mother’s Day Out of K3 program near you? Please, let me know if there’s any way I can help you. I have a pretty extensive network of moms who are ready and willing to help other moms. You can email me- jill at babyrabies dot com. Hang in there.ReplyCancel

    • Katherine @ Postpartum Progress - Sherrie,
      Clearly you are suffering so much, and I’m so sorry for what you are going through. Having been through a period of severe chronic pain for 6 months when I suffered nerve damage, I know how incapacitating it is and how it prevents you from being able to do almost anything. You definitely need a break, and I think if you had some support it would help both you and your little boy. There are free programs at many churches that Jill or I could perhaps help you find. Some are on different days, so it might work out that you could get several mornings during the week free to rest and take care of yourself. There may also be local support groups that can help you. Let Jill or I know how we can help, because it doesn’t have to be like this. I think if people knew the extent of your suffering and how it is impacting both you and your child, they would be happy to help you.
      – KatherineReplyCancel

      • Morgan (The818) - Sherrie – you are so not alone – I promise it does not need to be that hard. I know somewhat of the feeling, I’m fibromyalgic and the words “Mommy, get up” on the bad days have become like nails on a chalkboard, but my support group gets me through. You need a support system Mama. There is no reason for you to struggle through this alone. This too shall pass, and you and your boy will be okay. Just reach out to someone, please.ReplyCancel

        • Sherrie - Megan thank you so much. You’re too kind and I don’t deserve it. Yes, it’s a form a fibro for me too. Only it’s my neck and am take pills daily. I feel sooooo bad for my son. I’m such a crappy piece of poo for a mom. I know, I do need support but I just don’t know where to turn. I’m so embarrassed, I really wouldn’t want anyone to know. Thanks for taking the time to reply and offer kind words. Brought me to tears knowing that someone else understands. :-)

        • Katherine @ Postpartum Progress - Sherrie,
          Please please please don’t be embarrassed. Lots of women have the same experience. You are not alone, it’s not your fault and you shouldn’t be ashamed. You are under tremendous amounts of stress, and you need and deserve support. You DESERVE it. It’s okay if you don’t know where to turn – we can help you figure that out. You’ll be surprised at what relief it will bring when you are able to get the help you need and realize you won’t be judged. Really.
          - Katherine

  • When Being a Dad is Difficult | A Dad's Journal - [...] feel sane to know I’m in the trenches with others who love and want the best for their kids, but sometimes feel like they are parenting failures. I also pick up great tips and resource referrals as I go along. My wife finds similar help in her [...]ReplyCancel

    • js - Hi Jill, I’m replying a little late, but thank you for the honesty of your post. I’m lying in bed eaten with guilt right now after having spanked my 2.5 yr old son for the first time :( It has been a stressful day, and I lost it and had a full blown mommy tantrum when my son clobbered his 12 wk old baby brother over the head with his plastic golf club while I was away for a couple of minutes getting dinner out of the oven in the kitchen. I cried after because I felt so guilty that I took my eye off the baby which resulted in his getting hurt (he’s fine, thankfully), as well as my toddler getting hurt. It was my fault for leaving the baby at the mercy of my toddler, and my fault for spanking my toddler who was only exhibiting age appropriate behavior. My son is such a joy on good days, but it has definitely been a challenge for my husband and me since we brought the baby home. I’ve yelled more in the past 12 weeks than the past 2 years before that. I know I need to stop yelling and I really don’t want to spank because I realize the irony of teaching my child not to hit…by hitting. We were a solely positive enforcement family until recently, when it seemed like yelling was the only way to get our toddler’s attention. But except for truly dangerous situations, I would like to find alternate ways to discipline. I had a Bad Mommy Moment today and I feel terrible. :( I told myself I’d never spank and now I have. Parenting is so hard some days.ReplyCancel

      • Jill - That’s rough :( Today’s a new day, and it’s never too late to forgive yourself. Hang in there. It IS so hard. You’re not alone.ReplyCancel

  • Kathy - I have a 3.5 year old boy who is a complete handful. He was high maintenance from the moment we brought him home from the hospital. We had a rough first year, >10 ear infections that lead to tubes and adnoidectomy @ 13 months, numerous viruses mainly from daycare. I also had an appendectomy and was hospitalized for a virus I caught from hi
    Needless to say, I felt like I didn’t sleep for a year! Then after health issues calmed down, we were dealing with a speech delay. He has been receiving speech therapy since he was 20 months old. We dealt with constant whinning and crying on a daily basis and still are!! Now as his speech has been improving, he still chooses to whine and throw tantrums. The littlest thing can set him off. We were always so patient with him up until the last 6 months. I have had it! He not only yells and screams at us, he hits and tries to bite us! We have tried many methods to help him communicate better. We recently tried the ladder method ( from the book, “beyond time out”). I feel like a failure and have tremendous guilt. Why can we find a away to enjoy our son? Why can’t we have a peaceful house? Our sons deliberate definance has taken a huge toll on all of us. ( especially my marriage). We just don’t know what to do anymore! So tried!!ReplyCancel

    • Jill - Oh hon, so sorry :( I wish I had more advice for you. Hope it gets better for you all soon.ReplyCancel

  • Yulia Pi - I am in tears, again.Cornered.Failing to be a happy person/mother of this beautifuul child who deserves to be understood…Your post is about us.ReplyCancel

  • Jess - I feel this way all the time…and Wesley isn’t even a year old yet. I figured that this is just the way it had to be. This is how my parents were with me and my siblings, anyways. It is like a never ending battle. “Don’t climb on that…Don’t put that in your mouth…You’re going to hurt yourself…” and on and on and on…I feel like I’m just so in over my head.

    It makes me feel a little better that I’m not the only one who ever feels like this but I’m still anxious about what his childhood has in store for me. I just want to love my son. I don’t want to be mad, annoyed, frustrated and yelling at him all the time.

    I hate that I feel like my father…who was physically and emotionally abusive…even though the most that ever happens is yelling and frustration and both of us in tears. I feel like this is never going to end and there’s nobody there to help me.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - Jess, I’m so sorry you’re struggling with this, too. I wish I could tell you I’ve found the magic formula, but I’m still struggling with it. Hang in there.ReplyCancel

  • Sherrie Brown - thank you, thank you, thank you! I could have written this myself it’s sad that so many moms feel this way and yet a relief that I am not alone in my stuggle. I did not stay home with my first child and worked full time so this is new to me and obviously a problem for stay at home mom.ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte Dover - Realy, I think evryone who does yell, scream or snap at their child is obiously failing as parent… I’m 10 and my parents have never done such abuse to me! so stop being a bunch of meanies to your flesh and blood and deal with it!ReplyCancel

  • mamaTOa - I know it’s been over a year since this was posted but the toddler tantrums are still at full force in many a household :-) Was perusing online for help, or at least hoping to find other commiserating parents. It’s great to know I am not alone…Thank you for sharing your post and to all the others that shared their comments as well.ReplyCancel

  • Stacy Woodard - very well said, I can compleetely relate to every word! It’s interesting to point out that maybe it’s me who is having the tantrum right along with my daughter-who is 2yrs and 20 months, and my son is 10 months. I feel horrible that I can’t wait for her bedtime to roll around so I can have quiet time! maybe even a pee break where she isn’t trying to wipe my butt! Haha…And I can’t help but feel terrible that I yelled at her most of the day and walked away from her because I couldn’t take it anymore. I wish my husband would understand how much work it is to take care of two babies alll day every day! I think I will be checking out that 1-2-3 book! thanks for the tip! love your blog!ReplyCancel

  • Kristina Marie Buckley - Okay. I am a mom of four. I have my 4 year old stepson (full time, his “mother” is not in the picture at all), 2 year old twins, and a 2 month old son. This post makes me feel so much better because whenever I get frustrated and to the end of my rope with our oldest (Ive been Mommy to him since he was 15 months old), other people judge me that I only get that way because he is “not mine”. And I tell myself a billion times that that is not the reason, other people get mad at their kids too. Boy I feel better.ReplyCancel

  • Audrey Kelly-Tansky - I’m going right out to get that book! Thank you. I do feel like a terrible mom. I’ve been so impatient and upset with her and me that I am tantruming. I do the whole walk away, breathe and reboot thing but sometimes it’s not enough to get me sane again. My husband works insanely long hours and I’m with her 24/7 most days. I run out of my house on the days I do work, thrilled to have some time to myself. I don’t take enough time to myself and being that I have always loved my alone time, this has been brutal, the past few months that she has been on a rampage. I don’t believe in spanking but I have on a few occasions and felt so horrified with myself I would apologize immediately and say, “mommy was wrong.” We are all only human. We all make mistakes that we hopefully all learn from. Hopefully this book will help me become a more patient mommy to the greatest gift and joy of my lifetime.ReplyCancel

  • Liz Conde - I feel like the worst mother in the world when I run out of patience with my kids, I ask myself “How can I say I love them with everything I am if I yell at them and even spank them when they misbehave? ” reading your blog gives me hope to change, I’m desperately in need to control my reactions to the everyday situations I face with 3 kids. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Megan Wietzel - I feel the same i thought being a stay at home mom wouldnt be so stressful at least not as stressful as being away from your child at work missing them each sec, this is horrible person to say but i think a good part time job is exactly what i need my lil one drives me insane sometimes and i do give a pa pow and put her in the corner. She is so mean at times and knows not to do it because i keep telling her to stop she will say no its kinda cute but im like dont tell mommy no then she keeps doing all the spills all the wasted wipes all the debt cards she lost ect ect she is like the tasmanian devil in my home. Then the crying for no reason i try my best to soothe but notice i wanna kill myself just hearing it in my ear all the time everynight so i walk away and it gets worst. I love hate taking care of her its so routine and exhausting i just need a month break and i hope im exagerratingReplyCancel

  • Knoxxville - I just wanted to say I was in the exact same boat until recently. My wife and I realized my anger would ALWAYS exacerbate the situation. What would start off as my child establishing her independence the only way she knows how would turn into screaming and throwing things, etc. Sometimes, the stresses of daily life, compounded with the pressure of caring for another human being everyday and raising them the best you can, makes for a very anxious and depressed mommy/daddy. Now, when my daughter gets upset, and if it’s something that won’t hurt her, I just let her do whatever it is, and even assist her with it. When the tantrum inevitably occurs, i give her a moment and then I ask her for a hug, we talk and it’s OVER!!! I never raise my voice more than a few decibels because yelling is what makes the problem a BIGGER problem which requires more work to get out of. As adults, we should be able to have control of the situation, and although it’s not as easy as we would like it to be ( personally, I’ve been on meds for anxiety and depression and just recently have found the proper balance) we are all capable and it will be the greatest reward to achieve it! Best of luck to all you parents. If you’re looking for answers, chances are you will work the kinks out and be a wonderful parent :) ReplyCancel

  • sunshine - I am stay home mom with 3 boys. 4 &2 year old and 3 month old baby. I feel like all I do is scream at them because they don’t listen at all and then I would spank them hoping that they would listen but doesn’t work. Instead I cry after I get mad at them coz I feel so bad and I feel like i am the worst mother when I spank them. I love my kids so much. My 4 year old seems like he understands but after I just explaining to him what he did wrong he will say sorry and gives me hug and kisses then he would do the same thing again then the argument will begin again. I hate the feeling when I scream and get mad at them but I have no idea what to do when they start throwing up tantrums.ReplyCancel

  • Diana Matthews - My 1 1/2 year old (yes she’s young, but she is very advanced for her age) has been throwing temper tantrums since I can remember. She’s always been sort fused, and ignoring did used to work great. We were relieved when she would stop 10. Minutes later. Realizing 10 minutes to scream and kick was too long to not get what she wanted, she’s started trashing the house. I mean flipping tables, all her toys go flying across the room, shoes graze my face. So, with this recent behavior after trying to find a distraction, calm talking, force cuddling, etc fails, I have resulted to a swift spank on the butt. But I do it so calmly. I’ll walk up to her when she starts being destructive, tell her we don’t do this, and give her a spank. It’s only been a few days of doing this, but I am honestly out of options with her. My patience has grown to the size of Texas with her, abd I rarely lose it. So I don’t see her getting a spank for bad behavior hurtful. I do feel guilty and awful right after. But she calms down quicker after realizing her acting like a bansee isn’t going to accomplish anything but a sting to the rear. It’s not fit everybody, it’s not really for me. But desperate times Call for desperate measures. Sadly it seems to be working for my little tyrant. Once she gets over it, everything is back to normal. Cuddles, kisses, please and thank yous. Staying home isn’t easy! For me figuring out WHAT THE PROBLEM is that is the hardest. Most of the time it’s so simple. Apple juice not orange juice. Pink socks not white. But when your toddler is flipping her lid every 5 seconds it’s hard to come up with an easy way to resolve these things with any focus. ReplyCancel

  • Tina Marie Eloian - LllReplyCancel

  • In Between the Piles - I’ve been following your blog since my daughter started sharpening her teeth on her crib rail (and a google search led me to your tutorial). I came across this post today after doing this google search, “I’m at my wits end with 3 year old won’t nap but exhausted.” I’ll have to check out the book you recommended because *so* *much* of this post reminds me of life right now (my daughter will be 3 in 12 days). It eventually got better, right? Did you avoid this fun with Leyna?ReplyCancel

  • Nezillana - I’m a mom of two now and I am going through the same thing.. My mom always said never judge a situation that you never been throughReplyCancel

  • Malinda Rust - I just cried reading this. I’m tired of feeling so guilty about my behavior. I keep trying to figure out how to be better and it doesn’t seem to be working. :( ReplyCancel

  • The Post So Many Have Been Waiting For - […] it is. I don’t know what caused the change. I’d like to tell you all it’s because I was a terrific counter, and I controlled my temper, and I modeled perfect behavior. I wasn’t, I didn’t, I […]ReplyCancel

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