A Very Sudden Behavior Change



A few weeks ago something changed in my 2-and-a-half year old. I honestly thought we had somehow been really lucky to have avoided the terrible two’s. We’ve been able to surprisingly reason with her and she’s been a wonderfully behaved kid. But all of a sudden, she’s screaming and crying the second she doesn’t get what she wants. You know that website, Reasons My Child is Crying? Yeah, I have about 1 million things I could add.

I hope this doesn’t sound horrible, but I have minimal patience for this behavior. I don’t like giving in, and don’t give in very often. My husband has a much softer spot and tends to want to just make the crying stop because he feels that the crying is an indication her needs aren’t being met, but I’m worried that if we give in, she’ll learn that she can get what she wants no matter how badly she’s acting. I try to calmly let her know that she will not get what she wants by crying and that if she can speak to me in a normal voice, we can work it out. 98% of the time she still continues to scream and I’ve had to start using the “quiet chair” as a place to help her calm down (and for me to get a break too, in all honestly).

I admit that some days I struggle to respond to the crying in a loving way and instead find myself being short with her. I hate that I do that. I wish I could show patience all the time but sometimes the whining sends me over the edge. I always apologize to her, and my goodness is it humbling to say you’re sorry to a two-year-old. 

This has become the most challenging part of parenting for me. That is, figuring out how to handle this new behavior in a way that I feel good about and that takes into account my husband’s differing approach. I’m hoping that this is just a phase and not an early beginning of the thrilling three’s but I don’t think that’s the case. All I can do is continue to work on reacting from a place of love,  instead of a place of frustration, and try to cut myself some slack when I don’t handle things perfectly.


14 comments on “A Very Sudden Behavior Change”

  1. I am sorry and I hear you! Natacha and I call those “short” moments (we can be a bit exuberant in our shortness) “crap mom of the moment awards.” No, it doesn’t make us feel better, but when we acknowledge them to each other, we at least can feel ashamed with company. Turns out, that’s the best cure for the shame. And… I don’t think there’s a better word than “humbling” to describe apologizing to a two-year old. The good news, as it turns out, is not only does it get easier when repeated (not that I’d know at all), but it is amazing when they can do the same thing with you, because they’ve seen you do it. Rock on Michelle!”

    1. Thanks Sharlene! You know, my mom has a very hard time saying she’s sorry and that always bothered me. I hope you’re right, that by modeling that we should say we’re sorry when we’ve done something we aren’t proud of, she’ll learn to apologize for things too.

  2. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to yelling at her and then it won’t feel so bad. lol! So politically incorrect and not at all helpful but I made myself chuckle…

    Seriously, though, you’ll learn to cut yourself some slack and forgive yourself along with finding ways to be more patient. I yell a lot less than I used to and am much more forgiving of myself when I do yell.

    Also, there’s a saying I love “When people act the least deserving of love is when they need it most.” I had that posted to my fridge during my second son’s whole third year. 😉

  3. Yuuuup. Josh will even TELL US why he’s crying, even when it is absurd. “I’M CRYING BECAUSE MY JUICE IS RED NOT ORANGE!” “But you asked for red juice!” “But now I am SO MAD BECAUSE IT’S NOT ORANGE!” Um, ok. Sorry to hear that. C’est la vie! If it’s a legitimate concern (i.e., if he is hurt, tired, sick, sad, misses me…) then of course I comfort him. But my goodness, if it’s something that is just part of life and he will be better off once he can get past it? I let him sort that out in his “time out” spot if he carries on.

    1. Just this morning: “I’m crying because I can’t see the moon!” oh and “I wanna walllkkkkk!” after I just asked her if she wants to walk or be carried and SHE CHOOSE to be carried! Ahhh!!

  4. Oh, I am right there with you girl. For me, it takes almost constant attitude adjustment on my part and taking many many deep breaths.

  5. Yup. I share your pain. And I love that website. It certainly helps me to swallow some screaming at my house when I see a bag of flour exploded in the background of someone’s submitted picture and the caption reads something like, “She’s crying because I won’t let her eat a bag of flour.” And your occassional lack of patience is certainly understandable. Sending a hug.

  6. I’m sorry you’re struggling with this! I think this is just her knowing she can control her environment more, and she has the words (or, well, scream, maybe) to let you know about what changes she wants. I think you’re right to not always give in and I too practice the approach of making her “use her words” (I don’t know how many times a day I must say that). She’s trying to learn the boundaries, and it’s your job to set them for her. You’re doing a great job! I do think this may happen less and less often as she gets older and can comprehend even more (or maybe that’s wishful thinking….) Hang in there.

    1. Guess where I got the whole “I can’t understand you if you don’t use a normal voice” idea? YOU! You’ve positively impacted my parenting in many ways, including the way I *try* to deal with the tantrums.

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