The F dash dash DASH word.

by statia on February 5, 2010

Last night, after the Mini’s swimming lessons, we came home, where the Meester had a bath all ready to go.  Since it was already past their bedtime, we tried to be quick about it, but the Mini loves the bath and would stay in there for years, if you let him.   He started to melt down when LG tried to take a toy, and so I told him that it was probably time to get out.   Tears welled up in his eyes: “No, it’s not time to get out.”  As he started to get more upset, I told him that indeed, it was past bedtime and it was time to get out.   I opened the drain, which upset him more.  As I reached to grab him, he reached over to close the drain.  So I picked him up and got him wrapped up in his towel, all while trying to get LG to sit back down.

And that’s when he lost.his.fucking.shit.

The tantrum that ensued was such a spectacular show, that it rivaled Fourth of July fireworks.   We had throwing on the floor, screaming at the top of his lungs, kicking, flailing, and heaving sobs.   I had to quickly carry him out of the bathroom so as not to collapse in a fit of laughter, while the Meester hid his head behind a towel and laughed his ass off.   It got so out of hand and he was so worked up over a fucking bath, that I had to let him know that it was unacceptable by taking away story time before bed, something that is so sacred to him.   Of course, this sent him over the edge even more, and there was more kicking, screaming and flailing.  The two of us just looked at each other like, “What.the.fuck?”   I mean, seriously?  We had no idea that our son, the most agreeable baby in the world, was capable of such a grand display like this.    Making good on my word, I plopped him into bed, screaming and carrying on and walked out of the room.    After ten minutes of him howling for daddy, (who was tending to LG), I went in, picked him up, hugged him and rocked him in my arms.  I explained to him in simple terms, why he was sent to bed.   He tried to swindle a story.   I layed next to him for a little while, instead.

One of the things that people don’t generally tell you is that three is much worse than two.  I’ve been hearing this over the last year, but in general, I was never warned of this.   I feel that it’s my civic duty to inform the people out there, that three year olds are just bullshit.   And mine still has a month to go before he actually turns three.  Maybe it’s particularly hard for me because of having such an easy going kid for so long.

I debated on whether or not I should go in there and try to calm him down, or if I should just stand my ground and make him see that he was being punished.  In the end, I couldn’t not go in there and let him know that no matter what happens, we still love him.   I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here.  For me, I just can’t let my kids think that I would just let them cry after going through something that was obviously really hard for them to deal with.

But now I have to know, what would you have done?

{ 24 comments }

divrchk February 5, 2010 at 11:05 pm

3 is so much worse than 2. However, It’s one of those things that people don’t want to hear or don’t believe so I stopped telling people. They think you’re just complaining or that you have no idea what is down the road with teenagers, etc… So, after I told a few people this, I shut my mouth. Welcome to the club of knowing! I do remember my son’s preschool teacher telling me that when the school approached her to teach, she thought long and hard about it b/c she remembered her own kids and how bad that age was. She told me that 3 was as bad as it got and they were in their early teens. My son is now almost 7 and it does get better although he did throw the temper tantrum of epic proportions tonight. His sister looked on in awe. It was impressive. Those are few and far between now, thank goodness! Sorry for the rambling :-)

Veronica February 5, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Oh yeah, 3yos are terrible. I thought 2 was hard, then she had a birthday. Some days, I swear her head spins in a full circle.

I would have done what you did actually. Pretty much identical.

divrchk February 5, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Oh, I totally didn’t answer your question. You did the right thing. I also gave hugs and kisses and told my son that I loved him even though he said very mean things to me because I know he didn’t mean them and was just really pissed off and trying to figure out what to do with all of that rage.

donna February 5, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Oh yes, I hoped that everyone was wrong. Or maybe they had such agreeable two year olds that three just SEEMED bad to them. But no. It’s a shit sandwich. And it started for B when she was months away from actually turning 3. But don’t despair! It does get better. I’ll bet you are in for a few really shitty weeks with him, but you’ll see little improvements. We still have tantrums like you describe but they are rare, and I’m learning how to avoid them.

donna February 5, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Oops, also forgot to say that yes, I would have gone back after a while and given hugs and soothing words, but no story. You cannot EVER give in on the thing that caused the melt down, or they’ll think the melt down will get them what they want. But the soothing words to tend to calm them after they’ve been crying like that for a few minutes.

girlfiend February 6, 2010 at 11:17 am

Terrible twos is bullshit. You should get your hands on a copy of “Your Three-Year Old: Friend or Enemy.” It’s dated, but it’s a good read.

F’s before bedtime tantrums are (were, I hope) so fucking out of control that we had to switch the lock on his doorknob to the outside. We’d put him in his room, lock the door, and leave him until he calmed down enough to stop screaming/throwing things/hitting. When he was calm one of us would go in and comfort him/rock him/whatever he needed to stop crying and go to sleep.

Shelly February 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I think you handled the situation perfectly.

For us, too, it was the few months leading up to three, then the first few months of three that were utterly horrific. It has leveled off now, thank the gods, but there were weeks upon weeks where I really did not like my child one bit.

steff February 6, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Great job! THREE is/was HARD! Especially for my first son, I didn’t notice it so much with my second son.

Ms. Pants February 6, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Me? I’d have probably lost my shit in response. That’s because I don’t have kids and cat-tantrums aren’t really anything major.

Though I will say, I remember when Neph 1 threw tantrums. Actually, he was probably right about Mini’s age right now. He’d throw himself on the floor on his back and literally backstroke across the floor while he wailed.

…and now that I think about it, my first reaction was to laugh my ass off.

So carry on! :-)

(By the title, I thought maybe Mini had said the Eff-Dash-Dash-Dash. I’m waiting for that story with baited breath! So hurry it along, cos I wanna brush my teef.)

Siera February 6, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Dude thanks for the heads up! My soon to be 2-year-old can have a tantrums with the best of them. Can’t wait for three.

I think you did the right thing. The partner unit and I disagree on how to handle Aaron’s tantrums. Last weekend I was cooking dinner and couldn’t hold him as I was tending to the hot stove he was upset but I picked him up and took him to the living room hand him off to grandpa when he proceeded to hit me. This is unacceptable to me so I put him in his crib and closed the door and he lost it. I wanted to let him have at ‘er until he calmed down. His dad went in to calm him and I said not but he did. I went in to tell him this and it set aaron off even more and he tried to hit me again from his crib. he was PO’d at me. Eric stayed in there and eventually discracted and calmed him with a toy. I felt undermined as a parent as Eric didn’t let my punishment stick. I wanted him to have a time out in his crib sans toys for few min as he hit me. We still disagree with this. he thinks I’m lazy and want to ignore him. I want Aaron to know that certain behaviors will not be tolerated.

I find if were running late on bedtime some nights i skip bath time as it just perks up my already sleepy boy and it takes him that much longer to go to bed.

Regina Heater February 6, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I was a caregiver for a child who had temper tantrums at times over what seemed to me and her parents very little things – like I wouldn’t let her have another piece of cheese. Her tantrums were epic – throw herself on the floor and scream type stuff. The only thing we could do was let her cry it out, and then do exactly what you did – reassure her that she was loved. (One time she had such a tantrum that her dad brought her to her room and put her in there and closed the door, while he sat outside. She was in such a state that he thought, “I might as well beat you because all the neighbors think I am.”)
She had these tantrums from the time she was about 3-6… it was like her brain just shortcircuited… she couldn’t express herself so she had a tantrum. It was frustrating. I feel for you.

Yo-yo Mama February 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm

I love when parents lament the Terrible Twos. Every year Doodicus gets older and the age associated issues come to head, I’d give anything for the year before. 4 will be harder than 3, and 5 will be even harder than 4.

Mamma Pants February 7, 2010 at 8:21 am

Yes, you did the right thing. I loved it that you and the Meester laughed at the hysterics. They are pretty impressive and funny is the way to take it.

mrsgryphon February 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm

3 is awesome in many, many ways because the kids are so much more independent and hilarious. The tantrums suck, though, I won’t lie.

My girl has some epic tantrums (so far, the record is 92 minutes of full-volume screaming/kicking/flailing. She has stamina). She’s 4 now, so they are a little rarer, but basically we do what you did… put her in her room, let her scream it out.

Once she’s quiet, we’ll go in and talk to her, but we don’t engage her when she’s screaming because it just seems to make it worse. She’s reached a point where she understands that her behaviour isn’t going to get her what she wants, and we’re working really hard to help her to stop and think before she gets too worked up. She’s getting better, and a few times recently I’ve noticed her getting mad but she’ll go off to her room for a few minutes and come back with some kind of compromise or other scenario. Doesn’t mean we can agree on what she came up with, but at least she’s trying!!

I’m hoping that the irrational tantrums will taper off soon, because it’s exhausting.

jesser February 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm

LOL. Fun, eh? We’ve had one or two of those. I always let her know she’s still loved … couldn’t live with myself any other way, but I am damn firm on what gets taken away. I do all the L&L BS, saying “I’m so sorry you can’t have your story. There’s always tomorrow,” until I’m sick of listening to me. ;)

Melissa February 7, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Nicholas’s tantrums started when he was 2 1/2. That is also when we had our daughter. He was such a laid back child and then when 3 came, OH MY GOD. We cannot get thru the day without at least one major tantrum. We do the exact same thing you did. I make sure he is in a safe place (generally his room), walk away and ignore him. Our Ped told us we were doing the right thing. We always have a calm conversation about what took place after he calms down. You’re doing a great job!

jen February 8, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Ahh. Glad to see that I am not the only one that has to hide the laughter. M’s fits lately are epic. She has had 3 or 4 really good ones, that resulted in her actually throwing up. Awesome, no?
Two was a walk in the park. Three is almost over and really, I am ok with that.

I do just what you did. I let her have her fit. I give her a few minutes to rage, and then I go in and hold her and rock her and just talk to her until she calms down. Once she is not sobbing all over me, we talk about the situation. She usually craps right out after that, and then mama makes a stiff drink. LOL

Lasha February 8, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Oh my god. We’re closing in on 3 here as well and it. sucks. I’m finding the drastic ups and downs the most draining. She loves to dance and sings these crazy songs and can be an absolute delight. And then it’s like a switch goes off — and it’s always at the moments that I am at my most tired or fed up, so then I’m not the calm, rational presence she needs me to be when she’s melting.

Eleanor Q. February 9, 2010 at 11:54 am

We’re just about to jump into 2, and I’ve started seeing the first of the tantrums. Fussbot is also easy going but the other day he had a full blown hysterical tantrum like never before. I don’t even know what caused it but it was 20 minutes of anger,crying and frustration on his part. While it was hard not to laugh at the rediculousness of the situation I too had to end it with hugs and holding. Poor kid was wiped out from it. I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

Susanne February 9, 2010 at 2:19 pm

It sounds like our house last night. We did the same thing, even though it took everything my husband had not to go into the monster’s room to soothe him in the middle of the fit. I think and hope this is the best approach. We’re still 4 months away from 3 and I now know that it’s getting worse, not better.
A bit of advice: I need a therapist, for the above reason and others. How did you find yours? I’m guessing there are ways better than the yellow pages.

Fawn February 11, 2010 at 5:25 pm

My son has had a few of those fits where he throws himself down and all the bones in his body are replaced by jello. I think you handled it perfectly. When it comes to things like this a lot of people say “don’t do this..do this..” but the best advice I ever got was that nobody knows my children better than I do. I try to keep that in mind when I start to question myself. I have noticed with my son that when he goes apeshit crazy (yes he still does it at 5yrs sometimes) and the last thing I want to do is try to hold and hug the flailing little drunk monkey,that is just what he needs most.

Mina February 12, 2010 at 11:50 am

My son is not yet three but he’s had his fair share of crazy temper tantrums (though it’s lessened for now). I actually taught him how to breath deep. When it starts, I put him in a time out spot so he understands it’s not acceptable behavior. Then I sit next to him and show him to breath in and out until he’s able to calm down. Sometimes he’ll scream no and keep on howling, but more often then not, he’ll copy me and breath in and out.

As with everything though, I’m sure there will come a time when that won’t work either.

Old School/New School Mom February 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Okay, now I am officially terrified. My son is not yet two, but man does he know how to throw a rock star tantrum. He should get paid for them I swear. But now you’re saying that it actually gets worse! S$$t. Also, I don’t what happens when they start really talking. The scares me so much. Right now it’s monosyllabic.

Kristin March 7, 2010 at 1:42 pm

My daughter had an epic didn’t want to get out of the tub temper tantrum. After she had been in the tub for nearly an hour. That lasted probably at least that long. From then on we set a timer, can’t argue with a timer. That’s some good 3 year old logic but it sooooo works.

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