I know this phase. It’s the phase we were warned about when we started feeling overly confident at LP’s calm two-year old demeanor. “Just wait for three” everyone said. “People talk about the terrible twos, but really three is where the terrible is at” they warned. Sure enough, when LP was three he went through a “No, no, no” phase. But not quiet like his sister.
Our little IP is two-and-a-half going on fifteen. She wants to do everything “all by self.” She has been
heard to say “you are not in charge of me” to both her brother, and her father and me. And she is not shy about expressing her displeasure with a resounding “No!” Sometimes it is repeated:
“No, no, no,no,no.nononononoNO!!!”
Sometimes it is shrieked at an insane decibel level
Sometime it is sobbed
“Nuh, nuh, nuh, NO mommy *sob* no! *hiccup*”
With LP his tantrums were relatively minor (in retrospect) and were usually resolved with some basic strategies. Here are those same strategies, applied to his little sister IP.
Strategy #1: Give options
Kids this ALL ages want to have some control over their lives. So, giving them choice like “Do you want to put your jacket on first or your shoes on first?” can give them some more control than simply saying “get your jacket and shoes on!” With LP, this strategy worked like a charm. With IP, it works sometimes, But I’m afraid she has broken the code. When she really doesn’t want to do something her response to any number of choice is a resounding:
“Noooooooo!!! I don’t want to!!!”
Strategy #2: Reflective Listening
This is a strategy I use from my time as a peer counselor in college. Essentially, if you can repeat back what you hear a person say it helps to show them you are listening and that you are empathizing with them. I used this with L a lot, and it always helped him at least calm down a little. But, IP is a different story. Here is how my last round of reflective listening went with her:
Me: Time to go upstairs and get ready for bed.
IP: No!! I don’t WANT to!!
Me: I hear you saying you don’t want to get ready for bed. I know you don’t want to get ready for bed. But it is time to go upstairs and brush teeth.
IP: No!! I DON’T WANT to!!
Me: It’s ok to be mad. I know you don’t want to get ready for bed. But it is bedtime. Do you want to brush teeth or go potty first?
IP: No!! I DON’T WANT to!!!
Me: I know you don’t want to go to bed. But you need to go upstairs. Do you want to walk or do you want me to carry you?
IP: Nooooooooo! I DON’T WANT TO!! I DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED!!!!
Me: (in my head) Well I don’t want to do the #$^@# dishes tonight, but I’m still gonna do it, so suck it up and go the @#$% to bed!!!
Me: (what I actually say): OK. Up we go.
Which leads to strategy #3:
Strategy #3: Laugh
Sometimes when IP is having her fit in a timeout, the Gman and I go around the corner and imagine a more colorful version of the dialogue she wishes she could say. Or, when I ask the G-man why she is having a fit now he might say “Oh, because I pulled her fingernails out one by one – or because I turned on the water when she was washing her hands. You know. Same-same.” Or, when in doubt, we listen to Samuel L. Jackson read Go the @#^$ to Sleep.
Because you have to laugh. Otherwise you just get drawn into the crazy-land of the three-year-olds.
What are your tantrum-fighting strategies?