Toddler advice

I think we've arrived at the very terrible two's. Or maybe it's an attention thing since Greyson has joined our family...I don't know. I just know that we have an extremely loving, brilliant, funny, amazing, beautiful and very much loved little boy, who seems to turn into a monster quite often, on our hands.

So here's Asher's problem. He's not listening. Not at all. he won't answer us or do as we say unless we end our question with, 'Please answer us or you'll go into time out.', 'Come here now, or you'll go into your room.', 'clean up your toys or you'll lose your guitar for the rest of the day.', 'You have two choices, either go to the potty or sit in time-out'...over and over and over again. All day long. It's a constant battle a constant fight.

I friend told me once to pick my battles and let them be few. And I'm trying to hold fast to that, but at the same time, I feel we're in a phase of constant teaching and if I let him make a mess and walk away from it, not only do I trip and get angry, but then the next day he does the same thing. Or if I let him talk snarkey to me, or not answer me...It always ends up biting me in the butt the next day.

Steve and I are sitting down this weekend to finally discuss our 'house rules' so that we can write them down and place them on the door so all four of us know the rules...well obviously Greyson won't know them...but at least he'll be able to grow up knowing them! And then we're going to make consequences for the actions...time-out, quiet time in room, loss of privileges/toys, and/or early bed time.

Here's my (and Steve's too) problem...for the most part, I think we handle discipling well. But there are time where we don't. For example, today for lunch, Asher kept trying to get out of his seat because he didn't want to eat what I had given him. Steve, after a long morning and then constantly trying to get through to Asher to sit down to eat, blew up when Asher stood up and accidentally knocked his pasta all over the floor. Now yes, he made a mess and it was frustrating, but Steve yelled at him for an accident, which made Asher feel bad. Then as I was trying to get Asher ready for nap, we went in to the bathroom to go potty, which he went pee, but we're still having poo issues and though I know he had to go, he wouldn't sit on the potty to try. I was talking to him and asking him to tell me why it was so scary for him to go potty and he wouldn't answer me. I was not raising my voice or badgering him, I just wanted to know why he didn't want to try. But, he would just look at me and dance or try to walk away. I was getting angry because I just wanted an answer from him and he wouldn't talk to me. So I told him to sit in the corner for timeout for not answering my questions. When I shut the door, he started banging on and kicking the door. This has been an issue the past few days that I never had lost my cool on...but I had, had it with his behavior when he didn't get his way. So, I quickly opened the door and I unfortunately slammed the doorknob into his forehead. It was a shining motherly moment.

So now, I'm sitting here feeling bad. Rather horrible. In the past hour Asher got yelled at for an accident, though it stemmed from not listening and following directions, and got a doorknob slammed into his head for throwing a temper tantrum, though it stemmed from not answering questions. And now he's in bed. Sleeping. Probably having nightmares about his crappy parents and how scary they can be. This truly makes me feel horrible.

But what do you do? How do you calm down and diffuse the situation? Do you walk away and let them realize that they control you? That they can choose to do what they want and listen when they want? How do you react all day, every day in love and never let the anger and frustration bubble over. I know I need to be hard some times and soft others but how do you choose and how do you handle your own frustration? I know kids who have been disciplined too hard and I know kids who have never been disciplined or spoken to in a authoritative manner and you can tell they're a handful. You can tell that they run the house.

I want my boys to be brought up in the most loving household. I don't want them to fear me. I don't want them to think that all I do is yell or discipline, but I also want them to grown up knowing that this world doesn't revolve around them. I want them to know respect and show respect. I want them to be thoughtful, caring, helpful children who listen and follow the 'rules'. But how do I get there and I guess, how much can I expect out of a nearly three year old?

Am I expecting too much out of my toddler? Maybe he doesn't understand fully yet. Maybe I'm asking him question he can't find answers to and I'm getting angry at him for something he can't control. I know he can pick up his toys and finish his meal when asked, but maybe I'm expecting all too much out of a three year old. I don't know. Can three year olds understand that they need to look where they're walking so they don't stomp of their baby brother's head? Or are boys just clueless at this age? How many times do I have to tell Asher not to squeeze Greyson's face with all of his strength, or show him how much it hurts when I do it to him? Will he ever remember not to do it? Is he doing it to get attention? How do I stop it?

I watch Super Nanny some days and think, 'Man, how did that kid end up to be such a punk?'...but then I think, 'wow...that could be us in a few years.'. I mean, I hope not...but if I ignore some of Asher's behaviors, if I can't correct him now...he could be one of those kids on the show. And for the most part, Asher is a great kid! It's just his listening skills and following directions stink some times!

Sorry for going on and on and on...Here are my questions...
  1. Am I expecting too much from him?
  2. How do you discipline your children? and I'm not looking for corporal punishments here. I'm not against spanking, but it doesn't work for Asher and I already have a hard time controlling my own temper sometimes and I'd never want to hit my child out of my own frustration and with my own aggression.
  3. What do you discipline for and what do you let slide?
  4. How do you stay consistent?
  5. For those of you with children who 'passionately love' on their younger siblings, how do you get through their thick skulls that although you appreciate how much they love their brother/sister, that they have to be gentle?
Again, sorry for the wordiness of this post. This is my verbal vomit so to speak, after a rough morning. Thanks in advance for your comments!


Anonymous said…
Just wanted to say you are not alone. I have an almost 7 year old daughter and we have had this battle for more years than I want to admit. I too have a hard time control my anger as you get so tired of their bad behavior. I don't have any advice but will keep reading to see what others recommend. Hang in there, that's what I keep telling myself:)
Mel said…
AMEN SISTER! Maybe it's because Anna and Asher are just 3 weeks apart and Isaac and Greyson are so close in age, but this seriously sounds like our house. We'll have lots to discuss at dinner on Friday, anyway! I really like the "house rules" idea as Matt and I tend to differ on what's allowed. For instance, during the day I sometimes have to let Anna go upstairs to get something or else I have to listen to her complain about it endlessly while I'm dealing with Isaac, however, Matt has a "no going upstairs without supervision" rule, that just doesn't work for me. We definitely need to get better about making uniform rules - we can't blame her when she gets different answers from us about what's acceptable or not.

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