Last week, I proudly blogged about my little Apple’s cheerful and sweet disposition. The weekend immediately after that, she started throwing tantrums. I’d never seen anything like it before – my heretofore angel sprawled out on the floor, screaming and crying and banging her head against the ground. She would sob so hard that she started making gagging sounds, like she was about to vomit.
I looked at my husband the first time she did this (I think it was because we tried to change her diaper, and she wanted to walk around with poopie-bottom some more), and told him, “I blame you.”
“Why me?” He asked.
“Because I never, EVER did this as a child. So it must be your genes.” Truth is, of course, I have no idea or recollection of what I did or did not do at 18 months…but it sounded good at the time.
The next time she did it, it was because she wanted to come into the kitchen while I was cooking. We have gates up at both entrances to the kitchen, because God forbid she should be underfoot while I am trying to move something hot from the stove. The very thought gives me nightmares. Well, because I didn’t feel too bad about protecting her from third-degree burns, I didn’t let her in. She proceeded to sit down in front of the gates and cry her eyes out, screaming and yelling and hitting her Dad whenever he tried to remove her or comfort her.
Now that it’s been two weeks, I’ve gathered more data about these tantrums and have even noticed a pattern now. The tantrums seem to occur whenever:
- I try to make her leave the park and put her in the stroller to go home – hmm, this sounds familiar…I think I wrote about this before
- We try to put her in her car seat
- I tell her “Not right now” when she asks to nurse in public (yes, at almost 19 months, we are still breastfeeding)
- I tell her “No” when she asks to nurse at midnight (yes, we’ve regressed on the night-weaning a bit)
- When we try to get her to sit down in her high chair before a meal
- When we try to get her to lay down for a diaper change
- Basically, whenever we try to get her to do something she doesn’t immediately want to do
- It seems to be worse when she hasn’t slept well or is overtired
There is also a distinct template for how these tantrums go. So far, this is how they progress:
- One of the triggers above happens
- She protests loudly by screaming “No!” or “Bu yao!” (in Mandarin, that means, “Don’t want” or “No!”)
- She’ll arch her back and cry, making it impossible to strap her into a car seat, stroller, or high chair
- If she still doesn’t get what she wants, she’ll hit us
- When we tell her “No hitting,” she’ll hit us again, harder
- When we try to pick her up and comfort her, she’ll arch back, forcing us to set her down on the ground
- On the ground, she will either stay arched (like she’s doing a backbend), or she’ll sprawl out facedown and see if she can put a hole in the carpet with her head, crying the entire time
- She will not stop until either a) Mommy comes around and picks her up; b) she gets what she wants; c) we bribe her with a snack or distract her with something else. If we ignore her, it continues to go on. The day I was trying to cook, it went on for the entire duration that I was preparing breakfast…about 20 minutes. As we have no real tools for dealing with this in our parenting arsenal, we always try c), then a), and if those don’t work, we throw in the towel and do b).
Sigh, this is not good. I am not well-equipped to deal with willful children. When I tried to throw a tantrum as a kid, I would just get smacked down by my tiger mother, so I didn’t get very far. Being a pussycat mother myself, I am afraid that my daughter is just going to run roughshod all over us.
All I can say is…do the terrible twos start at 19 months? What happened to my happy little cherub baby? I want her back!!