Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)!

Everyone has heard of the legendary "terrible twos", and mentally I prepared myself for a double dose of it when Molly and Jack reached their second birthdays.  Two came in like a lamb and for the most part has been a very positive year in terms of growth, development and ease with the minions.  What I wasn't prepared for was the "trying threes", which arrived a month and a half early and we are now facing a daily grudge match with Jack where he tries every ounce of my patience.

A couple of months ago two dirty little words entered Miss Molly's vocabulary. When I brushed tangles out of her hair she'd cry it.  When we turned off the TV or said it was time for bath or bed or told her to tidy up the box of toys she'd spread all over the floor, she'd say it again - and I have to admit it broke my heart every time she screamed, "Go Away!" at us.

This is not a phrase that we use at home, so I'm convinced that these two words are something that she'd acquired at daycare, akin to some sort of virus of the genome "parentaldisrespectus".  We immediately and quite successfully began work on etiquette and manners with her.  Molly loves to be praised for being a "big girl" and hates to be given time-outs.  She also can't stand being embarrassed in front of her favourite people.  So by simply saying things like, "You hurt my feelings" or "I guess I should tell your favourite person at daycare that you were being rude"  she usually stops.  These instances slowly decreased in frequency.  That being, said she's three and Chris and I have also found that sometimes it's best for everyone to let her have a complete meltdown so she can spin and then calm down.

My two cubs!

Unfortunately parentaldisrespectus mutated when Jack developed it.  It started slowly, when he got upset that we were going out and demanded that his sitter (who he quite likes) "Go Away!".  Over the weeks to follow our easy going, affectionate little man became a terror.  I immediately began to implement the methods that worked with Molly and they did not work.  They got worse.  Bed time began with over an hour of crying and screaming from Jack, followed by a 2AM stretch where he'd be awake and inconsolable for at least an hour, hellbent on climbing into bed with Chris and I.  By morning everyone was exhausted and patience was thin as I endured karate kicks to the chest and screams of "Go Away" as I tried to get him dressed.  He'd throw things, pinch, cry, holler and hurt my feelings immensely as he'd scream about wanting daddy, to go back to bed and told me to go away.  Exhausted, I was being a tyrant to both of them: when Molly's only crime was being overtired because her brother screamed all night.  The more time-outs we doled out the worse he got.  It didn't help that Molly offers running commentary including, "Jackie's being naughty.  He hurt mama's feelings.  Jackie needs a time-out".  I'm fairly certain he's going to clock her pretty soon.

The other morning after Chris had to take over our morning routine with Jack because I was so angry and frustrated he turned to me and said, "You know he doesn't mean it right?  He's three."  I knew it, but somehow I needed to hear it from someone else.  I don't speak baby, but I do speak English and his words were really hurting me, even though he doesn't understand cause he's freaking three!

Our one sized fits all solution for "Go Away" wasn't going to work for Jack because drum roll here: He and Molly are very different people.  I began my research.  Jack has always been such an easy going fellow that you literally forget about him, so he has been feeding off of this negative attention lately.  This combined with bad sleep and the weird phenomenon that both of my children are pretty jerky whenever they are about to achieve some sort of milestone has been particularly terri-bad.

So I found some great research on dealing with different phases with your kids and why they throw tantrums and have gleaned the following:

  • Don't acknowledge bad behaviour, just walk away
    This took a ton of self-restraint yesterday when I asked Jack to put his sun hat on and he threw a ball at my face, twice.  As we work on perfecting the walk away, Jack has started to chase us, which I think shows it's working.
  • Yelling back or attempts to minimize tantrums make them last longer
    I know this but it's really hard to stay calm and not scream back, "WE DON'T HIT PEOPLE" at the top of your lungs when you've been pinched, hit or kicked.
  • The part of the brain that regulates emotion and allows kids to control social behaviour is the last to develop and doesn't begin to develop at all until four
    I have at least thirteen more months of this, yippee! 
  • The average tantrum lasts three minutes
    So if you're going nuts...put on some music...the average pop song lasts 3-5 minutes.

I keep reminding myself "This is only a phase!" again and again, however I would rank this as the third most painful child rearing experience so far.  The only things worse have been daycare illness and colic. One day we'll look back at this and laugh, although I'm pretty sure that day won't be tomorrow.

I have been nominated for Voiceboks 2014 Multiple Parenting Blog Awards - If you have a moment to spare: Click Here Now and cast your vote for Multiple Momstrosity #27, it's the little heart icon that pops up in the top right hand corner that registers a vote NOT clicking on the photo.  If you follow any of the other blogs or enjoy them like say HDYDI (#21) you can vote for them too - you can vote for up to five different blogs daily.


  1. Thank you for these thoughts, they are very helpful. I have the same troubles with my twins who are 2 now.

    1. I hope they help. They worked very well for us...even now, years later!