Monday, November 2, 2015

#Microblog Mondays: The difficult child

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

It's 5:30 am. He-Beat has been awake for the past 30 mins and, unlike his sister, refuses to be convinced that another hour of sleep is worthwhile. After 30 mins of being kicked, head-butted and having my hair pulled, I announce that it's time for him to go back to his own bed. This announcement is greeted with tears and a tantrum. Crying inconsolably, I gather this small child into my arms and place him on his bed, feeling utterly defeated.

The past couple week has been a hard one. Both Beats are fighting colds and cutting molars, making them both incredibly sensitive and testing. Grey and I have been weathering many a meltdown, finding there are moments where the best thing to do is simply giving space to a child who is clearly overcome with emotion. He-Beat in particular has been trying. One moment all is well and he is happily playing, but with transitions or moments he is told "no" comes the meltdowns.

We've been warned about this stage; the "terrible twos" that don't end until they are around 4 yrs old. We've been told it is a trying period and given so much advice on how best to address this. Their teachers have also been wonderful with offering insight and reminding us that there are no red-flags because of this behavior. Still, it's been scaring me on a lot of levels. During some of these meltdowns, I have flashes back to the incidents I weathered with a child I worked with at their daycare who is 3 yrs older. A child who had similar meltdowns and tantrums, flying into rages at his peers in a manner that left so many worried about the physical safety of his classmates. How despite his intelligence, how emotionally stunted this boy is and how greatly negative his life is becoming because of it. I know it's completely unreasonable to make this comparison, especially since this behavior is to be expected during toddlerhood. Still, it's hard not to see the pattern.

The other level is a personal one as I also endeared being labeled a "difficult child" and still have emotional scars from it. And I worry about He-Beat being labeled the same way, suffering from all that comes with this stereotype.

A few weeks ago, I happened upon a post from a woman who confused similar fears. A note of warning, as this person is both a non-IF blogger and one who is very vocal about attachment parenting (lots of fuel here for anyone looking to start another version of the mommy wars), so proceed with caution with reading. But what this post did touch on nicely (and bravely) is the fear that surrounds raising a child who requires more.  And though He-Beat doesn't have the same energy levels as her son, I found myself nodding along with a lot of her confession.

I goes without saying that I love both the Beats with my whole being. That all I want for both of them in this world is to grow and thrive, reaching their full potentials and following their dreams. Part of that, though, means facing all of this head on. Monitoring the tantrums and helping them both to learn how to manage these strong emotions and interacting with others. Still, I wasn't prepared for the emotions I would experience with all of this. The continual feelings of failure and guilt. The anger that would arise from my own memories of childhood and how unworthy I felt. And how desperately I want to prevent history from repeating itself.


  1. I wonder. Do you think that being a "difficult child" is different for a boy than a girl? That a boy not be labelled as such, whereas a girl is supposed to be all sweetness and light, totally compliant? I suspect it might be.

    I was a compliant child, scared to do anything wrong. I have a niece who wasn't. Honestly, I wish I had been more like my headstrong, determined, niece. It is serving her well now. I imagine it is serving you well now too, though I'm sorry to hear of the scars the label left you.

    Sending hugs.

  2. I am so sorry that this is such a difficult time... I don't know if this is helpful whatsoever, but as a special educator I try to think about difficult behavior as opposed to difficult children. It's easy for me to say as I don't take my students home with me and I don't feel personally responsible for them/they aren't dependent on me, but it can be so easy for a child to be labeled as "difficult" when it's the behavior that's difficult, not something inherent with the child. (I see teachers doing that, which I'm sure would be a fear as a parent, commenting on "THAT kid" or "good luck with THAT one," which makes me sad since it's our job to help kids with ALL kinds of behaviors to find ways to be successful and manage behavior more appropriately). I hope that you can find ways to help He-Beats through this rough period, that you have resources through school or community that are helpful and not judgy or label-y. Not at all that this is a services-type situation, but just help from other parents or teachers who have helped children work through their needs and expressing those needs in less challenging ways. Or maybe that just comes when he's 4 and out the other side of this toddler morass... It sounds so hard.

  3. Abiding with you. As my kids are in middle school -- the same one I went to -- I relate to what you say about revisiting old emotional situations.

    You're a good mama. An aware mama.

  4. I don't think children should be allowed to grow molars. They are the worst. Periods of molar teething have turned my sweet, typically mild mannered boy into a hopeful at a casting for the next Exorcist movie.
    I am finding that - periods of teething aside - toddlerhood is the time where many negative behaviors come to light. These little, rapidly growing people don't have the resources to express their intense frustrations, physical and emotional pain, and certainly haven't developed reasoning skills - um, cause and effect anyone? Anyone? Bueller? I find it helps me to look at these sometimes very troubling behaviors in that way; it helps me cope and parent more effectively. And sometimes not which is when, with a little bit of shame, I turn on Sesame Street and think about having a drink.

  5. You are in one of the hardest times, when they have such big feelings and can't talk about them. So it all comes out as tantrums. Or what we call tantrums and they would call communication, no different from crying as a baby because they were hungry or wet or tired. Maybe we need to change the way we talk about childhood behaviour. Instead of saying, "I saw a child having a tantrum at Target," we should say, "I saw a child behaving like a child at Target instead of behaving like an adult." Am I making any sense?

  6. Toddlers are so difficult- and my daughter is not even technically two yet! I would be nice to just skate by ignoring tantrums but instead we have to be "responsible" parents that actually educate their children in how to deal with their emotions. Ugh. (Just kidding)

    It would especially be hard with twins not to compare the kids and their behavior....but it sounds like you recognize the differences and are willing to work with He-Beat in teaching him the right way to show and communicate his emotions. It certainly isn't going to happen overnight but you can do it.

  7. There was a time when I had to remove my 2 year old flailing and crying from about every place we went. He even cried when we left the dr office. This too shall pass and you are doing a great job with both of your children. It just must be extra hard to have 2 2 year olds at the same time.


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