Terrific two

Have you ever stared at your sleeping toddler and wondered, “How did the once calm and docile newborn you gave birth to turned into such a strong-willed child?” I certainly hope we are not the only parents experiencing such drastic change in our child’s behaviour – that it’s just another phase or something expectant parents go through with their eldest offspring.

E’s tantrums have been occurring more frequent than ever these days. It’s becoming more challenging to keep the house mess-free as the little one roams around endlessly, attempts new act (even dangerous ones) at every opportunity and grabs everything that’s within or out of his reach. The world seems to revolve around him only, and nothing but him. Tantrums begin when we try to defy him. Hubby and I are at our wits’ ends figuring out what else we can do to ease this process.

Raising Ewan
We have never been the kind of parents who take the easy way out and give in to every of his whims and fancies. We have always set boundaries and are strict when there’s a need to be. Our style of parenting has always revolved around practicality, simplicity and being grateful. We never spoilt him or lavish him with limitless gifts; our greatest present is spending time and giving him one-to-one attention. We have always ensured that in any potential meltdown, options are given, negotiation/coaxing is attempted and distraction is carried out in the most desperate scenario. We choose which battle to fight and which to let go. He wins some, we lose some and vice versa. But lately, we have resorted to things we never thought we would do (and not proud to tell) – physical punishment, threats, TV to keep him quiet etc. It doesn’t help when I’m suffering from round-the-clock nausea and lethargy, while the overtired Hubby holds the fort. At times like this, I really wish that we have external help from family members or perhaps, a domestic helper. It would have been nice to give Hubby and I a break.

Tantrum episode
Last Saturday was especially tough. We were back in our hometown, having lunch at a nearby cafe. As usual, E asked for this and that (more sauce, more soup, one extra fork/spoon etc.) while we were eating. Then, out of a sudden, he uttered something that sounded like ‘diaper’ and pointed to the table. There wasn’t any diaper on the table, so we thought that maybe he wanted my noodles and gave him some. Frustrated, he started whimpering and said ‘no’. So Hubby and I took turns to offer everything that was on the table one by one but nothing worked. His cries turned into wails and every patron in the cafe started staring at us. Grandpa tried to distract him by offering to go ‘walk-walk’ outside but E retorted and screamed “Nooooooooo!” I offered him my starfruit juice (which usually works) but he declined. We continued to persuade him and find out what exactly he wanted. I gave him a hug to calm him down. No luck. Pregnant and starving (I was not even half way through my meal!), I started losing my patience and tapped him. When all failed and he became out of control, I dumped my noodles, yanked him out of his chair (which he was holding on to tightly) and stormed out of the cafe. It would have helped if I have kept my cool but I didn’t. I put him down on the sidewalk for him to ‘let it out’. He rolled around the dirty ground, wailing as if something horribly terrible just happened. We left the cafe shortly after that, with E still wailing and screaming “eat!” “eat!” “eat!” Obviously, he was still hungry but we concluded that if he chose to misbehave during mealtimes, he would go hungry. He fell asleep in my arms on the way home. When he woke up, it was like as if nothing happened. He was back to his usual ~la la la la~ self.

That night, he had a nightmare. He woke up crying “Apple juice!” “Apple juice!” It was then I realised that he has probably been losing too often lately. That probably we have been too strict and inflexible. That perhaps ddmm’s presence shattered his sense of security and made him desiring our attention more than ever. I am guilty of spending more time lying down than nurturing him recently.

Oh did I mention how clingy he was with me? He even followed me to the bathroom when I had to pee in the middle of the night! It’s like I’ve grown a mini shadow overnight 🙂

If you have gone through a similar tantrum episode before, what did you do to contain the situation? Is it perfectly normal for a child to be extra clingy and needy during the impending arrival of a sibling? How can I get my calm and assured child back?


4 thoughts on “Terrific two

  1. Nancy

    Joey, from my experience with James, the second year is the most difficult phase as well. James cried for no apparant reason and it was diffcult to try and figure out what he wants most of the time. When I was pregnant with George, James became clingy as well, but not to me but his father. Even with domestic helper and my mil’s help, it gets really overwhelming, so I can understand what you are going through right now. For me, everytime James had a meltdown, I will passed him to Fredy or my mil as I simply did not have the patience to deal with him and most often than not I lost m temper as well, especially with the pregnancy hormones all over the place. I came and talked to him when he calmed down.

    The second year is a very difficult transition for them as they learn to have and exert their independence and yet it’s still very hard for them to express or communicate they need, thus they get frustated and throw tantrums. It’s going to get better, hang in there Joey, this is especially true for James as now that as a three years old, I can communicate with him like a mini adult and I can actually bargain with him, but he stills have occasional tantrum but mostly from sibling rivalry and jealousy which you might encouter in the near future as well. Now, I spend every morning and night to tell him that I love him and his brother equally and everytime I forget to tell him this, he will ask me whether we love them both equally.

    Ewan is at an age where he is going through a transition and maybe he can sense that mommy has another bun in the oven 🙂

    1. joeyllhow

      Hi Nancy, thanks for the tips. More often than not, I feel guilty for transferring the parenting duty to Steve. My usually calm and composed husband is also starting to show signs of weariness, with occassional loss of patience with E too. We are very fortunate in a way that E is a fast talker; we understand what he tries to communicate 90% of the time. We really really hope that it’s just a phase. It’s weird how the older sibling can sense his/her mummy’s pregnancy way before anyone does. Perhaps I should try harder to spend more time and assure him repeatedly. Perhaps it was because I have been sleeping separately from him too…maybe too many drastic changes within a short period of time. It’s time to relook into restoring our routine again 🙂

  2. melanie

    Awww Luan Luan, I feel you. I dun hv any tips or guidance to share with you, all I can say is hang in there. I guess E is going through toddler phase, it will come n go. Dun worry too much, and dun feel guilty for resting, you need it, your body need it. Stay positive n happy as you are always, you can do it. 🙂

    1. joeyllhow

      Thanks Melanie for the kind thoughts 🙂 Even if I don’t want to rest, my body doesn’t allow me to. Can’t wait for the first trimester to be over soon.

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