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Thursday, February 2, 2012

When a Three Year Old Loses Her Mind

What do you do when a three year old loses her mind?

This is a serious question.

Let me welcome you into my morning.

It started at seven, when the dulcet tones of two screeching children roused me from my sleep. One had lost her lovey, and the other was trying to go upstairs. The first wouldn't go without Bean, and blocked the way. Instant twin fight.

I stumbled downstairs, found the Bean (which was wrapped out of sight in a sheet), and made them both get back into bed for a minute (I laid with them) for a restart.

It didn't do me much good.

Getting changed, they fought over the striped and polka dotted tights. My fault, really. I accidentally put the striped tights on the kid who normally gets the polka dots. Dulce wanted the stripes because they were hers, and Lilly wanted them because she was wearing them.

I took the striped tights off and made them come to a compromise. If they couldn't decide, I'd give the tights away. We didn't need them anyway. Dulce took the dots.

None of this is the mind-losing. This is all just part and parcel.

Then, Natalina decided to start taking a stand. First, she insisted I put her cereal so that it hovered six inches off the ground. When she realized I had no power over gravity, she lost it. Tantrum. I just went about my business, after explaining to her why the cereal wouldn't stay in the air. What else could I do? She brought her Bear into her room and cried a little. Okay. Odd, but okay. Since when was floating cereal such a big deal?

When she came back out, Bear-less, she demanded I go and get her Bear. What? I told her that Bear was in her room, where she had left him, and she could go get him herself. She refused. She cried about it a long time, alternating requesting hugs, and floating cereal, but always going back to the fact that I was the meanest mommy in the world and wouldn't go get her Bear.

Finally, after she'd calmed down enough to ask me with please, I walked her to her room and had her get her Bear while I watched.

If you think that was the end, unfortunately no.

Right back to the floating cereal.

And when I showed her again that gravity made the cereal sit on the ground, she threw Bear about four feet away from her and cried.

Then she demanded I get her Bear for her.

Again, I refused. What the heck is going on this morning?

"Bear is right there," I said, pointing to the wall. "Move three feet and get him yourself. You threw him over there, and he's not far. Go ahead."

Unacceptable. I need to get the Bear. But I won't.

Bear is still by the wall, Lilly is in her room crying, and I'm sitting here blogging about it. I don't know what else to do. What can you do when your child loses her damn mind?

(Oh! Development! She just came out, had me dry her nose and got her Bear herself. I told her she was such a good girl and gave her big hugs and kisses and told her I was proud of her. I guess I won? This took an entire hour, by the way.)


  1. Adults have those days too, we're just better practised at handling them. Haven't you ever had a day where you wanted to throw the bagel at the wall because the guy at the bagel stand didn't toast it like you asked him to and no matter how hard you try you just cannot get over the fact that your partner ate the last of the peanut butter last night and you woke up craving it for breakfast? Maybe that's me projecting my day... Stay patient, stay calm and let her see for herself that the temper tantrum over things she can't control is hard work and not worth it. Of course that's easier said than done in the face of an unreasonable toddler....

  2. Ouch! You have my deepest empathy, I remember days like that!

    I can only tell you what worked for me, but here goes: For the sibling standoffs I created the 'kissing rug'; a big, bright red, pair of lips. When the hullabaloo got too bad they stood, nose-to-nose, on the kissing rug...they weren't allowed to talk but making silly faces at one another was required which generally led, eventually, to fits of giggles and 'kissing and making up'. (and a quiet talk with Momma when the situation was defused)

    When that didn't work, or wasn't exactly appropriate for the 'occasion', I found that doing the unexpected provided great relief....or at least a moment of humour that helped me get through it. I would often whisper an invitation to the young'un to give me a moment to do whatever needed to be done and then I'd give them my fullest attention....then seat myself comfortably and ask them to give me a scream concert. Whispering often gets them to lower their volume simply so they can hear; and for whatever reason, knowing they have your full and undivided attention for their greatest efforts seems to help them get over the screamies. Another great tactic, if you have the space, is to put a small wading pool of warm water on an uncarpeted floor and give them spoons, bowls, funnels, etc... to play with. Putting a large piece of plastic under the pool helps keep the floor dry and after an hour or so of playing in the kitchen pool naptime suddenly seems like such a good idea!

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