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Epic Tantrums & Purposely Waking Sister

Posted by on Apr. 5, 2013 at 12:50 PM
  • 13 Replies

Hi all,

So I'm having a two part issue with my 2 1/2 year old baby girl.  The first is more annoying than anything but I still would love to figure out a way to resolve it.

For some reason, she just WILL NOT allow her sister, 10 months, to get any sleep.  Every time I'm trying to put the baby to sleep I will explain to her that she needs to please be quiet and she sneaks into whatever room I'm in and yells or drops something or sits down and starts playing with a musical toy.  When I tell her it isn't very nice that she isn't letting her sister sleep, she just smiles at me.  It's awful!!  I don't know how to get her to understand that she is being very inconsiderate.

The second issue is worse.  She has been throwing these EPIC tantrums and I can't seem to get her to calm down.  I'm talking screaming NO at the top of her lungs, kicking, hitting, for an hour or more and sometimes until she throws up.  I have tried placing her on her time out mat to calm down.  I have tried holding her as tightly as I can and telling her it's okay.  I have tried making her count to ten and then taking a deep breath which works during her normal tantrums but not these epic ones.  I have tried placing her in her room or even in her crib to let her cry it out and as I've mentioned, it lasts for a good hour.

There is no situation I can pin point that cause them.  They happen randomly.  One issue I have is that she flails around and bangs herself up so I don't want her to hurt herself.  The second thing is the way she screams, I get nervous that the neighbors will think I'm beating her!!  I mean she SCREAMS at the top of her lungs as though I were actually hurting her!  I hate to see her like this and I've truly tried every calm reaction I can think of and nothing is working.

And they are becoming more frequent and lasting longer.  I actually sometimes feel like there is something physiologically wrong with her because she just gets so out of control.  And sometimes they come at a really inopportune moment like when I need to feed the little one and so she is also crying or when I have to drive my son to work because he just started working and is saving up for a car.  

I'm truly at my wits end.  She is normally such a happy little girl but these past few weeks she has just been MISERABLE and I can't figure out why.  The only difference in the family dynamic is that her father and I have not been speaking very much but I can't see how that would cause her to throw these tantrums.  Any thoughts?  And please no comments about me letting my child step all over me because aside from actually beating the crap out of her, I'm doing everything I can to curb her behavior.


by on Apr. 5, 2013 at 12:50 PM
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by Gold Member on Apr. 7, 2013 at 10:06 AM
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 With the sleeping thing it sounds to me like she's jealous of the attention the baby gets while you're trying to put her to sleep so she acts out in order to make you refocus your attention on her instead of the baby.

With the tantrums, that's one of those things that comes with being 2.5. She's angry or frustrated that things aren't going her way and thinks throwing a fit may get her the results she's looking for. OR, she's just looking for attention again.

Since both of these could be attention issues, you may want to rethink how you spend time with her. I know the baby demands more attention because she's so little, but your 2.5yo doesn't really understand that. Instead of telling her to be quiet so the baby can sleep, try asking her to pick out a book that you can read to her after the baby goes to sleep and let her know that the quieter she is, the sooner the baby will go to sleep so you two can spend some time together reading.

Then, as soon as the baby's asleep, go into the other room and sit with your 2.5 yo giving her your full and undivided attention while you read to her. Or you could color or draw or sing or anything else she enjoys, but just something that gives her that extra one-on-one time she's thinking she's missing while you're focusing on baby at nap times.

Just my two cents... maybe they'll help.

by Ruby Member on Apr. 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM
What discipline are you using?
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by Barb on Apr. 7, 2013 at 10:18 AM

I wonder if giving her lots of extra attention would work. Extra hugs, extra reading to her. Extra talking and singing with her when changing the baby. I also would put the baby in her room.I suspect that if her sleep is disturbed by a crying baby that she'd be more careful.I'd tell her though that it is so that she can help watch the baby. Don't punish the older child, this adds fuel to her frustration and jealousy. Give her extra attention so she doesn't resent the baby so much. And when people come to visit, make a big deal over the older sister. But really, a newborn gets used to regular household noise. My mom always had the bassinet in a corner of the living room, and conversation, TV, playing, all went on around the baby, and they learned to sleep through it.

by Silver Member on Apr. 7, 2013 at 1:36 PM
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It's a phase, it will pass. I wouldn't pay ANY attention to the tantrums, warn the neighbors what's going on. When she wakes the baby deliberately give her a time out. Never insist that she love or even like the baby, just say things like "See how the baby is looking at you, she really likes you!"  "This baby sure takes up a lot of my time, doesn't she?" "I bet you wish you didn't have to be quiet while she's sleeping" Validate her feelings, but still insist on good behavior, she's not the only girl anymore, that may be playing into her jealousy.

by on Apr. 7, 2013 at 11:20 PM

My son also will set off every musical toy to distract his younger sister at the worst times, or deliberately make a mess to fluster me. Confiscate all the toys that make noise so she can't do that. I agree it's a jealousy thing. Try to spend time alone with the older sibling when time allows and call it special time with mommy.  Also try to make a safe space for tantrums to occur so she won't hurt herself and just ride it out.  With my son, I've noticed silence and agreeing or validating whatever point he's stuck on helps shorten the tantrums.  Also make sure you're keeping the older one fed regular snacks to try to prevent the tantrums.

by on Apr. 8, 2013 at 9:20 AM

 Try 1-2-3 Magic for the temper tantrums.  Stick with a disicipline routine.

by Bronze Member on Apr. 8, 2013 at 9:59 AM
Give no attention to the negative, lots of positive attention, find a play therapist to train you in play listening sessions & to provide play therapy.
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by on Apr. 8, 2013 at 1:14 PM

I disagree with the idea that a 10mo who falls asleep in the house needs the house to be any quieter afterwards than it was before.

I think your toddler is indicating, the only way she has available to her, that the pressure you're putting on her to 'be' other than how she is able to be is far too much for her to handle.

Encouraging her to come help you make cookies in the kitchen, or come fold laundry on the couch... or read stories on her bed... or to cut and glue coloured paper... rather than trying to 'make' her anything. 

Of course the tension in her house can lead to more-frequent episodes of being totally overwhelmed and unable to control herself. She's not even 3 yet, and most 18yos are incapable of controlling themselves when they're overwhelmed.

by on Apr. 8, 2013 at 1:40 PM
I wonder if she isn't just reacting to the tension between you and your partner. Perhaps you and he can get some counseling? What can you do to repair your relationship? The best gift we can give our children is a safe, secure home where they know they are loved. Spending money on marriage counseling, or a marriage retreat is better than spending money on toys and private schools. There are other possibilities for extreme tantrums... one would be autism. Autism is often diagnosed at around age two or three. Do you have any other symptoms? Does she mind being held or touched or kissed when she is NOT having a tantrum? DOes she avoid eye contact? The best way to curb tantrums is to IGNORE them. I know that can be hard, when she is screaming at the top of her lungs, and she makes herself throw up. But any attention you give her is only rewarding the behavior. Whether she is autistic or not, you should just calmly walk away from her when she pitches a fit. Do not pick her up and put her in HER crib, as that is still giving her attention. Calmly take you and the little one away from the screaming toddler, and when she has no audience, she will eventually stop. She sounds very frustrated. How are her language skills? When she is calm, can you spend time snuggling her and cuddling her and talking to her? Let her know that she is STILL your precious beloved baby girl, even though she has a little sister. IT is very normal for toddlers to feel displaced. The more you can reassure your toddler when she is behaving, the less she will reach critical melting point in her tantrums. Finally, about waking her sister, you will just have to keep them separated. Can you put up a safety gate over the bedroom, so that you step over the gate to lay the baby down in her crib, but keep the toddler out? You may have to use a playpen or other enclosure to protect the baby from the toddler, until she is older. She is too young to understand about being "nice" or "considerate". She is waking the baby, because it's pushing your buttons. She's doing it to get your attention - even though it is negative attention. Prevent her from doing it, and then when the baby is sleeping, give the toddler some positive attention - spend some quality one-on-one time with the toddler, reading to her, playing playdo with her, or something... then put the toddler down for a nap in another room! Make them both sleep, and you can get the break you need! Good luck!

by on Apr. 8, 2013 at 3:12 PM
I think you just need to spend more time with her. And involve the baby in play like with toys. Involve the 2.5 yr old in playing with her. Maybe she just needs to see that she means just as much to you as the baby
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