Is This A Temper Tantrum?
I'll start with the more recent story since it's fresh in my mind. My 2 year old came in my room at 2 am, while I was sleeping. She tried to crawl into bed, waking me.
I asked her to close the door back and she instantly started crying and yelling out that she didn't want to. I again asked her and told her she could get into bed with me, I just wanted her to shut the door.
I moved to give her more room and she started screaming at me to get back on my side of the bed! I said if you're going to shout then go back to your own bed. She ran over to the door and stood there crying and screaming no! I said go to your room and when you've calmed down you can come back in here.
She just kept screaming no I don't want to. Then she ran on the other side of the bed and got in and just kept crying. I said it's bed time and you must be quiet. She screamed no! Again I told her to go to her own bed. She ran over to the door again, screamed/cried, then into her room where she screamed and cried and called for me.
I yelled in and said I would not come in there until she was quiet. She kept screaming. She did this for an hour and with me even going in once to remind her that if she can calm down she could come back into my room.
She kept crying hysterically and screaming mommy come here! I wanted to go there and comfort her but I didn't want her to rely on me to calm her down.
She finally was quiet so I went in her room and said thank you for calming down, I came in here because you were quiet. She just acted like nothing was ever wrong and I held her a minute and put her back in her bed.
I've tried telling her to breathe, I've tried holding her and that is what she wants, but it's not helping her to calm down on her own. So I choose to try and ignore her and it either breaks my heart or I get so frustrated I have to stop myself from spanking her because I know I'm too angry.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. You are obviously a good mother, who wants to do the right thing for your daughter. It is clear that you have put a lot of thought into your parenting, and that is good.
From what you've written here, it seems very clear to me what is needed. You said a couple of very important things:
"I didn't want her to rely on me to calm her down." and "I've tried holding her and that is what she wants, but it's not helping her to calm down on her own." This really says it all--I'll come back to that in a minute.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with your daughter. You said she is only 2 years old--that's the key. She needs your touch, to feel your presence and your love as you hold her. Everything you wrote here points to that.
I think you are expecting her to grow up too fast. The way she will best learn to calm down is in your arms. Talk to her about breathing, reassuring her that everything's okay, while you hold her. Hold her until she falls asleep. It wasn't that long ago that she was in your womb, being held 24 hours a day.
She is supposed to rely on you to help her calm down--that is developmentally appropriate. I suggest you hold her as often and as long as she wants you to, and let her decide when she's ready to move away. She will learn to calm down on her own, when she knows for sure that she is safe and nurtured in her relationship with you.
Take a look at this page on children's basic needs, and you'll see that "touch" is at the top of the list. Touch is how she knows for sure that you love her. Touch is how she gets the clear message that she has a safe place in the world. Touch is how she develops a positive sense of self worth and value.
You may need some nurturing yourself, by the way. If so, you might want to get a copy of this nurturing your inner child CD/audio download program. This will help you to be more nurturing to your daughter, if it's hard for you.
Trust your daughter. She is a brilliant being, and her body language and her emotions will tell you exactly what she needs and wants.
You are a good mother. Follow these recommendations, and I think your daughter's anger problems will subside.
My very best to you,
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