Battle of Wills

Oh my gosh you guys. We are at our wit’s end with our kid. Seriously.

I thought temper tantrums didn’t start until later on, but (as with most things related to parenting) I was WRONG. So wrong. When she doesn’t get her way, Charlotte has taken to throwing herself on the floor and screaming. It’s happening about every 20 minutes. No, you can’t play with the surge protector—TANTRUM! No, you can’t shake the lamp—TANTRUM! We are going to sit in your room and play where there are fewer things to say no to—TANTRUM!

Catch is home with her so she spends way more of the day listening to it than I do and I feel terrible. By the time I walk through the door in the evening, Catch basically hands her off to me and disappears to do ANYTHING but deal with our angry child. Who can blame her?

And that’s not even counting the tantrums she throws when you need to change her clothes or her diaper. She used to LOVE diaper changes. Now it’s damn near impossible. And bath time! OMG! I just can’t. She fights me every step of the way. She refuses to sit down. She won’t let me rinse her head. It’s just a battle of wills.

On top of the tantrums, her sleep has been awful. SO BAD. I really need to break out the Happy Sleeper again, but since we’re going to Mexico in a week the timing just doesn’t feel right. Plus, I’m so damn tired I have no idea how I’ll make it through the first few nights of sleep waves because this kid can go all night if she has to. Not to mention that it breaks my mama heart to hear her cry… but it is breaking my everything else to be up with her 6 times a night. I just can’t do it. And I can’t help but think that maybe if her sleep was better, the tantrums wouldn’t be quite so frequent.

I don’t know what happened to my happy, easygoing kiddo. I haven’t even been taking pictures of her because she’s hardly ever happy. She has a permanent serious grump face.

We even broke down and took her to the doctor yesterday because we thought she might have an ear infection. She’s had low grade fevers that we attributed to tooth #8 trying to make its way through, but we started questioning ourselves because she’s just been SO awful. The doctor told us she’s perfectly healthy and that the terrible twos are starting early.


I keep thinking that something is going to shift and she’s going to snap out of it. Is it possible that this is all related to tooth #8? Please tell me it’s possible. I can’t even stand the possibility that this is our new normal. It’s like someone took my baby girl and swapped her with a demon.


That is her evil grin. I swear. It means TROUBLE.


35 thoughts on “Battle of Wills

  1. Oh my gosh, this sounds miserable! And now you made me worry about the day that our happy baby turns on us too! I’ll admit though, I love that charlotte is a few months older then our guy so that I can learn from everything she throws at you first. So once you figure it out, please share how you manage to tame the wild child. Sending love and hoping she gets out of this phase asap!

  2. I giggled at the picture because I can picture her thinking, “Yea show these people on the internet how sweet I am *snicker*’…LOL!

    I’m sorry she’s being a terror. Is she in any kind of class with other children or activity? She may just be bored. Now that she is moving more she probably just wants to go go go. My nephew was a crabby kid about this age too (my SIL was a stay-at-home-mom) and as soon as my sister in law got him active with other children and started letting him be in a space where he could explore more freely he has turned around quite quickly. He is just free spirited and either wants his mom and his mom only or he wants nothing to do with her and he wants to go non-stop.

    Hoping she peps up quickly for you. I have seen how draining it can be to be with a child that throws tantrums like that.

    • I think boredom has a lot to do with it, honestly. She LOVES to be out. We’re starting a Gymboree class when we get back from Mexico, so hopefully that will help! In the meantime, we’re taking her swimming and on outings as much as possible!

  3. Around 12 months, we had to do the “toddler proofing” which basically meant making the house accessible and available. In the beginning, it’s easy to keep a small space for them, but once they realize they CAN go everywhere, they will. So we just (briefly, for about 6/12 months) take away all the things we don’t want them getting in to.

    She’s just realized there’s more out there and she’s being curious and adventurous. She’ll want the things she sees you use most, which is why they gravitate towards a lamp before a toy sometimes. When the girls poke around in stuff we don’t want them in, sometimes, if we let them do it once, it gets the itch out. They realize the fireplace is actually super boring and they never touch it again. If we say no – they want it more – like 100 times more. At this age, I give in a lot and we do a lot of “Mama will help you touch stuff you can’t touch on your own” and it generally works.

    Yeah, sleep isn’t helping the issue for her and especially for you guys. Those tantrums are amplified tenfold when you aren’t getting any rest. She’s close to the age mine were at when we really needed to exhaust them to keep their sleep semi-acceptable. Do you have stairs? Climbing up and down stairs is A+ exhaustion material. So is chasing a ball. Or pulling herself up and down on the couch.

    I absolutely think this could be teething. I also think this could be the 12m regression. I also think it’s sleep. I also think you have a bright, curious little adventurer and at the end of the day, be thankful she’s just so, so cute. Because that might be the only thing to lessen the sting some days. 😉

    • I was thinking 12 month regression, and just to echo The LadyKing, the “Mama will help you touch stuff you can’t touch on your own” is ideal at this age. The only thing that is ever still really fun after this is the TV remote and the phone. Apparently, that never gets old. Just know Molly, I’m right there with you girl! This parenting toddlers ish is crazy!

      • Oh, the remote and iPhone over here is just ridiculous. No toy version will ever do and the NEED TO TOUCH will never go away, like, ever. EVER. (I should include gaming controllers. I give them ones without batteries and they LOVE them.)

      • The remote and the iPhone are her most prized possessions. A game controller is a great idea, actually. We don’t game, but we have a bunch of old controllers I bet she’d love!

    • We’ve been trying to keep her go go going, but I think part of this is boredom. She tends to be happier when we’re out and she’s distracted by her surroundings. She just doesn’t understand that sometimes we have to be home where the people watching is less exciting. I think Mexico is going to be great because it’s going to be all new with constant activity. Even being in the hotel room will be interesting for her. And I am totally going to toss a game controller in my carry on. I really love that suggestion. Especially if it means there’s a chance she’ll stop recording the morning news.

  4. Wolfie started tantrums probably around 9 or 10 months. Honestly the best way we’ve found to deal with them is to meet him on his level. We try to prevent the things that make him have tantrums in the first place.

    He really likes grabbing things on our living room end table and tantrums when we pull him away from it. So we don’t keep anything on it anymore, and I sit on the floor with him more instead of the couch so it’s not so tempting.

    He liked getting into the garbage, so we bought straps to keep them closed.

    He likes to play with the door of his baby gate when it’s open, and would seriously throw a tantrum every time he accidentally closed it on itself. So we figured out a way to rig it not to close when he’s playing with it.

    I get you on diaper changes tho. I haven’t figured those out yet.

    I’m going to comment again with a copy and paste from a document that is shared all the time in the attachment parenting group i follow on facebook, that gives links to good resources on tantrums.

    • I’ve honestly baby proofed as much as is physically possible in our house. There are a few things that I can’t do anything about, and naturally those are the things she gravitates toward. Mostly we’re dealing with tantrums by distracting her. I acknowledge her disappointment and then HEY LOOK AT THIS COOL THING. Yesterday, a snack sized bag of doritos (to play with, not to eat) was making the changing pad reasonably tolerable. Sigh.

  5. Well…it’s possible, but we’ve been dealing with it since about 11.5 months so I fear it’s just developmental. Charlie has about one bad tantrum a day. It was more than that but I really upped her intake of solids and that has helped. And Charlie sleeps pretty well so I bet if you could get her back on track it would also help make things feel not so awful to her when they have to be a “no.” Easier said than done, I know. It’s really rough, but we’re definitely in it together!

    • I constantly have Charlie in my head about sleep. I feel like if Charlie can do it, Charlotte can do it. Don’t ask me why that is. LOL I need to suck it up and get back on the Happy Sleeper. I don’t know why I’ve been dragging my feet. It worked SO WELL last time. I just have this mental block.

      • It’s so hard at first-that’s why you don’t want to. Charlie definitely had some regressions on it but I didn’t want to go back to the old days so we really just stayed firm with it, which is probably easier for me because I’m not getting dressed to go to a job outside my home every day like you guys are. But I think you should get back on it sooner rather than later because the older these kids get the more resistant they get to change. That’s why I’m starting the weaning early and dragging it out.

      • You’re absolutely right–it’s not going to get any easier. I need to just rip off the band aid and be a sleep training boss. I wish we weren’t going on vacation. I just feel like it’s pointless to sleep train this week when we’re going to be in a different space in a totally different time zone for a week. Probably better to deal with the time zone mess and the sleep thing all at once when we get home.

  6. I’m going to go along with what LadyKing and Maverick say. Yeah, you have to totally set her free. Get rid of as much as you can that she can’t get into and pick your battles on the rest. For example, we kept our glass storage bowls in a bottom drawer and towels in the one above it. When Gus his this point we switched drawers so he can get into the towels. We locked cabinets that we didn’t want him in but for the most part he has free reign to do whatever he wants and explore. Picking battles is hard but i don’t deal well with whining so I’d rather just pick shit up later.

    My other guess is that you are close to walking. Gus would get SUPER grumpy when there was a skill he wanted to do but couldn’t. Sleep went to hell too. Our pediatrician told us once that after he walked he would sleep and sure enough about a week after he started walking well he started sleeping great.

    I’m not expert and don’t have a 2 year old yet but I think a lot of tantrums are a matter of wanting to do something they can’t do. Walking and talking are the next big hurdles. Also, just a reminder that at this point the best tactic for dealing with tantrums is to ignore/distract. With Gus when he loses it we help him lay down on the living room rug, validate his feelings, and tell him we’re ready to play when he is. Then we walk away and it stops. So, for example, this morning he wanted socks on (we never put socks on before the car. It is pointless.) and we said we’re not going to do that now he lost his mind. We tell him we know he is disappointed, we don’t go on and on about it, and he moves on.

    The beginning of tantrums are hard. Figuring out how you want to deal with them is key.

    • Tying this to a developmental thing actually sounds really reasonable. I hadn’t considered linking her behavior to walking. I don’t know how close she is, but at least that’s a ray of hope. I have already baby proofed the hell out of the house. There are just a few things that there’s nothing I can do about. Like that one surge protector, the one floor lamp, and the dogs. We’re constantly pulling her off of the dogs. We actually moved all of the tupperware and plastic things into one low kitchen cabinet and that’s “her” cabinet.
      It’s usually easy enough to distract her out of her tantrums. I try to just say, “I know you really wanted X. I’m sorry you’re sad. Look, here’s Y!” Some of this will be majorly alleviated when she can walk just because of logistics. She wants to be down on the ground exploring everywhere and there are a lot of places where I just can’t let her be on her hands and knees crawling around. Either it’s too dirty or too hot or too crowded–or all of the above. We added all that grass in the back so she could play out there, but it’s still not ready to be walked on, so it’s basically this giant NO space and it sucks.
      I keep telling myself that this is a phase like all of her other phases. Surely it will pass soon enough. I’m just trying to get us all through it in one piece.

      • You are doing a fantastic job. It takes a long time to master a skill so even if she is still a ways from walking it doesn’t mean it is not a concept that she gets and WANTS to do. Babies are so weird. The grass will help and I totally trust y’all let her explore – I think you are at the hardest stage I have experienced thus far. Light at the end of the tunnel, friend.

  7. This is textbook Darwin during the week before a tooth comes in. Although at almost 2, now it’s more regular, but she also has lots of happy time in between. Here’s hoping you see white on the gums soon.

  8. I was/am also surprised that tantrums can start so early. We’ve removed most things that we don’t want J to touch from our living area, but she can still get to the cat’s water and she wants it so, so badly – and freaks out when we take her away, clenches her fists, screams, goes red in the face, claws at us, etc. We are trying distraction and redirection, but she is very determined.

    I bet J and C could get up to some serious mischief together. I’m kind of glad we’re not the only one with this issue, but also sorry that you have a precocious tantrum-er, too.

    But Charlotte’s evil grin is adorable…

    • Oh my gosh… the dog water! How could I forget! It is easily the most sought after thing in the entire house. Even more than the remote control. A few weeks ago, I found her actually sitting in the water bowl.
      I think you’re right that our girls would give us a run for our money if they ever teamed up. I feel sorry for their future teachers.

  9. If anything, she is a darling little demon… (Said with love, of course.)

    Chick has taken to hating diaper changes too. It was like some switch went off and if I even think of looking at the changing pad, it’s full on acts of rebellion. And the whole time your thinking “If you just sat STILL for 30 seconds, this would all be over.” But nooooo…. I’ve taken to “entertaining” him with various items from the changing table. Said items must be circulated every 5-7 seconds before he realizes it isn’t interesting any more and will start freaking out again. So I’m basically changing a diaper with one hand.

    Take solace, at least, that you are not alone.

    • We use the items on the changing table for entertainment, too! It used to be that the aspirator would hold her attention indefinitely, but alas… no more. She loved the tube of baby lotion for a while until she dropped it on her head. The thermometer was great too until Catch yelled at me “THAT GOES IN HER BUTT!” I tried to argue that it has a plastic cover on it, but now the thermometer is off limits. Yesterday, I resorted to a snack size bag of Doritos (for playing with, not for eating).

  10. Oh my god, FINALLY someone can level with me!!! Scarlett has been throwing tantrums for over a month now! Hers include throwing herself on the floor, screaming, and hitting herself. All the doctors and nurses have told me its completely normal and apparently at this age it’s a frustration thing. They can’t tell you that they are mad, so they show you. The doctor also told me it could be related to boredom, but with Scarlett I don’t think that’s the case. She knows what no means and she loses it if you tell her no. Oh babies!! 😄

  11. Oh man. I feel for you and Catch. It’s not fun coming home to temper tantrums. It’s also harder because you can’t really reason with her yet. We find ourselves jokingly saying to Dumplin’, “Use your words” lol. I hope it’s just a phase that passes quickly, and not the terrible 2’s!

  12. She’s going to be one tough nut to be reckoned with as an adult. Meanwhile….. Aaaaah! You have largely describes the MT as he achieved degrees of independence growing up. Good luck. I would say gets better but that’s only true in intervals for us. Hardest. Job. Ever.

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