Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When the Bleep Hits the Fan...

Throughout the week, I often think of the post I'll contribute to The Mama Dramalogues. Something heartwarming and adorable, with a sweet photo of my darling dear daughters to accompany it. A post to make you smile, perhaps even laugh. A post to make you say "aaaaah, bless those precious children..."

If you're thinking along the lines of Chicken Soup for the Mama's Soul, you're absolutely right.

BUT THEN my kids remind me just why this blog was started in the first place, and whoooosh, out the window the sweet, happy post goes, replaced by




brought on by the





(me, not the kids)



(the kids this time - more specifically, my three-year-old)

resulting in

(by pretty much everyone at this point)

My three year old, Annelie, is driving me to INSANITY. It was rough going when she was a one year old and I dreaded the terrible twos like nobody's business. Then the twos came and went (not uneventfully, of course) and were replaced by what we have now: The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad threes.

Take yesterday, for example, when the happy Hopkins family skipped to the library for story time and puzzle time and computer play time and book pick-out time. Life was good, life was great, smiles circled the sun and butterflies burst from our hearts.

And then (dun-dun-dun) it was movie pick-out time. Here's something to know about me. I'm a little bit (read: a lot) controlling. BUT when it comes to movie pick-out, I'm fairly reasonable. However, when all the movies my three year old handed me to check out just happened to be the very same movies we already have at home, I kindly asked her to put them back and pick out movies we didn't own and therefore wouldn't mix up with ours.

Naturally, this was when the bleep hit the fan. Enter the kicking and screaming and doom and destruction and all that jazz that had my face bright red as I checked out my books while my husband grabbed our kiddo under his arm and fled before the librarians could snip my card in half and barricade us from ever coming back.

I tried to keep a cheerful face as the librarian checked out my books:

  • The Time-Out Prescription: A Parent's Guide to Positive and Loving Discipline by Donna G. Corwin
  • Taming the Spirited Child: Strategies for Parenting Challenging Children Without Breaking Their Spirits by Michael Popkin, Ph.D
  • How to Keep Your Kids from Driving You Crazy: A Proven Program for Improving Your Child's Behavior and Regaining Control of Your Family by Paula Stone Bender, Ph. D
  • ScreamFree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel

Yes, I did feel like an incompetent fool, in case you are wondering. And I guess I kind of am because I'm frequently at my wit's end. We monitor sugar intake, red food dye intake, make sure she is well-rested and fed before she flips out. We dole out time-outs when needed (frequently, obviously) ... yet the insanity continues daily!

But I know I'm not the only person out there with a high-energy, temperamental preschooler who happens to think she/he knows more than anyone over the height of 3 inches.

So, moms out there, who wants to vent their own frustrations? You do? Perfect. Share your stories in the comments.

And moms out there, who wants to share pearls of motherly wisdom? You do? Perfect. Dispense those pearls of wisdom in the comments.

Now that the screaming has stopped and the house is temporarily silent, I'm all ears!! And when I'm done reading your comments, I'll certainly be cracking those books open for help!



  1. Um...yeah. When I figure it out, I'll let you know!

    OK, so here's what I figured out with Merrick. Some of it likely applies to Annelie (since they are both "seconds") and some doesn't. I know for a fact that some of Merrick's communication issues (hence the speech therapy) aggravates it for us. Since he doesn't articulate things clearly, a lot of people don't understand what he tries to say...he hasn't fully learned to "use his words" in a way that he can get his point across because he, well, can't, so he get frustrated and melts down. In those moments we have to learn to get him to express himself in words (through the tears). And sometimes (which likely applies in your case), he's learned that negative attention is still attention, so when he throws a hissy, I walk away. It's hard, because your instinct is to react, but if they don't have an audience around to get a rise out of, it sort of deflates the situation. It takes a while and sometimes it doesn't always work...but eventually it does more often than not.

    And that's...all I've got for ya!

  2. Oh man, that does sound aggravating!! Yes, communication issues make life so flippin' difficult.

    And ACK, walk away... that *does* sound hard. But you're right. It seems like she's deliberately trying to get a rise out of me, and HATES being ignored.

    It's so tough!! She is SO good for SO much of the day, and I reward that good behavior with hugs and praise and smiles and she eats it up... so you'd think that would be enough attention!!

  3. That's what has to go hand in hand. As soon as she figures out the bad behavior won't get her any attention AND she will get the attention she likes when she's good, she'll put two and two together. Merrick has already learned life works to everyone's advantage when we are all playing nicely :)

  4. I just love your blog, and have started to follow it on my droid. I have a nearly 3 year old and a just turned 1 year old. My little darlings are screamers. My daughter taught our son. All day (in addition to the tantrums) is a chorus of very high pitched screams that makes your head want to explode. I've yet to figure out how to break this habit. My daughters tantrums, however, are what make me think about a vacation at the loony bin (It has to be good. Quiet padded room, and all the sleep I could ever want!)When she does this, I give her a count to three to stop. If she dosn't, she has to go to her room untill she stops. Most usually she comes back out and says "I be good now Mama..." Sometimes, she dosn't come out and instead gets destracted playing, giving me a few moments of quiet before her brother starts screamimg at her door for her to come out so he can play with her. I certainly hope my kids become musicians... They have the vocals for it!

  5. Okay, I don't have all the answers either, but I have a few tricks that work well in some places.

    In the car: when the kids are having an argument and there is screaming, I calmly pull the minivan over onto the side of the road, a parking lot, or wherever I can stop safely. I say quietly, "It's too loud for me to drive safely. We have to stop until it's quiet in here." Then I pull out a book and start to read. My boys HATE to sit on the side of the road strapped into car seats watching cars whiz past. They get quiet fast. I give it a minute or two, then we go again. If the arguing returns, I pull off again. They get tired of this routine quick and it usually ends the car arguments.

    In a restaurant or someone else's home (this one is best when there are 2 parents present), the kid who is acting up gets to go sit in time out with one parent (who pulls out the book to read calmly and ignores the kid who is sitting in his car seat) while the other parent and well behaved kid get to stay inside the restaurant and enjoy dinner/dessert. If we are out with his parents, I handle the time out so he can visit with his parents. If we are out with my family, he does it. We usually have to do this about once a year to get our kids to behave well in restaurants.

    My oldest has started this thing where he asks for everything in sight in a store. When I say no, he starts arguing, "Why not?" "Please?" and asking for it over and over and over. I made a new rule. If he continues to ask for the item I have said no to, for every time he asks again after I have said no, I will remove some other item I was planning to purchase (only if it was a treat for him) from the cart. Keep asking, and he'll have nothing left. If there is nothing to remove, then nothing else for him will go in, including the package of gum that he always begs for at the checkout.

    Oh, and Lane, our 3 year old also has speech issues. Zach makes it worse by guessing (sometimes intentionally guessing wrong) over and over what he's trying to say until Lane has a total melt down. It frustrates Lane (and me) to no end. Sometimes poor Lane just says in a sad voice, "I'm not talking anymore because I don't have any more words." We are working on getting a speech evaluation, but I just found out that very FEW kids qualify for speech therapy at age 3 because the normal range for learning to say certain sounds extends into the beginning of age 4 for all but about 3 consonant sounds, which means that a 3 year old who can't say very many consonant sounds correctly is still determined to be in normal range! How frustrating is that?!?

  6. Oh may gosh, Janna, SO frustrating!! And odd... you'd think they'd have speech therapy before kindergarten starts for those who need it!!

    Such a great suggestions!! We're definitely starting the whole 'escorting child out of public place' thing - will definitely start keeping books in the car for me to read while Annelie calms down! Great idea!! Thanks so much!


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