Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Maggie is going through a pretty awful stage right now. She is constantly throwing crying fits if she senses some injustice to her person (like not being able to take EVERY SINGLE WIPE out of the container). She'll hit (or something else equally bad) and then when we say NO HITTING! She'll throw a fit. My practice has been if she is crying to send her to the crying chair and pretty much ignore her until she is done. Which works really well. She gets it out and then usually comes back into the room with a smile on her face.

Now, we add in the hitting and/or injury to another person. She usually cries because I tell her NO in a firm voice and ends up in the crying chair - but both Aaron and my instinct has been to tell her she can't get back the toy/do anything fun/have ice cream/whatever until she says she is sorry to the person she hurt. This has not been going quite as well. She will sit there and not say anything for upwards for 45 minutes. She'll cry herself into a hiccuping mess, and if she calms down and you ask 'Are you ready to say sorry?' she'll say no and just start crying again.

It's frustrating. I know she understands not to hit. I know she understands that she needs to say sorry (maybe not the exact meaning of sorry - but that is the same issue with please and thank you in my eyes. She is learning to be a member of society.) But she is so freaking stubborn, and in reality - it's ruining MY evening to have to sit there with a tantruming baby almost every night. So I asked around. It's an interesting split. Some people completely agree with me, and others say that she is either too young to understand and/or forcing someone to say your sorry will make her 'resent' the person and also make her realize that you don't have to mean it when you say it.

What are your thoughts? I will persevere with the course we have set (unless someone has some other wonderful idea). Like I just said in my last post, we have very few rules, but 2 of the biggies are to be nice to other people and have good manners. Hitting and then not saying sorry are basically blowing all the house rules. But it's brutal! Please tell me that you have been through it and it's just a stage? Or at least tell me that I'm doing the right thing!


Serenity said...

O will NEVER say sorry when I tell him to. Never has. I used to apologize FOR him to the person whenever we were in that situation and let it go, because it was a power struggle I didn't want to get into. But it ALWAYS bothered me.

What made it easier, for some reason, was giving him a choice - I started this recently, after the night I left my SIL's mortified at his refusal to say he was sorry to his cousin. Because, you know, he's FOUR. He KNOWS not to hit.

I told him he could either say he was sorry to the person OR give them a hug.

I've done this three or four times, and he's always done something. Sometimes it's hugging. Sometimes it's saying "Sorry."

I am surprised that it was that easy, but for us it was. And he's starting to say sorry unprompted by us now, so he gets it.

I don't think she's too young to understand that she should apologize if she's hit someone. If she can say please when she wants something, she can apologize for hurting someone.

Cece said...

Someone else told me about the option of and hug or kiss or saying sorry. That is a great idea.

I'm also going to start a chart http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000NTZL7U/ref=oh_o00_s01_i00_details . I used to think they were stupid - but I'm seeing that it may be the right thing for Maggie. She may be too smart for her own good.

Deborah said...

This is hard. In general, I think if she's going through that really stubborn 2y.o. thing, it is best not to add one more thing that can turn into a battle. It sounds like saying "sorry" is one more area for her to argue about. I might let it go for a little while (because yes, the stubborn tantrums are most certainly a phase, and they'll end) and then try again with "sorry" later. Maybe a week later, maybe a month later.

Another thing, I think, is to reframe it. This isn't always going to work, but one night when my husband came home from work, J did something (I forget what) and K told him "no play time with Daddy until you say sorry". J was refusing. Then I pulled him aside and calmly said, "Daddy really wants to play with you. He's sad because he didn't see you all day, and he wants to play, and he just needs you to say 'sorry' so you can play together." It worked. Won't always work, but it's one more tool for you.

Michele said...

We work on 'sorry' too. We explain 'hurt' each and every time (although we know they know it) and they have to say sorry, sign sorry, or do something (hug, kiss, etc) that basically says they are sorry. B&M are 2y7m, so they know what they've done is wrong and that you dont behave that way.

As far as time out, etc. We've always heard that, under 5, you should time them out for their age. For example, our time out is 2 and a half minutes. Otherwise, from what we've been told, it gets lost on them exactly why they are being punished.

We dont have a cry chair butwhen the drama is high, we tell them they will do it without an audiance and we leave (go into another room). Works most every time!

Cece said...

We definitly 'reframe it'. Kind of tag team it - I had her sit next to me and told her I was sad that she couldn't play with us because she wouldn't say sorry. That got her to stop crying - and looking back on it - I'm sure she would have been willing to do a hug.

Cece said...

We definilty aren't doing a 'time out' for behavior. We are doing a place to have the tantrum. We do a forceful 'no thank you' and redirect instead of time outs. Unfortunately the drama is high with Maggie (and sometimes cam too) do we need a place to sit and cry. It's a solution to her walking around and screaming her head off and or throwing herself on the floor.

HereWeGoAJen said...

Hmm. I think, if I were me, I would drop the saying sorry part of it for a month or two. I think she's using it as a power struggle (like two year olds do) and if you drop it for a while, she'll probably forget that she used to fight you about it. And then you pick it back up again, hopefully after the power struggle is forgotten and she has another month or two of maturity. And the way to win in a power struggle with a toddler is for the toddler not to realize that you have.

Elizabeth went through her hitting phase too. The thing that worked really well for her was that whenever she hit, I snatched her up and she was out of there before she knew what had happened. If we were home, she went to her room. If we were at a playdate, I took her to another room. This was for time out purposes, but then when the hitting was getting kind of consistent, we went to a friend's house and I warned Elizabeth that we would leave right away if she hit. I warned the friend too. And about an hour into our playdate, Elizabeth hit one of the other kids (barely even) and I had her in the car within thirty seconds. She sobbed the entire way home and never hit anyone at another playdate again*. (She was a bit older than Maggie is now though, Maggie might take a little longer.)

*Exception- Isaac. She and Isaac whack each other all the time, but they've been playing so long that they basically have a sibling relationship. And his mom and I don't really care, since they isolate it to each other and never actually hurt each other.

Melanie said...

This stage is so hard. I think it is important to recognize her feelings and set limits by emphasizing house rules. I do think she is too young to take things away from her. Not only does she live very moment to moment, but she will not remember why she cannot have ice cream after dinner when she engaged in hitting someone hours earlier. I love the website www.ahaparenting.com. I have starting using some of information from this website with my kids and the difference I see in all of our interactions is amazing. I feel like we connect so much better.



Cece said...

Melanie - we are doing the 'in the moment' thing. So, since the tantrum went on for 45 minutes, she saw Cam play with Chalk. She'd stop crying long enough to say - I want chalk. I would say - say sorry to Cam and you can have chalk, and she would cry again. Ten minutes of crying would pass, and she saw Cam playing with bubbles.... stop crying and ask for bubbles... I would say no, and the crying would resume. The final thing that got her out of it was Cam finishing his dinner and having his ice cream, she saw it, and asked for ice cream, and I said - if you say you are sorry. She yelled SORRY! and stopped crying.

This is my life. I totally wish I thought of the 'you can hug instead of say sorry' thing last night because it would have worked, I bet. But we were in the throes of the awfulness and didn't see a comprimise then.

I'm not silly enough to think that I can take away ice cream for dessert after dinner at 4 in the afternoon and think that will work with a 2 year old. But immediatly? Totally worked.

BrandiH said...

we pretty much have a power struggle at our house every night right now and most times it's just because Lillian refuses to use her manners and talk nice to people.

I honestly have yet to find anything that works consistently. Time out works until I get down to her level and tell me what she did that was wrong. She will be 3 in a week and I start asking her this after she stops throwing her fit for being there. She will refuse to tell me so I remind her why and then ask her again and she will refuse to tell me.

We battle about her refusing to say please. We refuse to give her things and she will throw a fit (she goes in the other room on her own) will finish come back and demand what she wanted again with more attitude, and repeat until it's time for bed or she decides she doesn't want it then.

Zephra said...

This is a test and I have to say, having four kids and running a day care for years, however you decide to deal with it, you cannot lose.

Now, at her age, giving her an option to say sorry or to hug is perfect. It helps her feel like she has some control over the situation, which is most likely why she is throwing a fit for so long. It is really hard for adults to say sorry sometimes and I imagine it is the same for kids too.

When my youngest gets to the stage where he is out of control angry, the best thing that I do is to have him come and sit in my lap while I rub his back until he calms down. Then we talk about what happened and why he is in trouble. It usually turns into a long debate because he seldom thinks he is wrong though. He is 7 now so I don't know how well this would work for your little one.

I try to remember how I feel when I am very frustrated or out of control. It is a very scary feeling for me so I can't imagine how a little one must feel. But I still say that no matter how you choose to deal with it, you have to win in the end (or at least appear to win) because if not, the testing will get much worse and kids have way more energy than we do.

Sukey said...

Good luck! And stay strong - the payout is priceless in the long run. Your approach is good and you just knew this was coming from her early days - she is a power unto herself, very different than her brother. My mantra would be - "this is just a phase, this is just a phase".