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January 12, 2009


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I have one kid that we called with love, THE CHAINSAW. It was like she ran like a CHAINSAW, one speed, all day from the time her eyes opened until she went to bed. My other daughter was a breeze as a toddler and smaller kid.
At age ten, the whole thing changed. The Chainsaw morphed into a bright and curious delightful tween. The easy toddler turned into a Catholic school girl out of a Billy Joel song. So it's kind of good news, bad news.

I've always been a fan of car seat time outs. Strap em in - safe, sane and wiggle proof.

Our TWIN boys were born 4 years after our perfect and advanced daughter. I was certain something was terribly wrong with them for the longest time. They are now 6 and I am about 90% sure it is just that boys are "different"!

Good thing he's a cute little bugger.

Yeah, I was dealt a son for the first and only. Being a girl, an only child as well, I wasn't ever really aware how a young boy behaves. Haha. All of our friends say he's a well behaved child, just excitable. I'm guessing that's what you've got too. We followed SuperNanny's lead and used the 2 warnings and then naughty chair for 2 minutes (increase with their age). No talking to them. When they talk they get more time. Then we explain why he was put there to him and then he apologizes (usually requiring to be prompted). another way is to anticipate what causes the freakouts. turning the tv off, playtime over, food, bed, bath. I say hey K, in 10 minutes tv time is over and it's bath time. After bath time is time for bed. That way he isn't suprised and has time to process the whole idea. Versus you walking in the room and turning some show he was into off and saying get in the bath now. I mean, shoot, I like to have forewarning too = )

You know those places where you can take your border collie out to chase sheep for a couple hours so they can run off steam? Maybe you could do something like that with Drew. But not sheep - they are too big for a 2 year old. Maybe a giant pen of hamsters.

my daughter used to roll around on the kitchen floor screaming and pulling gobs of hair out exorcist-style. Buy am I glad that's over ~


loved this one :)

Our families are really similar. I have a 5 month old, a demon two year old (born 6/6/06, of course) and a really compliant, sweet 6 year old.

I have to remind my husband, and myself, all the time that El Diablo is just as sweet as our first, when the others aren't around which is, well, almost never.

Ha! Oh, don't get me started on biting. My daughter did it for two FULL years. Ugh.

And yes, she was also the one we had to hold down in timeout. So it's not just a boy thing apparently. Maybe it's a second child thing! Good luck!

Hi! Just wanted to say that I love your blog! It makes me laugh daily. I have one on the way so every little bit of info helps!

Yes, my first was such an angel. I was actaully foolish enough to believe it was due to my fabulous parenting skills. HA!
Second one came along like a slap in the face! She popped out with a smirk on her face as if to say, "...thought you knew something, did ya?!"
Now I know I'm just as clueless a parent as everyone else.
Good Luck!!

I was a nanny to three very spirited boys like your son. One feeding off the next. I am not sure it gets easier but I guess it can't get worse at this point. Right? Good luck!

Cordy had massive meltdowns and sensory issues, but left on her own at home she was really a good kid. She never tried to explore her surroundings much.

Mira is a demon on speed. She seeks out how to destroy everything, finding solutions to get herself higher, further, closer to things she shouldn't have.

Aaron and I occasionally look at each other and say with exasperation, "We're glad to have a typical child, aren't we?"

She's a lot of fun, too, but we were completely unprepared for her after Cordy.

When Jacob was that age, we used a booster seat in the dining room & strapped him in. That way, he was in time-out, away from the attention, and we didn't have to fight to keep him there. We've also had to figure out different parenting techniques as he goes through stages, and it's getting better, but I don't think he'll ever be an "easy" child. Thank goodness he's so cute.

My daughter is the same as your son. Two years old and laughs in the face of any authority... And does whatever you are demanding she stop doing as fast as she possibly can! My son, who is 6 months seems to be the essence of chill. Shocking to me. We will see what happen in their lives-can they really be this hard-wired?
I will hang in if you will.

Well, I guess I should be glad we had our (very similar) son first - so we weren't lulled into any false expectations by an "easy" child first...

Hang in there. Sam and Lucy are both a bit, um, feisty. They are both angles out in public and at school, but at home they can be a little challenging. Hopefully Drew will find a happy medium that suits him and hi parents!

You just described perfectly the difference between our parenting experiences with Tacy and CJ.

CJ knocked us for that same kind of loop, especially after Little Miss Perfect. Still does sometimes.

Hang in there. Boys do get easier as time goes on. Just in time for girls to become a total nightmare. It all works out in the wash.

My son is just like yours sounds! I think maybe it's a boy thing. My husband says he remembers doing wild crazy things when he was a kid, and not being able to stop... I'm hoping they grow out of it! My husband is fairly normal (for a guy) so I'm guessing my son will be some day, too! We're expecting our second (a girl) in February and I keep telling myself that there's no way I could get two crazy wilds. Hopefully I luck out...

My second son is much like Drew (and I think they're about the same age, too - Nemo turned 2 in November) - we kinda think it's a miracle he hasn't been to the ER yet. So despite the fact that he's the 4th kid, we look like either clueless morons or total assholes who let their kid be a monster. It's tough. We are actually Evil and we put him up on the kitchen counter or some other place where he's up off the ground and can't get down for time out. It's only marginally better than holding him in timeout somewhere else, I think. I keep telling myself it'll get better, and I have found that on the days that we frequent the local play place, it wears him out enough to be...well, a slightly calmer normal 2 year old boy. Hang in there.

Hey... change the names and his gender and you have our two daughters. Miss R a total dream child. Slept through the night by 12 weeks. Rule follower, would cry if you just gave her The LOOK. Absolutely the sweetest most well behaved child ever.

And then we had Baby D. She is a constant blur of activity. You give her the eye and she laughs and runs the other way. She's wild and destructive. Her newest trick was taking off her pants and diaper at naptime and smearing poop all over herself, the crib, and adding baby powder and a fresh packages of diapers to the mix.

Ohh yes it's a totally different ballgame with Baby D in the house. We love her so, but by God we didn't know what we were getting into when we signed up for Baby Number 2.

Funny, my *daughter* is the howler-monkey-on-a-caffeine-buzz. My second child, a boy, is the calm and mellow one. It is amazing how they have these personalities right out of the box!

I laughed so hard at the Super Nanny part of your post. I only have one toddler and on days that I want to pull my hair out I sit down and watch either Super Nanny or Jon and Kate Plus 8 and feel very very lucky.

I heard stories about my step-son being awful to his mother, but he was always angelic when he came to our house. I figured my son would be the same with us, at our house, with our rules.

Boy was I wrong. My son is technically a little brother AND an only child and he is also a pint-sized monster. Time out is something we're working on since he's not yet two, but spanking is useless because he already laughs in my face.

And...we watch Super Nanny for the same reason. Even my husband, who laughed at me for watching that show and speaks limited English, happily watches it now.

Second children are notoriously difficult compared to the first - precisely because they are compared to the first and are competing for your attention. They usually do well in life so don't worry too much.

Supernanny's tagline should be: The Show That Puts Your Children in Perspective.

It's my pick me up! :)

Any chance you have an old car seat he could fit into & put on the naughty mat? Then you could buckle him into the naughty chair instead of holding him down. Unless he'd fight / wrestle you like crazy during the buckling of course. That way he would be removed from the situation without your attention.

Oh yes. We don't call my son Destructo Boy for nothing.

i'm still waiting for my angel baby... my two boys are... well... not. easy.

and, holy shit, your 2yo will eat a carrot?! that in and of itself is reason to rejoice!

I have a daughter followed by two boys. SHE was an angel from day one. I've always said she raised herself, she was so easy. Boy # 1 was easy as well. Not as easy, but still really good. Boy # 2 was hell on wheels. If he h
ad been my first, he would have been an only child. I seriously thought he was someone else's child. You know-switched at birth.
He's almost 24 now. He doesn't bite anymore, but he sure wants everyone to know when he's around. He's smart and kind, but wild and crazy. Wrecked every car he's owned (3)had a short stint in jail (2 days) been fired from every job he's had-yet he always, always lands on his feet. People love him. Everyone wants to hire him. He has personality plus.So, I'm really glad I didn't kill him. Because I really really wanted to.

My kids are the other way around. I had the boy-on-crack first, then a mellow girl-who-listens second. I have to say I still can't get over that she actually does what I ask sometimes. It's a foreign experience.

And I can't count the number of times that I've asked my husband if the boy is Normal or hyper-psychotic-something else. I didn't grow up with boys so I am still trying to figure this out.

You're doing great - it's a big step to realize that you have to change the approach with each kid. I'm still working on it.

Love your blog. It's so refreshing to read the real deal on parenting.

I hear you. Sadly, we got that all in one kid. Our oldest was an angel baby. Hardly cried or fussed, slept through the night right from the start, blah blah blah. Then around 18 months, the biting and hitting started. We got "Oh he'll grow out of it when he starts talking and can communicate with words better." The anger never stopped. We've been in therapy since he was almost 4. He's 7 now. He has a diagnosed behavioral disorder. He also borders on many other disorders but doesn't have enough of any one of them for a definitive diagnosis. We have the kid who baffled and intrigued psychs at Drexel Univ. And we get to parent him every day. Thank GAWD his younger brother just goes with the flow for the most part.

I am so afraid of this. I am currently pregnant with #2 and this baby has a tough act to follow. My nine-year-old daughter is gentle, kind, smart, and mature beyond her years. When she was a baby she would take two two-hour naps a day... yeah, I'm freaked!

Avery is the girl version of your Drew— reading this post left me in the kind of exhausted state I find myself after one of Ave's nuclear meltdowns. So your Super Nanny comfort is echoed in the comfort of knowing other people have middle children that followed angelic, rule following firstborns.

Sounds like you are doing the best you can! Don't be too hard on yourselves. I have a suggestion for the BITING...Vinegar in the mouth. Not a lot, just a dab on your finger and a swipe of their tongue does the trick.

We decided that crimes of the mouth deserved punishment of the mouth and used this to curb biting in our toddler (because by two it's more of a "reaction getting" kind of thing and not an "exploration of new chompers" kind of thing...we did not use it on our biting baby) Later, it came in handy for telling us no or screaming for no reason. It works like a charm! And now all we have to do is merely suggest it and the kids straighten up and stop back talking!

Good luck!

See my first one was like that (although different, because she has ADHD), so the second was a shock. Like, oh one can sit still and play...alone? Really. Course it's biting us in the ass now, because she's turned into a complete sneak.

Drew sounds like a complete boy to me. I wish you luck. But please for my sake, tell me how you figure out what too do, because mine will be that big in oh two years and I'll be clueless.

My almost 2 year old is starting to sound the same as yours. We have started holding him in our time out zone too. I was feeling horrible about it, but its nice to hear someone else has to do it too!

(I call my husband 'the huz' on my blog too..)

I watch Super Nanny for the same reason. :-)

he sounds like a typical two year old boy. the optimum word being "boy," and yes there is a difference.

Our son (our 1st) is exactly like this. He is always into something. Sometimes I feel like such a failure. When we are out though, or at my Mom's house or something, he is an angel. They just can't figure out why we say that he isn't. It drives me nuts. Our 2nd one is due on September 10th, and I pray to God that he/she isn't the same way.

Oh, also? Fishing line. Tie it around the tree, then around a nail in the wall or something. No one will ever know!

I say if my middle child had been first, there would never have been any more spawn. I read "Raising Your Spirited Child" when I was raising the first one; now I laugh at myself. Great book, but I had no idea what I would be in for in the future. And it's more than just the difference between boys and girls. It's the difference between, say, a pet rock and a rabid flying monkey. His occupational therapist actually asked me last week if I ever watched Super Nanny. Beyotch!

We have three-year-old twin boys. They make me laugh my ass off and pull my hair out several times a day. I highly recommend the highchair as the 'time-out' chair. You can buckle them in and they are pretty stable and won't fall over with an enraged monkey sitting in them. We put ours in the guest room because I wanted them to hate that room and stay out anyway. Also not yelling really helps, though it is really, really hard. I hate to break it to you...three is worse, so get your system nailed down and consistent because you haven't seen anything yet.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. We just had an entire weekend fighting the little monster at our house and we were both at our wit's end. She does all of the above except the biting, but she has already figured out the "Mean Girls" way of manipulating every situation to her advantage. Including an entire 2 hours of crying hysterically because we wouldn't give her fruit snacks (because they constipate her). Was that too much information? Anyway, this post made me feel so much better that there are other parents out there dealing with the same thing and maybe #2 (due in June) could be more of a Quinlan for us!

Oh my god - we have one of those. Our first. And I have no idea how to discipline - we don't spank, and trying to get him to sit still is impossible. Every day I say to myself that this is just a phase...and please let it be over soon!

This is *exactly* what my little boy is shaping up to be...he's nearly nine months now and already a bull in a china shop who never sleeps, sits still, or runs out of energy. I guess I should feel lucky that he's my first, so the next will be easier...right? :-/

We have one of those.


Welcome to having a boy. I thought before it was just a social thing, but until I met other boys his age...and realized how much of it is inherent in their gender.
Mine has made me rethink child leashes (haven't bought one, though, too damn embarrassed) and spanking and duct tape and child sized straitjackets...
He is so stubborn, too.
I read Dobson's "Strong-willed Child" along with "How Children Learn" and those "Your Two/three/four year old child" books...and that helped.

Me too. My oldest was sooooo easy. Mt 2nd, not so much. Try 1-2-3 Magic, book. Not hard to follow, gentle, non-yelling approach. Helped me a logt.

My first - a boy - was easy. But my girl? DRAMA QUEEN.

Sounds just like my son. He's our first and quite possibly our only. My friend puts her son in timeout and he SITS THERE. Waiting for her to come back and let him go. I put Bub in time out and he laughs, hops down and goes back to whatever it was that I so rudely interrupted him from.

I am so THERE! Our daughter was the world's easiest child. I remember going out to eat and people would make a point to stop by the table and share with us how well behaved she was.

Then we got whammied with #2 and #3 all in one shot. Dunno if it's the gender thing, birth order thing, or what, but the twins are WAAAAY wilder than she ever dreamed of being.

I remember when they were transitioning from the 5-point harness baby seat to a regular booster seat one of the boys figured out (en route) how to unbuckle the seat belt. I pulled over into a condo parking lot and had to strap him back in to the 5-point harness which, needless to say, he was less than thrilled at. He was screaming at the top of his lungs, arching his back, the whole bit, so much that the only way I was ever gonna get the kid back into the car seat was to hold him down with my knee while I did the buckles. Meanwhile one of the residents knocked on my van window and asked, "Lady, is there a problem here?" I wanted to slink away so bad.

My third is a boy. I mean a BOY!! I have no idea what I'll do with him at two, but I expect you are writing this all down and will sell me that parenting manual next year, k? Please?

Failing that, I'll accept that I will lose my sanity, but not my sense of humor. LOL at the Christmas miracle. I knew mine woudl do that so we got a cheezy little 3.5ft prelit number from Costco instead.

The 'book the wonder of boys' really helped me understand why I couldn't understand my boys. I have three, and now I also have a daughter, communication back and forth is so very different. I never would have accepted that years ago, but it's just so blatant. Good Luck! :)

At my house, it was the exact opposite. #1 was child from HELL, threw the biggest fits of all time and when #2 showed up? He was Mr. Angel.
I always said that God knew he could not send me another one like the first or I would have been in the nut house!

We use the high chair or booster to contain our second child to time out. Our boy is highly spirited too. Constant motion.

Time out solution recommended to me by my pediatrician for my daughter (second child as well): lock on the outside of her door. Her reasoning was that it keeps her safe and in place. We put a hook and eye lock on the outside when she was two-ish and it's still there and in use (rarely) today (she's 6). It takes all the emotional angst out of the time out process (for you) which makes the whole thing go more quickly. If the kid can see they have you in a tizzy, good luck getting that to end. Do what works for you of course and good luck.

I like the booster seat idea. We usually used the crib during that pleasant period of time when time outs needed to be enforced.

I wonder how much of it is gender related. I'm a huge fan of "Free as You Want to Be" so I hesitate to assign gender roles. But I do see it a lot in my very prolific extended family. The boys seem a lot harder to deal with at these younger ages. 2 year old boy on crack sounds about right.

Yup. Twas the same here.
I learned trial by error of course and the now eleven yr old needed things posed differently. Instead of "Dylan, would you get those toys picked up?" I needed to say, "Emmy, would you rather pick up the toys now or in five minutes?".

Silly child. He thought he had a real choice.

I'm always slightly amazed at how different they can all be, in personality, even in looks sometimes. I know I shouldn't be surprised, they are different people, but it still comes as a shock sometimes. Of course, MY first was the worst, so it almost made the next two easier. Nothing they could do would be something I hadn't already dealt with. I don't know if I should be happy or sad about that.
As for the, yes, normal, terrible two's, I hope he grows out of it soon. They DO generally pass. promise.

I was given child #2 to take me off my high horse about having raised #1 so well.

I gave up on physical time out. Instead, his favorite items are put in time out. It isn't uncommon for the bookshelf to have ten stuffed animals piled on top. It took away my emotional response. I count from 5 to 1, then I go take a stuffed animal. I do it again. And again. He will eventually relent and follow directions. For his brother, we use his books. Whatever works.

All I can say is...Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic, by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka...

You have described our third child to a T ... and he came 4 years after our 2nd (and when we thought we were done!!) The excitement of "slipping one past the goalie" ended when he reached 13 months! Good luck to you ... copious amounts of wine sometimes helps ... or at least it takes the edge off!

I kept mine in time out by strapping them into the booster seat. They hadn't yet figured out how to unbuckle themselves, and that kept them in the seat until their two minutes was up.

If it's any consolation, you just kind of described our children's dynamics. If we survive the second with our sanity intact, we'll feel fortunate. But take heart, because our third is such an angel he's almost unconscious.

At 2 my son would have easily been described that way. The biting ends on its own just as fast as it starts. With my crazy son I never found time out to work unless I strapped him into his high chair or dropped him in the crib. Redirection was easier most of the time until he was 3 anyway.
Hang in there. He is completely normal and will grow into a busy, capable three year old who will probably excel at many physical things.

My 4yo daughter is an angel, my 2yo daughter is an @!#$&(@ and is a daily struggle in all the same areas.

I brought in a car seat to do time out, only had to do that twice before she started sitting in the time out corner by herself :) But she is in it A LOT and I don't know if I feel like the older daughter just never had to do that or if it is just harder to catch the younger because I am distracted...

Makes me feel better that I am not alone!

You have just described my son. I completely understand

It helps to know that someone else is going through the same challenge! I have several Supernanny episodes to catch up on.

He breaks down at the slightest thing, usually if the answer to his question starts with a 'N' and ends in an 'O'.

My daughter wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination but he is just totally different. I often wonder which planet he is from.

Ha, reminds me so much of us a few years ago when our second child was so completly different to our first. I think 2nd children have to be louder, bolder and more demanding, it may have to do with wanting to be different/heard. I know it drove us insane so my heart goes out to you. Good luck with finding what works.

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