Friday, May 4, 2012

Fours - you got me!

Things were going so well.  I was telling everyone who would listen to me that 4 must be the greatest age ever. Stella seemed to have grown out of the fits that we'd had some experience during her threes (believe what they say - the name Terrible Two is just a trick.  Just when you think you made it through and it wasn't all that bad the threes jump out and slap you across the face!)
Cheering for the undefeated boy's soccer team.

playing with the camera at the game
She was my buddy.  We've had so much fun having dance parties, movie nights snuggling on the couch, and we've mostly outgrown the whiny afternoon period and she doesn't need to be held constantly.  Plus, she's an absolutely A.MA.ZING big sister!

Then last week arrived.  What a reality check for us all.  The fits returned full force, sometimes twice a day.  We got angry, we told her we'd take her toys if she didn't do as she was asked, we tried to rationalize with her, we tried time-out...  This little girl most often would just put her hand on her hip, dig in, and get sassy!  The more sassy and whiny she got, the more patience we lost.  It was a vicious cycle.
This is usually what happens when I try to take pictures of her!

Thursday when we were getting ready for school she wanted her second cup of cocoa.  I'd been having a tough time getting her ready in time so I thought it was an opportunity to use the cocoa to my advantage.  I cheerily told her that she could have it as soon as she got dressed.  Much whining and ten minutes later I ended up helping her get dressed and told her she'd lost the chance for a second cup.  She threw a FIT.  She whined. She stomped. She screamed.  She was still whining and crying in the car.  I calmly asked her why she was crying.  She said, "because I want more COCOOOOOA!"  I said, "I know you do, but we've already left the house and it's too late so why are you crying?"  We repeated those two sentences more than a dozen times.  Finally, she looked at me in the mirror like she was looking at a flying cow and asked, "why do you keep asking me that?"  But guess what, she was so distracted by the fact that I was repeatedly asking her the same question even though she'd clearly answered it, that she quit crying!  It was a small victory, but by that point it felt huge!

She's been practicing her cartwheels and Lulu's been practicing her walking!
Saturday I talked to my mom on the phone about it.  I told her it's so hard because I just don't know how to best handle her fits.  She is SO stubborn and just won't give up... EVER!  I don't want to let her think it's ok to talk to people with that attitude, but at the same time I felt like we were getting into an ugly cycle where she'd be sassy, we'd get frustrated, she'd act out more, we'd get more upset...  We decided to let go a little bit. I don't know how much it helped, but things seemed to get just a little bit better.
Barbie diving

Sunday night I was making our bed while Jim was supervising bath play time.  I heard her tell him, "some mamas love one child more than they love the other."  He asked her why she said that and she told him because some mamas yell at one of their kids but not the other.  I was practically in tears. I know she's had moments where she thinks everyone is over the moon for Lulu and she's been pushed aside a bit.  He asked her if she thought I felt that way and she said, "no, but some mamas do."  When I took over in the tub we talked about how babies don't get into trouble and when she's 6 and Lu is 3 Lucy will be get in trouble SO much more than she does.  Then at 11 and 14 it will be Stella's turn again, and at 14 and 17 we're all in serious trouble!  She was laughing and I told her that she and her sister were my two favorite people in the ENTIRE world (which she couldn't quite believe and made her smile) and that she was the answer to the prayer that I had prayed for SO many years.  I think that she felt it, I pray that she felt it.

I know that she's growing up and trying to figure things out.  She's becoming more independent.  She's learning about life.  I just pray for the patience and guidance to best know how to help her through the frustrating times.


  1. Hang in there, J. I'm sure this can't be easy, but you're such an amazing mom for being so sensitive and thinking through this so carefully. Love you! H

  2. We have an almost 5 year old and I can whole heatedly tell you that Stella is doing exactly what my daughter are not alone! My sweet, lovely daughter had a baby brother and turned 4 all in the span of 2 months. She has the attitude of a teenager now! We have tried every approach from discipline to letting go to special time with just her to show her she still matters and sometimes each thing works or a combination of them but the attitude always comes back. They are trying to assert what little bit of independence they have and they are not quite sure how to do so. We have found that as long as the assertion doesn't include rude, sassy language then we have to let it slide a little bit and that's seemed to help.

    We are now approaching her fifth birthday and things are calming down a bit. Some days I actually long for the terrible twos!

    Good luck - stay united and consistent and always remember what it is you love about her and that these tantrums are helping to shape her into an assertive, strong teen and woman.