Ebay Bound

First, let me start this post off by showing you this super adorable video of Gracie dancing to some freaky Asian cartoon video from YouTube.  I submit this as evidence that, at times, she is normal and adorable and lots of fun.

Okay, now that we all love Gracie, let’s talk about what the heck is going on with her and why I am very close to selling her on Ebay.

Parenting Bean was relatively easy. He was an easy, happy baby who has grown up into an easy, happy preschooler. The ride in between was mostly easy and happy, too. He had his moments, but Bean was very reasonable from a fairly early age. If you could explain something to him or give him a choice, then he was pretty much willing to work with you. He certainly spent his fair amount of time in the time out chair, but he wasn’t in that phase for very long.

Bean being so easy to parent is probably why parenting Gracie has been such a nightmare. Now, don’t freak out (NANA…). I didn’t say SHE was a nightmare. I said PARENTING her is a nightmare. Honestly, Chris and I don’t know what the heck we’re doing when it comes to Gracie. Whatever we’re doing, it feels like we’re doing it wrong.


Do you remember in college when you’d go out to bars with your friends and have one too many drinks? And then, in that state, you had to remember where your apartment was and how to get yourself home safely with your cell phone and wallet still in your purse? SUCH IMPORTANT DECISIONS TO MAKE AS A DRUNK COLLEGE KID! That’s a lot what raising Gracie feels like. Like you’re stumbling around drunk late at night and trying to find your way without doing significant harm to anyone along the way.

It’s very hard to describe Gracie other than to say that she is extreme. She gets extremely happy, she is extremely adorable, she is extremely funny. But she is also extremely dramatic and extremely loud and extremely frustrating. I know that a lot of it is her age. She’s 21 months old, and I can tell that some of her frustration comes from not being able to communicate what she wants to say. She does know a lot of baby sign language (they use it at school), but it doesn’t seem to help. And Gracie takes that frustration to an extreme level of anger. And her weapon of choice when she gets angry is crying. It is not an exaggeration to say that Gracie cries just about all the time. She does a whining fake cry when she wants something. She has a dramatic, crocodile tear, sobbing cry when she doesn’t get her way. And she has a high pitched, shrill cry when she reserves especially for when we’re out in public. The crying is about to undo us.

We have always been pretty firm parents. We do not give in to whining or crying at all. But Gracie makes that incredibly difficult because she will continue crying for as long as it takes, and it can take a long, long, LONG time. (Remember the “thank you” at dinner a couple weeks ago?) At home, when we are by ourselves, it is much easier to ignore the crying and whining. We usually send her to her room until she stops. But when we are out in public or even when there are people around, it becomes a whole different issue. And it becomes embarrassing because I AM THAT PARENT. I am the one with the screaming kid. EVERY TIME. And I’ll tell you, I’m getting really tired of being in that position.


The problem with being out in public is that usually, Gracie is pitching a fit because she doesn’t want to sit where ever we are – in a grocery cart, at a restaurant table, in my lap, in a chair. And no matter how much we bring to keep her entertained or happy, she is dead set on being angry. That’s a big problem we have with her, too. You cannot talk Gracie down from a temper tantrum. If she gets mad, she is mad for the rest of the night. And her mad is ear piercing and long-lasting.

With Bean, if he got upset in public, then we simply took him outside for a quick time out until he calmed down, and then we went back to wherever we had been. But Gracie is a different story because unlike Bean, Gracie has no desire to be where we all are. In fact, taking her away from the table is like rewarding her because she gets to get away from the place she didn’t want to be. And let’s talk about time outs with Gracie. She thinks they are so much fun. If you ask her if she needs a time out (which is our warning in our house), she claps her hands and says, “YES!”

Some days, I worry that I am too hard on Gracie. Four days ago, we were coming home from a shopping trip with my mom, sister and our kids. Gracie started screaming when I put her in her car seat, and she did not stop for the entire 90 minute car ride home. I ignored her for most of the drive, but it is exhausting and maddening to listen to someone scream for that long. Not to mention, my mom and sister were there witnessing this episode, so I was humiliated on top of that frustration. My mom had to stop for gas about halfway home, so I very calmly and without saying anything, got Gracie out of her seat and sat her on my lap for a minute. I cleaned off her face, wiped her nose and tried to get her to calm down. But I didn’t really have to try. She instantly calmed down because she got exactly what she wanted. She got out of her seat. Then, when it was time to get going again, she screamed bloody murder when I put her back in and for the rest of the drive home. When we got home, she had been crying for almost two hours. Since it was already close to bedtime, I immediately led Gracie back to her bed and put her down for the night right away without saying too much at all. I wanted her to know that she was in trouble. She continued to cry for another hour. And I felt terrible all night. Who wants to be that parent who is toughing it out while their kid just wails? At times like those, I feel like I’m being too hard on her.


But then, other times, I feel like I’m being too lenient with her. Gracie was helping me clean up her bedroom today. She started screaming at the top of her lungs because I put away a certain book she wanted. She screamed and threw herself down on the floor, kicking and throwing anything she could get her hands on. So, I picked her up and walked her over to time out. I got down to her level, like you’re supposed to do, and I said, “Gracie you are in time out because you are throwing your toys.” And she looked me right in the eye, hit me straight in my face, and then took off laughing hysterically down the hall, turning around to see if I was chasing her. I dragged her back to time out, like, four hundred times, each time with her laughing even harder. And the whole time I thought, “Maybe I’m being too soft?”

See? We are just all over the place with Gracie. We have tried just about every parenting solution we can think of, but it is clearly not working. I’m not asking for a perfect child. I’m not even asking for Gracie to change at all. But I need some help figuring out how to respond to her.


I could spend hours researching online and spend hundreds of dollars on stacks of parenting books, but you guys are always better than a parenting book anyway. So tell me, imaginary friends. What am I missing? What are we doing wrong? What else can we try?

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55 Thoughts to “Ebay Bound”

  1. Kaitlyn

    I would do some searching to see if it is a can’t or a won’t. I had a VERY high needs baby. He cried and slept for the first 6 months of life. I NEVER felt like he slept well. He would nap for 2 hours, I’d feed him, and then we would go somewhere and he would get so irritable and it would seem as if he hadn’t napped at all. He was always tired, frustrated, and just simply impulsive. He was a late talker, and a late walker as well. Many people told me to change my parenting, but what I did instead was really look at my kid and start monitoring everything! I tried really hard to find the triggers because I am a behavior consultant and that’s what I do for a living. I was truly stumped. He just turned 2 at the beginning of November. My son had some other issues too and I ended up demanding that he see an ENT thinking maybe he needed tubes in his ears. Instead, she recommended that he have his tonsils and adenoids taken out. After some careful consideration, we went ahead with the surgery. Three weeks after his surgery, he is an entirely different kiddo! He is talking in phrases, imitating everything I say, controlling his behavior so much better, and actually sat still in church for an hour! I was shocked! I knew some of the research behind this surgery and behavior, in regards to sleep, but never in a million years could have predicted these results. Of course, don’t run off and yank her tonsils out, but definitely take a closer look at seeing if it is more than just a “won’t” to how she is behaving. Also, if my blurb can help the next person, I’d love for it to help. It was me who had to do the dirty work in getting to the right person who finally listened to me and helped us. If I heard, “all kids are different” or “it’s just the age” one more time…..

  2. I can’t remember–how old is Gracie now? Is she about to turn two or is she already two? I know I had the most frustrating time with Porter BEFORE he turned two. 18 months to the two year mark were TOUGH. And on top of that Porter is incredibly stubborn. After he turned two things were better, but just before–man, what a terrible phase. I hope that it is just a phase with Gracie, too. Keep on truckin, mama. You are doing the best you can!

  3. Alyssa

    Now, picture Gracie as your first child, when you know nothing and fear that everyone is looking at you judging you. Yep. My first born is like that. I floundered all over the place. My 2nd born is 1000 times easier. You get what you get, you are not going to change Gracie no matter how much you want to. Believe me I know you’re saying you don’t want to change Gracie and I wouldn’t change my Andrew but there are times I wished he could be like other kids, so we could be like other families. It’s not that I didn’t love him, it’s I didn’t love dealing with the highs and lows, the drama, the never knowing what you were going to get that day. You have to be the parent SHE needs you to be, not the parent that YOU want to be. Does that make sense? It took me close to 3 years to really figure out who my son was and what he needs. I read personality charts to figure out his “type”. I worked in day care yet never had met a kid like mine. I’m no expert but at least I can empathize with you. What worked with Bean might not (will not) work with Gracie. It’s okay to have 2 sets of rules for 2 kids. It’s okay to have 2 sets of rules for he same kid. Sometimes I am hard on my son, sometimes I”m a softy. He’s dramatic and there’s no use in feeding into the drama with him. He’s also very sensitive and I don’t want to crush him. It’s exhausting and hard on me to switch gears instantly to keep the calm in the house. It’s hard for me to swallow my pride and leave stores, play dates, playgrounds when my son needs me to. I look like I’m giving in to his wishes but I’m giving him what he needs. He needs to know that there are times when he is 100% my priority, not shopping, not playing, just being with him. My son is just over 3.5 and we are so much better than we were a year ago. Our struggles aren’t gone but we have come along way. And surprisingly I have to “give into him” less and less. I fill up his “tank” with love and attention and then things are smoother for everyone.
    My son is also very extreme and I read lots of parenting books that said the more extreme my kid is the more calm I need to be. But that didn’t even work. It was like Andrew would get mad that I didn’t appear upset. So when he was upset I would act super upset too and get mad right along with him, I think he appreciated it and actually laughed many times and forgot what he was worked up about.
    Good Luck with Gracie. I wish I could offer you good sound advise, but I don’t think there is one right answer for Gracie. It’s going to be what works this week. Just know that you are not alone in your struggles.

  4. My girl is a week older than Elsie and all I can say is AMEN. She is nothing like her older brother. In fact, I use to think I was some sort of exceptionally awesome parent because he was just so, SO good. I had all the answers! 🙂 We are still figuring it out with our girl too, but I strongly believe that parenting isn’t a one size fits all (kids) kind of thing. Your expectations for each of them need to be the same, but the way you get there and the type of discipline you use for each child might be different, and that’s okay.

  5. Colleen

    Oh Katie, I love this post (sorry!) because it speaks to me SO loudly! It sounds like Gracie is a handful, but I suspect that once she starts to communicate better you will begin to understand and accept how ‘different’ she is. I’m finding my son would freak about things, and now that he can talk, are simple desires- like how today he wants his strawberries in a blue bowl instead of a green one, or that he wants them sliced/whole/halved- whatever! The carseat issue is awful but so many people go through it- she sounds strong willed and confident, like she’ll move mountains one day. Hang in there, you’re a great mom, I believe she’ll start talking more and you can better parent her. For now it’s trying to guess what she wants, which is probably different from what she wanted yesterday or the day before. Keep doing what YOU feel is right. And cry/have some wine/give yourself a break sometimes. Being a parent is so hard, don’t be too hard on yourself too!

  6. Liz Moss

    I have two girls that are 19 months apart. They have both been challenges in their own ways and Gracie sounds like my youngest, Molly. I love her to pieces but there are times when I want to disavow her as my kid. She is now almost 4 and things are much better but it was bad around 2 and the beginning of 3. She also was very frustrated (and still is) with the lack of her ability to communicate. She would laugh at some of our punishments. But we stayed firm and consistent. We also figured out what her “currency” was and used that as the punishment. If time outs don’t work, then you need to fine something that does (removal of toys, removal of privileges). We also got used to having to leave places without finishing what we were doing. My husband spent many a dinner in the car with her and I have had to leave stores before paying and go back later. And telling her that the reason why we are leaving because she couldn’t behave and not caving for our own convenience. As for positives, she is a “just so” kind of girl, small choices and decisions for her were a big deal. We would let her pick out her color of bowl or dress herself.

    You might also want to take a trip to the doctor and see if there is anything medical that could be setting it off. My oldest has a peanut allergy and when we got that under control, she went from a cranky, sullen kid to the happy go luckiest girl I know. Just know that you are doing the best you can and it is hard for everyone, but it will get better.

  7. Michelle

    Okay Katie- I’m listening to all the responses. If you recall, Henry is 3.5 and Daisy is 23 months. Daisy is my version of your “bean” and Henry is JUST LIKE GRACIE. Seriously. And with preschool being out until Jan. 7th (sobbbb), we’re off routine and truly, I have debated faking an illness to get out of the house for a few days. (yes, I really thought this up so that I wouldn’t have to listen to the screaming, whining and fight the strong will all the time. ALL THE TIME.). Good luck- really. It’s so hard- Henry was just this way starting at 18 months. It’s not any easier BUT when he was more verbal we could work with him more. We also got a timeout pad (amazon has it). It’s great- and controls timeouts in our house. Also, we have a “tantrum zone.” A room that is for screaming, tantrums. Our back porch! (we live in FL so it’s not cruel!). It’s screened and I warn the neighbors. Henry has to go out there if he screams and yells or whines. He can come in when he stops. If he come in and says “I’m done” and then “I’m not done” and keeps screaming, I gently take him by the hand and put him on the porch. I just say when you are done whining, you can come in. I can still keep my eye on him (glass door through the kitchen). I hope this helps and truly, I will be reading EVERY comment for help too!!!! Thanks for posting about this- sometimes I feel like I am NUTS trying to parent two children 21 months apart….especially when they are SO different.

  8. Mae

    I have 2 kids that are 20 months apart. Parker who is just over 3 yrs old was and still is a tough kiddo to parent. Avery who is almost 20 months old is following her brother’s footsteps and is also very stubborn. She sounds just like Gracie! Avery is very strong willed and will cry if she does not get what she wants and when she wants it. She also has an ear piercing shriek, hits when she gets mad, loves time outs. Although I have noticed recently when I tell her that I’m not going to listen/talk to you while you are crying/screaming, she will stop a few seconds later and come to me quietly. It doesn’t happen all the time, but about 70% of the time. I also tell her to use her words or to hold my hand and show me what she wants/needs. If you find any good solutions, please do another post b/c I would be interested to see what works with Gracie since it may also work for Avery!

  9. It sounds like most of the time when Gracie is throwing a tantrum, you know exactly what it is she wants/doesn’t want…so I’m not sure her being any more verbal will help at all. My very verbal 3-year-old is also very particular and fond of the word “no” and throwing fits if she doesn’t get what she wants.

    I’m totally the firm parent and have fought the scream battle for many hours and it is so exhausting. I have no answers except to encourage you to take a break when you need and to stay strong.

    Also, what do they do at daycare? Is she getting a different response there to her demands? Might be something to explore.

  10. Talia Nuckolls

    Sweet, Katie. You are such a good mama. You are training your kids to be wonderful citizens and Christians and people. The one thing I would offer is this….she is still very tiny. Very tiny. Not that behavior can be let go…but she’s tiny. I know you said there’s too much info. But I love

    Also, http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/24/children-who-slap-faces-and-other-fun-behaviors/

    Press on. Grace.

  11. HeatherM

    Do you remember when you wrote about how Bean had all of these emotions and just didn’t know what to do with them yet? It sounds like that is where Gracie is now. I know my MIL’s advice would be “catch them being good.”. With needy kids like this in particular, I know sometimes your instinct is to cherish the quiet or even (gasp) try to accomplish something while they are well distracted and happy. But be intentional about reinforcing her good behaviors, and when she asks for something nicely, says thank you, etc.. I definitely don’t think you are being too hard on Gracie- you are just weary because you haven’t seen much return on your parenting investment with this one yet, but be patient, it will come. It sounds like Gracie also wants some control over her activities and environment and at this age it is not to early to start giving her choices. She may feel this need for control more acutely in part because she is the youngest in a very busy rowdy household. So you can choose two things you can live with and give her the choice (eg do you want to sit here with me or there with daddy), and you can give her jobs to help w/ everyday tasks like meal prep. Make sure you have lots of good routines w/ lots of good cues (eg tv goes off and lights go down 10 min before clean up time, then clean up leads to bath time, etc)- knowing what to expect may help her feel more secure. And I agree w/ one of the comments above to examine how well she is sleeping. If she isn’t sleeping well, talk w/ your pediatrician. My niece had tonsils so big they gave her sleep apnea, and once they were removed she was like a different kid- MUCH calmer and more organized. You are in the trenches now, but it should get a bit better when Gracie turns 2 & becomes more verbal- you’re almost there!

  12. megan

    I didn’t read the previous responses thoroughly, so forgive me if I’m repeating someone. My first child was easy just like yours, my second threw me for a loop! She fought me on EVERYTHING. What you have is a Spirited Child. Read the book “Raising Your Spirited Child” and it will help you gain perspective and figure out what parenting super powers you will need to work with Gracie. You have to be so tricky, and it’s very hard work and mentally draining, but it does get better. And as my pediatrician always told me, she will make a very successful adult! (Which is not very comforting when you’re in the situation.)

  13. Meghan

    I understand your situation…..Colin is a much different child than Emmett, and I think it’s especially hard when the first child was the “easier to parent” one because that’s what you’re expecting with the second. I think second children have an innate desire/tendency to behave differently than the first so they can make their own mark! I don’t have any particular solutions other than patience and to try different tactics…..in fact, I’ll be checking back on these comments to see if I can learn anything myself.

  14. ~B

    Something we’ve done for public tantrums is completely removing our daughter. She went through a stage of exerting her will ALWAYS out in public, it’s as if she knew we’d do whatever she wanted just so we wouldn’t be embarrassed.

    So one day we went to a kid-friendly restaurant with friends. We figured our DD would act up when it was time to sit in her booster seat. Sure enough, it happened. Dh had driven separately as per our plan. When she wouldn’t calm down we told her she would have to leave. She didn’t believe us or wouldn’t calm down so I got up and took her home, all the while reminding her why and that her brother and friends were going to be having a good time without her.

    I have left full grocery carts in the store before, and once I even brought her to a playdate in just her pull up b/c she refused to get dressed. That was the last time she refused to get dressed!

    As for hitting or throwing a tantrum over a book? I would have told her that was the last straw and thrown the book away right in front of her, crying be damned. Hitting is never tolerated in our house. (of course later I would have fished the book out of the garbage and donated it to the library or something.

    I know I sound harsh, but I am a very loving mom. I’m just not into reasoning and choices when tantrums are so extreme. I know it’s good for kids to feel in charge of their lives, etc but behaving in public and not hitting are two basic behaviors that I insist on. Good luck!

  15. Liesel

    You aren’t missing anything. You have to let go of the pride and stay consistent, no matter what. This is just a season for Gracie. (Remember seasons? The depression lifted, this will too.) You both are great parents, doing exactly what you think you should be doing. It. Will. Get. Better. Now go read this for some hope: http://dooce.com/2012/02/02/newsletter-month-ninety-six/

  16. Casey

    It sounds like you know her and you are doing everything you know to do. And good for you that you don’t give in and you tough it out I know its exhausting to hear them cry that long. I could never listen to a tantrum for that long. I would most definately give in. I sometimes have to take a time out. Step outside for a few minutes have a glass of wine, jump in a melt your skin off shower just for 3 min and just take a minute to relax and go back to war with her lol.

  17. Amy

    Buy the book, Parenting Your Spirited Child, and don’t give in. You don’t want to break her spirit, but she needs to learn you are in charge (before she’s 13, right? 🙂 hugs!

  18. Diana

    If you are running out of ideas, maybe it is time for you and your husband to take her to a counselor for small children?

  19. First of all, stop going out in public! No really… Do you HAVE to? I avoid taking out both kids like the plague!
    Second – just hold her! Bean had all of your attention, he didn’t need to share. She just can’t get enough of you. Hold her, calm her, make her laugh!

  20. Kat

    our little Pea-pod who is about Gracie’s age is the same as Bean and it always makes me feel like we’re doing something right but now that I’m pregnant with our second one (and read this) I am terrified that we’re going to get a completely different kid the second time around and no matter what we do, it won’t work. UGHHH I hope you get an answer and when you do, please post it because I am nervous about Peanut changing to a 2 year old and I’m worried that the second one is going to be much harder.

  21. Sara

    Katie, our kids sound so much alike. And isn’t it funny to read the comments and hear that lots of people have similar situations with their firsts vs the seconds? My Peter is a month younger than Bean and made parenting seem easy. Ava is the same age as Gracie (younger by a few hours, I think!) and she is definitely spirited! We had our own “thank you” situation over the holidays when she refused to say sorry for hitting her brother and it took her over a half hour to do it. Thankfully all the family members were supporting and encouraging us as we waited out the screaming and refusals. I don’t think you should feel embarrassed or judged in public when you’re firm with Gracie, I think you’ll find most people are more impressed than annoyed when a parent stands their ground nowadays, and if not than that’s their problem! As we’re in the same boat I don’t have a whole lot of advise, just stay strong and don’t let your own emotions get in the way – you know that this is not a “quick fix” kind of situation, you are molding her into the person she will be and she needs boundaries and consequences to become that. And just be glad that you’ve got your little Bean to even it out 😉

  22. Holy cow – this makes me nervous for #2 in the future. They say you only get one really good child. I’ll be reading the advice given and taking notes. Keep us posted as things improve!

  23. Andrea

    I don’t have any ideas (ours went through this phase from 12 months-20 months and just gradually chilled out), but I just wanted to say I appreciate your blog! I feel like I can get great ideas from you and my fellow readers. It’s nice to read posts from others and know that I’m not in this alone!

  24. Sara Baker

    Hi Katie, I was glad to see that you posted this question. Our 18 month old has a strong personality, but we’ve really been having trouble with our 3 year old. I was hoping some of the suggestions that people left in the comments would be applicable to use with him! I saw this article online today, and I immediately thought of you – is it possible Gracie has food sensitivities, in addition to just being a toddler? http://www.anchoragepress.com/news/the-gluten-made-her-do-it-how-going-gluten-free/article_39e2478e-4585-11e2-a80c-0019bb2963f4.html?TNNoMobile

  25. BeccaK

    My son (and currently my only child) is almost 3 and he and Gracie seem to share a lot in common. I second the “Spirited Child” book wholeheartedly. While it didn’t change my parenting style or my life or my son’s behavior all that much, it DID help me change the way I view his EXTREMELY CHALLENGING behavior. He is just so MUCH: so very adorable, so very caring, so very sweet, so very demanding, so very particular, and so very, very stubborn. But the book reminded me of something very important: all of my son’s more challenging behaviors to parent are traits we admire in adults (persistence, knowing what he wants, etc.), so I’m hanging in there to help him learn to manage his VERYs as well as I can, encouraging him to become the kind of strong-willed adult I’m sure he will grow up to be. Just like your Gracie.

  26. Peggy

    I agree with Megan (12) and Amy (17). I read and re-read that book many times. My husband and I laugh that if we had had our daughter first that would have been it – she is definitely a spirited young lady (now 18). Her older brother (21) has always been the easy one. I would also recommend Wendy Mogel’s book, “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee” – maybe mor for down the road but good for you as a middle school teacher. Good luck!

  27. K

    I third (fourth?) “The Spirited Child.”

    Also curious: What she like at daycare? Does she save these behaviors just for you or is it around her providers as well?

  28. I know you said you are looking for advice, not books, but I have a friend with a son who is a lot like Gracie and said this book made her feel MUCH better and like she wasn’t the problem and her son wasn’t the problem–they just needed a new approach. It’s “The Strong Willed Child” (or “the New Strong Willed Child”) by Dr. James Dobson.
    Good luck finding a new approach that works, Mama–You’re great!

  29. Leslie

    Hi there, Katie. I’ve been a reader since Bean was a baby and I have loved watching your little family grow :). I am not a parent myself, but reading your story made me think of this article:


    I know one of the women quoted in this article who is a loving mom of 4 little ones, and if she says it helped one of hers, it might be worth a shot to look into. I don’t see how it could hurt!

    Good luck and I hope things get better!

  30. Becky

    My first girl is a Gracie.

    One thing that has helped with the car is to tell her that she has to wear the seatbelt to be safe and that I wear one to be safe. I don’t like wearing it either but sometimes we do things we don’t like to stay safe.

    She got it…at about 25 months.

    Good side: she decided to be potty trained at 22 months and simply…was. A few accidents but no real training. So there is that.

  31. JustAng

    I swear we have the same child. I have no answers for you, but I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

  32. Cindy

    I have had the same issues with my little girl, which I have the tendency to blame on her being a girl but now that I read some of the above posts I see that some boys are the same way. My daughter is 4 years old now and just to make you feel better, it does get easier as she is able to communicate more with you. She probably always is going to be a little more on the high maintenance side though. My daughter, Riley, use to have some MAJOR temper tantums and she could scream in the car for hours and hours. So I just would try to avoid traveling with her at all. Now she is still very difficult to travel with but I’ve just learned that either we have to split up the day or we just don’t go anywhere. I think you are doing all the right things, not too much and not too little. As she gets older you just need to find things to motivate her to behave and consequences that will “hit home” for her. Each child is different but with my daughter we put her in time out in her room because she doesn’t like being away from everyone. Keep us updated on her progress. Good luck.

  33. PJ

    2 ideas:

    1) don’t put her in her room for time out/calm down. That’s where her toys are. She learns that if she makes a scene, she can be sent to her room with toys. Try making her sit at the table or somewhere else she can’t have fun.

    2) Punishment/reward system. It might mean that either you Chris have to stay home with her (while the other takes Bean to the park or something); but, once it should help her realize that there are real consequences/rewards for her actions.

    *Disclaimer: I’m not a parent but I can tell you my parent’s didn’t do these things and it was a mistake*

  34. Lindsey


    I’m glad you posted this! I’ve been feeling so frustrated with our second child, she is 14 months. She went from being the most easy going baby to the most crazy opinionated little person I have ever met. I think the worst part about it is that she can’t talk and therefore I can’t give her a piece of my mind! Just kidding – I know I probably annoy her just as much because I too am a fumbling idiot when it comes to parenting her. I thought I was the smartest parent ever after having such success with our first little girl. No. We just got lucky. It’s all luck. The only thing we can control is how we respond. I’m trying to tough it out and just make sure she knows I love her. In other news, we were trying for baby number 3 and now we’re NOT. Taking a little bit bigger break before we subject a poor innocent newborn to this chaos. And I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little afraid that #3 will be like #2 and that just ain’t something I’m comfortable with!

  35. I would look into changing her diet as well – specifically gluten, food dyes, maybe soy??

  36. Pretty sure at least one of mine (Reagan) was like that but I’ve blocked the toddler years so I have no advice that’s truly helpful. For you in public though, when she’s pitching a fit just say loudly, “When we get back to your house I’m going to tell your mommy about this.”
    Then people are judging some other, unseen woman and not you. 😉
    (Yes I’ve really done that – more than once.)

  37. Erin

    What a good Mama you are, Katie! So many parents just get frustrated and get rough with their kids or yell at them. I can tell you are being really intentional and loving in your reactions to Gracie. One of the reasons I enjoy your blog so much is because you are such a great parent: you have high expectations, you are consistent, and you and Chris really seem to work together. I have no advice for you other than to pray, pray, pray for patience and wisdom! I’ll pray along with you! 🙂

  38. Wow Gracie and Sullivan could be tantrum twins. It started when he was almost two and is still going strong. I hate to say we’ve given in but we sort of have. He hated going anywhere out and I was so done with him screaming or throwing food at people, we never go out to eat anymore. Good for the waistline and wallet but it just sucks because he was so good for so long. At this point, Mike and I just consider it surviving. We know it’s a phase but damn does it suck. Good luck!

  39. A

    You’re a great mama and she’s a great kid. Hang in there! One article I came across last month in my own searching that has made a big impact on my thinking is http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/positive-discipline/use-positive-discipline . It’s in some ways a totally different approach (including no time outs, which at first ran counter to my thinking until I thought hard about it). Maybe it would work better for Gracie’s temperament?

  40. BM

    Do you not spank? Why keep dragging them to time out when a spanking would get the point across. I know some don’t approve but there is a differnce in spanking and beating. Like the Bible says spare the rod spoil the child. The child behavior, if no medical or physical problems shouldn’t keep anyone from going out to eat or to town as some of the others have done. Your the parent, it’s your responsibility to teach the child how to act in public not cave because they misbehave. Spank when they misbehave and they will learn the acceptable behavior.

  41. Meredith

    Katie, to help your sanity can you give gracie some sensory “therapy” when she’s having a meltdown? Rice box or sand box play, beanbag chairs, weighted blankets, swingtime? It can be helful for all if when she’s being corrected that she has a place to go to refocus herself. It certainly won’t “fix” the behaviors but might curb the length of the tantrums. Best of luck to you!

  42. Beanie & Gracie's Nana

    If you put her up for sale on eBay, I’ll buy her. . . whatever it costs!

  43. turner

    Moms on Call No Nonsense Toddler Book! Love it!!!!!!

  44. dessi

    Oh how this post scares me..lol! My son, who is almost 11 month is Mr. Perfect. Everyone is shocked at how happy and easy he is. And I’m always told the 2nd one will be the kicker! I don’t have any good advice for you…just keep praying!

  45. April in TX

    I went through a phase with my twins where they would scream in the car ALL THE TIME. A teacher friend of mine gave me a great idea she tried with her strong willed child. The next time they wouldn’t stop screaming, I pulled over into a parking lot and got out of the car. I told them I’d come back in the car when they stopped screaming. And then, I just waited.
    It was frustrating b/c I was coming home from a LONG day teaching, but I had to stop the cycle. I was happily enjoying myself. When they were done screaming, I got back in and we were on our way afte a very short explanation that they were hurting my ears and I couldn’t do that anymore.
    I only had to do it a few times. On the times when only one was throwing a fit, the other one and I would get out together.
    Anyway, it worked for me and my friend. So, it might work for just that part.
    She is just a beautiful girl and I know you love her. Keep up the hard work. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and whatever you do now won’t fix everything, nor will it ruin her for life. We’ve all been there girl.

  46. Alyssa K.

    Yay I found you! I lost you for a couple of years but then you popped in to my brain and I was able to google “marriage blog with the bean” and found ya! I wish I had some advice for you. My little girl is an extremely challenging toddler to parent, also.

  47. Natalie

    I’m not a mom yet so when I read your post the other day I didn’t have anything to offer. However, I follow “100 Days of Real Food” on Facebook. Today, she posted this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heidi-brod/sensory-processing-disorder_b_1326858.html. I’m not sure if Gracie has all of the same symptons as the child in the article, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to share.

  48. september

    After living with my son for the past six years I’ve decided that qualities to make the most driven and highly successful adult really, really suck in a toddler.

  49. Christy

    My son, the oldest, has always been easy going and mellow. Then I had my daughter. It sounds like Gracie is exactly like her! I spent over 2.5 years listening to her scream every time we got in the car. The worst was a two hour trip where she didn’t stop screaming for even a single second. My advice is to stay the course, don’t give in even when you are feeling like you are too hard. She is smart, stubborn, and knows her mind and these qualities will make her a force to be reckoned with as an adult. And she will mellow as she gets older. My girl is 6 now and so much fun to be around. She still knows how to push our buttons and work us like a puppeteer, but she can now use words to accomplish this instead of screaming. And she can laugh about it when we call her on it. 😉

  50. SharonFaye

    Wow! Reading this brings back memories. My first (Jacob) was an EASY baby. Which was very good for me, because I ended up being a single mom before he was a year old and I was barely 21. My ex-husband didn’t want to be involved and, looking back, I’m grateful. Jacob started sleeping through the night at 4 weeks old (10pm-6am). Everyone told me how unusual that was, but he put himself on a little schedule and it didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing. His internal clock just said, eat now, sleep now. I never had to tell that child “no” more than once. He never questioned me when I told him “no.” He played well with others, but he was just as content playing by himself with his legos or cars. Ten years later, I had remarried and had my second child (Dakota). Oh. My. Goodness! If I had Dakota first, I’m not sure I would have had any more children. He was colicky from 10pm-3am for the first 2 months. No one slept. If the windows were open, the neighbors didn’t sleep. Dakota’s first words weren’t “mama” or “dada” – they were “I want out!” He didn’t like being IN anything. Playpen, forget it. Crib, nothing doing. Swing… only if he was VERY tired. Carseat? Forget. It. Like Gracie, Dakota was very extreme in his emotions and his opinions and very vocal about them. I also had to put him in the carseat one morning wearing only his pullup because he refused to get dressed and I had to get to work. It was quite amusing to see a 3 1/2 year old try to get partially dressed while strapped in his carseat before I got to daycare for fear someone would see him in his underwear. I didn’t have to argue with him to get dressed after that. He was a handful. But, like his older brother, he was FUNNY and kind and smart. Completely different personalities and temperaments, but oh, wow… I wouldn’t change a thing. And now that he is a teenager? Well… I don’t have to worry about him “following the crowd” to fit in. He is extremely independent. Now Lydia (our baby of the family) was kind of a cross between the other two. Thank Heaven!

  51. Annemari

    I think it is a boy/girl thing. Girls are much more emotional than boys. I am experiencing exactly the same thing. I don’t know what to do about my girls tantrums. She get’s difficult when we leave the house. I never had that with my boy. All that I can say is good luck and that you are not alone. Hopefully it will pass when they get older.

  52. Julie

    I second “A”s comment on focusing on positives. Some kids don’t respond to time outs as well as others. Maybe going really heavily in the other direction and praising all of her little cooperative behaviours would help.
    Just a thought! Good luck!

  53. Mallory

    Not that I have kids and know this first-hand, but in one of my classes recently I learned about punishments that actually sometimes reward the negative behavior (like sending Gracie to time out, which she actually wants). I know Gracie has no concept of time since she’s only 22 months, so this may not be effective with her yet, but in my class we discussed how you can still be in control by telling saying, “Do you need a break? Okay, in one minute, you may have a break.” And if you’re consistent they will learn to wait and that you are in control…and you are able to increase the time that they have to wait before the break from the activity/situation. I haven’t gotten to try this yet with any of my kids in the clinic, but it’s worth a shot. I’ve heard it’s effective.

  54. […] I blogged a few weeks ago asking for help with Gracie.  Chris and I were at the end of our rope as to how to handle her, but you all gave us some really great advice.  Here are the things we are using now, thanks to you all: […]

  55. […] weeks ago, I blogged asking you all for some help with my tiny spitfire, Gracie.  She was becoming more than Chris and I could handle, and we were […]

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