Family: stickers for days

A couple of days ago, we brought back something that I’d been hesitant to implement: the good ol’ behavior chart. (We had tried it in the past with stickers, but didn’t really keep track of them because after a couple of days Liv lost interest.) It just feels weird to me to track behavior? I don’t know. It’s not even a store-bought or fancy one. It’s one that I scrawled out on a piece of scrapbooking paper and gave her some crayons to decorate. It was past 10pm on a weeknight, and I was looking for anything that might bring some positive results to the latest parenting *thing* we’re experiencing.

Don’t pin this. haha.

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I’ve learned that parenting is all stages. You move through a challenging stage, get the hang out it, and then switch gears to the next thing. It definitely keeps you on your toes. 😉

I’ve kind of alluded to this on the main page of the blog, but we’re still going through some transitional challenges after P’s birth. I’ve been talking with my friends about it, and Betsy had a great point: during the height of P’s reflux, my own medical issues (and constant doctors’ appointments between the two of us), Liv handled it all like a champ. Sure, there were some initial growing pains (especially when we first brought P home and P was crying/vomiting nonstop), but for the most part, Liv has gone through the transition exceptionally well. Now that things have stabilized a bit with P’s reflux under control, my surgery scheduled, and life easing into our new normal routine (for now), I think it’s all starting to set in. We’re having bit of a challenging time.

It all really started while I was pregnant. Liv started waking up in the middle of the night and crawling into bed with us. I understood because I used to do the same thing when I was little. I didn’t want to wake up my parents, so I’d sleep in the laundry basket at the foot of their bed. I just wanted to be close to them. When Liv started doing the same thing, and crawling into our bed, I savored every second, because I knew myself that things would be changing (and the guilt of going from one baby to two is REAL). As I got more pregnant, enormous, and uncomfortable, something had to change. So, we got Liv her own cot and put it in our room next to our bed. We told Liv she’s welcome to come into our room at any time and sleep in the cot.

Then, the middle-of-the-night tantrums started. Sometimes they’re about big things (like being scared or needing to use the bathroom) and other times, they’re about losing a toy.. which happens to be on the pillow next to her. The tantrums also started happening during the day, and nothing has worked to help them. I’ve tried everything: acknowledging her feelings, hugging it out, taking a time out with her (to breathe and calm down then discuss what happened. This used to work really well, and doesn’t anymore), taking toys/TV away, positive reinforcement when she doesn’t throw tantrums, the list goes on and on. Also, 99% of the time, the tantrums occur while P is sleeping, so then I have two screaming babies on my hands haha. Thankfully, the tantrums are just for Tom and myself, because at school and ballet, she’s a great listener for her teachers, kind to her friends, and fantastic for our babysitter.

At first, I was frustrated, especially because I love sleep so much and P was sleeping through the night. But, I remembered:

While she’s so big, Liv is still a baby. 

It must be hard to be four, dealing with an entire dynamic change, magnified by a new family member who currently has a lot of needs. Her tantrums are her way of getting our attention. In the middle of the night when P’s sleeping, it’s just her, and us. 

So Tom and I talked a lot about it, and came up with a game plan:

1) Behavior chart. Every night that she goes to sleep without a tantrum and doesn’t cry when she comes into our room during the night, she gets a sticker. After a certain amount of stickers, she gets a new toy. Her huge milestone (20 stickers) is a day at Legoland, which she’s been begging to visit.

2) Carve out special time with Liv, especially when she comes home from school. It can be something like playing dollies or Playdoh, a walk around the neighborhood, or something fun before I start dinner. Once a week, Tom or myself will take Liv on a special Liv-only date. This one is really important for me, because while I have both kiddos during the week, I very rarely get time with just Liv. 

3) Continue to be direct without blaming or becoming emotionally attached to the tantrums. When she throws a tantrum, I have no reason to be sad or offended by it, because it’s not personal. Before, I was really letting them affect me. It made me feel like I was failing as a mom, and also broke my heart because she’d cry so much. Now, I’m trying to remain objective, try to determine what sets her off, and show her as much love as I can.

I’d love to hear any insight you have, or things that helped your own family. I’ve also heard that the fours can be rough in general. My mom said I drove her up the wall until I was 5, and then I was magically normal again. 😉



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  1. Erica on March 9, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Well, my son is only six months so I won’t be much help! I am currently reading Whole Brain Child and it’s all about connecting with children who are too young to really understand reason and logic still. It sounds like you had tried every possible thing, but you may have tried too many different approaches at once. I’d try sticking to just one style for a while. We just went through that with sleep training and everything I read really emphasized giving an approach at least two weeks before saying it’s not working.

    • Jamie on March 9, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      Yes, it’s so important to try something for a while before revaluating. I’m a teacher, and they always tell us to give a new academic or behavior management idea 6 weeks before trying something new. It can be tough, especially because it usually gets worse before it gets better. It sounds like you’re doing everything you can, so just keep showing her that love! You’re doing an amazing job, mama!!

      • Fitnessista on March 9, 2016 at 9:01 pm

        awesome tips- thank you so much <3

        • queenoffitness on March 10, 2016 at 11:54 am

          Couldn’t agree more with the ladies above! Always give something time. So many of the teachers I work with proclaim “See I told you this wouldn’t work” after two days of implementing a new behavior plan. Just remember it takes 21 days to develop a new habit.
          I also want to add one more thing, I think you alluded to it above but make sure the initial goals are attainable so she experiences success. For example, in week 1 she has to get 2 out of 7 stickers (or whatever number) to get a small reward then when she hits that goal consistently, raise the stakes a bit. Also, ask her to identify rewards she wants. This is such an important step! You would be surprised how easy kids are to please. Our kids at school say things like “10 minutes of iPad time,” “lunch with the teacher in the room,” “10 minutes of extra recess.” This also helps her be involved in the whole process.

          • Fitnessista on March 10, 2016 at 11:10 pm

            i love the idea to have her choose the reward! you’re right, sometimes they want something super simple

  2. Alexis caldwell on March 9, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    You have just written a blog post about my life. I have a four year old daughter and an 18 month old son. My daughter drives me absolutely bonkers and throws tantrums all day long. I have a hard time not getting upet about her tantrums. Most of the time I have no idea what is wrong with her or its about something so small I didn’t even notice. (I grabbed the green pencil instead of the pink ones) I have had multiple people stop me while I am out with her and they have all said that their children that gave them a hard time as a toddler were angels as teenagers. So… there is hope. 🙂

    • Fitnessista on March 9, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      i’m sorry to hear you’re going through it too.. but also kind of glad to hear i’m not alone 😉
      hahah thank you for the hope, too. hang in there, mama!!

  3. Lauren on March 9, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    We’re going through the exact same thing so I’m eager to see everyone’s responses. My daughter is 3 and has gone through a lot of changes this past fall – new house, new school and I’m also pregnant with our second. She wakes up screaming every. Single. Night. And comes in our bed. Like you said, I don’t mind her sleeping in bed with us but when the baby comes it’s gonna be less than ideal. We tried bribing her with this loft bed she wants from ikea but it’s not working. Can’t wait to hear other responses!

  4. Katherine on March 9, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    My daughter is 3.5 and has had terrible tantrums. We were doing Love and Logic which has its merits but I tweeked it a little. I realized two truths. One my daughter needed to be spoken to while she was calm about he behavior and on her level. We tend to think our kid is so smart and while that may be true… Still a kid. So I IGNORE THE TANTRUM. I go dumb and deaf. I do tell her I’ll talk to her when she calms down and just go about my business. I mean I do this totally. It’s worked! Then when she is calm I get on her level, tell her how sad tantrums make me and that I am no longer listening to them. She then goes to time out for three minutes where she can see me. If she refuses she goes to her room for thinking time until she can be a big girl. The second thing I learned, which was hard, was I wasn’t LISTENING to her. As in I was half with her. I was thinking about x or looking at my phone or whatever. So she would get frustrated that she wasn’t being heard. Being all in when I am with her has helped so much. It also makes me feel not guilty when I then say , G, mommy needs to do chores now so you need to give mommy time and go play or whatever.

    • Fitnessista on March 9, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      brilliant. i will ignore and see what happens. knock on wood, we haven’t had one in a couple of days.
      these are all awesome times. thank you so much <3

  5. Colleen on March 9, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your lack of sleep!! I mine are 3 1/2 and 1, and they both wake each other up allllllll the time, whether on purpose or accidentally and it is so frustrating…
    I haven’t had to start using charts with my kids yet, but I saw this program and it sounds pretty awesome. I don’t think I’ll purchase it, but it has lots of good ideas to borrow!

    • Fitnessista on March 9, 2016 at 9:01 pm

      i will definitely check into that. thank you!!

  6. Kristen on March 9, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Honestly (contrarian view ahead!) I think you should remove the cot and have her sleep in her own room. Your relationship with Tom is more important than your relationship with your kids – the two of you need to be healthy to give them a stable, happy, healthy upbringing. And having children in your bedroom at night eliminates a crucial boundary.
    I have an eight year old and know a lot of parents with 8-12 year old kids. There are a lot of kids still sleeping with Mom and Dad at these ages, and there is just no good reason for that!
    I’m sure the idea of putting her back in her own room seems totally daunting, but she will rise to the challenge (after some tough nights, to be sure). It’s so important to keep a long term view during the short term crazies! One day at a time, mama.

    • Fitnessista on March 9, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      thank you for the tips and advice! i guess it works for some families, but there’s no way we could have an 8-12 year old sleeping in our room hahaha. currently she’s not allowed to fall asleep in our room (just can come in during the night or early in the am when we’ve already had a chance to hang out for a while and fall asleep), but we definitely may look into taking the cot out. you’re right though- it does seem daunting

    • Katie on March 12, 2016 at 8:15 am

      I completely agree. Your bedroom is your and Tom’s space. Letting her sleep in your room is letting her have her way. Kids have their own rooms for a reason 🙂

  7. Amy on March 9, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    You seem like an amazing mama and it is so hard to lose sleep! I do second the last posters opinion regarding sleeping in bed with you. It’s so much easier to just have and keep that boundary of the kids sleeping in their own room. I do cuddle with my kids in their bed before they go to sleep and I do cherish that since I’m sure it won’t be for much longer. My kids are 9 and 11 now (which I can’t even believe!) and I can say those tantrum and tough sleep phases can and do pass. good luck!! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on March 9, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      i totally agree. she has to fall asleep in her own room, but we let her come in early in the morning or during the middle of the night to sleep in her cot
      thank you! i’m definitely ready for this stage to be over

  8. Erin on March 9, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    We are entering the toddler years over here, I’m interested to see what’s around the bend lol
    Last night our little one had an intense emotional breakdown when I cut off her raisin supply after dinner. I really like the book How to talk so your kids will listen, but implementation is half the battle! Good luck with everything!

    • Fitnessista on March 9, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      thank you- good luck to you too!

  9. Alison on March 9, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    You are doing a great job. As a mom of older kids I gotta agree with the two other ladies. Everyone sleeps in their own room. It’s hard but so important to have boundaries. You and your husband seem to have a great relationship but it’s so important to remember that in 18 ish years it will just be you and him. Mom & Dad always come first.
    As for tantrums, we just ignored them completely. I let them know we could talk when they calm down but it’s the real world and losing your mind is just not ok. BUT, that was tough love in the moment of chaos. What really helped was giving more attention the other 99% of the time.
    Good luck! This too shall pass and in hindsight it will seem like it flew by so fast.

    • Fitnessista on March 9, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      i totally agree! this is why she has to go to bed in her own room, she’s not allowed to fall asleep in our bed or in the cot. she can come in during the night though, which is always after we’ve been sleeping for a while or early in the morning
      thank you for the luck! i appreciate it. i will definitely try to ignore it more often too

      • Katie on March 12, 2016 at 8:18 am

        Hi Gina,

        I feel like you are missing the point of a lot of the comments that state kids should sleep in their own rooms. Kids sleeping in their own rooms does not mean they are allowed to sleep in the cot in your room, even if they come in during the night

        • Fitnessista on March 12, 2016 at 10:31 am

          Yes, I totally understand that but know that locking our door or telling liv she can’t come in at all wouldn’t work for our family. I used to do the same thing and remember feeling scared and having anxiety about it, so I know exactly how she feels. I grew out of it. We don’t have a problem with her coming in- it’s the occasional crying when she loses a toy or has a bad dream

          • J on March 19, 2016 at 7:02 pm

            I have 4 kids oldest 6 youngest 9 mths i say do what works for the moment for your family our “routine” always changes according to everyones needs. We managed to have first 3 kids sleep in cribs and in their own rooms then at some point it all changed and has kept changing one in our room another one coming in and on and on and really we are ok because being at this whole pregnancy kid thing for 6 years we realize every kid is different and has different needs at different times. Yes we need our own adult time which we make room for maybe not ideal but we laugh it all off. Anyways what i am trying to say is everything eventually comes to a new phase we hav had acid reflux with last baby and my oldest did not sleep through night till he was 3.. My new baby had reflux and did not nap longer then 10 min and does not sleep through night still he will wake 7-8 times. When he wakes 3 times i am so excited(which is really twisted). But being that we have been doing this for different babes and for 6 years we realize it will not last forever and things change constantly. So if kids are in your room for the moment embrace it and tell yourself this is not forever..

          • Fitnessista on March 20, 2016 at 2:20 pm

            that is so true. i feel like once we get the hang of something or into a routine, it changes anyway. i don’t mind her in our room at all but am trying to figure out the tantrum control.

  10. Jaime on March 9, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    That sounds like a great plan! My son was 4 when we added another sibling to our family- it was a tough transition. My sweet boy turned into a monster! Only temporarily though. We are now going through it again; the baby is 3 1/2 and has to welcome 2 new baby sisters. I am seeing the exact same behaviors his older brother had. Positive reinforcement has helped so much! Hang in there Mama- you got this!

  11. Lindsy on March 9, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    Lol what a spoiled brat. Poor kid will be a snob and not understand what it’s like to have manners rules and control.

    • Fitnessista on March 9, 2016 at 8:50 pm

      it sounds like you have excellent manners and control

      • Julie on March 15, 2016 at 7:16 am

        I was so appalled by Lindsy’s comment… then I read your response & LOL’d! Perfect! <3

        • Fitnessista on March 15, 2016 at 10:53 am


    • Alex on March 10, 2016 at 4:17 am

      Obviously you have no children…4 year Olds throw tantrums, especially when their world has been turned upside-down! Why be ugly? There’s no need for that.

    • Kim on March 10, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      What a nasty comment! As a parent, I appreciate when Gina posts motherhood topics and talks about her challenges. I would rather read this than “my kid is perfect and we have no problems!” Yet you leave a nasty comment…shame on you! Ignore this gina

  12. Aimie C on March 9, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me…I had a baby girl about a week before you had yours and also have a 26 month old girl. There has definitely been some rough moments for my 2 year old since bringing the baby home (which we totally anticipated)….but since I went back to work a week and a half ago….things have escalated to a whole new level. Tantrums over EVERTHING. I like your advice about detaching yourself from the tantrum. I tend to take the whole thing personally and always end up feeling like a complete failure as a parent. (Which is just silly and not accurate). And the guilt felt is legit. I am working on trying to remain calm, letting her get it all out, waiting until she has calmed down a bit and then attempting to talk it out. I feel like my daughter is the worst for me and thankfully behaves very good for her daycare peeps and for the other people in her life. It is obviously her way of getting some attention from her parents. Good luck to you Gina…I look forward to words of wisdom from you and your readers about this:)

  13. Catherine on March 10, 2016 at 4:26 am

    You are doing a great job, good luck with the reward system! We are seeing the same things with our four year old (who also got a new baby sister seven weeks ago). Tantrums over eeevvvvveerryyything. Even things that have always been our normal routine – ie, going home right after school and not to a play area. Not being able to wear princess shoes to school. You name it. Going deaf and dumb as mentioned above has helped us. She gets tired of receiving no response or reaction and is usually the first to climb up and want a hug and to apologize. We will look back on these days eventually and it will all seem like such a small bump in the road.

  14. Cara on March 10, 2016 at 5:43 am

    First of all, you and Tom are doing an amazing job with your girls, so know that it’s not you, it’s her being 4, haha! I love the idea of the chart and some one on one time, it’s so hard to do, but so important! My girls are 15, 12 and 9, and we try to get that alone time with each of them.

    One thing I want to mention, is that when our youngest was 3, she started doing these tantrums and it made me insane for about a year and a half. I tried everything. We ended up finding out she had something called Ketotic Hypoglycemia. Basically her blood sugars were completely out of whack. Once we got the blood sugars under control, her tantrums almost stopped completely (but not all together, she was still a 4 year old!!)! It was seriously like having a completely different child. Just want to throw that out there…

    Hugs to you!

    • Fitnessista on March 10, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      that is so interesting to hear, because i’ve noticed when liv has more sugar than usual, the tantrums are more frequent. may be something to explore! did they just do a simple blood test?

      • Cara on March 11, 2016 at 5:21 am

        Actually one morning she slept really late which was very unusual for her. I went to wake her up and she was so lethargic, could even stand up on her own. I fed her some waffles and she perked up pretty quickly but we decided to take her to her pediatrician anyway. Her blood sugar ended up being 360. We were sent straight to pediatric icu with the diagnosis of diabetes. They took her blood sugar once we got there and it was 60 ( it should have been over 500 by that point orbit was diabetes). Throughout the night it went from 60-180 and back down. That’s when we got the diagnosis.

        • Fitnessista on March 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

          WOW. way to go on that mama intuition. if it persists, i’m going to ask the doc for a blood sugar test

  15. mary on March 10, 2016 at 6:07 am

    I think you’re doing the right thing with the cot. I didn’t have that issue with mine but her best friend across the street had horrible anxiety from fear of being alone in her room at night and her parents refused to let her sleep in their room so it just got worse and worse. Eventually she was seeing a doctor for stomach issues from the anxiety. Just seems like a stupid boundary. They’re our kids, they need love and support when they need it, whether it’s 3am or 11am.

    • Fitnessista on March 10, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      that was really interesting and helpful to read. i felt the same way when i was little, and being away from my parents made me anxious. i always felt better when i was in the room with them.
      i like giving liv the comfort of knowing she can come in if she needs to. hopefully she’ll just ditch the screaming part when she comes in haha 😉

  16. Karen on March 10, 2016 at 6:19 am

    This looks like a great plan……but……One slip up on the parents part can and probably will ruin it… FOLLOW THROUGH.

    I watch parents everyday in my profession say things they don’t follow through on or do the famous countdown to #3 warning but that famous #3 has a much bigger pause in between it than 1 and 2 did that they ultimately never get to #3. This allows your child to realize very quickly that mom or dad will not be firm with there rules and then the child will never really get the message.

    What your experiencing is totally normal…..this too shall pass in time.
    Good luck until then.

  17. Reshma on March 10, 2016 at 6:21 am

    My mother-in-law has the best motto to handle tantrums: Ignored behavior goes away. I have six nieces and nephews on that side of the family (and my own kid) – works every time! Grandmas are smart.

  18. Brittany on March 10, 2016 at 6:34 am

    I am not yet a mom (well to human kids), but I am a school psychologist/behaviorist, and I think of them as my kids! 🙂 I think that you’ve thought of some good ideas and have figured out that attention is the function/reason she is tantrumming… I would suggest that you pay as little attention to the tantrum as possible — acknowledge and validate her feelings (or identify them for her) and what caused it, but then walk away. Giving her attention for the tantrums, if that’s what she’s really looking for, is only reinforcing her behavior. Consistently praise her for appropriate behaviors (or even approximations of appropriate behaviors, if needed) – and you’ve already planned out ways to increase positive time with her –awesome! 🙂 Making her a visual for coping skills may also be helpful — that way she can pick one, and it gives her some control.

    You’re doing great Mama — this too shall pass — at least for a little while 😉

    • AD on March 19, 2016 at 1:44 am

      I have similar issues with my 3.5 year old twins, one of them tantrums a few times a day over the smallest things. I have a 6mo old baby as well– so my question to everyone who says “ignore the behavior” is this: how can I ignore it when it upsets the baby, and he follows me around the house screaming? I don’t think that’s acceptable and ignoring it means allowing it to continue. Insight anyone?

      • Fitnessista on March 20, 2016 at 2:24 pm

        i was wondering it, too. i tried this a couple of times (because i’m willing to try pretty much everything) and she FREAKED OUT. she grabbed onto my leg like a leech and was screaming at me. when i tried to walk away, she continued to hold onto my leg. ignoring was not the answer for us haha
        and you’re right, it’s SO HARD with a baby. because once liv starts screaming, it freaks out p and she starts crying too

        • AD on March 20, 2016 at 11:27 pm

          Yes! Me too. He hangs on to me, follows me around, etc despite me physically picking him up and putting him in his bed/ on couch/ wherever repeatedly.. He’s determined! Ah!

          • Fitnessista on March 21, 2016 at 10:11 am

            same. i think it works for some people/kids, but not for others. i think it makes liv even more angry

  19. Kristin on March 10, 2016 at 6:47 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and the first thing I have to say is that this is the first time I’ve seen someone post something nasty. I think you have an amazing group of followers and you my friend are amazing yourself. Sad to see that someone thought it was necessary to post something negative. Says more about them though than anyone else. Secondly, I do not have children but I was lucky enough to teach for a few years out of college and my experience with young children is that there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s a constant phase of trial and error. What works for one family might not work for yours, but keep trying at you will find a solution. Basically teaching taught me one thing… that kids who are raised by kind, loving, giving individuals grow up to be kind, loving, giving individuals. You and the Pilot are doing a fantastic job and will continue to do that! This is just a little bump in the road. Thank you for sharing your experiences too for all of us mothers-to-be (hopefully soon).

    • Fitnessista on March 10, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      thank you so much for reading for so long <3 you're right- everyone over here is generally kind, compassionate, fun, and insightful. i'm so thankful for such a great group of virtual friends to hang out with every day 🙂
      thank you so much for the wonderful comment. i appreciate your sweet words so much!
      hope you have a great weekend <3

  20. ErikaMC on March 10, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Our son is 4.5 and he went through a stage of ‘tantrums’ also. I think it’s natural and normal for kids to go through. They have a lot to process and learn and it’s a lot for them. One thing that did seem to work and help him get over his fits the best was to just ignore them – kids do not like to be ignored so you’d think that would escalate the problem but when they realize they aren’t getting attention they will switch tactics and calm down (most of the time). I think the sticker chart is a good idea and we have used them for different things – they aren’t long term which I think is good that they know eventually they are expected to act a certain way or do certain things without rewards.

  21. Allison on March 10, 2016 at 7:28 am

    I have a 4 yr old son and a 2 yr old daughter……so we are now in the stage where they both have tantrums about basically nothing. Its really, really, exhausting! One thing we’ve tried for sleeping is making a lavender spray-just a little spray bottle with about 10 drops of lavender oil and water-we spray it on their blankets and around their bed at night. We tell them it keeps the monsters away (the monsters don’t like the smell!) and it also helps them relax. There are other oils that are good for helping kids sleep and relax too, we have one that we put on our kids toes before bed and now they both ask for it if we forget :). Things are definitely not perfect around here but I do think the oils have helped with sleeping, so might be worth looking into! Good luck, and just remember its temporary and before you know it both kids will be moving out 🙁

  22. Cindy on March 10, 2016 at 11:16 am

    My mom used to use a tape recorder and tape record my tantrums and then when they were over make me listen to them so I could understand that I was being obnoxious, that she couldn’t understand what I was upset about and that using words was a much better way to communicate. It came to a point where if I started she would just ask me “do i have to get the tape recorder out” and that would put an end to it or I would realize I had to explain my frustrations without all the drama. With phones now, you could even record a video and play it back.

  23. Kristen on March 10, 2016 at 11:45 am

    It’s amazing how one little human can make you want to laugh, scream, pull your hair out, cover them in kisses, cry, and give them the biggest hug ever all at the same time! Being a parent is such a roller coaster ride.
    I definitely have to jump on the “ignore the tantrum” train. My son, who just turned 4, went through a brief stage like this. It’s very hard to reason with an upset child so we would just very firmly tell him,”I know you’re upset, but I’m not talking to you until you calm down. You need to stop yelling and stop crying. When you can do that, come let me know and we can talk.” It really didn’t take long for him to realize his tantrums were getting him nowhere.
    I would also talk to my son about his behavior in a very casual non-lecturing way when we were just hanging out coloring or doing puzzles. He opened up more and he really listened to me.
    I still use this method. We solve quite a few problems with our little random casual chats. 🙂
    You guys will get through this<3

    • Fitnessista on March 10, 2016 at 11:10 pm

      you are so right! SUCH a roller coaster ride 🙂
      i love the idea to bring it up casually during our chats. usually when we’re playing or coloring together, she tells me so much. it will be a nice way to bring it up when we’re not in the moment.

  24. queenoffitness on March 10, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Sorry, just one more thing…because behavior stuff is my jam. Since Liv is 3/4 I would focus on eliminating the most prevalent issue first and state it in plain terms and I would call the chart “that” (For example “I slept in my bed” chart) instead of a good behavior chart. I try not to use the terms good and bad attached to behavior. Once that behavior is eliminated, add the next goal. As the school psychologist poster mentioned above behavior is an action with a function. What is she gaining from engaging in this behavior? As others have mentioned, planned ignoring is a great strategy and as others have mentioned, she needs to be sleeping in her own bed. While she does fall asleep in her own bed, she experienced some kind of reward by coming into your room each night. A night or two here or there if she is Ill and needs help is not a negative thing, but get rid of that cot. You could also try with a shrug of your shoulders the “doctor” route and tell her “the doctor said I had to get rid of the cot and you have to sleep in your own bed like other boys and girls your age. you cannot come into our room.” Say “I have to do what the doctor tells me.” You could also add, “The doctor also says that daddy and I have to lock our bedroom door at night and can’t open it until morning” (if you have one). If she tries to come into your room, you will have to take her back. This may happen over and over but she will get the message loud and clear. Your bed is for you and the pilot. Also, remember she is still in the egocentric phase and considers herself to be the center of the universe. All children do at this age! Good luck! Be consistent and follow through with consequences you can implement.

  25. Liz on March 10, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    I worked with 3, 4 and 5-year-olds for years, and the best tantrum approach I ever found was to tell them very earnestly, “Sweetie, I can’t understand you when you’re crying. Can you take a deep breath and try again?” Kids SO badly want to be heard and understood, so they typically pull themselves together very quickly so they can tell you what’s wrong! I don’t personally love the ignore approach because I don’t think you get anywhere with the behavior unless you acknowledge it somehow – the trick is to redirect it and not reinforce it. I like this approach better than the ignore approach because you’re simultaneously teaching them that they can’t communicate with tantrums, while also making an effort to hear them out. The exception is when they’re exhausted beyond reason or throwing a tantrum about something realllly stupid – that you can and should just plain ignore. Thank you for posting about these topics – I love to hear what everyone has to say!

    • Fitnessista on March 10, 2016 at 11:07 pm

      this is a brilliant tip- thank you! i will definitely try this next time. i have a hard time ignoring her when she has a tantrum, because she obviously needs something. unless, like you said, it’s something totally ridiculous.
      i’ve really enjoyed reading the comments, too. so many wonderful tips and stories here!
      have a great weekend <3

  26. Kim on March 10, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Question Gina….is Liv whiny? I’m asking because my 3.5 year old is making me crazy with the whining! I am having such a difficult time dealing with it!

    • Fitnessista on March 10, 2016 at 11:05 pm

      yes!! she tries to start whining, but we make her repeat what she’s saying politely and in a normal voice. it seems to work for the most part! i can’t stand whining, either

  27. Laura Ann on March 10, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    You are doing SUCH a good job. You guys are being so thoughtful in your strategies. Different things work for different kids. But, I’ll tell you – #2 is powerful! It is always the first thing I suggest with parents.
    You have really analyzed the situation and you know your daughter. So, the cot is a beautiful way to help her through this adjustment.
    In the past, I coached parents to ignore tantrums. But the research is demonstrating that it’s a quick fix, short-term solution. The stuff you guys are doing can take longer, but in the long run, she will be better able to regulate herself – because you are helping her to “co-regulate” rather than leaving her on her own to calm down, which can trigger a “fight, flight, or freeze” response – just not great for long-term outcomes. Although, let’s be real, sometimes you just gotta ignore or even walk away, and that’s okay! As someone mentioned, The Whole Brain Child is awesome. Another good book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Child (as well as one called Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings – has a lot of good tips for young siblings). Janet Lansbury also has a podcast, which is little Q&A snippets (your #3 reminds me of her philosophy). Bravo to you!

    • Laura Ann on March 10, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Oh geez, the ignoring part came out wrong. Not all ignoring triggers that response, and there are ways to ignore that can be really helpful and not harmful at all. Also, sometimes for the our own sanity, we parents need to disengage! Anyway, don’t want to make anyone feel bad for ignoring! That was not my intention. Okay, bye. 🙂

      • Fitnessista on March 10, 2016 at 11:04 pm

        no worries at all. some times certain things work and other times they don’t. i don’t think anyone will be offended 🙂 thank you for the reassurance. i really appreciate it. this whole momming thing is hard sometimes 😉

  28. Megan on March 14, 2016 at 1:06 pm Loved this article about sleeping 🙂 We are in a similar situation with a new baby and our oldest sleeping in our room. It works for us, for now, and I’m choosing to not feel bad about it. There have been a lot of changes for our oldest to get used to and if it makes her feel better to come into our room at night, I totally get it because I also remember feeling the same way when I was little. Do what works for you 🙂

  29. Georganne on March 14, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    My oldest is 3 and we went through a similar thing when I was pregnant with my second (he’s 5 1/2 months now). But my son’s tantrums were AT bedtime. It was terrible. I dreaded bedtime every night. I was so stressed over it. A friend suggested that maybe he just needed a few minutes of calm with us. This struck me since both me and my husband work full time our nighttime routine is very structured . We read stories every night together but it often felt hurried. So I bought a digital kitchen timer and told my son that after stories we’ll set it for 5 minutes and we can snuggle and do/talk about whatever he wants. When the timer goes off, he has to go to bed with no crying. It has worked SO well. We do it every single night. Turn off the lights, lay on his floor and talk. Most nights he wants to make up stories, some nights he wants to talk about his day and others he just wants me to lay there with him and rub his back..but as soon as the timer goes off he hops up and jumps into bed. Not sure how helpful this is since Liv wakes in the middle of the night, but maybe incorporating some special time right before she goes to sleep might help with middle of the night tantrums. Good luck! Just know you’re not the only one going through it! 😉

  30. Julie on March 15, 2016 at 7:34 am

    You’ve gotten so many great comments on how to deal w/ the tantrums & suggestions on getting rid of the cot. I understand that having the cot in your room is nbd for you, but I’m wondering how/when you’re going to be able to get rid of it. Kids develop habits so quickly! (I let my daughter have “cuddle time” before bed when she was 2 & the next thing I knew a year had passed & she was still falling asleep on my lap every night before I carried her into her crib! 😮 Yes, I enjoyed “cuddle time”, too. 😉 Have you considered ways to help her stay in her room by consoling herself? Where do the dogs sleep? Would it be an option to let 1 or both of them sleep in Liv’s room w/ her? Or maybe just a doll, stuffed animal that she sleeps with? A special blankie? Would one of those sound machines help? Just trying to brainstorm ideas to help motivate her to stay put. 😉 My daughter def went thru a terrible tantrum stage, too, but you’ve already gotten some great advice on that above. Good luck!

    • Fitnessista on March 15, 2016 at 10:53 am

      thank you!
      yeah the cot is nbd, it’s the crying that is driving me up the wall. i’ve also been trying to determine ways to encourage her to stay in her room. she told me that her room is “too white” so i think the stark white walls aren’t super comfortable, and also that maybe she doesn’t love her bed because she’d rather sleep in a pop-up cot from amazon. so i’m exploring a bigger big and possibly adding some twinkle lights and wall art to make it more cozy. i wish bella would sleep in there with her, but she won’t stay in her bed

  31. angie kilar on March 17, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    I think the cot is a great idea!!! Yes she is in your room but not in your bed. its good that you don’t let her fall asleep in your bed. we let our middle son sleep with us for a couple years and then moved him to his own toddler bed. The thing is theres been a BIG life adjustment for her…she went from being your only little companion to now having to share your with P. Her way of dealing with it for attention is a tantrum. I agree with the idea to ignore it (even if it happens in the stores or in public) then talk to her about it when she is calm.
    Nowadays if my middle son acts up or when my oldest son acted up when middle son was little….explain to her that her behavior is not nice…she is not setting a good example for P. Believe it or not that will help her.

    For the rewards DEFINITELY add in Disneyland. She loves that place…maybe add in a princess experience as an incentive (Bippity Boppity boutique or Character meal) along with all day in the parks.

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