Mothering a Toddler: A Desperate Call for Mom Advice

I look back at the bigger picture of this blog from the last year and I see lots of good. Lots of recipes, memories of travel and of friends and family. Though, the one thing this blog has lacked over the last year in comparison to the years prior are post upon post of updates on Jackson.

In case you’re wondering, Jackson will turn three next month and I still use "Baby J" as his label for posts here on this blog. My friends, my dear loyal readers, this year of parenting has been a true test for me and Brandon as individuals, as Jackson’s parents and as spouses.

Every morning is a marathon of tantrums and tears to get Jackson dressed and off to school. The nights are filled with more tantrums and tears as we get him ready for bed. He dropped weekend naps a good eight months ago. As for night sleeping? He’s weaseled his way into our bed for the last three months. Somehow, we’ve become co-sleepers and I’d do just about anything to regain control of his sleeping habits.

We’re a shell of the people we once were by the time we’ve tricked Jackson into going to bed and collapse on the couch. There are no words or thoughts that I’ve been able to pull from my spirit by the time 9:00 p.m. rolls around to document on this blog. Even more so, I feel as though if I’d come to the keyboard each stroke of the keys would be filled with negativity in respect to Jackson’s current "stage."

All of these tantrums, sleep regression and absolute stubborness have presented challenges that I fully expected but am unaware of how to handle. No article, blog, or parental suggestion has been helpful in calming those terrible-two tendencies and pulling out the sweet, loving kid who’s still buried under all of these emotions.

As everyone warns me three is worse than two, I’m on edge about the balance within our home with his impending third birthday. While the details above may read as your typical two-year-old, Jackson is anything but that.

He’s what most people describe to me as one of those toddlers. I think they're typically called strong-willed. Yep, that’s what we’re working with. I was one. Brandon was one. And so, of course, we’ve been gifted with one of those strong-willed toddlers as well. You know, the ones who go above and beyond in exemplifying every terrible-two characteristic, who need no sleep, who are smarter than you can imagine and have the energy of a banshee.

This is where you come in. I need help, obviously. As said before, I’ve scoured the blogs and parenting sites full of discipline and sleep articles. I’m looking for in-depth tips on how to cultivate happiness, obedience and SLEEP in your toddler’s life.

Please, please, please, leave book suggestions, parenting theories or sites that have in-depth discussions of discipline and/or sleep habits of 2-3 year olds. Although I feel like we’ve tried everything, I know the answer is out there and I’m hoping one of you can point me in the right direction.

If you've survived or surviving mothering one of these toddlers, I’d so appreciate any insight. If you’re parenting a toddler who’s maintained their sleep habits and exhibit minimum tantrums, please share your routines or discipline ideals in the comments section as well. Or, you can give me a shout on Twitter here, my handle is @TheViewFrom510 - yes I'm serious about needing help!

I know my sweet, respectful kid is still in there. In fact, he still shines through every so often, but the terrible-two-year-old and the onset of the three-nager are already winning out. 

Please, friends, help!


  1. I know we chatted about this a little bit on twitter yesterday... also, I actually got to do a discipline session with a child psychologist back in September, too. I can scan in her handouts and email them to you if you would like to read some of her suggestions! Some of the ideas she gave were so helpful and really made sense.

    1. I hope you don't mind me asking but if you do scan those suggestions would you possibly be able to send a copy to me as well ? I am also dealing with a very difficult child and need any help I can get. :)

    2. Yes I'm dealing with the same issues with my daughter. she's 3 and it's seriously has been the death of me. I'm struggling with new parenting ideas to get her to listen to me. SO please if you do get these document would you be so kind and share with me Also email me I just saw a sleep specialist b/c we to somehow became co sleepers at age 2.5 and just went through a sleep training process. Took 3 days and we are now sleeping through the night in her own bed.

  2. Oh I am so sorry you are struggling. I think the key here is it isn't working for you, then you need help. Maybe connecting with moms of other strong-willed toddlers? I imagine there's a FB group as there is for everything, and their stories of survival and support would probably help you tons. I am jinxing myself I know, but I have a toddler who isn't as strong-willed. HOWEVER, we have our days and on those days that are worse, I can usually pinpoint a trigger - eating crappy food, not getting outside, etc. Have you tried to track any changes that set off your little guy? Also, he sounds insanely sleep-deprived and that is likely making things worse. That might be the first place to start - possibly early bedtime that progressively gets earlier (ie move it up by 15 minutes a day to get him the 12+ hours toddlers need at this age). Weisbluth is my sleeping guru....maybe check out his books? Either way, good luck and please be sure to get some time for yourself to protect your sanity!

  3. Awww girl I am so sorry to hear this...I don't have the answers....but I will pray you find them!

  4. Hey, love! Let's do lunch sometime this week. Colin was an absolute nightmare at Jackson's age. I loved him, of course, but there were many days I just didn't like him. For us, so far three has been so much better than two. I like to think the really smart ones are worst at two and get better from there. ;) This too shall pass.. just keep repeating that over and over. You're doing a great job, I promise, even though I know it doesn't feel that way.

    As for the tantrums, one of our most successful techniques has been the count to three method. We tell him when we get to three that he's going to time out (or, in certain cases where he's harming himself or someone else, a spanking. I know, controversy blah blah). We count slowly.. one... two... and most of the time he stops what he's doing at two. If not, we follow through with the discipline. I absolutely hate it, but it has really helped.

    He's also big on bribes, so I'll tell him "if you stay in your own bed all night, you'll get a McDonald's biscuit for breakfast" or whatever. Oddly, that seemed to help too. Although there were some nights there, when he was 2 1/2 or so, when bedtime was just an all out battle and I'm sure we made some questionable parenting choices. Survival mode is NOT just for babies.

  5. I want to cry because this is the second blog I've read today talking about their strong willed toddler and I realize I'm not alone! Mackenzie is slowly getting 'worse.' Like you say strong willed and every day I'm left thinking 'what have I done wrong?' "How do I help her?' and I'm mentally and physically exhausted....add a 2 month old to the mix and I'm surprised we are making it to the next day.
    I'm working on the book 'The Strong Willed Child by James C. Dobson. So far I've liked it, but we are still working on putting his thoughts into place.

  6. Firstly - welcome to the threenager year. It's trying but it does get better. As for sleep? My sleep "bible" is SleepEasy. Has tips for kids aged 4 months - 5 years. It's a quick, easy read!


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