Dealing with a “Peuterpuber”

In American English, there is something called “the Terrible Twos”.  This describes when a child reaches the age of two and starts becoming little monsters that think only of themselves and sees no reasoning.  Often people wonder why it is called “the Terrible Twos” when it is a phase that usually starts a bit before two and ends around four years old.  This is practically the toddler years (2-4 years old).   In Dutch the toddler is called a peuter and often people rightfully add the word puber after the word.  Puber means “teenager”.

Personally, I love the Dutch expression for the toddler phase a lot more than American English expression because it describes exactly what the child is like in this age span, and with alliteration!  These little creatures are adorable little humans that act like hormonal teenagers.

The strange peuter puber.

The strange peuter puber.

So my son is now three and a half and drives me crazy-mad.  My daughter is now one and a half and she is starting to pick up the naughty things my son is doing as she’s preparing herself for her peuterpubertijd (toddler-teenager-time).  I am currently struggling to get my son to eat (with a fork), to stop sucking his thumb, and well, just getting him to do anything and to just doe normaal (act normal).  It is a daily struggle.

Peuterpuber on eating.  Nearly everyday on every hour he complains about being hungry and how he wants to eat.  But by dinner time, he says he doesn’t want to eat.  I’ve tried not giving him food after 4pm to “starve” him a little before dinner which is at 6pm.  It doesn’t work.  He once even got excited after seeing and getting his dinner, and then SUDDENLY said he didn’t want to eat!  His reasoning?  Daddy wasn’t home (and won’t be home until later).  But aren’t you hungry since you’ve been complaining about being hungry the last 2 hours?  Not hungry.

Peuterpuber on sucking his thumb.  He sucks his thumb all the time now.  Before he used to do it when he’s tired.  Then he started doing it when he’s watching TV.  Now he just does it whenever his thumb is free.  This drives me mad since I was never a thumb sucker and it impedes speech development as well as ruin teeth development, especially if he doesn’t stop by 4 years old.  Other people I know whose sons stopped sucking their thumb was after they sustained some injury (wart, blister, etc.) on the thumb.  Sometimes I do wish he gets a wart or blister!  But I wish mostly that he will have the courage to stop by himself.

Peuterpuber on doing anything.  Everything takes longer.  When told/asked to get dressed, he is still not dressed 10 minutes later.  When told/asked to finish drinking his milk, it is not done unless constantly being told multiple times.  With a little sister around, he is always taking things from her and causing her a lot of distress from that or even from giving her too much love like “hugging” her which looks more like a wrestling hold.  I do my best to not constantly get on my son’s case because my daughter does try to use the crying and whining to her advantage sometimes….


This potty reward chart worked for us!

If anything, potty training is something I am proud of for my son.  It was a real struggle that ran for weeks at first, but after making a sticker reward chart for him on potty training, it was like he flipped a switch and completely became potty trained from the start of the chart until the end.  At night we still had him in diapers (which made poop training a little longer because he’d poop in the morning when his diaper was still on), but after about a month of night time diapers, we let him decide what he wanted to wear to sleep.  He only wet his bed two or three times in the first weeks (which he cried over because he felt shameful but we gave him lots of love) and has not done it ever since.  He will even wake up late at night to pee if he needs to. 🙂

Anyway, I am glad my daughter is not a thumbsucker so that is one less thing to worry about my daughter.  Now it’s about time to start the ol’ pot for her.  For my son, I’m planning to try a reward chart with him on thumbsucking.  It worked for potty training, I hope it works for thumbsucking.  I just need to find a good one.  I might even have to find another one for him to eat all his dinner without so much complaining too.  Well, one bad habit at a time!

If you are trying to potty train and looking for a good reward chart, I suggest the one I used which I found on Sherbert Cafe.  The reason I chose this chart among the thousands out there are the lollypops on the path to the ice cream.  Basically my son would put a cool car/plane sticker on the circles, but when he got on a lollypop, he got a sticker AND a piece of candy.  His final reward was not ice cream, but a trip to the local kiddie-gym which he chose as a reward (as suggested by me).

So back to the topic of my peuterpuber.  What I found most important in dealing with a peuterpuber is to really try to keep your cool.  Most of the time they are not really trying to make you mad.  They are just being this way because everything in the world really doesn’t make sense to them.  Often, they have some idea in their head and if something happens to change or upset what is in their head, then the world is just not “right” anymore!  They often find it very difficult to deal with disappointments, change, fear, setbacks, etc.  There is a lot of anxiety!  Keep a cool head and realize how funny they are being.  Keep reminding yourself that it will get better.  And it is also normal to get upset and mad with them because it is not realistic to be 100% in love with them all of the time!  Finally, I’ve realized that a peuter is not much different from an expat.  They are little humans thrown into a “foreign” world where they have to learn the foreign ways (i.e. becoming more independent like getting dressed, eating with utensils, breaking from certain comforts, etc.).  This is probably why many expats feel anxious and depressed often.

And now for the Dutch portion:

mantauIk hou heel veel van chinees eten omdat ik chinees ben en opgegroied met chinees eten.  Onlangs had ik mantau (chinees gestoomd brood) gemaakt .  Ik houd niet van brood, maar dit was ZO lekker!  Er zijn heel veel recepten, maar gebruik ik dit recept van Yi Reservation.  Waarom dit recept?  Omdat het was in metriek stelsel!

Ik wil mantau maken leren omdat ik wil de mantau met chinese kleefrijst of cha sieuw (gebarbecued of geroosterd vlees, namelijk varkensvlees) binnen.  Mijn eerste keer mantau maken was een sucess! Het was zacht en smaakt lekker!  Dus, volgende keer ga ik mantau maken met iets binnen.

So that was a bit about my recent adventure in making mantau (Chinese steamed buns).  I think I might have made more Dutch errors this time, but I’m also very tired.  Time to sleep!  Slaap lekker and Be Happy!


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