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Constance Marie’s Blog: Meltdown Management

09/03/2012 at 06:00 PM ET

Look who’s back! We’re thrilled to say hello again to Constance Marie, our original celebrity blogger!

The actress, mom to daughter Luna Marie, 3½, with fiancé Kent Katich, stars on Switched at Birth, premiering Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.

She’s also one of the celebrity voices narrating beloved children’s stories for Little Golden Records, launching its latest collection Tuesday at Walmart.

Marie, 46, can also be found online on Facebook and @goconstance on Twitter. If you’ve missed any of her past posts, check them out here.

In her latest blog, the actress’s little girl is taking after Mom with her most dramatic performance yet — a meltdown over leggings.

Loving the pink tutu – Courtesy Constance Marie


TERRIBLE THREES?!

Yes, this is my life right now. I had only ever heard of the terrible twos, so when my daughter was essentially Gandhi baby throughout her second year, I thought, “Whew! I am so glad I never have to deal with that.” Thus reinforcing the thinking that MY daughter was of course perfect. NOT! Guess what I got? The terrible threes!

Now in my totally biased opinion, the terrible threes are way worse! Just think about it: my daughter is bigger, taller, heavier, more articulate and has one yearʼs extra rage! Or as us actors like to call it: passion!

I now have an intimate knowledge of the 3-year-old meltdown. It could be at any time, anywhere, and about pretty much ANYTHING! And to be totally honest, it usually startles the crap out of me. Why? Because I thought my daughter was perfect, remember? But I digress.

These tantrums also startle me because often they are over the most ridiculous thing that I never saw coming. The first time was about leggings. Oh yes, you know those diabolical things! Leggings! Apparently, they need to be just perfect. What makes perfect leggings? I don’t know. But apparently my daughter does.

Here’s how it went for me. I let Luna Marie pick out her clothes, which she does every morning, and honestly, she almost has better taste than I do (I said almost).

I didn’t pick this out – Courtesy Constance Marie

So one morning, we were late. She picks her outfit and apparently I rushed her and I didn’t allow the proper amount of time for her “process.” But she picked it, it was cute, so I figured everyone was happy and we could move on. Then, I continued my own process to scramble and collect the 300 things I need to bring or pack to get to our play date.

And right as we are about to go out the door, while I am loaded up like a frickin’ donkey, I hear this tiny voice behind me that says, “I don’t like these leggings.” I stop. I turn around. And halfway across the room, frozen stiff and rooted to the ground, unable to make the lengthy cross to me and out the door, stands Luna Marie.

At this point I’m confused. Then I ask, “What did you say, sunshine?” And her response is a firm, “I said I don’t like these leggings. They are not beautiful.” I am perplexed. I stammer and say, “Um … they look beautiful to me.” She doesn’t budge and she doesn’t look convinced.

This is where I gently remind her that she picked them. I also remind her we’re running late so we have to go. Remember, I am still loaded up with 300 things and they are starting to get heavy. I am now sweating.

At that moment, I see Luna Marie’s bottom lip start to quiver. I think to myself, “Uh-oh.” And then she takes a huge breath in, leans her head back and KABOOM! She starts wailing! I am frozen in my spot.

It has to be the most dramatic performance I have ever seen in my life — and I’m an actress, I’ve seen plenty. Luna Marie’s performance is so over the top I almost start to laugh. BUT I DON’T! (Otherwise I might as well start saving up for her therapy as an adult now).

All I can think is, “Seriously, over leggings?” She’s worn these “not beautiful” ones like 20 times before. I drop all my stuff. I realize that this might take a while. So now the sweaty donkey (me) must transform into a therapist.

I get down on one knee, I hug her, I give compassion, but then, I gently remind her that she picked them. She had a choice and they are perfectly good leggings. I also remind her that we are late so we have to go. This perfectly reasonable and logical line of thinking does not work at all.

My life lately – Courtesy Constance Marie

Luna Marie is still wailing. I mean like inconsolable, red face, snot dripping everywhere … like a mini mental breakdown. And I am still sweating. I take a breath, I gently grab that little hand, pick up all my crap and try to load us into the car. And miraculously, we finally make it to our play date.

But all through the drive I had to hear, “These leggings are not my favorite.” I kid you not, this went on all day long! I think I must have explained about choices and the consequences of those choices (which leggings to wear) about 40 times. Secretly I thought, “S— … I should have just quickly changed them.”

I mean, I wanted her to be happy. What mom doesn’t want their kid to be happy? But I remembered that I once heard, “If you always give in to the tantrum, you are setting yourself up for many, many, and I stress many more battles for control over every day little things.” Of course, I hated that I remembered hearing this or reading it in one of my child-rearing books!

It was easier to just give in, but I didnʼt. I took a breath and stayed strong. It was horrible, but I did it. I have to point out that I love my daughter’s determination and conviction. Oh yes, and her passion! But some days I wish she would just put a cork in it.

I just want you to know that the end result of this whole drama, is that Luna Marie now knows that when we’re in a hurry, she better pick the most FABULOUS thing in her closet because sheʼs going to have to wear it all damned day … even if it kills me!

Sunshine kisses – Courtesy Constance Marie

– Constance Marie

More from Constance’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

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Showing 48 comments

Renee Martinez on

I totally, totally agree. The threes are so much worse than the twos. My daughter was pretty tame during her twos, so like you I was like okay done with that. I kid you not, on her third birthday that all changed. It is exactly as you said. The tantrums come when I am rushing, usually morning time, and I am trying to get everyone out the door.

My son is about to turn 2 and he is starting to have these little tantrums. I am thinking to myself, No, you can team up on mommy!!!!! So I have a three year old daughter who is upset because she can’t find her favorite doll (Bella the Ballerina) and a 23 month year old son who is having a fit because he can’t find his blanket.

When they are asleep, they are angels!!!

Siobhan on

I have to tell you, I always think 3 year olds are much worse than 3 year olds. Like you said they can actually say what is bothering them- which can be either good or bad. Great blog post, I’m glad you are back!

Juli on

Her behavior is not cute…..get a grip “Mom” she’s going to be sixteen one day.

concerned! on

Its seems like parents these days give their kids way too much in way of decision making, that they are just not capable of making!

I’m sure she can pick out cute outfits, but she really needs only a few options, or it becomes overwhelming!

“Here are three of the outfits that will work for today,..which would you like to wear most?”

I’ve seen parents ask their kids “Where are we going to eat?” “When can we leave?” I think it just overwhelms the little ones to be making these decisions!!

Not saying you do that,..i’ve read a few of your blogs. I’m just making an observation!

jerseymom on

I remember those days very well. I used to swear my mother put her up to making me crazy. You must pick your battles… and this particular one (clothes) will play out for many years to come.

Jules on

Um…her daughter is 3. Often you can give a 3 year old a few choices, they’ll pick one and be perfectly happy and then find something they don’t like about it a few mintes later and pitch a fit anyways. They call it the “terrible twos” for a reason! It is just a phase, as long as you stand firm and don’t give in, they won’t make it a habit going forward, they’ll learn whining won’t get them anywhere. It sounds like she is doing the right thing. Now if she were like 6 and doing that, yeah that’s problematic…

Tired mom on

Hi It was nice and interesting to read, Im àn exhausted mom to 3.5 yr old Twin boys – and I try to deal w Their meltdowns the best way I can trying not get one myself

I'm Standing Right Behind You on

I am not a mother, but I absolutely love these “Mommy Blogs.” They’re all very humorous and heartfelt.

MRJ on

Great story! Love the way you handled it.

My daughter had the Terrible late 4′s thru well she’s 12 now so I’ll have to get back to you on that. I would love to show you her 5 year old pic where she has this sour puss look on her face and I say “Ok I’ve had it, we can just stay home if you can’t smile” Keep in mind this had been building. So she puts the sweetest smile on her face and I get the pic. She is now annoyed because I have them both framed together because they are sooooooooooo funny. BTW we were going to build a bear, so that’s why she decided to smile.

MRJ on

To Concerned: She made it through the decision process just fine. It was as they were leaving that she changed her mind. Her mother held her ground and she wore the outfit she picked.

Did you read a different article than everyone else?

Lynn on

In my experience, the threes are so much harder than the twos. But I agree with other posters, you can’t give them too many choices. I usually pick out 2 or 3 shirts and then let my son decide from there. If I let him pick from his whole wardrobe, we’d never leave the house!

Anonymous on

Ohhhh nooooooooooo!!!!!!!! Please don’t tell me 3′s are harder than 2′s! My twins will be 3 on Halloween and it has been a rough road. I hope I can be as strong as Constance during their meltdowns.

Ari on

Our three year old has definitely been a terror compared to his twos (a breeze! Terrible Twos? What’s that?). He is more articulate now that he’s 3 but usually when he’s in a tantrum and you ask him why he’s upset he’ll say, “I just want ____” fill in the blank with whatever triggered the meltdown.

Still Life in San Francisco on

You are the best storyteller Constance Marie. I have loved seeing little Luna grow up!

I’ll never forget your pacifier/lollipop story.

Nicole on

I don’t usually comment on these but I loved this one! I love the pictures! Luna’s room looks messy like any other child’s room. It’s not picture perfect like it was staged.

Constance Marie seems like a down-to-earth mom, trying to teach her daughter about choices and consequences. It’s completely possible to think a child is cute and still be effectively teaching her it’s not ok to behave that way. I think she handled it great because she held firm with what she said. I think that thinking your child is cute even when they’re behaving badly helps a parent to take a minute to have a controlled reaction to the situation, rather than lose their temper.

Wendy on

Yes! The 2s were wonderful and when my daughter turned 3 it was like I didn’t know her. Mornings are the worse! Let’s see what her 4th birthday will bring…..

Mom of two under three on

To: Juli…

I don’t know if “Her behavior is not cute…..get a grip “Mom” she’s going to be sixteen one day.” – was addressed to another blogger or to Constance, either way it is totally uncalled for. That is what you got out of this whole article? why don’t you tell us how you would have handled it?

No where does anyone say its cute, all that everyone has continually commented including Constance is that there are two ways of handling things 1. Giving in and letting them get their way or 2. Staying steadfast in your position of not giving in to tantrums. So why don’t you comment on that since its the topic of conversation instead of your negative response?

It really ticks me off when disrespectful people come on with their mediocre thinking and add no value to anything. The next time you open your mouth, think about this…1. Am I adding value to this? 2. Am I imparting knowledge or experience? 3. Will anyone benefit in anyway from what I am about to say? I bet your answer to all three are no. In which case, don’t talk. Seriously. We have enough landfills with garbage in them.

Crys on

I agree conpletely but relax. We are all just strangers on here, dont waste the energy.

Jill on

Actually Juli it IS cute to a mom after the fact. Not all fits are cute…definitely. But there are some that you just can’t help trying to hide a grin at. If you can’t laugh at life sometimes then you take yourself way too seriously and you aren’t teaching your child to learn how to relax. I wouldn’t want a child to always say “yes ma’am” or “no ma’am”. They need to learn to make choices even if they aren’t always the best ones.

Grainne Gillespie on

Meltdowns are usually used to refer to the tantrums that autistic children and adults have.

What her daughter is having are plain old tantrums, not meltdowns.

Sara on

So, my little man has a temper, but he VERY rarely chooses to show it, which is why his “fits” are always so surprising to those of us who see him daily. Luckily, I learned this trick from *gasp* my mother-in-law (they actually know what they are taking about ladies)…

A tantrum of fit is only a tantrum or fit so long as someone is watching. SO, unless your child is going to harm themselves, let it rip. They’ll feel better after, and will actually be able to hear your plea for calm discussion rather than their own voice. Maybe you might be embarrassed in a public place once or twice, but your kid will learn that mom is no push over and tantrums are NOT how we go about getting our way.

Now, before the judgy moms get on me, I’ll point out that I do no recommend ignoring it COMPLETELY. Obviously you talk to your child (using age appropriate language) about the incident, make sure they understand the consequences of the behavior, ect. But if it’s possible, a simple “let me know when you are done” spoken into the ear, in a calm firm tone, will get through the crazy. Then you step back (and send an look at the people staring that says “you got any better ideas” lol) and wait.

I am by no means an expert, and all kids are different, but this worked for me and my almost 5 year old =D

Barbara on

Good for you for not giving in! The lesson of choices and consequences is an important one, and it starts with the little things. You did great!

feistymom4 on

LOL! Besides kids having meltdowns…grown ups…esp. Parents can have them too.i remember on one occassion when my four year old son was two at the time with his friends and one of the children was giving my friend a hard time..so she started to raise her voice to his son lol..so my two year old looked at her in her eyes and said stop it…stop yelling…calm down…chill out..lol..my friend looked at my son with a shocked expression..trying not to laugh all of a sudden bursted out laughing..not expecting for that to come out of his mouth..so parents need reminders too lol.

lyn on

I love that No shirt and the perfect pouty face! Ah 3 year olds. Good thing they are cute to make up for the tantrums.

Liz on

I deal with this kind of thing every morning. I pick out two outfits and let her choose which one. If she complains about both, I make the choice for her. She may freak out but by the time she gets to preschool, all is forgotten. If I let her choose her outfit every morning, I would never make it to work!

The threes are worse, not horrible but definitely not like the twos. I know she will have a fit once she has to wear jeans and leggings because she loves her dresses. I might make my husband take over the morning routine haha.

Samantha on

I am glad to know my child isn’t the only one to flip out over silly things! I hate to tell you, but 4′s are worse than 3′s, or they have been for my son. Everyone says he will settle down once he turns 5, but I am not sure. I love my son with all of my heart and soul, but I now understand why it starts with labor!

Lisa B on

I want to meet this woman!! Oh the stories we could share!!! I thought I had it made once my (now) 3.5 year old made it through her 2s. But noooo, she is the most dramatic of drama queens…over all the same silly stuff! Hang in there, eventually they turn 40 and leave the nest! ;)

Sarah S. on

Constance: Yep, 3′s are worse than 2′s in my case. Hang in there, meltdowns come and go. I have two children: a daughter, who is 12 years old today; and a son, who is 14. I won’t even elaborate on the pre-teen and teen meltdown years! Love reading your blogs. Can’t help but notice you are wearing your engagement AND wedding rings! Congrats to you and Kent!! :)

Emily on

Sarah, I’m pretty sure that was taken on the set of her show. Spoiler alert – her character on Switched at Birth got married last night.

Anonymous on

..takes a little patience sometimes when you give 3yr old options to choose from lol..the outcome is always intresting

Maria on

Aw, go ahead & laugh. It’s funny. And quite frankly, when a child is behaving in a ridiculous manner, they need to be made aware of it. I’m not saying to ridicule her, but laughing that she’s being so dramatic would not scar her for life.

Giving in to her every whim & treating her like she’s the princess of the world–THAT’S what will cause psychological issues in the long term (and guess what, research supports that), b/c the rest of the world won’t be quite as enamored with her as her mother is. Better yet, give her a sibling (or 3 or 4). Siblings bring a healthy dose of reality to an only child…of course, that only works if you don’t treat the other kids like their poo doesn’t stink as well.

NW Mama on

That was a great Mommy blog!!

Oh the “Terrible Two’s”, followed by the ever loving “Traumatic Three’s”, then there is the “Forever asking a question Fours”.

My daughter’s are grown now, but I clearly remember how much fun toddlers can be. Hang in there! They all grow up so fast that you will be missing those tantrum days when your daughter is leaving the nest to go off to college. LOL

L D'Ambrosio on

Good job. It ain’t easy staying strong in the middle of your daughter’s tears … been there, done that … didn’t always do as well as you did … still ain’t easy when they’re 19 going on 20 … but now of course the stakes are higher … sometimes mom gets to be the bitch …

sasha on

i LOVE reading your blogs b/c all I can do is laugh and empathize with you.. can’t wait for the next one.. Luna is beautiful and has great parents

Monica on

Oh God yes, 3 is so much worse than 2 and I hate to burst any bubbles, but 4 and 5 aren’t any barrels of fun either.

My oldest turned 5 a few months ago and it seems to be a very dramatic age- she goes from laughing to crying in 2.2 seconds. My husband says she’s getting us ready for PMS. :-)

My youngest is 2.5 and I’m dreading her birthday because I adore her little personality so much but know it will change in a few months. :( Not that she’s perfect, she can throw a fantastic fit, but we’ve “trained” her so that we let her cry her heart out and then when she’s done, she turns it off like a switch and says “I done crying now.” and moves on.

Gotta love ‘em whatever age cause soon enough they will be teenagers and I’ll be dreaming of when they were 2 and 5.

Jess on

So glad to see you back. You are my ultimate favorite mommy blogger! My now almost 4 year old was never too bad, but I think my daughter is going through the terrible one’s!!! HELP. ha ha

Anonymous on

Just another spoiled brat for the world to tolerate everywhere she goes. Gosh I miss the old days when children actually behaved and people could take them anywhere without them acting like the world is their playground! And it was never “cute” for a child to be heard or seen “wailing” or misbehaving at all! Breeders of today-take your animals to the zoo and let there be some semblance of civilization in public places!

SmiaVS on

You were going on a play date, right? So the outing was chiefly for her, I’m assuming. In that case, assuming you didn’t plan on just dropping her off, if it were me, I’d be canceling the play date. Kids start to behave much faster (and the terrible pick a years end much sooner) if they understand that you won’t tolerate that sort of behavior. I realize there are still plenty of scenarios when that tactic won’t work, but play dates and birthday parties and the like aren’t among them.

I’m glad you stuck to your guns about the leggings, though. You’re doing her a great service by setting boundaries early on. If getting dressed is repeatedly an issue, I’d recommend picking out several weather-appropriate outfits yourself (one per year of life until age five or six is a good guide, so three for Luna) and allowing her to choose among them. It still gives them choice, but doesn’t leave room for as many problems. I’d wager it wouldn’t have helped in this instance, but it’s a good general rule.

Also, keep an eye on the form complaints take. I was always thought to be an incredibly difficult child. I was very picky about what I ate and sometimes went through half my wardrobe for something that “felt right,” which drove the adults in my life (particularly my mother) to distraction. Unusual levels of attention to sensory input (the way clothing feels or the texture or taste of a particular food) could be the sign of an issue. Sensory processing disorders can ruin lives, (it nearly ruined mine) but they don’t have to if you react to them early. If she’s consistently overreacting to certain situations, you might look into it. As long as it’s a question of how she looks though, you’re fine. Well, until adolescence, anyway.

My mother always said I was worst at age four. I think it depends on the child.

Me on

I understand not giving in on tantrums… but a little bit of understanding doesnt hurt… I mean I’m sure as a grown woman youve picked out an outfit only to realize it doesnt work just as you’re stepping out… I think its important to at least validate that it’s ok to change your mind sometimes, but in this case you cant change cause you have to leave… we have to remember that kids are people too not just little monsters that are either ‘tame’ or in their ‘terrible threes’. to her, these leggings really were a big deal, and it’s not helpful to tell her that they are fine, because then her feelings are not being validated… just a thought

Bridgett K Cash on

My first 3 children were temper-tantrum free. Never did any of them throw anything even remotely like a temper tantrum. The fourth baby was a different story. Try having one who throws a tantrum almost every day. Anywhere from 1-3 on average lasting from between 5 mins-10 hours once. In public no less. I never gave in because if you do then you are teaching them one of the worst things you can teach them…. all you got to do is scream and cry loud enough, long enough and walla… mom and dad give you what you want. That sets them up for a rough life because that stuff doesn’t fly in the real world. Thankfully, we outgrew the tt and they do not grace our household anymore. It was rough though.

Marsha on

I am not a mother of my own children either, but I have plenty of experience with N, Z, E, K, O, & C, ages 4, 4, 4, 3, 3, and 2. N & Z would be my godchildren, boy/girl twins, and E, K, O, & C would be my grandchildren (by my two stepdaughters). For about the first 2.5 years of N & Z’s life, my husband and I had them about every other weekend since they were 7 weeks old. We are known as the “weekend parents.” We still have them over at least once a month and the grandkids rotate at the Baby B&B (as our house is known) in pairs. Out of the five kids who are past age 2, I agree that 3 is way worse than 2 ever was. But there is hope, as I have found that the three 4 year-olds are now so much fun and funny as heck! Hang in there!

Galen on

Ugh. I am with you!! My daughter went from princess dresses and pretty slippers from one day to the next. Literally. The screaming frenzy was so intense I wish I had had the ability to record it, cause my husband looking at me like I was nuts when I told him about our darling’s fit over having to wear (OMG) a dress. Or the time she cried for an hour because Ellen’s dress was more pink than hers. Sigh…parenting is FUN!

Amy H-F on

Even though my daughter is 15 now, I remember the 3′s like yesterday. So much worse than being 2. With my Elizabeth, she would become extremely frustrated when she couldn’t find the words to express her feelings.

I noticed that she would let the days stress build up to a breaking point around dinner time. That’s when I started slowing down around early evening. Just when you think you should get busy preparing dinner and getting ready fo the evening’s activities, that’s when I would get out some fruit or vege sticks, grab my daughter’s favorite book, get in a comfy chair and take a time-out. Both of us.

Then, after several hugs and kisses, she would help me with dinner. I found that this was all she needed. Some special time with mom… This realization really helped me be a better mom and to meet her needs better. Those ended up being some of my favorite memories of when she was young.

April on

I have my 4 year old granson, he has been with me since birth. Birth Mom is bipolar and a drug addict, Dad is pretty mellow but determined to not ever work. The kid is a wonderful, smart,loving child…but he has tantrums …several times a day, High pitched screaming, kicking, throwing himself on the floor and he slaps our dog- and let me tell you, we are trying so hard to stop it. Sometimes I worry he is mentally ill. He is whip smart- learns things in an instant. And I mean learns well. He reads, and he has known his numbers to 100 since he was 2, does puzzles, knows his letters very well…I report to the edi but she says he is awesome and normal..is he?

Elizabeth on

3 was way worse than 2! They have more language skills, are more self-aware and are like little dictators. My husband and I joke that our now 15-year old daughter spent so much time at the age of 3 in time-out on the stairs that she wore a groove in them!

Felice on

I agree with the Moms who do not give in to tantrums and who do not give a two or three year old choices they do not need to be making. Parents do not need the approval of their little ones on every decision. We are the adults and we know better.

kiki on

Beautiful little girl!!!

Cliftola on

LOVE! “They are not beautiful”…girl you are in trouble ;)

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