Jessica Capshaw: Why My Third Child Is the ‘Squeaky Wheel’

09/22/2014 at 10:00 AM ET

Jessica Capshaw TGIT Abc Shonda Party
Veronica Summers/Splash News Online

Jessica Capshaw is in the middle of the terrible twos with her youngest daughterPoppy James.

But despite the phase, the Grey’s Anatomy actress, 38, admits the third time is definitely the charm.

“[She] is experiencing a reckoning of being two that [my] other two [children] did not have,” Capshaw told PEOPLE on Saturday at Twitter’s #TGIT premiere event for Shondaland’s ABC shows.

“So I feel very grateful that she’s my third so I have the wisdom and experience to know it’s all fine and will pass.”

Joking that Poppy has “third child syndrome,” Capshaw — who is also mom to daughter Eve Augusta, 4 next month, and son Luke Hudson, 7 — doesn’t allow much to faze her when it comes to the tantrums.

“When she wants to scream in my face, the way she did a couple times today, it’s all fine,” she shares. “The third child gets to be the squeaky wheel.”

And whether she’s dealing with her day to day life or enjoying a date night with her husband, Honest Company co-founder Christopher Gavigan, Capshaw cherishes it all. “Life is sweet, I’m a lucky girl,” she says.

— Anya Leon with reporting by Matthew Cole Weiss

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Showing 16 comments

sam on

Screams in your face and that’s ok? Ok!

nancy on

To Sam: Yep, they sure do scream in your face – if they want to. Babies just do whatever they want to do – when they want to do it. And yes, it’s OK because they are babies and that’s what they do. You are not a parent, right?

Katie on

@ Nancy – she’s not a baby, she’s 2 years old. I’m a parent & I can tell you that if my daughter screamed in my face, she’d be swiftly told not too.

SarahJane77 on

My 2 year old went through a screaming phase. I tried telling her no, tried time outs, tried everything I could think of to get her to stop. When nothing else worked, I started ignoring her and continuing with whatever I was doing & didn’t let it rile me up. It stopped shortly after. It was about attention, not about bad behavior. She also needed to further develop her language skills. She’s 2, not 12. Communication at that age can be difficult. Now she’s able to more clearly communicate how she feels. It’s tough to be a mom, but you never really know the situation someone else is in, so judgement really isn’t fair.

It’s great if your toddler responds to your requests with a smile and stops their not-so-great behavior, but all children are cut from a different cloth and you’ve gotta go with what works for you.

Nicole on

I am going to have to agree with Nancy!

Katie and Sam- You cannot reason with a two year old. Some ppl get all preachy/judgemental about screamy kids, but it doesn’t mean its the parents fault. My first two kids were good and my third one, who just so happens to be a 2 y/o also, is a little pistol. I can swiftly tell him not to cry, but that doesn’t mean he’ll listen!

notmyname on

but if the other two weren’t like that, how does she have the knowledge that it will pass? Also, youngest child is not generally the squeaky wheel, in many families the younger child is the pampered baby and it’s the MIDDLE child who has to squeak like an unoiled wheel in order to matter. Oldest/youngest get attention.

I bet at least one of her other kids has “third child syndrome” as in, why do we need HER here??? My nephew has three kids and the first two yelled at the mother “WHY DID YOU HAVE HIM??? We were fine before.” I think they were right.

Maggie on

Ooh love the name Poppy, cute name.

Carrie on

Our two and a half year old tries it sometimes and is immediately told it is not okay.

Carrie on

And he DOES know better and does know how to communicate better than that, he just chooses not to at those times.

Anonymous on

Nicole and SarahJane77- Exactly! What little Poppy is exhibiting is *gasp* normal two-year-old behavior! At that age, they’re still learning the finer points of talking (unless they’re very advanced!) and don’t know how to properly express their feelings (which is why telling them what they should do instead- “You’re upset because we have to leave the park. Can you tell me that in a nice, quiet voice?”- generally works better than just saying “No!” or “That’s not acceptable”. In order to make different choices, they need to know what IS acceptable!).

Also, for what it’s worth, it seemed to me like Jessica was joking about it being fine that her toddler screams in her face! on

I clicked on the comments after this story just to see how many crazy moms on their soap box would be preaching their momisms. It’s her kid, so why do you care? She lets her scream in her face – how does this impact your life. Stop letting other people’s lives bother you and chill out. You think you are a better mom than her? Great! Good for you! Now move on quietly 🙂

bkable on

I agree with Nancy. The problem is when you try to reason with a kid too long. Kids quickly learn to negotiate and that’s a bad thing.

Ignoring the screaming and it will pass. Once kids learn they don’t get attention by freaking out, it’ll pass.

Mel on

I have 4 kids and they are all so different. Although, I will tell you that with my first kid, I knew a lot more than I did with my fourth. I’m sure many of you with multiple kids can say the same. One kid is easy because it’s the only kid you had to figure out and you think you have all the answers. “This worked with my kid, it’ll work with all kids”.

All of my kids have needed different methods of parenting, different levels of tolerance and patience and different approaches. I love hearing stories about/from other moms though. I love to hear how they parent their kids even if it’s very different than how I parent my kids. I hate how we, as moms and women, have stopped learning from each other and instead compare, judge and try to one up one another.

Yeah I went off on a bit of a tangent, sorry about that. 🙂

gymluv on

Oh the humanity! It begs the question WWMDD? What would Michelle Duggar do?

sam on

To Nancy; I have 2 grown children. They used to scream at me, but were told ‘no’. If it continued my ‘no’ was more firm. We were also consistent and that makes a huge difference. It worked. I have 4 grandchildren. Same thing works for their parents, grandma (ME) is a little more tolerant and I think it’s kind of cute!! 🙂

j on

To notmyname; yup! it will be the middle child, not even two years older than the youngest, that will be the one ‘left out’