Advice for the terrible twos?

Amy - posted on 09/13/2011 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I have a little girl who just completely turned 2 and a 3 1/2 girl. My youngest is truly in the terrible 2 stage and I try to be very patient with her demands and set appropriate boundaries ....but she often will throw things, hit me ( even has bitten me! ) and scream as loudly as she can if does not get her way. I have done timeouts and she refuses to stay seated. I return her to her spot tell her it's a timeout and if she continues I return her and do not acknowledge her. Since, timeout is only 2 min I spend the whole time trying to get her to sit. I started giving her a timeout in her crib and that seems to work a little better, but the whole thing upsets my older daughter and she is becoming competitive for my attention. Also, bedtime is also a struggle. She only wants me to dress her and lay her down after a bath. Attempting to dress her older sister, while my husband dresses her leads to screaming and her trying to hurtle all 27 lbs of body weight at me. Should we just continue to have my husband lay her down? She used to get so worked up she would vomit. Now the screaming lasts no more than 15mins , but both girls bedrooms are right next to eachother. I do rock her for a little bit before bed, as well as my husband does....even when asleep her eyes will pop open and she'll start screaming when put in her crib. Any suggestions? Should I stop rocking her and stick with my husband laying her down for a while? Sometimes, it really wears on me and my husband too!

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Jennifer - posted on 09/13/2011

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This is a hard stage. She is pushing her boundaries to see what she can get away with. Consistency is the key to everything with kids. If she won't stay seated for her time outs then keep putting her in her crib for them and honestly, making them longer than two minutes won't hurt her.

My daughter used to throw some pretty wicked tantrums. Screaming, throwing things, flinging herself on the floor, the whole nine yards. I finally put my foot down and told her that if she didn't stop she was going in her crib until she DID stop. The next tantrum she had I did just that. She stayed in that crib for 45 minutes screaming like a banshee! I checked on her very frequently and told her repeatedly that as soon as she stopped she could get out of the crib. When she actually stopped I popped her right out and gave her hugs and kisses and wiped her face and we went about our day. It took a few times but she finally got the point and stopped pitching fits like that.

As for bedtime, if she's throwing fits to get you to put her down then I'd say tell her that Mommy can't put her to bed if she is having a tantrum. That she needs to ask. If she has a tantrum have your husband do it and if she asks then you do it. It sounds unfair to him I know but she has to learn that she can't get her way with a fit or she'll never stop. Once she learns that you will put her down if she asks then she'll stop most nights.

I don't know how to make this any easier on your 3 1/2yo child. Perhaps you could sit down and explain to her that her sister has to learn how to be a "good girl" and do something special just her and you, or just her and her daddy so she doesn't feel like she has to compete to get your attention.

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Trudi - posted on 09/15/2011

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Hi Amy,
I have a 2 yr old and a 3 1/2 yr old also - it can be a challenge sometimes!

I know it is hard when there are 2 to deal with but try and keep being consistent - the 2 mins in time out should start when she stays there so may really last anything up to hours depending how stubborn she is at first. If you only put her back in for 2 mins then she hasnt really had a punishment. The first times will be really tough, but she will get the point eventually. It took quite a few time outs to get my kids to stay the required time, but now they get it.

I would change your bed routine. At 2 she doesnt need to be rocked she is just playing to you. have a routine (say a book, drink, song or whatever and then its into bed - no fuss. If she screams you could go back in and tell her off, or stay outside and tell her you will come and give her a cuddle when she stops crying. My son just screams til he is sick too so I know how hard it is to just let them cry, so I would probably go in and give her a cuddle and try to calm her down but then leave again. As she gets older she will learn that crying til she is sick is not much fun - especially if you let her cry til sick a few times just so she gets the point.

With the older one, try and explain to her and give her some special time before bed - a story or song. Maybe give her a sticker chart with treat for good behaviour when you are dealing with miss 2. We are using sticker charts to get them to stay in bed til 7am and it is working on most days.
Its hard to be tough, but i think you have to get a little tougher - they soon learn what to do, but will push you and try to break you first.! Good luck

Angie - posted on 09/14/2011

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Oh, also, Tracy Hogg has a book out - the Baby Whisperer, or something like that; I read it right when I got out of the hospital, and believed it helps so much. It makes a lot of good points that you can still implement at any time. Makes a lot out of habits/routines, things like that...good luck!

Angie - posted on 09/14/2011

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I only have one, so I can't relate completely. I can say that I have a very srong, willfull child! Time outs do not ever work. Depending on what is in question, we take it away, immediately. She gets one warning a day, and that is al. Throws a fit b/c she doesn't want to go potty before shcool? She loses privacy to do so. She throws a fit about taking a nap/rest time? She gets a "friend" (her beloved stuffed animals that sleep with her) taken away; for each time she continues, one more gets taken away. She doesn't eat dinner - no dessert, no nothing ese to eat an hour later when she gets hungry. We have routines that we work with day in and day out...if she wants something "extra" she needs to work for it. If she's not doing what she's supposed to do, she has consequences...

Ania - posted on 09/13/2011

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oh the terrible two's.... between being a rather good boy, my son can be a total terror. I am absolutely anti rocking though. i still have nightmares from my non sleeping sister. I used to lay exhausted at the foot of her crib, and push with my foot. when my son was 4 months old i got rid of the swing and had a huge non rocking fight with my husband. he actually called me non humane. =)
Anyway, i would stop the rocking and start treating her more like a bigger girl. my son is 2 and i remind him he is a big big boy so he needs to climb in his own bed and eat his own food. My son is big on food, so when i refuse to give him another glass of sweet juice or snack its like im starving him and all hell breaks loose. I put him in his room way deep in the corner, and close the doors. When we started time outs, he would get up and run around screaming but i stood there putting him back and time out would not end until he was quiet. I would keep asking "are you a good boy now?" and eventually he would stop the crying enough to say YES GOOD BOY. now i just send him to his room, close the door and tell him to come out when he is a good boy. Sometimes he does cry for a while but he always comes out calm. What worked for me is establishing the "good boy" and the "Sorry"
after each time out, i say now you need to say sorry, and give mommy a hug and i tell him how now he is a very good boy but was being really naughty before. it works for me but i noticed that if my husband is inconsistent with anything my son pick up on it right away and starts trying to see how much he will allow. you just have to be firm but sounds like she really needs mommy so tell her you love her lots and lots but like Jennifer said, mommy cant put her to be when she is being naughty. good luck!

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