Toddler behavior problems

April - posted on 11/21/2011 ( 23 moms have responded )

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Ok, here it is...

I feel like my 2 year old (3 in March) has BAD behavior problems (in my oppinion) but my husband thinks he's just acting the way a 2 year old should act and dismisses all the bad things he does and does not get onto him. Infact, he sometimes laughs at the things he does, right in front of our 2 year old. He will tell him no sometimes but Adam keeps on doing it and my husband eventually gives up or just laughs it off.

I have an 11 year old so I know all too well about the terrible 2's but never had these problems with him at this age as my husband worked 2 jobs back then and I was the one in charge 80% of the time so that might have something to do with it.

Other than the basic problems you would encounter with a 2 year old, he hits, throws things across the room and laughs about it, pitches big fits in stores when I tell him no to something (never thought that would happen to me!) pitches long fits when he doesn't get his way, For example, he will pitch a 3-4 minute fit if another child is playing with something that he wants or if he's throwing a ball in the house and I ask him to stop, he will always throw it again and will continue to do so until I show him I'm angry. Another example is he will ask for juice or something and if we are out I will fix him something else he likes and he will pitch a fit and throw it in the trash or in the floor or something Now as I said, I know some of these things are pretty basic such as sharing, and pitching fits but he takes it to the extreme. Sometimes, but not often, I will smack his hand or bottom just to get the behavior to stop but I always feel like I have made the wrong choice when I use this technique. I told myself that I was not going to spank this time around like I did with my first child as I was a young mother then but on the other hand my oldest son never acted like this.

My discipline techniques have been timeouts since he was about 1 year old and I use the Super Nanny technique which works ok but he screams and cries the whole time he is in the seat and if my husband is home he will often get out of his seat and then my husband interferes with this, he will not stick to it with me and he leaves all the disciplining up to me and will talk e into letting him up cause he thinks I am being mean by making him sit there (which is only 2 minutes)

Not only is this causing bigger problems but I sometimes question myself as to weather I am doing my job right. My husband thinks I expect too much out of our 2 year old, my side of the family uses yelling and spanking techniques so I always feel like the outkast in my family cause I am not that strict and then there are others who always have their oppinions, some tell me it's normal behavior and some say I need to spank him. I really don't want to spank as my primary discipline or at all if I can help it. It just doesn't feel right to me, not saying it's wrong I just don't feel comfortable spanking him, especially at this age.

I guess I'm just looking for some support here or any advice. I feel so confused right now and I feel like I have lost my (mommy) mojo!

Hugs, April

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Sara - posted on 11/23/2011

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You are right hitting is not ok, no matter the age. If it makes you feel better my daugther used to bite, throw major tantrums in stores (I carried her out screaming before), threw things, etc., when she did not get her way - mostly because she is just willful but also because she wanted attention. I always disciplined her but rarely with spanking. I would just say keep doing what you are doing (it will get better) and stay consistent and don't give up. My daughter eventually got tired of trying to fight me on it because I would not let up on her bad behavior and it eventually improved. Now when I say no, she doesn't like it but no more tantrums or other behavior. Just try to stay calm and don't worry about being "the bad guy" - your kids will love you no matter what and likely respect you more for standing your ground when they get older (I have a girlfriend with a similar situation as yours and as her son got older he only now listens to his mother and not his father as he looks at him more like a sibling than a parent so there are consequences for your husband that will show up later on).

Hang in there!

[deleted account]

The problem isn't your son. It's your husband!



Put him in the naughty chair instead.

Sara - posted on 11/23/2011

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Hi April,
I believe you are right on - first you and your husband have to be on the same page about discipline or kids will manipulate, make you feel guilty and take advantage. Secondly you are also right it's not ok for a 2 year old to act this way and think that it is good or OK behavior. It's normal for them to act out but the sooner you put a stop to it the better so as they get older they don't think it's acceptable behavior.

My husband and I had similar challenges, I was more strict and he would laugh or is less likely to discipline right away, letting things go. I finally put him in more situations where he had to deal with these episodes by himself as I was always the one at the grocery store with my daughter when she threw a tantrum, or out somewhere having to discipline her. Once he started being put in that situation and I did nothing and left it up to him he started to pay more attention and not let her act out.

Also I don't like spanking either so I take away priviledges or toys or something special I know my daughter loves or wants. I spank as a last resort and very rarely.

As Mom's we think we have to take care of everything for our kids and I say make this a 50/50 responsibility with your husband or your child will constantly try to manipulate the situation. As soon as they figure out neither of you parents will budge they will start to improve.

Heather - posted on 11/21/2011

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He sounds like a normal 2 year old boy to me! The support you need, if from your husband. And every child is different. Don't compare him with your 11 year old, because he isn't ever going to be like your 11 year old.

Christy - posted on 11/21/2011

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NORMAL!!!!!!!!!!!! My son did this at that age, and is JUST NOW SOMEWHAT (at age 4) growing out of it. What I found that worked for me is putting him in his crib (or a play pen, something like that) that he couldn't get out of in the other room, AWAY from me. This behavior is simply your child getting the attention he wants, whether it is positive or negative. If you put him in a place temporarily when he acts up AWAY from you, you are no longer his "audience" (if that makes sense). I know a lot of ppl on here say that there should be time limits in "time out" depending on age, but I did this until my son stopped screaming, and if he didn't (after 5 or 10 minutes) I would go in and tell him he can come out if he acted right. Of course this all took time and he still acted out right after getting out of his crib, but after time they learn. Good luck.

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Barbara - posted on 11/29/2011

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I think I need to clarify my point a little. I would not suggest telling your older son to just suck it up when he gets hit by the younger one. I'm not saying just let him hit people willy nilly. I am simply suggesting looking at the reason behind the hitting. If he is hitting you because he wants you to react negatively towards him, as is typically the case in a tantrum situation, then ignoring works IN THAT SITUATION. If he is hitting his friends that's another can of worms entirely, requiring a different type of response.
I do have to say that when we had a problem with my older son hitting my younger one we solved it by giving the young one the focus. It wasn't that we ignored the older one, it's that he was secondary. It used to be that we would run over and start yelling at the older one while secondarily calming the little one, if you know what I mean. That focal switch seems to have solved that problem. He knows that hurting his brother results in less attention for him and more for his brother. He knows that his brother may get a reward of some sort that he will not be offered. I don't have to say to him "Now Sidd gets this and you don't because you were a bad hitter!" He's just behind me, witnessing his brother sitting reading his favorite book or eating a bowl of grapes in my lap and he gets the message.
I heard someone say it this way once, and I'm paraphrasing: "When someone is drowning, it is not a good time to teach them to swim. It's time to save them from drowning." I thought that was a wise way to think about tantrums.

Archana - posted on 11/29/2011

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April, I am in the same boat too. Actually I logged in today to start a thread asking for advice/support about how my son was behaving. Happy to know its not me or him. its the phase we are in. And that we are not alone...
In addition to all that fits, throwing things, slapping etc my 26mo old spits and sometimes even takes out his anger at me on his 14 mo old brother. its an effort mentally and physically to stop from spanking him and shaking some sense into him. when he spits i flick him but he does it again. I guess the bottom line is he has to out grow this phase and we have to find that extra patience and compassion. easier said than done though!!!!!

Sairis - posted on 11/28/2011

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I know what you are feeling, I also feel that my two year old is the worst behaved. He also hit, bites and when you tell him stop he just looks at you and keeps doing the same thing you asked him to stop. I have to put a serious face so he would know I'm not playing and still it does not work. It is hard cause like you my oldest son did not act this way.

April - posted on 11/28/2011

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I don't think I could make my 2 year old sit there for 2 hours, that would be a little harsh for his age. I have had him sit for about 20 minutes and let him up but had a good talk with him before doing so. He doesn't cry that long when he knows my husband is not home but if my husband is home, it will go on until my husband asks me to let him up which is never more than 5 minutes. My husband has no patience and would just assume get the creaming over with but doesn't understand that the screaming would eventually stop if he knew that neither one of us would give in so easily.

Krystyn - posted on 11/28/2011

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my son does the same thing hes four. When he throws things, i take it and dont give it back. He has to earn what he gets taken from him. When i put him in time out he cries, but i dont start the time until he calms down n can sit there. Hes sat there for almost a good two hours because he wouldnt calm down. My fiance is the opposite of your husband. He doesnt laugh at his behavior but would rather want to spank him instead of doing the time out or fixing the problem. .. If my son needs a spanking sure, he'll have one. But if it doesnt fit the situation i go around it, the fiance tho puts spanking first. (i dont agree). He interfers with me giving time out as well. Your definitely not alone ..

April - posted on 11/27/2011

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I really don't feel like y expectations are that high though. Infact, I let a lot of things go that Adam does and just pretend not to notice where I have seen other parents get worked up over. I don't expect my 2 year old to be anything like my first child, I was only comparing the situation as to why I think my first child behaved better was because my husband worked 2 jobs and was hardly ever home so my first son was very tolerant of my rules (which are very basic). I don't expect my 2 year old to be a perfect or even average but my sons hitting and tantrums are getting out of hand to the point to where I get so lost in my thoughts and can't even think straight enough to come up with the proper way to handle it and my husband seems to be making it worse. For instance...Adam will ask for something and since I usually know how he will react, I will squat down to his level, hold both his hands and calmly explain why he can't have something and he pitches a big fit. I choose to walk away and pretend not to notice the outburst but if it goes on for more than a few minutes, my husband will go up to him and try and hold him and bribe him with things and will often give in and give Adam the object he wants (if it's a safe object) and viola, the tantrum is over but I feel like that's where the tantrums are coming from. Adam knows that if he pitches a big enough fit, that his daddy will come to the rescue and give him anything he wants and it's like this with everything. If I have him in timeout and he's screaming the whole time, I will tell him that soon as he can sit quitely in his seat for 2 minutes, he can get up but he continues to scream cause he knows any minute that his daddy will come down and get him. If Adam hits me or any of us, I will get onto him for it and my husbnd will say, (he's just playing) and sometimes he is just playing but I don't want him to think that hitting is a form of playing. He also hits out of anger and when I put him in timeout for it, he cries and pitches a fit as usual and my husband has in the past come down and said to my son (mommy's mean, ain't she?) How am I supossed to get my 2 year old to take me seriously when my husband behaves like this? I feel like I am doing everything right and not getting any results :(

Heather - posted on 11/27/2011

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Sounds to me like you and your husband are BOTH right ... I think you had an "easy" first child and so have high expectations for #2. But... Your husband needs to realize that his (hubby's not son's) behavior IS going to cause big problems in the future. I think you two need to come up with a game plan somewhere in the middle ground and stick to it. When you are pulling your hair out as the disciplinarian, hubby needs to step up/in but he can not play Mr Niceguy. He needs to follow through with the plan... If only it was so simple to do ... Good luck. And yes Hang in there you sound like a great mom :)

April - posted on 11/23/2011

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I really like that idea Liz! I also feel like my husband is a huge part of this. We have had many talks on this toppic and he listens but he never follows through. I even told him that I would be happy if he would just not interfere at all if he's not willing to help me with him. I would really love to see him follow my examples but he's the type of guy who thinks he knows best. He is a very smart guy but he hasn't a clue about the way kids think. Everything you all have suggested, I am pretty much doing but my husband just doesn't doen't get it. I refuse to ignore my child hitting me though, not because it bothers me Barbara but because it's just not nice. He also hits his brother. Am I supossed to tell my older son to just deal with it? He also has lots of cousins close to his age so what if he hits one of them? So I guess I am supossed to look the parent in the face and tell her I'm just going to ignore it. I don't think so. I don't mean to sound rude but that really sounds rediculous. I watch a lot of tv on parenting and love trying out new techniques that I read about or that others have suggested and have never once heard an expert say to ignore something like that. Tantrums yes! That's fine cause it's not hurting anyone. Some things just can't be ignored.

Mariette - posted on 11/23/2011

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i sometimes find when my 2year old is asking for juice, he DOES NOT mean milk, lol. he will throw it on the floor and tantrum. so now when he asks for juice, i make sure i give juice not to get him angry, but there are times when he asks for juice, and just because i put it in the wrong cup, he will throw it as well, or when i give him a broken biscuit. or whatever the case might be. i feel that it i give him what he asks for, and he does that, i simply take it away, and he can tantrum all he like, i will not give in. because if he really wanted that biscuit, it would not matter if its broken. same with toys, he gets these moods where he would throw his toys, or hit me with his play gholf set. and i simply take that toy away for the rest of the day, and he can only get it back the next day after he said sorry. and it actually teaches him to think twice before he does that. as for fits in the mall, i leave him on the floor, he can have the fit, i simply act as if im too busy too notice, and when he sees he gets no attention, he gets up and stops, so then i ask him 'are you done now' and can we move on? so he will say yes mommy. and then we move on. lol. i dont like to spank, but sometimes it helps. but i try to rather remove the object that caused the conflict. and go on with whatever i was doing. they soon learn that fits dont get attention if you just ignore it.

Barbara - posted on 11/22/2011

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I understand your hesitation. The thing is that he knows he's doing something that is bad and that's why he is doing it. He's doing it so that you react, that's why he laughs and why the behavior escalates. I know that punishing feels like the right thing to do, but really it's the "reward" that he's looking for. I don't know if that makes any sense written out into words, but believe me the proof is in the pudding.
For example when my son used to throw something in a fit I used to put him in time out, and when he got mad the next time he would throw something again and I would put him in time out, maybe for longer. It just escalated. Then I tried calmly picking up the projectile and putting it out of reach, without even looking at him or saying a word. It took doing a few times, but now he doesn't throw things. As far as hitting goes, if it doesn't hurt I just ignored it. This can feel like you're subordinating yourself to him, but really I feel like it's the opposite. He can't hurt you, why give that to him as a tool to use against you when you don't have to? Anyway, it took care of the hitting around here. I don't want to make it sound like my sons are perfect, they're not. But this way of doing things makes it more likely that they will make good choices in those situations rather than bad ones, at least in our experience.

[deleted account]

My son has just started this. He threw the biggest fit I've ever seen tonight over the pajamas I put on him. He smacked me in the face, told me NO and then (for the first time ever) refused to stand in time out and I had to hold him there until he calmed down. I am chalking it up to him being tired because we had a long day of running errands because he has NEVER acted like that before. I am going to attempt to continue using the timeouts as I do not want to spank either. I guess the only advice I can give is if he throws a ball, tell him we don't throw balls in the house & take it away. Throws a fit, time out until he calms down. As far as the being a food/drink critic, he'll eat or drink it if and when he's hungry or thirsty enough. With my son, if he is throwing a fit over something, that something is gone for a while. Just never give in pretty much, you have to be more strong willed than he is. My hubs is the same way, a giant pushover. He works 90% of the time though so I do the majority of the child rearing. When he is here, my husband will back me up on time outs and punishments or at least step aside. I don't mind being the bad guy so I'm pretty tolerant of his being a softie with our little one.

Amanda - posted on 11/21/2011

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I can totally sympathise with you. My 3yr old (4 in March) has been an absolute nightmare since he could crawl. I felt like I couldn't take him anywhere and everything we did was so stressful because of his behaviour. I also have a 2 yr old and she doesn't behave like this, she has the occassional tantrum but she listens, is polite and well behaved most of the time.

In regards to ignoring ball throwing in the house, I don't say a word to my son and just take the ball away, if he asks I tell him we don't throw balls in the house and leave it at that. For hitting, I remove him and tell him he needs to stay in his room until he can play nicely.

I found my son needs a place where he can let off steam, so if I see him getting frustrated I tell him if he needs to he can go to his room and scream and to come out when he feels better. It really does work.

On the upside, he seems to have just snapped out of it overnight and he is now the calmest, most even tempered I have ever seen him. He listens, isn't backchatting, isn't disrupting games with other children, he isn't teasing his sister, and is an absolute pleasure to be around at the moment.

April - posted on 11/21/2011

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And you say it's normal :) so why do I feel like my child compared to all the other kids I am around is the worst behaved one :(

April - posted on 11/21/2011

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Barbara. How am I supossed to ignore things like throwing balls in the house and hitting? I feel like there has to be some boundries and ignoring it doesnt sound good to me. How are they supossed to know that it is not allowed if you ignore it. Praising good will show them that they are doing good but ignoring it is not showing them that they have done good or bad, just that there is no reward or consiquince. Wouldn't that just confuse them?

April - posted on 11/21/2011

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Oh, and I'm sure that would probably work in public, leaving the store but what if I have a buggy full of groceries. I also do couponning so I would hate to have to recalculate all that hard work and time I spent :(

April - posted on 11/21/2011

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That's just it though. I can't get my husband to work with me. He thinks there is no need to get onto him for these things. He would rather just bribe or try and talk Adam out of the behavior.

I do give lots of praise and I don't do timeouts for for fits. I take him to his room and have him sit on his bed until he is finished.

Nicole - posted on 11/21/2011

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FIrst off, dont stress too much. You are doing a good job in the position you are in. My daughter is 2 1/2 and my timeouts are different then what my husband has in mind. Growing up I had the wooden spoon and kneeling against a wall kind of treatment. I don't hit my child because I don't want to teach her that hitting is ok. Anyway, the biggest thing I see is that you and your husband aren't on the same page for dicipline. My husband is gone a lot so when I put my child on a chair and hold her there until she stops screaming/crying and then explain to her why she's there, he would rather give her a spanking or something-to cry about. She listens to me and obeys me a lot easier then him but I find the little things tend to bother him more. If she spills a little, he gets worked up-I brush it off as I filled the cup too much so I was asking for it. There are things to be relaxed about and things that need to be diciplined. Do what your heart tells you, explain that it worked on your 11 year old. Tatrums I ignore. If my daughter throws a cup full of water, I pick it up, tell her no more water and no more of somthing else she wants, let her cry and I walk away-ignore her. If in public-drop everything and leave and tell him you'll come back without him or when he knows how to behave-I've done it-it's embarrassing but also a relief in a weird way. I think the super nanny techniques are good-just find somthing you trust will work and work on your husband as well. Tell him to leave if he doesn't like it and then talk to him about how it makes you feel or ask him what he would like the punishment to be like and have him do it next time. I wish you the best of luck and be strong!

Barbara - posted on 11/21/2011

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I think you and your husband need to come up with a plan for discipline and stick to it. I think one of the cardinal rules in parenting is to seem to be a unified force with your partner.
Also, we've been doing positive discipline for the last 6 months with our kids and it's working so well! We don't use spanks, yelling, time outs or anything, but instead focus on praising them when they do something good and ignoring them when they do something we don't like. Sometimes we take away a privilege but the interaction goes something like this: In a calm, normal tone of voice we'll say "No tv tonight" and just leave the room. He might follow or yell or scream, but we just keep ignoring him after that point and we end the discussion, or at least our half of it. But conversely, we are always looking for things to praise. A high five for putting their shoes where they go here, a " good job of playing together and sharing so well!" there works wonders! It's totally changed the atmosphere around this place!

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