Terrible Two's, Power Struggles and how to deal with them.

Michelle - posted on 04/18/2010 ( 7 moms have responded )




I am having a VERY hard time with my son. He is extremely stubborn and wants control of everything. (He has been this way since birth!). I am having a hard time with discipline. I have tried "time out" a couple of times and it has worked. So for big things I will do that. But we are going through these power struggles where he sees what he can get out of me. For instance, he'll ask for food to see if I'll give it to him and then once he's gotten it, throw it on the floor or scream and cry NO!!!! I know these things are normal, but the "normal" discipline doesn't seem to be working with him and we do not want to hit/spank him. I am at my wits end some days! He does not seem to see me as an authority figure. But he does, my mom. I do not let him walk all over me though! And I am a SAHM so he gets plenty of quality time just he and I.


Angela - posted on 04/18/2010




I too have a strong willed little man. I will share with you what has worked for us. I have found that the best way to deal with power struggles is to not have them. I dont mean avoid. I mean give choices, set routines and reward positive behavior IMMEDIATELY. Ignore any temper tantrums that are not a safety risk. With my son the second I get into the struggle I have lost... I feel thats the case with any kiddo. NOt reacting to his negative behavior is hard... but he wants reaction. I save my reaction and energy for his good behavior... you'd be amazed how well this works. I also teach him what I want. For example he has been grabbing and hitting a little. So we showed him "gentle hands" by literally touching him softly and using the words at the same time. When he would try it we would cheer for him. He loves the clapping and cheering so much he would keep doing "gentles." Doing this over and over and over again makes it really easy to redirect him when he starts to hit. We say "we dont hit we do gentles" since we did it over and over again he is almost programed to use soft hands. Routine helps too. Develop a routine around the hardest times of day (for us its getting changed in the morning and at night) When my son does it well he get to watch 10 minutes of Thomas the Tank engine (his current obession). We tell him ahead of time "when we get up we change diaper, change clothes, eat and brush teeth. Or We get pj's on, brush teeth and then night night" Putting in the routine and expected reward has completely eliminated the power struggle.

Anyway this is what works for us. We are constantly working at it but it has become MUCH easier. Good luck finding what works for you.


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Jennifer - posted on 05/28/2010




Aren't the power struggles fun???!! I think we all have them now and then.
With both of my kids I have had similar experiences. My daughter, who will be 2 in June, is at that stage right now. With both of my kids I found that "rejection" is my most powerful tool at this age. When my daughter tries to manipulate me or acts out, I generally lay her on the carpet and walk away. This is, of course, after I have told her no. She generally freaks out completely and comes searching for me. I usually pick her up and ask her if she is going to stop doing the bad behaviour, and if she does it again, then it's into the living room, on the floor and I leave the room again. So far, I have never had to repeat this sequence more than twice. In extreme cases, I put her in her crib for a minute or two, then ask her if she is finished. When she says yes, it is generally true. If not, I put her back and leave the room again for 1-2 minutes.
As with Angela, we have found that the routines eliminate a lot of the problems. When the kids know that the same things happen, in the same order, at around the same time every day, it's easier for them to deal with it.
With my daughter, if we ask her if it's bedtime, the answer is ALWAYS no. But then we tell her that it's time for jammies and when she has her jammies on and her teeth brushed, then we will read a book. Once that is complete, we pick up her "3" suthers and off to bed we go. I lay her in her crib, give her a drink, start her music, place the suthers on her pillow, she waves bye-bye, and away I go again. And I do the same thing every single time I put her to bed. It is extremely rare that she fights it.
I save the "toy-taking" until they become really attached to something and then generally only take it away until the behavior stops, although this changes as the child gets older. It works wonders with my 4-year old.
Anyway, hope you find something that helps.

Jolayne - posted on 05/27/2010




Angela has a point .
We do the exact same thin with our children 5 years and 23 months and it does work wonders .
Also whenever I need them I do wear a set of ear plugs lol .

Melissa - posted on 05/22/2010




i ignore my daughter when she throughs fits & whined i say mommy dont answer to whining. & i was against the spanking too but a good pop on the behind does wonders when she gets out of control & when we go in a store & she misbehaving i find a spot & put her in timeout & make her sit there for 2 minutes

Arielle - posted on 05/21/2010




i ignore the bad behavior as much as possible as long as its something that wont hurt him... i give time outs but i also start taking toys away, starting with his favorite and he doesnt get it back until the next day... it seems to be working pretty good

Orlaith - posted on 05/19/2010




We do the same.
We ignore the temper tantrums( as long as he cant hurt himself), and when he has it out of his system he comes back to us for a hug.
I have found that there are usually triggers to the tantrums, usually hunger or tiredness, definitely reward the good behaviour, and keep it up!!!

Hayley - posted on 04/21/2010




I agree with Angela, we do exactly the same with our 22 month old son. We give him a choice and tell him the consequence of his actions. We also use time out and def praise the good behaviour x

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