Out of Control!

Thea - posted on 10/18/2010 ( 20 moms have responded )

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My 2 & 3 year old girls are out of control! I don't know if they were spoiled too much as babies or what is going on, but they've got myself & my boyfriend at our breaking points! Nothing I try works. I've tried time out, taking away toys, yelling, talking, not talking & just doing, no snacks, no special anything, spanking, EVERYTHING & nothing seems to phase these girls. They back talk, throw fits, & scream & cry for hours it seems like. I'll even put them in their rooms alone & it does nothing. It's gotten so bad in the past 2 months my boyfriend is considering leaving. They whine & cry over EVERYTHING. The smallest thing makes everything come to a screeching halt & a massive emotional breakdown. I'm at a total loss & nobody can seem to give me any thoughts on what to do. Any ideas???

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[deleted account]

It sounds like they are acting like typical toddlers. My twins are the same way right now and it's very frustrating. I think you need to look at why your girls are getting some frustrated -- are they fighting over toys? By another of the same toy. Try giving them more control over some things that aren't that important (e.g., what to wear, etc). Giving toddler more choices makes them feel more in control of their lives and makes them happier. I would try to identify and reduce their frustration to reduce yours. Remember, they want to do things themselves and it's upsetting when they can't.

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Samantha - posted on 10/30/2010

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Do what Karen said. I totally agree with all she wrote. I have a 5, 4 and 2 1/2 yr old, and everything we did is very similar to what karen wrote. consistency is important, but one thing I learnt very quickly was never to say no to something unless I was able to follow through and enforce my point. the moment you say no to something and eventually cave, you have lost your power as the parent and authority in their life. Some kids do get it quicker than others, they are compliant children. others are more strong willed. strong willed children will test the same boundary every day just to make sure its still there, because it makes them feel safe. Think about it like having a hallway of closed doors, and you lock the ones that have dangerous things in or precious things you don't want the child to get at. At first you lock the doors to keep the child out, and to teach them that the boundary is there, but you have to keep it locked because some children will test the door handle every day, just to make sure you remembered to lock it, not necessarily because they don't understand the rules. Other kids will keep trying the door for a few days and accept that the door is always locked. I know you feel at your wits end, and that you need a break. It is good if you can find a way to get that break. Maybe you and your partner to need to find a way to give each other a small break each week, if no one else can help you. But you need to remember that being a parent is a lifelong commitment and you need to persevere for their sake. If you give up and let them have what they want, the consequences will be far worse than if you don't keep trying. Use reward charts. I have a stamp chart thats laminated, for a weeks worth of stamps. my 4 and 5 yr old have to do 5 jobs of a morning to get ready for the day, getting dressed, teeth brushing, hair brushing, washing their faces and making their beds. They get a stamp for each job completed each day. then stickers if the chart is fully of stamps at the end of the week. don't get me wrong, they can't perform all the tasks themselves completely yet, but it makes them responsible for themselves. I say ok its time to do chart jobs, and they have to go off to the bathroom and get tooth brushes etc. they have to attempt everything themselves, and ask for help with manners when they can't complete it. There is a book called The New Strong Willed child that I found very helpful with my kids, who did used to tantrum at the shops, but with perseverance they are now public angels mostly. Its a christian book, but even if you don't subscribe to all the values in it, I think its worth a read, if you are at your wits end.

Brandee - posted on 10/29/2010

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If you find out how to stop this let me know Im right there with you my 3 year old is the same way maybe its just a phase they'll grow out of

Erin - posted on 10/29/2010

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I think some kids just GET IT faster than others personally. I NEVER give into my son. Being persistent is tricky. However, I have faith that one of these days my son will GET IT. He is generally sweet. He usually hits me when he wants attention when I am busy with something else other than him. I think he''s beginning to get it, I hope.

Anne - posted on 10/29/2010

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Even though you say you've tried all sorts of things (time outs etc) perhaps they've learnt that if they scream and cry long enough, you will give in. Has that been happening? Have you eventually given in to them and given them what they were crying for? In that case, they have learnt to just keep fighting and in the end, you'll cave. If this is the problem, you will have to become super, super tough and NOT give in to them - always keep in your mind that YOU are the parent and THEY are children. YOU are going to win - NOT them. You will have some massive fights at first but you CANNOT cave in to them. Eventually they will exhaust themselves and possibly even fall asleep. In time, they will learn that they can't always get what they want. And you have to be UNITED with your boyfriend when you do this, otherwise they will play one of you off the other. It's not going to be easy but I hope it works out for you. You have to set boundaries...no means no...not maybe.

Karen - posted on 10/28/2010

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Okay okay, I'll be the mom with the "normal" toddler. At least as normal as they can be. My daughter typically does not throw tantrums, fight with us, scream, etc etc. Here's how we handle incidents, which we're having right now because my little girl has had some big changes (preschool, a toddler bed, shuttled to the grandparents, etc).

1) Rules are rules and consequences are always the same. A warning, a count to 3, time out, then up to the room. We never yell at her, she thrives on knowing she gets to us. It sometimes take a long breath... or two... but when we talk, we keep the tone even (unless it's a dangerous situation of course). Time out (3 minutes) doesn't start until the crying stops. Getting up restarts it. And if she does get up, we don't talk to her at all, just pick her up and put her back... over and over and over again until she stays. This very rarely happens anymore, maybe once in the last few months.

2) Tantrums at home. If she whines, throws herself on the floor, cries, whatever, we politely tell her when she can ask/talk nicely, we'll talk to her, and we walk away. As long as she isn't destroying anything or hurting herself, we ignore her until she straightens up.

3) Tantrums in public - We tell her before hand that we expect good behavior and define it. If she doesn't listen or acts up, we will leave immediately and she can not go to the store with us the next time we go. Yes, this has happened, it was really embarrassing to leave my cart at the front desk, but I did it. She gets NOTHING from the store for that kind of behavior. She typically gets a book of stickers or a small toy for a $1 if she's good.

4) Hitting, kicking, biting, or damaging stuff on purpose is an automatic time out. She got time out immediately last week because she was angry and decided to dump her grape juice on the floor. Time out started AFTER she helped clean up the mess. She's old enough to help clean up what she messes up, unless it's glass or something equally dangerous.

5) We have a schedule. Kids need routine. Home between 4:00 and 5:30pm, snack at 5:00pm, dinner at 6:30pm, baths on the same nights every week, bedtime at 8:30pm. I try to plan one family outing and one evening outside, contingent on good behavior the day of the event. I warn her as soon as we get home that we have something planned and she needs to be good to participate. We have spent evenings inside on a beautiful day because of attitude, but more often, we make it to whatever we planned. My husband and I have discussed what happens when we have two children. If one acts up, the good child gets to go with one parent, while the other parents stays home with the disruptive kid. Now, that's only a theory at this point.

5) Respond really well to good behavior - every tiny thing - to help encourage good behavior. I compliment my daughter for saying pleases and thank yous, for helping me with things, everything I can because kids love praise. I think this is probably one of the biggest helps. I let her help me with stuff (even if it makes a mess) and make sure she gets at least 15-30 minutes of dedicated Mom time a day



A little side note - check the sitter if you have one. We dropped our kid off at a bad sitter and her behavior was abysmal the entire time she was there. She got no attention at the sitters unless she was bad, so she brought that mentality home with her.



My brother had similar issues as you have expressed. For years... His kids are now 12, 8, and 5. He's recently started following something similar to what I posted above. He didn't get it from me, but slowly figured it out on his own. His kids have improved immensely. The whole family is much happier. I wish you all luck. Toddlers can be good kids, and they can be a joy to have around!

[deleted account]

My daughter is 2 1/2 and she is somewhat out of control too. Everyone just says its the age and she eventually grow out of it. That is great but I need a break now!! I have an older son who was not like this..he was an angel!!! She challenges you at everything and doesn't listen. I yell, I talk I give time outs and nothing works. I can't take her to the mall either...she doesn't like the stroller and just runs off!!! It is frustrating. I go to work to get a break!!!!!

Erin - posted on 10/26/2010

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I try to stay calm when my son has tantrums too. I notice it does help. He throws tantrums in public more than at home. At home he's usually a little angel. He doesn't like going in the shopping cart. Where we live they have little car shopping carts if he's in one of those he's fine, but those are limited at the grocery store. I'd like to just walk with him but he wants to run off and explore, he won't stay with me.

Kerrilee - posted on 10/26/2010

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My 3 yr old s like this off and on, i realise though that the more frustrated and angry i get with him, the more he acts up, if i try and calmly reason with him, which isnt so easy some times, his behaviour improves. If he still wants to throw tantrums, i say go and have it over there, come back to me when you are happy and we can play. If my son is misbehaving at the shopping centre, i will point to a wall on the other side of the room, no matter where i am and say, that is the naughty wall, if you are naughty, that is where you will be sitting. I wish you goodluck, but try and remain calm for your own sanity.

Jordan - posted on 10/23/2010

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ignore them when they throw tantrums or when they have melt downs make sure they can't hurt themselves, but try your best not to yell or give them any attention while doing so. They just want a reaction from you, and even yelling is attention. Develop a solid routine and try and stick to it. hope this helps. good luck.

Linda - posted on 10/23/2010

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Thanks Momma Mia,My daughter has her hands full with three boys.The baby is just 5 months old. She trys to take them to the park when her husband is home to help. Now that the oldest one is in Head Start 2 days a week it gives her time with him at school and I, Grandma watches the two younger ones for about three hours. It gives my daughter a little break from having all three.This Grandma loves every minute I have with them.Thanks for your reply.

Mama - posted on 10/23/2010

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i can relate to for sure! i have a two year old and a one year old. i was at the point where i literally had a nervous break down. part of the reason is because my fiance works so much that i have 2 do a lot alone. i tried spending time with them individually but it just made them jealous. i mean they fight like little boys punching smacking and pulling each others hair and the are still babies in my eyes. the best thing that i learned to do is to take time doing something together with them. you dont have 2 go 2 a public place try something simple like going to the park. the more you get involved the better they may act. they might be acting out because they want more attention from you. hopefully i helped im new to this site

Linda - posted on 10/22/2010

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It sounds like my daughters 2 and 3 year old boys.Word for word they do the same.My daughter and her husband are at wits end as they don't know what to do either.Except they also have a 5 month old Son as well. Any ideas????

Cindy - posted on 10/22/2010

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It's strange how a toddler will know that they have no lime outs when out in public!!! My son does the same thing, refuses to ride in the stroller or cart, takes off when his feet hit the floor and is all over the place. A family trip to the mall is taxing to say the least - I'm ready to pull my hair out after 30 minutes! He just won't listen!!! No matter how many times I explain to him why he must stay with us and that he shouldn't do this or that ... he refuses to listen. I look on in amazement at other mothers and children who are listening and behaved that are the same age as my son and wonder "what am I doing wrong???". We keep telling ourselves "he will grow out of this". There are days when I start to wonder if I am the only parent who has a demon for a child LOL but then I read the things on the Mom's group and other mom type websites and occasionally see another mom having similar issues in the mall with her child - so I realize I am not alone. But I tell ya, it sure feels like I am alone most days when he is acting up at his worst. I am ready to go back to work just so he can get a break from me and me from him. I think it will do us BOTH a world of good. As much as I hate the thought of having to job search, child care search and then pay for someone else to care for my son (child care costs in our area are ridiculous), it is what I might just have to do. When I told my husband the other day that I felt trapped at home he did not offer any support of any kind, not even a hug! Getting back to work may just give me a chance to make some friends outside of the home and have someone to talk to. The majority of my friends have fallen by the wayside since I married and had the baby - some friends huh? The others are not close enough that I feel I can confide in and the husband .... well, he told me in no uncertain terms "I'm tired of hearing you complain about your day, I don't want to hear it anymore". I have no support system, my mother has been gone for years and have no other relatives that I can talk to. Even my mother in law has never offered to help in any way. I have asked - she is semi retired - and the response was less than helpful so I just don't ask anymore.
It does help to be able to post here and feel like someone is listening, thank you for that Mom friends!!

Erin - posted on 10/22/2010

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Cindy I totally get what you are saying about other moms being clicky. I never feel like I fit in when I try to join things like playgroups and what not.
I get what all of you are saying. My son is always into everything. Whenever I take him anywhere he gets into everything, He doesn't want to be in a stroller but if I let him walk he'll run off. I know I shouldn't run after him because then he makes a game out of it. But if I don't run after him he'll get lost so what am I supposed to do? He also tries to take things from people. When I went to the indoor playground at the mall yesterday he kept going up to the parents who were sitting on the benches,and trying to take their phones, drinks, ect. He kept trying to take something from this one woman, who must have been there with her grandson, and after I told him no a couple of times ,I said to my son "if you do it again we're leaving." She looked at me and said in a snooty tone " I'm just gonna move" and she went to sit somewhere else. I felt so judged.
I always feel like the only person who's child doesn't listen. I love him so much but he tests me over and over again especially when we're out because he knows there isn't a time out in other places besides home.

Cindy - posted on 10/21/2010

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ok, so all the opinions posted here say this is normal behaviour for a toddler. I am going through the same thing with my son who is 28 months old. he fights with me from the minute he opens his eyes to the moment I put him to bed. I can't talk to my husband because he says he doesn't want to hear me complaining about what I am going through. He tires to help with our son but is only home with us for a couple of hours before our son goes to bed each night. Ok, so this is normal. What about me? What about the other moms who are going through the same thing? What do we do to preserve our sanity? I have tried joining a moms group but it seems kind of "clicky" and didn't really feel acepted. I keep trying though. I am a stay at home mom with a part time day home, so I get NO breaks from kids. I only have 1 part time little guy besides my son. The income I have from the dayhome makes my vehicle payment but that is it, I have no extra money to go to a spa or shopping on my own. I try to take a few minute breaks when he is acting up but it only helps for the time being. I am at my wits end as to what to do and I need someone to talk to.You are not alone, it would appeaar that there are a number of moms out there in the same situation.

Kristina - posted on 10/20/2010

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Preschool really helped my daughter when she was 3. I also had a 2 year old daughter and a newborn. When my son was first born, my 3 year old starting suddenly acting out as a bully. It was just for attention. But then when she started school, she felt like a big girl and felt like she had her own space for part of the day. It also worked out well for me so I could concentrate on my other two kids. Don't get me wrong, 2 and 3 definitely are hard ages, but this is what helped for our family.

Rebecca - posted on 10/19/2010

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i have a 2 year old who is exactly the same me & my boyfriend are considerin splitin my boyfriend has stopped helpin with him because his so bad he cant take it anymore ive tryed everything as wel but nothing seems to work no matter how hard u try im sorry i dont have any advice but im just lettin u no ur not the only 1 goin through it i no its hard just keep ur chin x

Karen - posted on 10/19/2010

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I totally understand what you are going through... I have a 3 year old son who is doing the same sort of thing! Just add pushing and shoving to the list of out of control actions... I have also tried all things you have listed and nothing works!!
Everyone says I must be patient and perserve with it.. I have been persevering for the last 9weeks and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel if anything the outbursts are worse....
I have noticed that giving a limited choice and therefore control/independence to him has resulted in a small improvement But it doesn't last for long. I constantly have to adapt my approach.
The one thing that helps is to set the limits/boundaries of behavior and stick to them! The most important thing I found with my son is that I must be consistent and to follow through with the consequences... and every-time you give in and take the easy route... the more he tests the boundary and so the cycle continues.
Having some one-on-one time can be beneficial so no harm trying it.
The tension between you and your boyfriend will definitely be felt by the kids and they will act out...
Also they are most probably frustrated because they may not understand the emotions they are feeling and not know the most appropriate way to express them...
So I wish you all the best

Amanda - posted on 10/18/2010

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I'm sorry you are going through this.
Do each of the girls get their own individual time time with you? Maybe they are feeling left out or neglected-I'm not saying you are neglecting them, but maybe they are feeling that way. Try giving each girl some special time alone with just you doing something fun that they choose. Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen is a really great book.
Has anything changed recently? Children, while resilient, are extremely perceptive to things going on around them. They will reflect back at you the behaviors you exhibit. Maybe take a step back and reflect on how things are going for you or your boyfriend. Have you been stressed recently(by things other than the girls) that they could be picking up on? How long have you and your boyfriend been together? (Sorry if this next question is out of line, I am just thinking) Maybe he is looking for an excuse to leave?
The main thing is to look for the root of the behaviors. Children really don't act bad. They do things out of necessity and curiosity. They are constantly figuring out what they are capable of and how they affect the world around them. It comes down to really listening(not just talking at/to them) to your girls and paying attention to the signals they are giving you. I think once you get to the root of the behavior(it won't be easy and it is going to take patience) things will start moving forward.

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