Tantrums at Two. Please Help!

[deleted account] ( 2 moms have responded )

I am a single mom in my late twenties. My son just turned two; double the fun and double the tantrums. He has always been stubborn and strong willed. I see the good in it but I also understand that there has to be a point where he respects me; especially since I'm both mom and dad. I think I let the guilt of his dad not being around get to me, thus I tend to cater to him more than I should and give into his meltdowns. I reason with him and spend too much time and energy trying to figure him out.

Lately I'm to the point where I am physically and mentally exhausted. His father has never been involved, so it's always been just me. At first, I felt like super mom. I seemed to have everything under control, but as he gets older, I feel like I'm losing control and he's winning most of the time. It's important to me that he feels independent and confident, so when I try to stay firm with him I start doubting myself. I think, "am I depriving him" "will this affect his confidence"... I once felt like the best mom in the world and now I feel as though I am falling apart.
He's a great kid. He is smart and healthy and strong....and as any other two year old boy is, he is very curious and active. I want to find a balance. I'm very picky with him, as far as what he eats and how he plays whether its safe or not etc. I know for me to keep my sanity, I'm going to have to relax on some of my paranoia. I want to, but I also want a healthy balance. How do I discipline my toddler at two years old?

Example: We went to watch his cousins soccer game this morning. Normally I sit on the bleachers and I don't mind if he hangs around the area a little bit playing and stuff. But, he wont sit still. He quickly wanders off and does not listen to me when I ask him to stop or tell him no. I spent the entire time running around after him....I don't mind if he ran around close by but he wants to run where the kids are playing the game which isn't safe....he wants to run out of the gym where again, it isn't safe. So I couldn't even sit and watch the game. It was so frustrating that I just picked up my stuff and left. As I drove him, with my son kicking and screaming in the backseat, I broke down thinking "is this my life"...."will I have to just pick up and leave everywhere I go because I cant control my son?". How do I handle those kinds of situations. It's getting worst....he does this ALL the time. Everyday is a constant battle. I'm tired of arguing! It's so exhausting. I have no confidence because I feel like I don't know what I am doing and I cant get my son to behave. Don't get me wrong, he's sweet and he's not extremely disrespectful, he just wants to run off everywhere and do his own thing.

I give him plenty of attention, maybe too much. How much is too much anyways? I have no social life because all my free time goes to him and making sure he's getting plenty of time to play and try new things and burn his energy; but am I allowing him too much time to do whatever he wants? I don't want to be that mom and I don't want my son to be THAT kid.

Please help! I've tried everything. Time out is hard because he wont sit still and if I try to sit him in the chair repeatedly, he squirms and stiffens his legs so I cant get him to sit. What gives?


Ev - posted on 05/03/2014




I see you are trying and it is hard to be a parent no matter if single or not. We all get the same issues you just described with kids of all ages. Mine are grown but I work with your child's age.

Here are some tips:
1)Do not try to reason with him. He is only two and he does not understand reasoning at all. Its more or less I want this right now, I am going to do this right now, and so on. They do not understand the reasoning behind why I can go run around the soccer field. All you can do is say if you do this that will happen. That is a natural consequence.
2)When you say no be consistent with it. If he throws a fit after being told no then if you are out, take him home like you did at the soccer game. A few times of that is going to leave the impression that you are not going to stand for that kind of behavior and he should start to change it.
3)Indulging is fine to a point. Do it every once in a while but not all the time. If you give in to his every whim then he will expect to get what he wants all the time.
4)Set boundaries he can understand and make them the rules he has to live by. If he runs when he should walk, tell him that and make him walk or loose out on that activity.
5)When taking him out for things like games consider that he is two and they are busy bodies. No child this age can be expected to sit for more than five minutes unless you have them engaged in something. A game like that is not the best place for a 2 year old anyway. They can not run or move and have to sit for a couple hours because it is not safe to go play. They do not understand the game anyway and its boring. Going to a store is different because you can keep them busy with helping to pick out things needed at home, teaching them letters and colors and numbers as you get things, and showing them new things. Going to a park is a better deal for a child this age.
6)Time outs from my own point of view do not do justice to getting a child to behave how you want them to. You need a consequence for what is going on such as if he is writing on the wall with a crayon you take it away and tell him he can not color the rest of the day. The next time he might be less likely to do that.
7)Make a consistent routine up too that way during the day he knows what to expect out of the day. A routine helps keep those tantrums down and keeps him busy. You can always alter the routine if you have something to go do that is not normally done like a ball game and when that happens you tell him you are going and that he has to listen and stay with you or its time to leave. Make it known ahead of time what you expect out of him and repeat it when you get there because two year olds do not remember one thing from a moment to the next like we adults or older children can. Its in the now for them. Also be consistent with how you do things when he does not behave accordingly.
8)As he gets older you can change things up for him according to age and ability to understand what is going on and the rules and consequences.

And this can be used all the way until he is 18.


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[deleted account]

Thank you so much Evelyn! The details and examples were very helpful. I'm relieved to know I did the right thing by leaving the soccer game. I don't normally go to every game because he is only two and I understand it can be boring....but there are certain times where I have to do things that may not appeal to him or seem "fun", nonetheless it has to get done. So, I think sticking to what you mentioned and explaining to him before we get there what I expect from him will help. I recently started the time out and I have seen some improvement; however, he still challenges me with something new and I assume that's something we will both have to learn to deal with for the rest of our lives ha!

One question, when I tell him no and he doesn't like it...the tantrum is awful. It kills me and I find myself avoiding confrontation with him at all cost because I feel horrible when he throws those fits. My gut instinct is telling me I shouldn't be avoiding it because he will sense that and take full advantage. I mean, how often does this happen? How long will it take before he understands or am I just expecting too much from him?

I'm new to this mom thing and I'm very timid when it comes to having to put my foot down. It's not so much that I want to give him his way....it's more like I feel like I could spend all day having to confront him.

Also, I think taking away to show consequence is great. But, what can I take away for behavior like hitting? Just today, he wanted trail mix before lunch. Trail mix would be great if he ate the raisins and peanuts...but instead he likes to eat just the m&m's. So I calmly explained that he I prepared a good lunch for him and that the food wanted to have a part in his tummy. He then began to arch and start crying....oh the drama. But then he reached up to hit me in the face. I immediately put him in time out. After his time was up, I took him to our "Happy Board: ( a poster I put up on the wall with the top 5 house rules and his potty training tracker...he gets a sticker every time he meets the goal). I showed him the happy board and explained that we treat people nicely and we do not hit. How did I handle that? Was there anything I should have done differently to get the point across?

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