20 answers

2 1/2 Year Old Throwing Major Fits and Whining All the Time

Ok so when I say 2 1/2 year old one would think that this is the answer to the question - that all kids at this age do this.

But my daughter is beyond acceptable with this. She resorts to acting like a little baby everytime we tell her "no" or she doesn't get what she wants. It's gotten to the point that she is being disruptive in her school class of other 2 and 2 1/2 year olds. They are not behaving this way but her teacher states that she is so needy and cries everytime she is told no.

I am 6 mos pregnant with our second so we thought this may be a contributing factor but don't they usually go this direction AFTER the baby comes?

I am at my wits end and am considering a child psych b/c I want to ensure that my husband and I are reacting appropriately when this happens. We have both lost it a couple of times. Who wouldn't when your entire weekend is spent pacifying her? But we certainly don't lose it all the time. Just a couple of times each of us. Even that I feel is too much but we are human. And when I say we lost it I mean that we raised our voices and told her "Enough - I'm done with this", etc... I hate doing that but GEEZ!

Can anyone please tell me about a similar experience and what you did and what I should do? And would you recommend that we see a child psych or am I over reacting?

With my pregnancy hormones going the way they are, I am very emotionally spent over this. I hate for my daughter to go through anything negative and I wish I knew what was behind all this or if it's just a stage.

Please HELP!!!!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

It sounds like something is bothering her. At this age she may not even realize what it is or be able to articulate to you what it is. Maybe it is the baby already, or has something else changed? I agree with Liz A - give her hugs and love. This takes longer (a few weeks maybe) but in the end you will show her that you understand that she is upset about something and that you are there to help her with that, not to punish her for being upset. I did this with my son, and like I said it took a few weeks, but now things are so much better. You daughter needs understanding and help to deal with her feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, whatever. Punishing her or ignoring her only teaches her that she should bottle up her feelings. it doesn't teach her how to deal with them. Sometimes the "tantrum" ins't even related to a paricular incident of when you tell her no, but it is just the trigger that releases the feelings she has about something else. And yes, sometimes you will "lose it" because it is frustrating and it takes time, but if you usually don't lose it then all will be well.

1 mom found this helpful

The best advice I can give is to be consistent in "punishing" behaviors you don't like. My daughter is also 2.5 and can throw some major fits. But, even with the fits, she has to sit in timeout or go into her room. I just don't tolerate that kind of behavior. I think that this year will be tough, but as soon as she learns that over and over again she is going to be punished, then she will modify her behavior.

Good luck!

L.

More Answers

I have a 1, 2 and 4 yr old. The 2 and 4 yr old were starting to get out of control with their whining and tantrums. I decided that "pacifying" them was actually making things worse. I have to say that once I started saying, "I will not talk to you until you can use a big girl voice" and stuck to that, the whining and tantrums have abated to a manageable amount. I had to actually teach them what I meant by a "big girl voice" and I also had to teach them the appropriate words to use like "please" and "excuse me". I do not respond to them until they can talk to me in a calm voice with correct manners. And yes, even my 27 month old has figured it out.

While I still get some whining and tantrums, it is nowheres near as often and I still use the same method, so nothing lasts as long. Oh yes, and when they approach me correctly without my having to remind them, I take the time to point out what a big girl they are being and how much I appreciate it. My daughters seem to be pretty happy that they can now communicate without everyone getting upset!

Hope this helps.

K.

3 moms found this helpful

If you have been consistent with her and used the same dicipline repeateadly (that is what is needed-what you use is not usually the issue, doing it all the time, every time is the issue) then you might consider a psyciatrist, but she is really little for that. Even if you loose it, if you don't give in, then you are fine. We are all only human, just don't give in, ever.

I have kids who needed psychiatry, and the fundamental thing you should look for is if she is miserable, and she really can't change the behavior that makes her miserable, even with clear and consistent reasons to do so (your discipline.) If she continues to use strategies that are not successful, then she may have a processing issue that prevents typical dicipline from being effective. It is a matter of degree and function. Her fit may look the same as one of a typcal 2.5er, but if she does not learn anything or improve, then you have more to think about.

I do have advice for this stage, for both typicals and kids with issues beyond this stage. That is, tell her what you want her to do instead of what to stop doing. It is not as easy as it sounds. Instead of "stop whining" say "use your nice voice" or instead of "don't kick" say "put your feet on the floor." It does work when they are so little that they can't process what you have just said, stop doing what you said, and come up with something more approriate to do, it is just way too many steps. One step commands with an action that they can successfully carry out right away will be very attractive to kids of this age and kids who have processing issues well beyond this age. It helps them be successful, and success breeds success.

If this continues, and you really feel like you are picking your battles well, and being unwaveringly consistent, consult a Developmental Pediatrician, found at children's hosipitals. You will find this kind of evaluation and physician to be much more user friendly for such a young child, and you can rest assured that any issue (be it physical, mental, genetic, neurolgical, etc,etc) will be addressed by a Developmental Pediatrician so you will miss nothing and can walk out the door knowing exactly what is, and isn't going on. This is the gold standard, especially for such a little one.

Good luck, I don't think the pregnancy has much to do with it, either for you, or for her. 2.5 lives in the here and now, and the baby is not here yet, and unless your husband has pregnancy hormones too, you are not alone in your frustration.

M.

2 moms found this helpful

I have gone through this, with my oldest child, who is now 10. He was actually removed from his class because of it. We tried yelling, time out etc. What ended up working the best, was ignoring him. We would tell him that we thought he was behaving badly etc. and put him in the corner. Then ignore him. I even walked away from him (one aisle over where I could peek at him) in Wal-Mart once or twice. No giving in. No giving him attention for the tantrum. I would even step over him on the floor to continue going about my business. We occasionally have to do this with the other kids too (4, 6, 7). It took time with my oldest, but he did get the point. And he's pretty well behaved and respectful now. If it's an option, pull her out of preschool for awhile so you can deal with her at home. If not, explain what you are trying to do with the teacher. I taught 2-3 year olds for 5 years. It will annoy the teacher, but she can ignore your daughter's behavior as well. Even if she is rolling around on the floor. As long as she is safe, it's really the best response. She can flop around on a carpet in the corner away from everyone else. The teacher can even tell the other kids (I tell my kids this) "X is having a bad moment right now, the best thing to do is just leave them be and continue doing what we are doing. Don't comment to them about it, it will only bother them more. " Eventually she will get tired, bored, or irritated that she's being left out of everything else that's going on. Then she will pick herself up and cooperate. But giving in to her, just reinforces the behavior. She needs to learn to be a little more independent, and to respect you before this baby is born.

2 moms found this helpful

Don't give up hope! You are not alone. My daughter started this behavior when she was just shy of 2.

The best thing you can do at home is to nip it as soon as it starts. The very first whine or stomping of the foot or tear . . . . have her sit on her bed until she is done with the fit. When she is quiet, she may come out. As soon as she starts again, put her back on the bed.

You might have to do this 5 or 6 times (for each espisode )or even more, but when she realizes she can not do it, she will stop.

Its hard to determine what causes this. SOme of it is age, some is because it is nap time, or they are hungry, or they didn't get enough sleep, or they are not feeling good. . . . . . You have to do a quick assessment of the situation. If it is just because she is trying to test her boundaries, then be firm.

Also, sometimes changing how you respond works. For example if she wants a cookie at 9 am. Instead of saying, "no, it's too early for a cookie", say, "yes, you may have a cookie after you eat your lunch"
If its raining and she wants to play outside instead of saying "no its raining" say "yes, as soon as it stops raining. Let mommy know when the rain drops stop falling". Almost every situation can be turned into a yes.

I can tell you my girl started before our baby was born too. She regressed in her actions, in potty training, etc.

This will be a hard adjustment for her. I know you are tired and it is very easy to get short with her. Just try to understand how confused she is. Her life is going to change. She is probably scared. Things have been changing. Her mommy is tired and cranky, maybe daddy is too. So many things going on with you two and they pick up on it.

I bought a book called "I'm a big sister" . It went over how lucky this little girl is to be becoming a big sister and how much her parents still loved her. It goes over how fun it is to be big. You may want to go to the bookstore and see if you can get a similar one. Sit and read it to her, even if you have to every day.

Congrats on the soon to be new addition!

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds to me that you are trying to worry about her, but not maybe being consistent. Tell her no......if she whines, or cries and won't stop, send her to the corner, her room, somewhere where you don't have to listen to her. Tell her when she stops, she may come back to where you are.

You have to let her know that you are the boss and you are running the show. You don't have to be mean, but you do have to be consistent and you have to be forceful in your voice.

You had better get this under control before the new one gets here or you are going to lose your mind.

When she is being good, ask her about the new baby......what she thinks, is she excited.......try to let her help you get things set up and let her become a part of the baby before it gets here........that will help as well.
Good luck and hang in there.

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like something is bothering her. At this age she may not even realize what it is or be able to articulate to you what it is. Maybe it is the baby already, or has something else changed? I agree with Liz A - give her hugs and love. This takes longer (a few weeks maybe) but in the end you will show her that you understand that she is upset about something and that you are there to help her with that, not to punish her for being upset. I did this with my son, and like I said it took a few weeks, but now things are so much better. You daughter needs understanding and help to deal with her feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, whatever. Punishing her or ignoring her only teaches her that she should bottle up her feelings. it doesn't teach her how to deal with them. Sometimes the "tantrum" ins't even related to a paricular incident of when you tell her no, but it is just the trigger that releases the feelings she has about something else. And yes, sometimes you will "lose it" because it is frustrating and it takes time, but if you usually don't lose it then all will be well.

1 mom found this helpful

I have one also - don't think you need a child phsyc, some kids are just wired this way, if I say no to my daughter who is 26 months, she immediately throws herself down on the floor and screeches so loud you would swear she had been killed!, if I say come here so I can change you, that is her cue to run in the opposite direction - fast, she is a very difficult child, active, boisterous, always climbing, difficult to do anything for myself as she is so needy.

these children are usually very clever and bright, they just dont have the language skills to express themselves yet, I dont really have any solutions either, I have tried everything from ignoring, to putting her in her bed, to spanking, but it just seems like a communication issue.
My son was the same way, but grew out of it when he could talk better.

I feel bad coz yesterday I told her I was going to take her back to the baby shop LOL, of course I love her dearly, but WOW, I will be glad when this stage is OVER!!

1 mom found this helpful

You can go completely in the other direction and at the first sign, give her hugs and love. One thing that I did during the preschool stage was use humor. (I can only begin to understand how hard this would be at 8 mo pregnant. I know how those hormones go.) Get "Playful Parenting" from the library or search the internet for some podcasts or radio interviews with "Larry Cohen", the author to get you started.

If you really think she is over the top, please check into food sensitivities. Eliminating a "trigger" ingredient can work miracles. To get started, search for Feingold Diet or go to yahoo groups and sign up for Foodlabs. They are great there.

You can go the timeout route, or taking away things, or some other technique in that vein, but from your post, I'd guess that you'll be upping the consequences over and over to get them to "work". My suggestion, and experience, is to take a leap of faith and approach it from another angle - humor and understanding her point of view. It really does do great things once you get the hang of it. Plus you and your DD are working together to get something done, instead of constantly battling.

To help with the adjustment of a new sibling, the book "Siblings Without Rivalry" is a great place to start.

1 mom found this helpful

She sounds like a very strong willed little one! I have one too... Someone below said "pacifying them makes it worse" and IT DOES. We learned that when she whines or throws a fit we either ignore it (after telling her calmly no or to use her big girl voice). If the fits is disruptive to the house, she goes to her room until she calms down. This has sometimes taken 30 minutes... after a few times of showing her consistent consequences for that behavior she will learn. They are much smarter than you think. The Love and Logic books are great. Keys are to remain calm, consistent and to remember your actions speak lounder than words.

My 2 year old is doing this too. He started throwing temper tantrums when he was 18 months old, and we've found many times he just wants some extra attention when he reacts like that when he can't do something he intended to do. Giving him quality time and playing at his level for at least 1/2 hour 3 times a day is what he needs to behave and relax in life a little. He is also super sensitive when it comes to other kids saying he can't have something and cries like someone punched him! Everyday does not allow as much quality time as he thinks he needs, and I'm also wondering what to do as I'm pregnant with our second baby due in July. I'm trying to teach him to play by himself more and be happy about life in general. Teaching your children to listen on command is very important, so they can learn to respect you, yet to get that there is a lot of repetition and you also need to find out what your child is feeling and why the reaction is so strong when you say no. One thing we've found is that even the 4th or 5th time when saying no, we have to keep our voice totally calm. It's so hard to do, but our boy feeds off of our impatience and reacts even more erratic. Keep trucking, you're not the only one in this boat. We've also felt like we must not be doing the parenting thing right, but every child is different, and we get an ideal of what our child should act like, and when they don't we get frustrated. Our boy also takes after both of us and has taken to our dramatic side! Keep light about the situations and keep trying to put yourself in their shoes! Good Luck!

Hi A.,
I think part of the key here is in what you said about spending the entire weekend pacifying her. She is doing what works. Children learn very young how to get what they want. You will need to change what works for her. Instead of giving attention when she does this, put her in her room for a while until she calms down. Or even just let her lay on the floor and scream and you go do something else. The important thing is to never give in during a fit. Only give her attention or whatever it is she is wanting when she is behaving better. At first it will be worse until she figures out that getting what she wants only happens when she is not acting this way. I remember when my kids were that age and I use to just step over them and go on with what I was doing. Sure it drove me crazy for a bit but once they realized that I was paying absolutely no attention to them laying on the floor kicking and screaming, they got over it. Whining can also be handled in the same way - you don't get what you want until you can ask in a big girl voice. Or sometimes you just aren't going to get what you want at all because I said no (like having cookies for breakfast). I have a 2 1/2 year old granddaughter now and I am having to remember to do same things with her. All kids go through this stage, it is part of learning to assert themselves. How we as parents handle it is key in teaching them acceptable behavior at home and elsewhere. Hope this helps - good luck!

while whining come very naturally to 2 year old it is not something you have to put up with! I do not let my 2 year old and 3 year old whine. I tell them to say it to me again with out whining. I do not listen to them or get them what they want until they say it right. It's amazing to me to hear them immediatly change their voices and say things normal. As for the throwing fits thing. I make them go to their rooms until they have a "Happy Heart". A happy heart means they are no longer crying and whining. If they come out and say they have a happy heart but obviously do not i make them go back to their rooms. It could take a really long time of screaming for her to calm down. I love this tactic for several reasons. First the control is in her hands. She is the one that decides when she wants to calm down. This is a great way to teach self control! So important for all kids to learn. You are showing her how to go be by herself and calm down in situations that are stressful to her. I think that is a valuable tool she can use for the rest of her life. The other thing i like about it is i feel I am not telling my girls they are not allowed to be upset about things. I just don't want to hear them screaming about it!
Good luck!
A book I would reccomend is Shepherding a CHild's heart by tripp.

I think you are all reacting perfectly normally. Your daughter is 2 and a baby is on the way. Children sense change and stress from their parents, so maybe she is picking up on this. Also, all the talk that goes along with a new baby. She doesn't understand what's happening and is acting out. Every parent loses it once in a while and while it isn't the right thing to do, it happens. Forgive yourself and move on. I don't think your daughter needs a psychologist, just an enormous amount of patience and understanding and love from her parents. Also, a good parenting book on how to deal with whining and how to handle a new baby in the house. You may want to try one of the Love and Logic books. They have some great advice and I think there is one geared towards young children. Good luck!

The best advice I can give is to be consistent in "punishing" behaviors you don't like. My daughter is also 2.5 and can throw some major fits. But, even with the fits, she has to sit in timeout or go into her room. I just don't tolerate that kind of behavior. I think that this year will be tough, but as soon as she learns that over and over again she is going to be punished, then she will modify her behavior.

Good luck!

L.

You have been given some good suggestions. Here is another. I would encourage you to employ the Love and Logic method to this situation. The book is very informative and you will undoubtedly relate. If you spent the weekend trying to pacify her she has the control. Take it back. It will require practice and a lot of loving patience but the method flat out works on this type of behavior. Best of life to you and enjoy regaining the peace your family deserves.

I found the book 123 Magic so helpful! Check it out at the Library and/or google 123 Magic to get an idea of what it is about. It's a parenting method that I find diffuses situations quickly and with much less angst and emotion for everyone. No yelling, no spanking, less and less reaction from my daughter. My daughter has learned what is acceptable and has made great strides in self control (she cries easily). She seems to have more self confidence because of it. You can get to the Hugs and Love faster because the situations are resolved faster and they really get it.

My daughter just turned 3 and still does this, not as much as she used to though. We started putting her in time out for her whining and fits, she sits there until she stops whining, then her time starts. If it gets too bad we send her to bed. In our house whiney children are sleepy so they go to bed. This has helped, but I think also her getting older has helped a little.

I was in a similar position not too long; pregnant, hormonal, and in uncharted waters dealing with several behavioral issues with both my 2yr old son and my 3yr old step-daughter. I didn't have anything to compare my sons tantrums too, aside from my daughters, which were MUCH different, so I believed them to be excessive. He would get to the point of screaming and throwing himself around dangerously. It was scary and left me feeling helpless much of the time. My husband and I were determined to handle the situation the best way we could as not to enable his unwanted behavior. It was difficult most of the time to handle things the way we wanted, mostly do to the fact that we didn't feel all that confident in the methods we had been informed to try...'just ignore the behavior', 'put them in time out', 'hold them until they are calm', and many more. It was especially difficult to deal with the effects that his behavior had on our daughter, plus dealing with her behavioral issues (she is a sensitive child). I'm happy to report that our son has and is countinuously improving and I'm proud of the way we've gone about helping him gain self-control. My best advice to you no matter how you choose to help your child is to explain as briefly as possible to them that you understand that they are upset and that the way they are expressing themselves in not appropriate, then try and be as consistant as possible with your methods. I believe those two things made our son feel secure by way of structure and understood = safe and loved. I also realized that my example teaches my children tons more than any words I've ever used alone, so I try and model the behavior that I want my children express. This phrase is used often with both of my toddlers, "Mommy/Daddy know you are upset (sad, angry, etc) but we don't throw fits (hit, bit, yell/scream, etc.)". We encourage our children to talk with us...yes, even though our 2yr can't verbally express himself well. Sometimes simply asking him why he's acted a certain way will immediately calm him down as he try's to answer. I don't believe there is any one constant method to handling tantrums. Another thing that helped was realizing that learning and maintaing self-control is the most difficult thing to do in life and it is constantly tested. Finding out what God's word says about self control and raising our children gave us all the necessities we needed for our family's foundation. I hope God blesses you with all the wisdom, patience, understanding, tolerance, and love you and your husband will need. Have a blessed day :)

At about 26 months my son started acting like this and it was getting out of hand. A friend suggested a book called "Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman. You can find it at Family Christian or Mardels (or online). It was the best $15 I ever spent!!!

The pregnancy could definitely be contributing. My almost 2-yearl old was definitely more anxious and acting out more in the last couple months of my pregnancy. I think they understand that their world is about to change, and they don't know exactly how, so that's scary. That said, you can't just give your child everything she wants when she throws a fit. You haven't really said what you do when she throws a fit (besides saying "enough"). When my older son was a young toddler, I ignored his tantrums, and that worked, to an extent. As he became an older toddler, though, I found that worked less well (at that point, he was probably perceptive enough to see that it DID bother me). So, what I started doing was saying something like "I know that you are really frustrated / tired / upset (etc.), but honey, we don't whine in the kitchen. If you want to cry about it you can go in your room. Please come join us when you are done crying." And then be prepared to lead her to her room. This is a "Love and Logic" strategy, by the way. I don't think it will solve the problem overnight (as some is her age and some is the pregnancy), but it helped us. Good luck!

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