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Any Suggestions on Dealing Headstrong, Overactive 2 1/2 Year Old Son...

I am at my wits end with my 2 1/2 year old son. He is sweet most of the time, but if he doesn't get his way - WATCH OUT!! He throws whatever is in his reach. I try to correct him, and he hits both myself and my husband. We put him in timeout, for 2 minutes - and it isn't working. We put him in his crib, yes - he is still in one (thankfully). He wants to do everything himself, which I know is a typical part of growing. Some days are great, some days are terrible. I just never know. He is a terror in stores, shopping, out in public. I don't go to church any longer, because he cannot sit still long enough and cries if I put him in the nursery. We have tried taking sugar out of his diet, although he isn't a big sweet eater to begin with. One on one with him is better, than sharing time with him and his 4 1/2 year old sister. She goes to preschool 3 days a week. We long for a happy household, and want so much for our children to be happy. It breaks my heart when he misbehaves. He is really starting to talk, and feel part of it may be frustration in communication. I am exhausted and out of answers. If anyone has any advise, I would be most grateful for your time. Thanks so much for listening.

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I want to thank EVERYONE who responded to my request. The support has been overwhelming! I am trying each and every one. I am already getting positive results. I have given my son options in making his own choices. My husband and I are now a united front in dealing with these outburst - which is the consistancy so many of you mentioned was so important. It has helped me tremendously to know that I am not alone. I know it will take time, and I am now refreshed with new ideas and solutions. One thing I have not done for myself lately is the "me time" - this is now on the front burner. I am going to have our babysitter come a couple hours a few days a week. I think this will help with my patience. This is a WONDERFUL site, and I plan to add it to my daily online visits. I have learned so much and I am forever grateful to each and every one of you. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Lisa D.

Featured Answers

If time outs do not work take away a toy(one he likes), start a sticker shart so he can earn a sticker for behaving well all day. If he is a terror when out stop what you are doing and leave, especially if it is somewhere he likes. I know it is tough to leave a store with a full cart, but he will learn how to behave if you are strong. You are truely the one who teaches him what is good behavior.

Look into getting one of two books: The Strong Willed Child, by Dr. James Dobson, or go online for thetotaltransformation.com (James Lehman) and see if you can get the help you need there. He is, after all, two and a half, and this is a very dicey time for everyone because he is almost to a point of achieving a new level of self sufficiency. You may need to minimalize things like outings and activities or available toys for a while because the choices for him are not only endless, but they are making him crazy! He seems a little overstimulated. This too shall pass, but let's hope it can be a better ride. Caution: he will probably have these disruptive cycles often if he already does, so be ready!
Good Luck,

I'm afraid it's all part of the growing up process. A wise women once told me "this too shall pass". Hang on to that!


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Although someone else may have already replied in a similar vein, I have to contradict most of what you've been told is true about children and most of the advice you're receiving.

There is nothing wrong with your little guy. Or, rather, there is nothing wrong *within* your little guy. He is fine and responding normally to his environment. Which is clearly a problem.

Someone has told you something about small children that is not true, namely that it is possible for them to remember instructions, understand cause and effect, predict other people's behaviour, and control their impulses. The reason your little guy can't is partly because you haven't stomped out his determination that he is a valuable individual yet (congratulations, lots of people have managed that well before 2.5years) and mostly because he simply does not have a mature-enough brain yet.

And he will not for at least 5 years.

Behaving 'as if' he 'should' be able to do all these things is making you crazy, but it is seriously damaging to him. It is the reason human children require parenting until they're at least 13: they are not mature enough to take care of themselves and will not be for some long time to come. Expecting him to perform mental feats and physical tasks that are beyond his ability is deeply frustrating for him, and will eventually change him from a person who believes he is capable and loveable to someone who is incompetent and unloveable.

I strongly recommend you read a great deal more about child development, particularly focusing on the actual limitations of a child's brain... and Alfie Kohn's 'Unconditional Parenting' in order to understand why attempting to control him is exactly the worst approach possible.

Misbehaving is the only way he has available to indicate to you that his needs are going unmet.

p.s. The suggestion for big muscle movement is bang on -- your little guy is not your little girl, and they have different developmental calendars

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I have a two year old that is very active that has temper tantrums when he does not get his way. I think it is a stage, I do not remember my other three like this but I have been hit by him and even spit at. The way I handle it is to stay calm and talk sweetly because when I yell so does he and I think he is even saying shut up when he yells. Like your son he is a sweet boy, they are just testing us. I stay calm or I have to walk away, my husband on the other hand reprimands him and gives him a look that does let him know you are not acting properly so the baby will back down. Read the book by dr. dobson a stong willed child, i think it will help.

Believe me, I know exactly where you are coming from. My son is also 21/2 and we are experiencing the EXACT same thing. There are days when I am completely exhausted from dealing with him. I had to leave the grocery store yesterday with no groceries because he would not behave. I guess the only advice I can give you is to try and have LOTS of patience. We also do the time outs and they only work sometimes. Be consistent, pick your battles, and give lots of praise for good behavior Also be prepared to do things that you don't want to do (e.g. leave the store with no groceries!). I think that eventually they will start to understand that the consequences for their actions aren't worth the struggle. I agree that communication is a big part of it too, so maybe try working with him on putting words to identify his feelings. I wish you the best of luck and know you are not alone!

Sounds like my son was at that age. It does get better, he will always be your little headstrong son but as he gets ages it will be easier for your because he will better understand where you are coming from and his actions. I promise it goes get better!!! For the time being, keep consistent. I never thought time outs would work but they will if you keep doing it and demand he stays there, we uses the stairs at first but now I use a bench and at 3.5 he is still a booger sometimes but things are so much better.


I understand what you are going through. A suggestion with the hitting. You might want to try taking your son in your arms and hold him on your lap tight with his arms against his body. Tell him in a calm voice that he can't hit others and every time he does you will put him into this type of timeout. Release him only after he has stopped squirming and screaming for 3-4 minutes. Eventually he will calm down and learn that he doesn't like being restrained, hopefully it will help him to remember the consequences to hitting.

Don't forget to praise him often on his good behavior. Kids really need that and it can be easy for parents to forget. If he is getting daily praise it may be easier for him to follow the rules because he doesn't feel the need to get negative attention from you.

One last suggestion. When you are at the store, have him bring a favorite toy or coloring book with him. If he starts to throw his toys, take them away and tell him he can get them back in 5-10 minutes if he behaves. If he starts to scream and throw a temper tantrum try to restrain him with the body hug and tell him you will only let him go once he stops misbehaving.

I don't like suggesting parents leave the store when a child throws a tantrum because the child then can manipulate you into doing what he or she wants. Which is to get away from a boring place with no fun toys and go home to where they can play and run around. Once your son is calm keep shopping and continue to tell him each time he screams and cries it will take that much longer to get home.

I know this seems like a big concept for a 2 1/2 year old, but if they can learn to pick up bad habits quickly, they can also learn to follow the rules quickly.

Good luck!

Hello - I HEAR you completely. I have a two and a half year-old son myself. He is my only child. I recommend taking a look at Harvey Karp's book The Happiest Toddler in the World (I believe that's the title anyway.) It hopefully will at least put your mind at rest and validate what you are experiencing as completely normal. Good luck. Teri

There is a wonderful course called Growing Kids God's Way. My recomendation is to find a Growing Kids class (in your area)and take it with your husband. The class will help you with your issues with your son. If you have trouble finding a class email me and I will ask my friends (who teach Growing Kids) if they know anyone in your area. Another way you could find out is by going to www.gfi.org they may be able to set you up with a teacher. Good luck and hang in there. J.

Since you indicated that your son might be frustrated because he isn't advanced in his speech - let me just recommend that you call and have your son evaluated by Early On (1-800-earlyon) or your local school district - it can only help! I had a similar situation with my son....my son understood us very well, but he couldn't say anything to us and was very FRUSTRATED (and aggressive). At about 20 months, my son was still NOT saying anything (not even babbling). There was a lot of grunting, whining, crying and aggressive behaviour. So, against LOTS of peoples advice, I called the school for an evaluation. The school performs the evaluation and writes an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which is very similar to what Early On will do as well. The Certified Speech Language Pathologist from the school evaluated his comprehension of speeach, as well as his speech (or lack thereof), AND his gross and fine motor skills. My son tested above his age for the gross motor skills, at his age level for the fine motor skills and comprehension. He tested WAY BELOW his age for talking. Additionally, the therapist thought he might have some oral apraxia (I don't recommend doing research on this - it will just scare you!). We started speech therapy with the school district (for FREE) immediately and started to see some progress - about 2-3 months into therapy my son said 'mama' for his first word. Since the school district didn't offer services through the summer, I enrolled him in a special speech summer program through North Oakland Medical Center (NOMC - in Pontiac). AT NOMC I again was given the diagnosis of 'apraxia' and my son made some progress. We started teaching him (& us) sign language and that made a HUGE difference in his attitude / behavior. Prior to learning signs, he would just grunt / cry and point to what he wanted because he couldn't communicate. Once he could communicate with us using signs, his behaviour improved. We've continued with therapy - both the FREE therapy through the school district and summer programs (we also used Beaumont Speech therapy) and now my son is 5 and talking at his age level.

hi lisa
try letting your son go to day care 1or twodays aweek and take him to a specialist and see if something is bothering him or try a child pyhcoligste

Lisa, The best thing I have found is consistancy. Pick one thing and stick to it every time your son acts out. Remember this is training time and he will learn eventually, but you have to be consistant...even when it is inconvenient. The one thing I would also suggest is try not to let him dictate what you do, like going to church! Church can be a great place to connect with other moms that could be a support to you. My daughter would cry every time I dropped her off at the nursury, but she would cry less and less the more I took her! You set the schedule, your're the mom. My children always were best when I was consistant and they new what to expect! Remember consistancy is key!

There's something about this that sounds like more than typical two-year old behavior. I think you're starting on the right track with food testing. I think a good idea is to start a diary, more like a research notebook. Write down in one column what foods he has eaten today. (for example) another column list behaviors. Another column for sleep habits. And maybe another one for conditiions such as weather, pollen etc. See if you can find a strong pattern. In retrospect I learned that my son was reacting to the mold problem in my house. YOu have to be the detective here to see what triggers this behavior. You also have to use a firm hand to assert your authority. This child has to learn clearly that you are in charge, he is not. But you have to work with him, not against him. Best wishes for you.

I love the book "Love & Logic: Magic for Early Childhood" (something like that), by Jim Fay and/or Charles Fay. I've got 3 under age 4, and it has kept me and the kids pretty sane & happy!

Try packing his evenings with organized sports. The structure and no nonsense of coachs and the activiey may be good for him.

My heart goes out to you. I had a son just like the one you are describing. I didn't know how to deal with him either but I did find a few things that helped a great deal.

Try to notice small improvements in your son's behavior as you work with him. Your son probably needs a very strong structure in his day. To him, it may be important that you eat at the same time each day, that you have the same bedtime each night, etc. The rituals involved with meals and bedtime are also very important to him... eating off of the same plate, using his special spoon, hearing a favorite bedtime story, etc. This is true of many, many young children. If you take him to the store when he should be having lunch, or a nap, he will be much more difficult to handle.

If it is absolutely necessary for you to take him out in public when he should be eating, be sure to take something with you for him to eat. A handful of crackers can make a huge difference in his behavior. If at all possible, you should try to be home for his naptime every day. For the most part, your son's needs will have to play a huge part in the planning of your days for a while.

Separation from you also appears to upset him. That is why he does not want to be left in the nursery at church. Is it possible for you to sit in the nursery with him?

As for wanting to do everything himself, as far as it is possible, you should let him. If it won't hurt anything for him to do it, you may have to practice patience while watching him struggle with learning "big kid skills". Of course, you can't let him cut up an apple for himself or things like that, but it might be ok for him to dress himself, even if his clothes are put on backwards or he has to ask for your help after struggling a while.

It takes the utmost patience to get a child like your son through these difficult months but, slowly, you will notice him having fewer and fewer outbursts. He will learn that you love him no matter how he behaves and that you are there for him no matter how he feels. I'm sure that, as things are now, he is even more miserable about things than you are.

Also, you do not have any idea of the personality traits that your son may have inherited. Unfortunately, that is one of the difficulties with adopting a child. You do not know much about the personalities of the biological contributors of your son's genes. Nor can you know what he went through in the womb. You can google "prenatal influence on the unborn child" and read all kinds of interesting information.

You have your work cut out for you but, if you focus on your love for your child you will get through this difficult time. You may find that your son needs more time and attention throughout the various stages of his life. Still, through time, as he learns that you are there for him no matter what, you will find that the rewards far outweigh the difficulty.

My youngest son, who had all these problems and more because of a brain injury, got through all of this and is now a lovely, young man and one of my closest friends as an adult.

I wish my best to all four of you.

I have two strong willed children. Be consistent, be firm and be the parent. Remember that strong willed children will change the world, because it's not going to change them!! I agree with the Mom that took things away and that's very effective. Don't tolerate their inappropriate behavior. If you give in now it will just go on longer. Set clear expectations. For example in 2 minute we are leaving, you need to pick the white shoes or the black ones and be ready. THen leave in 2 minute with whatever he has on his feet. They need to make small decisions and respect you.

Oh Lisa, I am having the same problem with my two year old son, and nothing is working also. He evens gets up everynight around 2:00 and jumps in the bed with my husband and I. So not only am I dealing with all day long but just when I thought I had a little time to myself he's right there again. Girl if you get any advise good,bad or just plain silly PLEASE forward to me. I really want some peace in my household as well, and also a peice of mind.

Look into getting one of two books: The Strong Willed Child, by Dr. James Dobson, or go online for thetotaltransformation.com (James Lehman) and see if you can get the help you need there. He is, after all, two and a half, and this is a very dicey time for everyone because he is almost to a point of achieving a new level of self sufficiency. You may need to minimalize things like outings and activities or available toys for a while because the choices for him are not only endless, but they are making him crazy! He seems a little overstimulated. This too shall pass, but let's hope it can be a better ride. Caution: he will probably have these disruptive cycles often if he already does, so be ready!
Good Luck,

Lisa, My children were the same way. Intellegent kids get bored easily and learn to manipulate. Use play as their reward and give them choices. what ever choice they make they should have to stick with. This becomes their own punishment. Example: Set out 2 sets of cloths, they pick, and that is what they will wear or they get no play time. Food: Eat or don't eat(don't fight over these choices with them) no more food will be allowed(even snacks) until the next meal. Offer a little dessert after meals, which they only get if they chose to eat. My son went through the same stage about the church nursery. I told him that he was allowed to scream, but that he was not allowed to disturb others. I would take him outside and allow him to scream his head off. when he was done back inside, them back out, in, out. After 2 sundays of this he was soooo glad to go into the nursery to play. The screaming was not working for him any more. And he did not enjoy that!! LOL. He will get worst before he gets better. But be firm, NEVER give in, or he has won. Fight the battles or later in his life you will be fighting the wars. My mother-in-law told me that if I couldn't control them at 2 I'd never control them at 12. That is so true. Good luck. Feel free to e-mail me if you need more advice. McD's, parks, ect should be their reward to control their bordom. Scedualing regulare play time is in itself a reward. But only if they have earned it by behaving. S.

My son is 4 1/2 and is the youngest of 3. He still sometimes throws things or strikes out when he is angry; I think that he (boys?) feel the need to release anger with some physical outlets. Your son is so young, too, and is probably frustrated with his inabilty to commnicate his feelings effectively, like you mentioned. My oldest daughter had temper tantrums, though without the physical component. I try to help him calm down by validating his feelings (I know it's hard to share mommy's attention but it's your sister's turn now) and teaching him to get a hold of himself (take a deep breath, let it out slowly). It's a long process and he still struggles, but it works. I also just bought some childrens books on dealing with angry feelings. Sometimes it even helps to have him hit a pillow when he's angry. Good luck!

Lots of good advice here ! I will add some things that have worked for me .
Oh I am sorry -if you throw things I will have to put it away, When he wants it back you will probably encounter another 'fit' - he is learning that there are consequences for negative behavior.
Reaction to his bad behavior is a 'reward' to him - remove what is a danger and leave his presence. He will get tired of not having an audience. He may even follow you to make sure you see what he is doing. Tell him you will not watch and leave again
Perhaps all you can do is turn your back on the behavior -tell him "when you are calm I will talk to you about this " then wait it out with no reaction , no response , no facial expression other words no 'reward .'

Up to now he has received all he has needed by crying-now he has to learn that he CAN control him self -he can calm himself and that by CALMLY trying to explain what he wants.
"Son I can't hear that kind of screaming" I will come back when you are done"

Mommy will listen---but ONLY after he has calmed down.
You may have to leave the room several times before he 'gets the message' soon you will have to leave less often.

Even negative reaction is a 'reward' for the behavior .
Talk to him when he is calm -"do you feel better -are you done ?" Now tell mommy what you want/need.
Wow Son that was awful -"I will not watch that kind of behavior . When you are done come and get me"
When it is over make the mood light and happy don't dwell on it .
I found it helpful to have a 'fit throwing place' a safe place to go until it's over.

Good Luck Sweetheart !

Hey Lisa
I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter that iam having the exact same problems with. So im kind of in the same boat as you so im interested to hear what people have to say. I do know that yesterday was one of her really bad days and ive already been sick since saturday and i just broke down and cried and actually it work the temper tantrum stopped and she started comforting me. Im not recomending that by any means but that is where i am at Its very frustrating but it is comforting to know that im not the only one

Hi Lisa, boy do I know your world! Let me give you some hope, my overactive, high maintance 2 year old is now almost 7. I am happy to report it does get better. First off you need to find a way to imbrace the confident, free thinking, leadership part of a headstrong child. These are the good qualities that will develop with this child over time and with alot, alot of support from you, your hubby, and the teachers who will be part of his life.

Stay firm is the most imortant thing. Everytime he behaves in a negative way he goes to timeout. EVERYTIME. This might mean he is in timeout a dozen times over an afternoon or morning. Yes it is exhausting but it does work. The key is to balance the timeouts with great enthusiastic prasie when he behaves correctly. GO over the top with the praise, high fives etc. when your son does the right thing. Don't measure his behavior against his older sibling they are different kids with different needs. I have 4 my headstrong is in the middle. When you go out you set the rules before you leave the house. Offer a reward for good behavior (ex.read a book, bathing suit bath time, whatever your child likes) BEFORE you get out of the car repeat your behavior expectations. Bring a small toy in to the store to distract him. Now the hard part. If negative behavior begins give immediate action take the toy away. Don't feed the temper tantrum. Stand firm. Strap him in to the child seat in the cart. The cart doesn't move till the fit is finished. He will eventually realize that he is not getiing his way. It takes time and patience. Ignore anyone at the store he gives you "the LOOK". You are doing the right thing for your child.
Two great books are Different Children, Different Needs by Charles Boyd and The Strong Willed Child by ? I loaned this one out and can't remember author.
Hang in there, now go hug that little boy!

Try removing red dyes -artificial, not natural-and gelatin products-jello, pudding, etc. -from his diet. No Hawaiian Punch, or very small amounts. No red jello especially. Natural substitutes are Juicy-Juice (100% natural juice), Breyer's Strawberry Ice cream, etc. NO articifially-colored popsicles. Look for organic versions, or make them yourself with juicy-juice or Doles juice. No pop. Make natural smoothies for him in the blender, using the Breyer's ice cream-which are better for him anyways. And if he has trouble with constipation, severely limit yogurt. If he has trouble with diarrhea, give him yogurt (with natural fruit, or close to it)! Give it a couple of weeks , and see if there is an improvement. If not, contact me, and I can do a quickie evaluation to see if he requires a in-depth evaluation for Early On Services. _Kristin ____@____.com

This not that unusual, but very overwhelming. Hang tight it is important he has loving boundaries.

LARGE BODY MOVEMENT, running jumping….go out side. If it is too cold, we joined Gym America just so my son could run around safely inside. All so some Rec&Ed departments have weekly “open play time” in their gym.
Your son probably needs a very strong structure in his day. To him, it may be important that you eat at the same time each day, that you have the same bedtime each night, etc. The rituals involved with meals and bedtime are also very important to him... eating off of the same plate, using his special spoon, hearing a favorite bedtime story, etc. This is true of many, many young children. If you take him to the store when he should be having lunch, or a nap, he will be much more difficult to handle.

Hang in there, Mom. You're in the throws of male toddlerhood! You could very well have been describing our household when my son was 2 1/2 - I can completely relate! Here's what I can offer you in the way of advice. It worked for us, anyway.

Decide with each power struggle whether this is one you have to win or whether you can "give him" this one. When it's a safety issue, it's non-negotiable. What Mom or Dad says goes. Stand firm and don't budge an inch. Time outs in the crib are just fine. I did the same exact thing.

However, when you think it's not quite as important that you win, find a comprimise. My eldest son (3 1/2 yrs old) will do something for me now if I let him do one thing he wants to do first. When we want him to eat another piece of meat, he says, "Maybe a drink of milk will help." Letting him have a little control over a situation masks the fact that you got him to do something he didn't otherwise want to.

Along the same lines, give him lots of decisions to make during the day. "Do you want to wear the blue boots or the white tennis shoes?" "Should we have white milk or chocolate milk for lunch?" The more control he gets, the less he'll feel like he has to demand control.

Try to avoid the power struggles. Some children respond well to reasoning when you give an explanation of why you want them to do something. When they see the logic behind something they are more apt to be agreeable about it. This doesn't work with all kids, but it's worth a try.

When shopping or going out to eat, let him know ahead of time what your expectations of him are. Be very specific. Give him an incentive for behaving, too: an extra book at bed time, a piggy back ride around the house... whatever you think he might respond to. You could use physical things as incentives, too, but if he's jealous of an older sister, time with you might be just the ticket!

Good luck and let us know what works. Remember, with boys, they call it the "terrible two's" because it lasts for TWO YEARS! Luckily, we adults usually learn how to divert power struggles by the time they reach their third birthday. (Hey, who's training whom?)



I feel your pain. I myself have three boys, ages 9, 7 and 4. We went through the same stuff with the youngest. He has given us a run for the money. The best I can give to a Mom with boys is "physical activity" The more I had him outside, in a playgroup, just physically moving helped so much with his "attitude". We just totally made sure he was wiped out.With the weather starting to break it should be easier to get outside and atleast go for walks, and let him walk.
I also do the time out thing and found that (like on supernanny), you have to put him there, tell him why and don't engage him AT ALL. No matter how much he talks, yells whatever. Ignore him. It will be hard and wear on you but soon he will get it. Good luck and hope this helps.

I have been through every aspect of this, more than once (my children are 14, 11, and 7), so I offer these suggestions, which may or may not work for your situation, but are worth a try. I remember this particularly with my son (now 14).

First, the reasons for this could be many, his age, his personality, his reaction to his sibling, etc.

My suggestions to you is to remain calm. This is the most difficult part of the whole thing (it is really hard not to react), but if you come unraveled every time he throws a fit, then you are both in the same boat. Someone has to be in control, especially when the other person is so out of control.

Next, let your action fit the behavior. If he is using bad words, simply say that you cannot hear ANYTHING that he says when he uses words like that. He will have to repeat what he is saying, minus the bad words, if he would like you to hear and respond. Same goes for whining. If he is throwing a fit, let him know that you'd be happy to talk to him, once he pulls herself together, and walk away, if you are at home. In public, remove him from the situation, and explain that he cannot return to this place, whatever it is, the store, a restaurant, playgroup, etc., until he can control himself, and then DON'T GO for a week or so. Then try again, reminding him of this as a second chance. If he does it again, extend the time of not going. Repeat as long as necessary.

Lastly, if he is throwing his belongings at you during the fits (I had one who did this), throw the things away. Seems harsh, but really works. I told the child that if you throw things at me, you must no longer want them, so they are garbage. Some things (like happy meal toys, etc.) truly went in the trash. Other toys that I wanted to pass on to younger siblings later, went in a different trash bag that went into the attic, but in either case, they no longer belonged to the person who threw them.

These things are really hard to do, because they sometimes require you to give up something that you want to do...be at the store, or a restaurant, or just have some time to do something for yourself. It probably won't work instantly, consistenty is the key. Once he realizes that you're not wavering, he will have to change his behavior in order to get what he wants.

Dear Lisa,

Oh the 2's are so fun, aren't they? My son was also a handful around that age and started throwing these crazy temper tantrums. One tool I found very useful is a video by Dr. Harvey Karp called the Happiest Toddler on the Block. He also did a video about babies. Anyway, the video explains where the child is developmentally and how to deal with it. Basically, he called the toddlers "little cave men" because they have a very limited set of tools for communicating at that age. Rent or buy the video. It is definitely worth watching. I have to admit that when I first watched it, I was I bit skeptical, but it really did help improve our situation. I hope that helps! Best of luck to you.


I think you're on the right track thinking along dietary lines, but if taking him off of sugar hasn't helped, maybe you could try taking him off of milk and milk products (it's in a lot of things that you wouldn't think though, so it can be tricky.) My husband and many in his family are lactose intolerant but also have an allergy to milk that messes with their emotions. When his niece has even a little bit (like a doughnut!) she turns from sweet little princess to crazy little maniac. They seriously have to hide the scissors when this happens because they don't know what she might do. She gets very down on herself saying that nobody loves her, it really affects her emotions. I had never seen this reaction from milk products until I met my husband and his family, but it's real and it's an eye-opener. It's worth a try, even if just for a week or two to see if his behavior improves. Hope you find an answer!

I'm afraid it's all part of the growing up process. A wise women once told me "this too shall pass". Hang on to that!


If time outs do not work take away a toy(one he likes), start a sticker shart so he can earn a sticker for behaving well all day. If he is a terror when out stop what you are doing and leave, especially if it is somewhere he likes. I know it is tough to leave a store with a full cart, but he will learn how to behave if you are strong. You are truely the one who teaches him what is good behavior.

Hi Lisa,

You have received amazing information from a very supportive group of women who have all been in your shoes.

Every one of these ideas work. Do you know how I know this? Because your son is going through a phase that is common to every child. Each of these women is telling you what worked for them.

I allowed any kind of emotional breakdown, but (like his toys) the tantrum has its proper place, in his bedroom. Any time he needed to regather himself or adjust his attitude, my son Andrew was reminded that his room was the place he needed to take it. When I saw a fit coming on, I would stay cheerful and loving while I said, "Uh-Oh, Spaghettios. You'd better go put that behavior in the bedroom. Go put it away, Sweetheart." When he came out, I'd ask him if he left his temper in his room." If he seemed better I would reward him by saying something like, "Good job Buddy" and high-five him. We even decided together that the pillow was (by far) the best place to put tears because its very absorbant. The bed was the very best place to throw things because he could throw toys without breaking them. The back of his door was the best place to yell toward because then it doen't burst everyone elses ear drums.

To avoid emotional outbreaks at the store, I did just that. I avoided them. I went shopping by myself (a little me-time) while my husband was home with Andrew. I dropped him off to play at a friend's house and went shopping too.

Good Luck and remember it's just a phase.

If you love what he's doing or saying, video tape it and take lots of pictures because all these cute things are phases of his childhood and will be gone before you know it. If you don't love it, don't worry. It too will pass.

I hate to tell you this, but he sounds like a normal two-year old!
I work with children this age and these behaviors are common in one and a half - three year olds (although not in ALL children). My son is 19 months old and is already exhibiting many of the behaviors you described.
It's definitely not always a fun time but there are things you can do to modify the behaviors.
I can tell that my son hits and throws things when he is frustrated and specifically to get a reaction from us. I try to ignore the behavior and if he goes into a tantrum, I let him scream until it's out of his system.
I sometimes try to give him the words he needs since he has a very limited vocab. and can not yet express himself verbally.
If he throws all of his toys during a tantrum then I calmly wait till he's done and then we pick everything up together. I've never actually put my son in "time-out" but I did put every single one of his cars in time-out the other day (only for a few minutes) and he hasn't thrown one since!
His need to be independent now may be very frustrating but it is sooo important for the future. Try giving him lots of choices (i.e- red shirt or blue shirt? circle cracker or square cracker?) throughout the day.
My son is also horrible during shopping trips, etc. so I always make sure I have food with me..it does the trick in our family! I also make my trips as short as possible since I know all my son wants to do is run around like a crazy man!
You said your daughter goes to school 3 days/week. Do you do any sort of class with your son? It sounds like he would benefit from an indoor play gym or other large motor activity.
Good luck to you.

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