12 answers

Crabby Two Year Old Blues

Someone stole my sweet baby and replaced her with a crabby two year old. Shame on me for thinking we may be immune to the terrible twos and now here we are in all our tantruming glory. My almost 26 month old daughter has never been a laid back personality. However, until recently she did respond very well to correction and for the most part even reasoning with her that she can have whatever it was at a later time if possible. Since about 17 months old she willing went to time out, apologized for her behavior, and was able to tell me what it was that was a “no no”. We have never allowed whining and crying to get her way and have used counting to 3 and then time outs to correct the behavior. Overall she has been a fantastic little girl that I have been proud to parent.

Well, now she is rebelling. All day is whining and crying, literally all day. The smallest thing makes her turn to a mush ball of tears and screaming. 123 and time out doesn’t do it. We have even resorted to spanking occasionally and we don’t really like the idea of that but it doesn’t work either nor does sending her to bed. I have tried to ignore it but she just follows me around and then falls into my arms crying.

One thing I have noticed is she seems bored during the day. She used to play well by herself some but now all she seems interested in is the stuff that she knows is a no. We read books and I try to play with her too but nothing holds her attention long. She has a huge assortment of toys, a playhouse, and a play kitchen she used to love. We have not been able to spend much time outside due to the oppressive heat and mosquitoes.

I know that part of this is just being two to some degree and trying to control and understand her emotions but I may not make it to three if we don’t find some whining relief.

Has anyone experienced their child no longer being interested in their toys?

Also, any suggestions to help my sweet baby transition to a well mannered child would be great!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

At this age, they go thru independence. She needs other children around, even if it's only 1-3 children. She needs to know that she isn't the only person alive. Even if it's daycare for 1-3 days a week.

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Whoever said the terrible twos had it right. Unfortunately, it only gets worse before it gets better(the 3s are no fun either). But fear not, my mamasource friend. You are not alone. All those mommies you saw in the mall before you had kids with the screaming children and saying to yourself "my kids will never act like that", those kids are now yours. It's a hard reality to face but one that you can handle. It's all about choices and decisions. Not yours, but your daughters. Figure out what she gets upset with the most (getting dressed, a toy, etc), then figure out how to let her make a decision. Give her options to choose from. This helps a little. Also, if say you are cooking, give her a pot and spoon and something to stir around so she is doing it with you. We had a little kitchen that we could move and my daughter used to cook on it as I was cooking on the grown up stove. When she has a temper tantrum. Stand up a walk away. And KEEP walking away. Don't let her fall into your arms. She is figuring out how far she can go with you and if you let her fall into your arms, she wins.Pick your battles. Some things are not worth fighting over. If she wants to wear the tutu with shorts on and a bathing suit all day, fine. Save your "no" for something that is dangerous and could hurt her.

Hang in there. There is no easy way out of this, make sure you walk away for a breather for yourself sometimes. My youngest is 3 and is awful right now, too. As soon as my dh gets home from work, he lets me go upstairs for a few minutes of me time even if I just sit there in silence for a minute. And boy do I need it as I am sure do you. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi Kimeberly,

My suggestion is to evaluate if this is a stage. If you know she has two year old molors coming in, and you give her advil and you have your little one back for a few hours, you have an answer. However, if it is continuing, I would highly recommend you look below the behavior and try to discover what your daughter is begging you for. How are her stools? Are they solid, well formed and two a day? Or are they light in color, long and thin, or soft - or worse, are they hard and pellet formed. More, how is her color, are her eyes shiny and bright or teary and a bit solomn.
Tantrums are only normal if they are successful (popsicle?, "No", tantrum, get popsicle). If the tantrums are just about every little thing, you can be assured that your daughter is struggling with how she feels.
If you rule out molors or a virus/flu/sick problem, I highly recommend you take a look at the health of her "gut" (stomoch & digestion). You can quickly remove cows milk to rule out intolorence (replace with rice or almond - kids usually like rice better). Add proibotics to her juice every day (get at Willners Chemist or Whole foods). Reduce her wheat intake (cherrio's and goldfish) to almost none. See if it helps. You have to do it well to see if it works. Many kids health can be dramatically improved if dealt with early. If you wait, the problems and transitions get bigger and the health problems are more difficult to detect.
I love alternative medicine (osteopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic). If that does not scare your pants off, I highly recommend starting kids early. My kids (especially the one I started at 2) are sooooo much improved. It is a real pleasure to find solutions!


That's why it's so terrible to be two! She'll be back (but her evil twin may resurface at 13 if you don't manage her rebellion now). Life is tough when your every wish is no longer mommy''s command. She will be happy when she learns to have SELF control. Gradually, letting her see the consequences of her decisions and realizing that you have absolute power in the matters of naps, bedtime, snacks, etc. She also may just not feel well right now.
Hang in there!

I am in the same boat. My 2 y.o. daughter started acting out recently and I have found that if I ignore her tantrums, she gets over it fast. I say "no" one time and that's it. I keep myself busy when she follows after me until she stops whining. Also, about the toys....I divided her toys up into three groups and bring different ones out each week, that way they seem new again. This encourages her to play with them. Good luck!

Unless there has been something extreme happening to her, she sounds like she might be right on target. So much is going on developmentally. So much awareness is heightened at this age from taste buds to sleeping. Unconditional Parenting is a really good book. Taking a look at some montessori materials for the home might help with her feeling encouraged to be independent, self awareness, body control, etc, instead of toys. Simple things that engage her in her day may help her interests. Small play dates for an hour not near nap can be a real blessing for you and her. Also find someone who can give you a little break, like mother's morning out or a relative or neighbor, or maybe a montessori toddler classroom. You will likely be more refreshed. I wish I had done this more at that age.
We belong to some great playgroups that are really supportive for families.
Best wishes!

Hi K.,
I was reading your problem and thought this is exactly what I went through a couple months back..My now 27-month-old daughter Esha was acting in the exact same way couple months back. She used to get bored really quickly, was always whining, throwing tantrums, did not want to play with her toys, wanted to watch TV all the time, and so forth.
I found nice solution for her and I bet this will work on your little one too. I found Esha 3/4 playdates in the same apartment complex that I live, a girl of 5, a boy of 23 months and another boy of 3.5 years. We rotate playdates and their mommies, sometimes we go to their apartment, sometimes they come to ours..This way the kids get to play with each others toys. My little one has never been so happy as she is now. Also, they tend to eat more in each others company, learn to share, learn new things. Even 2/3 hours in the afternoons are enough for her. She has never been so cheerful. Find your kid some friends of her own size and I am sure, the problem will go away..
Take care..
Best Luck!!

Wow!! This sounds like my life! I look forward to all the responses.
The only thing that is saving me is I have an 8 year old son so I have already been there so I know it WILL end. The only difference is he was no where near as bad as my daughter. She is 28 months. She whines all day, never plays with her toys, argues over shoes, cups, says she has to potty then says she doesnt and whatever you do it isnt what she wants. I dread taking her anywhere because it always a screaming match. She has been high maintenance since birth but I kept thinking it would pass. She no longer plays with her toys either. Its very frustrating because I feel like its such a waste but I have a feeling her interest will return. I keep saying to myself 'Thank goodness she is so CUTE' because she is very charming!
The worst part for our set up is my son get left out so much because she is so demanding, loud, fussy and whiny all day that he jsut disappears. Before I know its dinner time again. We struggle every day to find balance. But I will tell you, it will get better. It sounds like our children are fiery and strong willed. I think it will be a long haul for us with her but I also think the defiant behavior will change by 4-4 1/2.
Im with ya. Feel free to email me privately and I will send you my email and we can get support from each other.

I completely understand. Try having 20 month old twins - a boy and a girl. If one isnt crying the other is. I have noticed the same thing- they have always accepted discipline; time out and spankings worked but all of a sudden they keep testing our patience. I feel like its just them growing up and trying to find themselves. My daughter is aggressive and my son is passive so it's always an ongoing battle but CONSISTENCY is the key. You can never give in to the whining and tantrums. And this to shall pass then it will be something else (smile). Dont let her know she is getting the best of you. I know kids sense that. Try to stay calm but be stern. I pray every night for patience. I have 3 other children so I have been there and done this before. My daughter that is now 10 used to be a terror from age 1 to 4. Now she is an angel-the daughter that everyone dreams of. You have to stay in control and she will give up. God bless you!

Whew,I completely understand! Our son is three and a half and we have noticed a huge improvement in behavior in the past few weeks. It is wonderful! I was beginning to think it would never come and wondering what was wrong. We had been through it with our other children, but not for so long (about two years) and not so dramatically, although one of them was a pretty bad case. He is not undisiciplined or indulged, he is just very strong willed and an individual. There is no quick fix, I hate to say, but with time, you will get your sweet child back. We are truly enjoying ours again. Best wishes to you!

If she is getting a bigger response for having tantrums or messing with "no-no's" than she is for appropriate behavior, then that is the behavior that will be repeated. Negative reinforcement is still reinforcement. So.....

1) Goof proof as much as you can. Try to make her environment as "error free" as possible.
2) Practice "No!" "No!" doesn't mean "have a tantrum" no means, "no, not right now... maybe later" so practice. Have her come up with three things she wants or wants to do. Have her ask them really fast and you say "No" each time.
When she gets into the game and doesn't have a tantrum, pretend to be startled and say, "hey, I thought you were going to argue with Mommy". Let's try it again... so that she learns it's just not right now.... You can even say "No" and when she accepts that, then turn around and say yes... so long as she responded reasonably to the no.

If she is following you around crying, put her in a playpen (gasp.. people think that's the work of the devil these days) or put her in her high chair. If the crying continues, vacuum and sing to yourself... you won't hear a thing. Just keep an eye on her for safety and do not respond until she's settled.

This is a normal developmental stage... she has to learn that she doesn't always get her way and that a tantrum pretty much gets ignored. Walking away and closing the door behind you often works too.

You are not her cruise director.. so although you want to interact and do... she has to learn to self-entertain as well. Perhaps a gymboree class or something similar to give her exercise in air conditioning...

I hope this helps.... I, personally, am a huge fan of "Parenting with Love and Logic" by Jim Fay & Foster Cline. You can get copies on eBay.

At this age, they go thru independence. She needs other children around, even if it's only 1-3 children. She needs to know that she isn't the only person alive. Even if it's daycare for 1-3 days a week.

I can completely understand how you are feeling. My son is almost 2 and he definitely has his share of tantrums. Every baby is most certainly different so although I can try to give advice on what works for our family - please understand it may not work for your little girl. That being said, I've noticed on the days that I don't make plans to do things, such as playdates/errands, my little guy can be a holy terror. But, if I have at least one fun thing to do each day, he is usually much better behaved. Some activities we do can be as simple as going for a walk around the block and enjoying pointing out the birds, clouds, and trucks. He also loves if we go to the park so he can spend a little time on the slides and just running around to get rid of his pent up energy. I know it's VERY hot right now, but we only stay outside for about an hour or so and that is usually enough to make him feel like he had a fun day. One of the things we've been doing lately is we go into our backyard and he plays in the kiddie pool. It was a cheap $10 blow up pool that is only about 5 feet in circumference. I put his bath toys in their and he LOVES it! I get to read a book and relax a bit while he enjoys splashing away. Plus this helps with the heat factor. I also keep a spray bottle nearby anytime we are outside filled with cold water and we spray each other to keep cool (really helps on the walks, too). Of course some kids really do best when they have some friends over, so you may just want to get involved in some playgroups. You will meet a lot of women and their kids that way. There are so many different moms groups in town that have something planned for almost everyday. Of course you don't have to do every activity. But even if you only do two or three things a month, you will make friends and it will give your daughter something fun to keep her busy and her mind stimulated. If the playgroup thing is a little too daunting, you can invite just one or two moms and their children over to your home. This will give the kids time to play so they aren't so bored and it will give you a chance to connect with other moms going through similiar circumstances.

Good luck to you!

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