M.B. asks from Pittsburgh, PA on January 22, 2009
Feel like I'm Fighting with My 2-Year-old All Day Long.
I have a 28 month-old son, (only child at this point) who up until recently, has always been my sweet, loving, little boy. Now we must be in the "terrible-two's" because I feel like all day long I'm yelling at him. Not literally "yelling" but it's constantly, "Don't play with your cars in the middle of the stairs, don't unplug the cords, don't throw things at the TV".....etc, etc. etc! I do try to not always start with the word "don't" and I'm always quick to follow up with why, --such as "you could get hurt" or "it will break" and I know he must be at that age where he's testing us, but even after I offer an alternative, it 9 times out of 10 results in a meltdown. My husband and I both work, and have our schedules worked out that we've never had to use daycare. He knows he can get away with more with me, and he is a little better when he's alone with his dad, but not much. And when the both of us are home with him he's much worse. At the end of the day I feel SO BAD because most days it feels light I fought with him more than spent quality time with him. I never could even raise my voice at him before, or he would burst out in tears. Now when my I do raise my voice he runs off, usually throwing things, then runs back and asks, "You happy Mommy?" When I tell him if he doesn't do that anymore I will be happy, and try to hug and kiss him, he pushes me away, and usually goes and does something else he's not supposed to. I'm trying to do everything right, I read a lot of articles and books, but I still feel like I'm doing something wrong. At the end of the day I'm so mentally and physically exhausted, and like I said I feel so bad for my son. Does anyone know of any books that might be helpful or have been through the same thing? I just wish I knew how long this was going to last, I don't want him to grow up and start pre-school being so difficult.
So What Happened?™
Thank you SO MUCH everyone for all your ideas and encouragement!!! Over the past week, I've taken all your advice and things have gotten a little better, (we still have good and bad days)and I've tried to 'relax' a little more. I've been trying to just say "no" tiwce, then step in. I've used diversionery more, and a lot more praise! Once, I even had to put on a stiff face, (as not to laugh) because I strongly told him, "WE DON'T THROW THINGS" and he looked at me so seriously and replied, "Daddy's not here..." So I have been trying to find more activites, I think it must be the "cabin fever" that's getting to us too! Thanks again!
S.Y. answers from Pittsburgh on January 23, 2009
Some books that could help:
"Positive Discipline" by Jane Nelsen
"How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen so Kids Will Talk" by Adele Faber
"The Toddler Busy Book" by Trish Kuffner
The latter is a book filled with creative, cheap ideas that really keep a tot interested and engaged.
Good luck! :)
J.I. answers from Pittsburgh on January 23, 2009
Sweetie, you just have to persevere, and it is very very hard. No one tells you at the baby shower when you are opening those cute little outfits just how hard it is to raise kids. The great thing about phases is that they pass. They can last a long time, but they do go away.
I have a three and a half year old, and it took him until he turned three to really get trying like this. And it is tiring, and exhausting, to come home after working and have a small child just be trying.
Some things to think about -- is he sleeping well? Do you have to wake him up in the mornings? Maybe he needs a little more sleep. Even missing a half hour on a regular basis seems to mess them up and make them crabby.
Is he eating well? Does he need to eat more often? Maybe he is cranky.
Does he have cabin fever and need more of an outlet to let out that energy? Put on some music and dance with him, take him to the mall and let him run at those play areas.
Try not to let him get a rise out of you. I'm not that great at it myself, not that patient, but I have heard that if you respond calmly to him and hold the course, you will prevail.
Also, you could tell him it is two times or you are out. I tell you once, I tell you again, you didn't listen, you had the choice to listen, now you get a time out/punishment/whatever.
Good luck. I think during these stages, you and your husband need to give yourself more breaks. Try to take turns getting out to do something for yourself, or use a babysitter more often. I think that is actually the best advice I can give on this one.
S.H. answers from Pittsburgh on January 26, 2009
WOW...I read that and it seemed like you were talking about my son. What worked for us was diversionary tactics. If he started to do something I'd rather he didn't, I would get one of his favorite toys, books, etc., and re-direct him and his seemingly limitless energy. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't and we still had nuclear-level meltdowns, but the more I kept at it, the better it got. He just turned three in December and after about a year of it, his behavior is much better. He is to the point now, I rarely have to correct him for doing things he shouldn't(hassling the dog when she is sleeping; running his cars on the tv screen; trying to open the dishwasher when it's running). I hope this helps and wish you the best of luck. It will get better!
L.T. answers from Pittsburgh on January 23, 2009
There are 2 books I use that I really like. The first is "Magic 1-2-3". The majority of the book is dedicated to teaching you "proper" techniques for counting 1,2,3 and following up with a consequence (usually time out).It talks about consistency and NOT engaging in dialogue or power struggles while enforcing this method of discipline. The other book I like is "Setting limits with your strong-willed child". It has given me insight into how to more clearly state rules, consequences, expectations. I found that words I spoke conveyed vague descriptions and the messages my children were receiving indicated my expections were negotiable. That has helped me tremendously.
Some other things I do....I use a reward chart with smiley faces and X's to track behavior and determine if a weekly treat was earned. I praise when I catch them making good decisions, playing well with others, remembering manners, etc. We often review rules, expectations and consequences. After consequences/timeouts I talk to my children about what better decisions they could have made then give them hugs and tell them I love them.
You asked how long this lasts. I found that age 3 is way more challenging that age 2. So the quicker you find a way to handle this behavior, the better off you will be for the future. Also, if you and your husband can follow the same plan it will make a world of difference. Best wishes!
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on January 23, 2009
I remember feeling exactly like that a LOT when my son was 2/3. I was like "Gee...is THIS what having a kid is like? I've gotta correct him all day and now he HATES me!"
One thing to keep in mind...it's rarely the things you envision happening to your son that actually DO happen. I know, I know, you can just SEE him flinging a truck right through the television screen or getting zapped from an electrical outlet causing you to leap into Paramedic mode. But more often, it's the stuff we can't even imagine that really does happen. (I never thought I would actually have to spend time putting underwear and socks onto stuffed animals!) So let some of the small things go, especially when they're not all that important/harmful. Let him explore and be a kid, as long as he's mot in obvious danger--it's how they learn!
Lower your expectations of organization, clean, etc. Yes--you can still have an organized and clean house--just not the way you may be used to! I clean my bathroom floor, and clean the toilet while my son is in the tub, etc. (Used to be able to do a weekly cleaning and it stayed that way--Not anymore!)
My advice to get him to listen better is to talk/correct/reprimand less. I think kids just begin to tune you out when they are hearing a lot of "don't" and "stop", etc. Just say it once, give a warning and then you can quietly step in and remove the offending items, etc. At this age, my son learned pretty quickly to obey or he knew the toy, activity, whatever was OVER and it was taken away for awhile.
He will come around. Let him know you are on his team and that you like to do fun stuff and be silly too. When you feel disconnected from your son, pull him close and give him a HUGE heart-to-heart hug and tell him you love him more than anything in the world!
D.B. answers from Pittsburgh on January 23, 2009
My son will be 4 in April. We still sometimes have days like this. The best advice I can give is "don't sweat the small stuff" Why? For your sanity and his. Kids have to make mistakes to learn. They don't learn from us telling them what might happen, they have to see it for themselves. So, they get a boo-boo on their knee, or a toy gets broken. Lesson learned, they won't do it again.
Also, be sure to praise what he does well. "Wow, thanks for not driving cars on the stairs. I'm so glad you remembered!" This goes a long way.
Oh and skip the parenting books. No one method will work for every kid. We need to be dynamic and creative in our solutions. Trust your gut instinct here. It's usually right.