22 answers

Headstrong Child

Seeking advice on an extremely headstrong, strong willed 20 month old. Maybe just looking to vent a bit and see if there are any other moms going through same issues with their children? Daughter is extremely active and strong willed. I feel as though she has to have her way... all the time. Even when I say no to something, she just cries and screams. Some of the current issues I'm dealing with right now: she is forever taking her clothes and diaper off, sometimes I even find her in her crib with it off and pee/poop all over. I've tried everything!!! Nothing has worked. When she wants the clothes/diaper off... that's it. Also, having a very difficult time using high chair and stroller. She doesn't want to use them. Therefore, taking the occasional jaunt out with husband is so difficult. We have no family or friends to babysit every now and then, so that is out of the question. Sorry to include so much information. But, I was really just looking to vent on some of my frustrations and see if there were any other mothers out there going through any of this. Just looking for advice on taking care of the child who always seems to want to run the show.

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I would let her know that you are in charge not her, in a very nice way. If you say no and she has a tantrum, ignor her. Leave the room (if she's in a safe place)untill she's done then go back and try again. If you let her get away with it now its going to be hellish when she's 4 or 5. Same thing with the stroller and high chair. Tell her you're not going for a walk unless she's in the stroller. She'll learn after you stop giving in. Does she like stickers? Make a sticker chart for every time she does what you need her to do then have a tea party/special game/movie time/ or something extra special when she gets X amount of stickers for the week. My daughter is almost 8 and she learned early that screaming when she didn't want to do something got her nowhere fast.

Good luck!!!

Hi K.! I have a 4 year old, a 2 1/2 year old and a 1 year old and I work full-time (all boys). We also do not have family near by so I know how hard it is. I have not had this particular issue with taking the diaper/clothes off, but I do know girls tend to develop quicker then boys (in general) do you think she might actually be ready to start some potty training? My 4 year old is just now fully potty trained, which means no accidents even at night with just underwear. However, my 2 1/2 is almost potty trained now! He just wears a diaper at night. My friends daughter was potty trained by 1 1/2 accept at night with a diaper? Which I think is amazing, but every child is different. My 4 year old used a high chair up until 2 and then a booster. My 2 1/2 has been out of a high chair since he was 1 1/2. I have a "kids" table I bought at Ikea and he sat there and was really happy, now he sits really well in a adult chair with at the table. I guess I sort of went with him letting me know he was ready for the next level. Or maybe I was so busy with the others to notice he was ready until he complained? Yes, it was messy at first but it was with my oldest too and tried my patience...She might just be an advanced little girl. Keep venting it is a good thing. Every mother has frustrations.

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YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! :) My 20mo son is EXACTLY the same way. I call it "high spirited" but it's really screaming/kicking/fit throwing hell. I know he's just slipping into his terrible twos at this time and that it will pass, but it's still frustrating. My first child (he's now 7yo) was so quiet and never went through this phase in any significant way so I was totally unprepared for when #2 morphed from my sweet, precocious little baby boy into this whiny, ear-piercing ball of frustration and anger. It's too bad we're not closer together, we could lend each other a lot of support I think. I also have no family or close friends here (except for a couple of neighbors, but none of them are SAHM's and they're sooo busy all of the time).

Here are a couple of things that might help:

1.) Remember that this is a phase. She's seeking independence and fearing it at the same time. She wants more control over her universe, but isn't mature enough to understand why thing have to be the way they have to be.

2.) Try to find a few ways each day to let her have control. With my son, I let him pick out his own snacks (from my pre-approved selection of course) and I let him pick out his own clothes. He likes to hold/fiddle with things that I don't want him to have (my phone, the OPEN bottle of bubble solution etc.) so I find ways to compromise with him and at the same time show him why I didn't want him to have them to begin with. (I gave him my old phone when I got a new one, batteries, charger and all to play with which he breaks and has to put back together, I take him out in the garage where I let him carry around the open bubble bottle and when he invariably spills it, I show him what a mess it is and explained that the bubble are all gone now and no one can play with them. I ask him if maybe it's a good idea for mommy to hold them next time...maybe he gets it, maybe not, but it makes me feel like I'm making progress.)

3.) Really, really pay attention to her. A lot of their frustration at this age is the inability to effectively communicate what they want and need. Get down on her level and listen to the sounds she's making. Listen for word-like sounds and ask questions about what you think she might be asking for. With my son he'll say something that I recognize, like juice, but then he doesn't seem to want it. I have to work to figure out that this time he wants me to give him the empty cup with the lid off so he can play around with trying to get it back on. It can be as simple as that. Also, the more you pay attention to her (including giving her a puzzled look and big shrug - big expressions are key - and saying "I don't understand" when you can't figure it out) the more she will realize that mommy is on her side and she just needs to try to ask a different way. It takes time, but this is the most effective method I've found. Get on her level, try to get in her head and help her learn to communicate more clearly.

4.) Find some time for you. I had trouble with this since I homeschool my oldest and coach his soccer team. My husband works and spends three hours a day commuting, he also has to work out since he's prone to high cholesterol and blood pressure, and he's going to school full time to finish his degree. We were stuck. I had NO way to get a little time to take care of myself. Finally, we found the YMCA. The family membership is a little expensive, but it's worth it (and I only had to have a family membership because my oldest is school age, you could get a single membership which is less expensive). They give you three hours a day of free child care as long as you stay in the building. This gives me the chance to work out, swim (which is my Zen) or just sit in the cafe there on the Wi-Fi with my laptop and go through my e-mail without my little one screaming at my elbow. I have found that giving myself this break a few times a week helps me to be a better mother since I get a chance to recharge and I'm not constantly worn to my breaking point (which my son, and apparently your daughter as well, seem adept at).

I hope you were able to glean a few nuggets of value out of all of this. Message me if you'd like to stay in contact. I think it would be nice to have another "stranded" mother of a terrible two to commiserate with.

1 mom found this helpful

That is simply the nature of the age and it will continue, especially when they are 3! Anyway, the best way to handle it is to give them a lot of power by making everything about choices. The key here is to make the choices realistic for you to follow through on! If you say stop begging for candy while shopping or we are going to go home right now. If you aren't really willing to walk away from that cart of groceries and go home like you said then your word means nothing to your child and don't think a 20 month old won't figure that out!!! Your choices should be 2 choices that you would like and she gets the power to choose between them. You need to leave your diaper on or you miss going to the park tomorrow. Which do you want? Repeat her choice over and over and how she will get what she wants. Remember in the morning to leave your diaper on so we can go to the park tomorrow. You must follow through on the consequence!! If diaper is off, no playground.
You can eat the carrots or the broccoli, which would you like?(even one taste) You can get changed first or brush your teeth first. Choices, choices. Good luck, we've all been there.
M.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,
I have a 18 month old and she is going through some of the same things. She hates to have her diaper changed...throws a fit. It is an age thing...she is learning to express her independence. I remember going through the same thing w/ our now 3 1/2 yr old. My Gym has a drop off time for 18mo - 3 1/2 yrs so I am thinking of doing that. We use a booster seat w/ an attachable tray. I take it to restaurants also because it keeps her from grabbing everything off of the table. I forgot it one time and it was horrible!

Good Luck!
B.

Yes, definitely sounds like the terrible twos - we are there too! I would choose your battles and then stick with those strongly. My daughter has refused to go in a stroller since she was about 15 months and I decided that is not a battle worth fighting - it is better for her to get excercise walking on her own anyways (although everything always takes us longer!) When she started rejecting her highchair we took that as a sign she was ready for a booster and that has worked really well. This phase is about kids wanting some independence and that is a good thing so if there are some things you can do to give her more independence I think that is important.

Obviously the diaper/clothes thing is a battle worth fighting as you don't want to spend all your time cleaning up poop and pee. You could try pull-ups (my daughter can't get these off as easily) and/or putting your daughter in inside-out zippered pajamas as that way she can't get out. Then when she does take off her clothes and diaper you could try using the firm "no" and time outs and see how that works...

I think choosing your battles is the key to this phase - otherwise you spend your entire day battling with your child instead of enjoying her.

K.,

I read your post and thought I was reading about myself!!! I have a 20 month old son who is very headstrong...I also have no family here and very little friends so going out with my husband has been non existent. I don't have any advice for you but I thought I'd let you know that I'm also a stay at home Mom with some of the same frustrations...My son hits me all the time. I've been telling him no and putting him in time out but he just laughs at me. No matter how stern or loud my voice is he just thinks it's funny...ughh. Maybe other mothers can give us some advice. :) Good luck, S.

I would let her know that you are in charge not her, in a very nice way. If you say no and she has a tantrum, ignor her. Leave the room (if she's in a safe place)untill she's done then go back and try again. If you let her get away with it now its going to be hellish when she's 4 or 5. Same thing with the stroller and high chair. Tell her you're not going for a walk unless she's in the stroller. She'll learn after you stop giving in. Does she like stickers? Make a sticker chart for every time she does what you need her to do then have a tea party/special game/movie time/ or something extra special when she gets X amount of stickers for the week. My daughter is almost 8 and she learned early that screaming when she didn't want to do something got her nowhere fast.

Good luck!!!

I don't know what to say except that maybe your child doesn't like the "feel" of the clothes or diaper and needs to get them off in order to feel better. Maybe if you tell her that she can take the clothes off but she needs to leave the diaper on. And then explain to her the reason for keeping the diaper on, such as "the mess can make her sick" or "mommy would have to clean up and I want to play with you instead of cleaning", then she has a choice. Maybe if you gave her a choice of clothes to wear she would be less likely to take them off. Most children like to have some type of control.
Think about it. How much control of their worlds do they have. It must be frustrating to them not to be able to do the things they want to because of their size,age etc...
"No honey you can't get up there", "Let me get that (you can't reach)", "Here let mommy help you", "Don't touch that", "Let's get dressed" etc.. Parents do mostly everything for them at this age and they are too small to do anything yet.
Also when it comes to the stroller, would it be possible to find a baby carrier like a mai tai or a backpack type carrier that you can wear her when you go out. She might enjoy the closeness of being next to you instead of straped into a chair.
My son never liked being buckled into any type of harness. As a newborn he would cry and cry and cry when the nurses swaddled him. They would bring him in and say "We don't know what's wrong with him but he won't stop crying" As soon as I told them to undo the swaddle he stopped.
Some children just have certain quirks and we need to find ways to accomodate them so that we don't have to struggle with our children.
I wish you luck.
Also you may want to check out the book
"Raising your Spirited Child". It talks a lot about temperment and how to recognize what type your child has and work with it. My son is very active and won't sit still for things like dinner or activities such as learning but I have found ways to work with his temperment and it has helped my stress level immensely.
Good luck.

Hi, K., Good luck to you; I feel your pain! My oldest has Oppositional Defiant Disorder - not fun! The best advice I can give you is to stand your ground, and vent when you need to! I for one can relate and am happy to listen. Take care.
P.S. My daughter is now 25; that strong will is serving her well in her adult life. AND - we both survived her growing up years! :) N.

Join the club!:) My headstrong one is 6 now but has always been that way. I embrace it, look at it as a positive thing. At the very least, you know no one is going to be able to take advantage of her easily. I actually have to reprimand her teacher for trying to make her strong personality into a negative thing. When it comes to temper tantrums, you're probably going to have to become adept at ignoring that/while keeping her safe to inform her that you'll not be moved either once you've let her know how a situation is going to go. Use countdowns, time outs, etc. to get your point across and don't confuse her by giving in sometimes. Consistency is the key but I've also learned, choose your battles wisely. Safety is priority, anything else, I do my best to remember to study whether it's just a pet peeve of mine that's being bothered or a lesson that she needs to learn.

Peace and Blessings,

Maxine
SingleMamaPreneur!
www.singlemamapreneurs.com
Have you had your T. Blessing today?
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Hi K.,

You didn't really mention what you did when she threw her fits. I would probably just ignore them, but after she gets old enough, she really needs to stand in the corner or something. Tantrums are not acceptable. Also - try to make sure she has her favorite toy or whatever when you go for walks...or a little snack. As far as the diaper situation, use masking tape that she can't remove.

In general the 15 month to 2 1/2 period is quite difficult for anyone. Have you considered she may be ready to potty train? I imagine the highchair and stroller are making her feel confined. (at this age they want to explore.) I would consider not dining at fancy restaurants for a couple more months. Do something family friendly. As far as meltdowns with screaming....my son did the same thing. I would calmly put him in his room until he calmed down. At which point i would immediately get him out. I would say to him, "i know you are frustrated, its ok to scream and cry but you need to scream and cry in your room. when you are done, I will come get you." After about a week of taking him to his room, much of that subsided.

Both of my boys are headstrong...the one 'hands on' thing I can recommend is get zippered pjs with no feet, and put them on her backwards for bed and nap. She will not be able to get them or her diaper off. As for the stroller and highchair....I picked my battles. if they didn't sit, they didn't eat. If they refused the stroller, they were carried like babies. I tried to give options, but with only really one appealing choice (mine). Honestly, it can SUCK having strong willed children, and while this trait can drive you nuts now it will serve them well in the future. Little heads up--when she becomes fully verbal, be prepared for her to argue/question/debate everything to the point you will be sure she was top of the class in lawschool!

Hi K.! I have a 4 year old, a 2 1/2 year old and a 1 year old and I work full-time (all boys). We also do not have family near by so I know how hard it is. I have not had this particular issue with taking the diaper/clothes off, but I do know girls tend to develop quicker then boys (in general) do you think she might actually be ready to start some potty training? My 4 year old is just now fully potty trained, which means no accidents even at night with just underwear. However, my 2 1/2 is almost potty trained now! He just wears a diaper at night. My friends daughter was potty trained by 1 1/2 accept at night with a diaper? Which I think is amazing, but every child is different. My 4 year old used a high chair up until 2 and then a booster. My 2 1/2 has been out of a high chair since he was 1 1/2. I have a "kids" table I bought at Ikea and he sat there and was really happy, now he sits really well in a adult chair with at the table. I guess I sort of went with him letting me know he was ready for the next level. Or maybe I was so busy with the others to notice he was ready until he complained? Yes, it was messy at first but it was with my oldest too and tried my patience...She might just be an advanced little girl. Keep venting it is a good thing. Every mother has frustrations.

My son is also 20 months old, and I guess if I did not get some time away from him, I would at times find it difficult. I would advice that you find some little cash if you can to hire outside help. I am now sending my son to a kindergarten 3 mornings a week, and he is learning quite a bit there. It is very short (3 hours each time) but it gives him a social life that I think he enjoys. Then also get together with other moms with kids the same age. It will give you ideas on how to handle toddlers - others have different ways, and other kids might also be of example for your toddler.
finally I would also try to have a critical look at your own behaviour. Is there anything that you do that would give your toddler a message that her tantrums are ok? Do you always try to respond right away? Have you tried time out? Have you tried leaving her in the stroller even if she complains, to see how far you go until she calms down? My son actually would have some fits at the table, and we just would walk away and leave him there, keeping our own conversation going me and my husband. after a few times he saw he was not getting anything and has somewhat got our point (without us loosing it)...
Also about diapers, girls that age sometimes are ready to be potty trained. have you started exploring that? she might be just trying to tell you she wants to go diaper free...
Anyway, these are a bunch of thoughts, I hope they can be useful...

Cheers

I.

I have to say my NOW 6yr old was the same way. The only suggestions i have for you is to not let her win. If she takes off her clothes fine let her but a diaper i wouldn't let her win at. If you have to tape it all the way around i would do that at night. If she takes it off during the day i would start potty training. Children CAN be trains as early at 1yr so it's not impossible. Don't let her win at anything that matters. Take away the benefit of winning with the others in other words if there is a fight going to happen and you know it just avoid the chance of her winning over you by doing the easier way. Sometimes when children fight you it's a sign things need to change like potty training. An easy way to stop the fighting about diapers is to potty train. If she's fighting about you feeding her than give her more power by giving her hand foods or NOT so messing food. Accept that meals are going to be messy. Strip her down to eat if it's going to be messy. Sometimes it's just easier and it makes better for her. But don't give in to bedtime and when meals are made and things the are going to be like that forever and things you don't want to make a fight later on. Good luck You can email me anytime i know just how it is. My daughter is VERY strong willed I've been told by EVERYONE But she's well controlled now.

K.,
First let me begin by saying I understand your frustration. I often feel guilty for getting frustrated at my little angels but sometimes they can be difficult. I also understand the no babysitting thing - I think a break every now and then would be very helpful but it is what it is. As far as advice it is easy for me to type what you should do or what I think you should do so please understand it is just suggestions (I know I hate it when people tell me like they are experts because the fact is every child it different). I think you should sign up at a local gym - ymca or I know Golds has a child watch area - to give you a break - you need it. I think you are going to have to get really tough with your daughter. I always feel so terrible for getting mean but she has to know you mean business. I would do small timeouts. Do you have a place you can leave her when she is misbehaving and walk away? I would let her know that her behavior is unacceptable and mommy will not tolerate it. Do not give in. As I said I know it is easy for me to type because there are days I am just too tired for the fight but you have to stay strong. I hope something I have said helped.

Hi K.,

Wow, I don't know if I have any advice to offer to the general specifics of what you offered, but it sounds like you are very frustrated and that you may need some time out for yourself! I am concerned that wrote that you have no family or friends to babysit; do you have anyone around to hang out with or visit with? I sympathize if you don't - I only have my in-laws somewhat locally (1/2 hr away), but really no one else in the area. My son is almost 15 mths, and I would be glad to join you at the playground with the kids (I dispise the word "playdate", but that's what I mean I guess) or something, as a chance to talk to another mom and let the kids play. I live in Southern Baltimore County, near Columbia area - perhaps I am going on a limb here, guessing that maybe you might be interested in getting out and just talking with another mom..... personally, I can only "chat" on so many issues online.... On my end, I do work full time, but I'm home early on most Tues and Thurs, or else weekends. I hope this doesn't sound too weird, either.... In any case, I wish you the best, and perhaps you could try a table and chair that fits your daughter's height instead of a high chair - I know my son loves to sit at the toddler-sized table and chairs at day care, and he prefers to eat there now too! (although it does facilitate his desires to walk away and back and forth to the table, but that is another issue....)

take care,
D.

take care,
D.

K.,
Yes, that is the way little ones are. Sorry to say, it doesn't get any easier when they turn 2. Your daughter is just expressing her opinions, and that is a good thing!!! You definitely want her to have her own opinions and likes/dislikes.

My suggestion is to decide what issues are really important to you to say no on (i.e., safety, eating healthy foods) and then let some of the other stuff go. She doesn't want to use the high chair or stroller b/c she doesn't want to be still. At this age, they want to be on the move, walking, running, exploring. At this age, it is easier to get take out than to go out to eat.

I would suggest holding your ground on saying no on safety issues, etc. That way your daughter will know that when you say no, you really mean it. Try using other phrases for "no" like "uh-uh" and keep "no" for when you really need it, otherwise she'll just tune you out.

Not sure how to keep the diaper on, haven't dealt with that issue.

If you need a break, which is important for every parent, I would suggest asking around for babysitter recommendations. I think most mothers would be willing to share the name and contact info for a good babysitter. We all need a break now and then. Especially at this age when the little ones are strongly expressing their opinions.

She sounds like a very normal 20 month old. It is so frustrating! I never thought we would get out of that stage. Personally, I found it helpful to read child development books just because they showed that it was a normal phase. I like the Your Two Year Old, Your Three Year Old, ect. They are dated, but get to the heart of the matter. The library has lots of copies.

For the clothes removal, when my son was that age the only thing that worked was moving him into pull-ups and only letting him wear rompers--like a onsie thing that is shorts and shirt in one. It snaps in the crotch and my son could never get it off.

Good luck!

K.:

I have two like this. It does get somewhat better as the child gets older. My youngest is 22months and is going through the same things as my oldest but with her own twist on it. They say a very high energy and headstrong child is a sign of a gifted child. I know with my first one this holds true. She learned sign language at three months and loves learning. My younger shows it in different ways, she is more artistic and playful. I find that doing a couple of things helps alot. One, I really make sure they don't get too much added sugar otherwise the energy is worse and the other is they liked to be extremely challenged. The hard part is figuring out what your 20 month old finds interesting and groom that. Your always going to have to stay one step ahead. Sometimes, you just have to get over the fact that your frustrated and let them have their temper tantrum like you don't see it no matter what anyone else thinks because they are not living it and have no clue. Pick your battles wisely. Also, I feel you on never catching a break. What happend to those people who urged you so hard to have the babies and then no one is around to help when you need them. (Oh and my kids could never stay strapped in a stroller, basket, bed, etc. they were too smart and could unbuckle and manuever everything very early) Not everyone understands that some children just arent passive. I have always envied the mother who had the children that would sit still in a grocery store. Its not just a behavioral problem like people think. Do a little reading on gifted children you arent the only one in this boat. Lastly, with the diaper thing, I have to agree with the person who wrote about potty training. Its probably a sign to start.

It seems to be a common problem, but most kids grow out of it within a year.
http://www.babycenter.com/400_how-do-i-handle-a-toddler-w...
and
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/304610/my_toddle...
It might be the on set of the terrible twos.
I considered ear plugs when my son went through that screaming phase.
Is it possible she might be touch sensitive?
Your child may be touch sensitive if she:
* Reacts strongly to sensations that most people don't notice.
* Tries to avoid tactile experiences.
* Gets distracted because of the things that are touching him are bothering him.
* Insists on having certain textures of clothing.
* Makes you cut all the tags and labels out of his clothing.
* Won't eat certain foods because of their texture.
* Craves certain sensations the he finds calming, like rocking or firm pressure.
* Fights irrationally when you are combing or shampooing his hair, cutting his fingernails, or brushing his teeth.
* In adults and children with sensory motor integration deficits the palms of the hands, soles of feet, mouth and tongue are usually most sensitive areas.

This is your introduction to the terrible two's! It is not a fun time, but definitely passes, then you hit the four's, which I affectionately label a two year old with a mouth :). It will pass, and it is normal. Just try not to give in to her and let her know that what you guys say is the final answer. Wheter it is keeping her clothes on or sitting in the stroller. My 26 month old son has figured out how to get out of his stroller and we are battling that right now. I feel your pain. But it will pass, just do your best to keep your patience through it :). And be nmore stubborn than your baby, this is where I lose it sometimes!!

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