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.

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

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.

More Answers

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.

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.