12 answers

Terrible Two's - Chandler,AZ

I have a twenty month old son who is going through the "terrible twos". He will do something that he knows he shouldn't do or will continue to do something even after my husband and I have told him no. Time out and explanations don't seem to work. I would appreciate any ideas that anyone can give me :)

1 mom found this helpful

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Hi C., my daughter did the same thing so I asked my doc what I should do his advice was that if she didnt listen to my first request then put her in her bed and leave her there either untill she comes back out (because she has forgotten what she was doing to get into trouble) or stopped crying, my daughter was in a toddler bed so I would put her there when she didnt listen and she would come back out and I would tell her that she needed to understand that when I told her she had to do something or couldnt do something she should listen so she didnt have to go in her bed, He told me not to remind her what she did because it was the point of her having to listen when she was told. It worked great for us, she is going to be 5 now and listen really well. good luck.
C.

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It is important to remember that between the ages of 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 children go through the first adolesence--not the terrible twos. Your child is trying to assert his independance for the first time. He is not trying to be "terrible" or "bad" or disobedient. In many situations it helps to give your child choices so he can make a decision rather than being told what to do. It also helps to tell your child what he MAY do rather than what he may not do. There is nothing you can do about the first adolesence. All you can do is help your son transition through it with love and understanding.

This is what I was hoping to say earlier. I am excited I finally found the article. Sorry it is so long, but this excerpt is beautiful.

...Gradually, though, sometime after he had mastered walking, an irresistible urge to make his own choices began to well up inside him. This is an exciting development, but the difficulty with his making an independent choice is that he must disagree with you in order for the choice to be his own. Now, when you ask him to do something, he refuses.

It is unpleasant to have anyone passionately disagree with you. When this opposition comes from your own little delight, the situation is decidedly disagreeable. Many people call this important phase of development the "Terrible Twos." I prefer to call it "The First Adolescence." This period begins long before age two and actually continues long afterwards, but in the majority of children, it is most intensely focused around the period from one-and-a-half to three years of age.

The hallmark of this stage is oppositional behavior. Our wonderful children instinctively want to do exactly the opposite of what we want. We have nice, reasonable expectations and they say, "NO!" or they simply dissolve into tears. Suppose you have some place to get to in a hurry. Your son has been in a great mood all day. . . until you say, "I need you to get into the car right now." He will, of course, want to do anything except get into the car.

As if this weren't enough, children in this phase of development have a great deal of difficulty making the choices they so desperately want to make. You ask your child what he would like for dinner, and he says macaroni. You lovingly prepare it for him, and then as soon as it's made he says, "I don't want that!" It is perfectly normal for him to reverse a decision as soon as he has made it, because at this stage, he even disagrees with himself.

His task is to gain skill at making appropriate choices. To help him accomplish this, offer your son limited choices at every opportunity. He will be demonstratively frustrated when he is given direct commands with no options. He will decompensate if he has too many alternatives. Two or three options generally works best.

Make sure the choices you offer fall within an appropriate agenda. Your son still needs the security of knowing that he's not calling all the shots. When it's time to eat, say something like, "Would you rather have a slice of apple or a banana?" He feels both the reassuring limits that you set and the freedom to exercise his power within those limits. If there are two things he needs to do, let him decide which to do first, when appropriate.

This phase is difficult for parents; it is also hard for children. When children take a stand that opposes their parents, they experience intense emotions. Although they are driven to become their own unique persons, they also long to please their parents. Even now, when I do something that my parents disagree with, I feel very conflicted. I am an adult, living in a different city, with well-thought-out choices -- and it is still quite difficult. For a child who is tentatively learning to make choices, who is dependent on his parents for food, shelter, and emotional support, it's even more intense. Dissolving into tears is an appropriate expression of the inner turmoil that is so real for children who are in the midst of this process.

I like to think of the process as similar to childbirth. Labor is a very intense experience. Pain, after pain, after pain eventually produces something beautiful-- a child is born. The episodes of oppositional behavior in "First Adolescence" are psychological labor pains -- one difficult situation, then another, and another, and as a result your son's own persona is being born psychologically. This is a beautiful (but difficult) time with a truly worthwhile result.

As an oak tree is already present in an acorn, this aspect of your son's unfolding development was already present when he was conceived. Although you will have a large impact on its course, it's not caused by something you are doing wrong, and it won't last forever.

3 moms found this helpful

We tend to focus on what they shouldn't be doing which is why we end up saying no all time. So I've been in the practice of positive reinforcement (it takes practice to make it a natural habit). I make a note to comment to him when he is playing nicely, or sharing (look how well you share with your little brother), or any little thing (what a great helper, listener, eater, climber, painter, big brother, etc....). I try to be creative with my praise versus just giving him the generic "good job" everytime. This has really made a difference because now when I do something that he likes he gives me positive reinforcement (Thanks Mom, you're a good cooker).

I think Kelsey's advice is pretty insightful as well. Get him involved, it makes mine feel so good.

Bien suerte
and yeeay on the new addition to the family
-S.

Continue doing what you are doing and eventually he will understand that he cannot do those things anymore. Things will work after a while. Maybe you need to be a little more strict and be sure to catch him everytime he does something wrong or possible before the action occurs. He needs to understand that mommy and daddy are the boss and he needs to listen. Congratulations on your 3 week old!

C.,
My son is going thru the terrible twos himself. Try to keep in mind that with children, we have to keep repeating ourselves. Even when it comes to telling them "no". Repetiveness is the key to children learning and growing. It's hard I know. My son will constantly mess with the blinds, and we keep telling him that he cannot play in those, but he does indeed test us and how far he can push. Your son might be testing you also to see how far you will go. Just remember, consistancy, and follow thru with each and every punishment and praise. Best wishes, G.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.
He is testing is independence, not trying to disobey you. Check out Supernanny.us.com for advice and tips.

Hi C.- I agree with Kelsey. He is proabbly feeling a little overwhelmed with the change. Some special "him and daddy" or "him and you" time would be great. Another thing that I started doing when I speak to my children in discipline is expect a "yes mommy" when I discipline. Such as... "Aidan, do not bring that baseball into this house, its too hard and will break something, take it outside." and Aidan replies, "yes mommy." It doesn't give them the chance to argue and it automatically moves them into "compliance." It has worked very well for our family and the other people that I know use it. Good Luck.

I noticed that you have a newborn. I imagine that the birth of your newest child has caused you son to feel like he is getting less attention than he used to get. He is probably acting out so yo will pay attention to him. Can you try spending some special time with just him when the baby is not around? Or try and involve him in the care of the baby? Going to the kitchen and getting a burprag for you m things like that. I hope it will settle down once he feels special and useful.

I have a 2 1/2 yr old. and I feel like a broken record half the time. But repition helps, he needs to know that your answer isn't going to change. I've started having him repeat to me what I just told him. So then it's like he is saying it to himself. Then if that doesn't work I take away what ever he is playing with, that ALWAYS works. Good Luck to you.

D.

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