20 answers

Toddler Driving Me Crazy!

My 28 month old little girl is driving me crazy! She used to be a great listener and helper and she wouldn't get into everything. I hardly child-proofed because she knew not to get into stuff that was forbidden. But now she is older, and I'm sad to say, wiser too. She is extremely smart for her age. She talks great but is terrible at listening. I have to repeat myself 5 or more times before she listens. I am nursing my 3 month old and I just can't hold her all the time or give her all my attention and she lashes out and hurts me or her brother. Tonight she scratched my arm while I was nursing the baby and left a huge gash and bruise. She did it with a toy. My initial reaction was to take the toy and throw it across the room and then I hit her on the head. I didn't mean to hit her that hard but I was mad. The three of us started to cry, me, her and the baby. I felt bad that I reacted so badly but I was so mad at her. She has tried stepping on her brother and kicking him. She mostly does it when I am playing with him or changing him. I know she is still jealous but I try spending time with her and giving her attention but it doesn't seem to help.

I can feel the little patience I have with her is slipping away. I feel like a terrible mom but I have done other things when she misbehaves too, like pushing her away from her brother, grabbing her arms or legs till it is uncomfortable, pinching her leg for a moment. I am almost always yelling at her to stop doing something or to listen to me.

Time-outs mean nothing to her. She laughs at me and that irritates me the most! I have tried shutting her in her room but she just peed on the carpet. Our apartment is tiny and we have a lot of stuff so she is constantly getting into everything.

I get the feeling that I am going to just keep hurting her till something bad happens. I feel terrible and I am crying while I write this because I don't know what to do. My husband offers little help and any discipline I try he just erases with his behavior towards her.

His idea of discipline is this, "Kate, stop that or I will turn you into a 'goon'." or "If you hit your brother one more time, no more cookies." I've tried explaining to him that those threats mean nothing to her. The "goon" thing is from the "little bunny foo-foo" story. He plays with her but when she misbehaves he just taps her on the nose and says "goon!" She thinks it’s a game, which it is now. So I get nowhere with discipline when her daddy just teases her when she misbehaves.

I want to get Super Nanny's help because I am at a loss. She has also been very difficult to put to bed at night and she wakes up way to early but that is another post!

Please help me be a better mom and give me some advice on how to deal with her terrible behavior!

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Have you tried taking privledges away? I don't know if that will work or not, but I had a friend who makes her child stand in the corner with her nose to the wall and it seems to help. *shrug* My kids are only 10 months old, so I don't really have any first hand experience! Hope you get some better advice!

If you're in an area where there is a good child therapist that teaches filial therapy, I would recommend that. It's all focused on building the relationship and using skills that help the child feel some self-control while you, as the parent, stay in control. It teaches therapeutic limit-setting and choice giving and does so much in helping kids to learn self-control and self-responsibility.

More Answers

I just went through the same thing. I promise this works. Revert to how they handled this is the very old days. The older is the helper of the younger. Praise! Praise! Praise! Have her help get the baby's blanket, diaper, toy. Teacher her soft by doing it to her. rub her face soft with the back of your fingers and say soft. Trace her face or rub your fingers through her hair. Say oh your such a big sister. Talk to the baby and say Isn't your sister so nice. Oh, look Kate loves you isn't she sweet, you love her too don't you. Around dad say oh Kate helped with Daniel today. She loves Daniel. She is so nice to Daniel. Have special lap time when dad gets home for him to talk to Kate about how nice she was to help mommy and Daniel. You have 5 min special time with her just laying on floor tracing her face or singing something easy. This will be time for you to relax and chill as reinforce that you haven't replaced or forgotten her. You will see results as soon as 2-3 days. She just is feeling forgotten and unimportant. Anytime anyone is around make sure she hears you say Kate is so nice and such a big girl...she helped with this today!

My daughter is now a guard dog for her sister. It's amazing how much children want to help and do big things. Mine is 3 and helps with laundry and dishes everyday and now isn't in the way...she really helps and understands. We do it together so it's her special mom time.

2 moms found this helpful

She is jealous of her brother. She may have finally realized that he is here to stay and so she is lashing out at you and him.
Look at it from her point of view: She was the center of attention, the light of your life. You spent all day with her giving her attention any time she desired it. And then, along comes this noisy, smelly, wiggly thing that gets ALL of mom's and dad's attention. When people come over they oooh, and ahh at the baby and want to hold him. That used to be her. From her point of view he's a nasty little intruder that took away alot of good things from her life.
Instead of discipline, think about ways you can teach her to love her brother. And be consistent with time outs. She's at a defiant age where she is testing limits. I would save time outs for really bad offenses and start practicing some more "time ins". When you are nursing, read to her. When the baby is sleeping play with her. And when the baby is awake and ready to "play" teach her how to play with him.
I have tried to incorporate my 4 year old into his sisters life from before she arrived. And now, at 19 months he loves her dearly. It doesn't mean it wasn't hard at first (he wanted to play with her so much and she was so tiny) and I'm not saying it's all me, but they love each other now.
Good luck to you!

Have you tried taking privledges away? I don't know if that will work or not, but I had a friend who makes her child stand in the corner with her nose to the wall and it seems to help. *shrug* My kids are only 10 months old, so I don't really have any first hand experience! Hope you get some better advice!

Please get some support. Find the local teachers for Love and Logic or Parent Effectiveness Training and take a class as soon as you can. Also, reach out to other moms for support: creating play dates and watching each other's children so you can have some down time.

Your current physical discipline is abusive and it is what is teaching your daughter to use physical harm to get her needs met. I am in no way judging your behavior. Parenting is the hardest job on the planet. That is why we all need support.

I too dealt with anger and frustration and not knowing what to do. Fortunately, I had a wonderful parenting class for my college degree and we used Parent Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon and 1-2-3 Magic by Thomas Phelan for our text books. It made all the difference in my ability to deal with my three small children and to get a handle on my own anger and frustration.

There are alternatives to physical discipline. There are also ways to learn to care for yourself during these difficult times. Educate yourself. Read, take classes, enroll in a group, talk to other mothers, find a good counselor or coach. Do not wait. Do not hesitate. It is vital that you reach out and support yourself now. Things will only get harder and your patience will only get thinner.

Being a mom is not easy and therefore we need to resource ourselves in all the ways we possibly can. It does not mean we are weak or there is something wrong with us. It just means we don't have enough information. We have created the damaging belief that we should all be super moms and automatically know what to do, how to do it, and be able to do it all on our own. Not possible and therefore: crazy-making. Give yourself a break, treat yourself and your daughter with tender, loving care, and reach out for and be willing to accept support.

Hi A.-I have a 2 1/2 year old & 3 months old and have felt a bit like this. I got two books--discipline by t. berry brazelton & my doctor recommended love & logic magic for early childhood (birth-6 years). both have been really helpful, particularly the latter & it's super easy to read. My husband and i are working to put love & logic into place--you both have to be consistent. If you feel like hitting her, walk away! Just take a breather and let her know mommy needs some space. Make sure you get some time with her when your husband is around and even if you can't hold her when you're nursing the baby, stay engaged with her. I notice my daughter acts up whenever I try to use the computer or something while I'm holding my baby. So I try to talk to her and read to her, etc. Hang in there & try out that book. It made me calm down & has helped quite a bit.

Another hint someone gave me--since you're always having the toddle wait, you sometimes ask the baby to wait. It doesn't even have to be something important--just when the baby is put down, you say, "Daniel, you'll have to wait, I'm going to get Kate some water..." something like that. Say it often, so that Kate doesn't feel like she's the only one sacrificing. Talk to Daniel a lot about Kate being such a good big sister too. I have found that helps!


My two year old hit my newborn in the face with a large rock. I lost it and spanked her as hard as I could.

My husband is gone all the time and when he comes home, he just wants to play and spoil the kids, so I know how you feel.

First, I think that you would feel less rage towards your daughter if you had a discipline plan beforehand, set up in your mind and explained to your daughter. The plan needs to mostly be centered on reinforcement for good behavior, rather than punishment. Your daughter just wants attention and doesn't care if you are hurting her because that gives her attention too. Time outs won't work because she will either pee or be destructive some other way to get your attention. Some kids' personalities are that they will do anything for attention.

So while she is being good - give her tons and tons and tons of praise. Also, tell her that you really need her help all day long, to get diapers and wipes for you, get the binky, get the blanket, which blanket should we get, what outfit should we put on the baby, which washcloth should we use to wipe the baby's spit up, etc. The more important she feels and like she is your right hand man, the less violent she will be and then the less violent you will be. While nursing your baby, have your daugher bring a book over and read it to her while you are nursing.

Also, you need time outside your home regularly to work out or do meditation or hang out with a girlfriend or something. Hire a babysitter for one hour if you have too.

Don't worry right now about your spouse - you can't make him do anything. But you can tell him what you are trying with your daughter to help her behave better.

Don't feel guilty, just change what you are doing and remember, you will never be a perfect mom, ever. No such thing, and nobody else is, either. You just have to keep trying and give yourself a break.


First of all, if you are doing things to your daughter to cause pain (which I hate to say, is abusive) then no matter what behavior she was doing before it will become worse. She will only become more angry, and less likely to listen especially if there is yelling.
Talking quietly to her and using a calm voice will help with some of this. Help her know how sad baby brother is when she is mean etc. Playing soft music will help with the atmosphere in your home.
If you are causing pain to her, she will want to take that out on someone who is smaller or defenseless like her brother.
That is good that you are trying to give her attention. Have you tried including her in helping with her brother? If she feels like she is included in taking care of him, that should help alot.
It is very important that you and your husband are together with the discipline. When she sees you have a united front, things will also improve. Parenting classes would be really good for you both to go to. They often offer these through elementary schools, or even at the highschools. You could call and ask them.
Do you have family around that could help out and give you a break? You need to find a support group as soon as possible. If you feel like doing something hurtful, or yelling, count to 10, and take deep cleansing breaths. If you can put your son in his crib when disciplining her, that would be best. It is important that you are firm with her, but respectful (meaning no pain or yelling) Be consistant with the time outs, (have her sit on a chair or stool for 2 minutes for her age) If you have to gently hold her there that is okay. As you already know she is just wanting attention. Praise her for being kind to her brother, and when she is helping in anyway. A little praise goes a long way.
If you quit reacting in harsh ways to her bad behavior, but use consistant consequences, things will get better. It will take time, but when she sees she won't get a huge reaction out of you when she does bad things, it won't be fun to do those things anymore. Just ask yourself : How can I expect my daughter to learn appropriate behavior if I am not teaching that to her? You are teaching by the example you set...everything you do and say. Take Care.... LDB

I am not writing this in a judgmental way, but rather in a can't-see-the-forest-for-the-trees way. None of us are perfect - far short actually. That said, you are mad at your daughter for being physically violent toward you and her brother while you are being physically violent toward her. She is mirroring what she has been taught. Let me write that again, she is mirroring what she has been taught.

The way you deal with frustration is the way she will deal with frustration. You are her road map. You are asking about her behavior, but you need to start with the source. Do better and so will she.

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