2 Year Old - Behavior Changes - Need Advice

Updated on April 03, 2009
S.S. asks from Streamwood, IL
9 answers

My 2 year old has never had any behavior issues until this week. He attends daycare and I have received reports the past 3 days that he has been hitting, pushing, and biting his friends at school. I am unsure what to do about this. Is this normal? I feel like I am doing something wrong as a parent.

On another note, for about the past week and a half we have had the hardest time getting him to go to bed. I know that he is getting tired, so will take him up to bed which turns into a major melt-down. Prior to now, going to bed has not been an issue for him. I have been holding him and sitting with him until he falls asleep, but realized that I cannot do this every night. Last night I let him cry for about 5 minutes and then went up to comfort him and he then went to sleep.

Please let me know if this type of behavior is normal. Is this just a phase? Is there anything that I can do as a parent to solve this?

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answers from Chicago on

It is normal. Now it will last for weeks or months if you choose to ignore it or do the reward chart when he doesn't misbehave....or you can do like every mother in my family for at least three generations punish him if he hits or hurts someone.

It's very hard when they are in daycare, so I'm not sure how you will handle that one. Maybe you can tell them to put him in time-out each time he hurts someone. (And not the silly two minute time-outs...my rule: they sit until they cry..because if they don't cry, they don't care)

I would also reinforce the punishment at home if you get a bad report. Worked for my mom. She always said you get twice at home what you got at school. We understood this at a very young age.

If you sit down and talk to him about hitting (then act out hitting so he knows what you are saying) and so forth and tell him it is wrong to hit your friends. (act out the biting thing too) Then tell him he will be punished if he does these things. It is best if you can catch him in the act.

Would the daycare allow you to spend a day watching him (without his knowledge) so that you can catch him and then punish him in a bathroom yourself. That way he will know that mommy is serious.

The daycare situation makes it hard, but you will need to find some way to get through to him because it isn't fair to the other kids that have to endure his acting out.

And as far as the bed goes...the way you handled it with letting him cry for a bit and then soothing him a minute was good. Just don't give in. You make a rule...come Hell or Highwater...you stick to that rule.

He's beginning to get a sense of his own will and he is going to test all his environments. You have to put your foot down as a parent and insist that he behave. No ifs ands or buts about it.

He's normal so don't fret. You didn't do anything wrong. It is easy for a child to be bad....we have to teach them to be good. (for most kids anyway)



answers from Chicago on

I read the responses and see lots of good info. and ideas. Checking out concerns about daycare would be top on my list. What I am wondering about though is if he may be reacting to your pregnancy. How much does he know, how long ago did he find out? How does he respond when you refer to the coming baby? He could be afraid he will be replaced and acting it out in anger, or something on those lines.



answers from Chicago on

My daughter went through similar sleeping issues. She was hitting but would throw tantrums instead. She started to become afraid of the dark - no particular reason, just that point where kids start using the imagination. We added two extra night lights, tried explaining that when it is dark there is nothing different than when it is light, you just can't see everything. Luckily it was a phase...it lasted about 6 months (sorry) but we slowly started removing night lights one by one. Now she has her Hello Kitty Humidifier with a built-in nightlight which is VERY dim. She is fine. Good luck and remember...this too shall pass.
P.S. Congrats on #2!



answers from Chicago on


First of all, Keep in mind that they call it the "terrible two's" for a reason! Sometimes they just ARE. And yes, sometimes they do just start like that.

On the other hand, there are two other very important issues to consider. First is his health. Since the bahavior change happened suddenly, he may have hearing difficulty or other issues that may not show obvious symptoms. A check-up may be in order.

Secondly, this behavior also brings up the question of what is happening at the day care or any other part of his life, including your family life. Maybe, you need to investigate that possiblity. Little ones can not explain if something is going wrong in their life, but they will often act out like you are asking about.

I do not mean to alarm you, but my advice comes from many years as a mother & grandmother, as well as 20+ years, as an educator.

Rest assured that your parenting is not in question. If it was, you would not be seeking answers to concerns like this.
Good luck.




answers from Chicago on

It is possible that this is just a phase, but since the problem is extending to home makes me a little more concerned. That behavior is normal for a toddler and when I ran a 2 year old room I would have only mentioned it to a parent if it had gotten to the point where I thought maybe the parent intervening wold help (usually it doesnt since it is getting them more attention for their behavior) The question is how are they handling it and how does it seem to you? How is the day care? Is it a new teacher in the room? I honestly think that if this is all new odd behavior and he is trouble sleeping you may want to look for a new provider. Does he want to go to daycare? how does the teacher(s) react to him? Is there a way you can pop in one day early and observe him. I dont want to alarm you, this could all totally be a coincidence and be nothing, but it could also mean the care he was receiving at the day care is not proper and is disturbing him so he is trouble sleeping....BUT it could just mean he is going through a biting stage due to lack of ability to communicate as well as hed like and going through a sleep issue phase. Try talking to him and honestly trust your gut! (on a side note you may be getting notices all of a sudden because an accident report has to be filed each time a child is bitten and gets bit so though you may be getting notices thats what has to happen...also teachers in the room always have to watch the current biter extra well because as soon as you turn your hear they bite and its a huge hassle for the teacher to call parents and fill out forms, BUT it is a normal part of kids that age in a day care setting. They are having trouble communicating and bite out of frustration...if this has not been explained to you I would definitely change providers....good luck!



answers from Chicago on

My son's behavior changes when he feels sick or is fighting something off. I have also noticed that he tends to be like me - feeling yucky when we have a shift in weather conditions. Lately, the rain/snow that we've had passing through the area have had me feeling a little short-tempered and I've had recurring headaches. My son is home today, complaining of an upset stomach, but I know that half of it is the weather as he's been acting out the last 2-3 days. We also have a lot of seasonal allergies here - most of those don't show up until about age three, but you might also be seeing an onset of allergies. Also, if he is not sleeping as well then he is going to be cranky and it will spiral quickly from there. You might want to talk to the daycare about making sure he gets some extra naptime for the moment, so he can catch up on sleep.

Just some thoughts, anyway. It could also be what the other moms are saying - Terrible Twos. My son started those late - he was nearly three - but mostly it seemed to be about him testing the boundaries on getting what he wanted even if we said no. Lots of temper tantrums mostly.

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

My son just turned two and we had a bout of this kind of behavior too. I think it's a combination of two things - 1) he's becoming more aware of the fact that he has some (although limited) control over his environment, and
2) he's not physically able to communicate at a level consistent with what he wants.

What we've done is a sort of time-out, where when he does something that's not acceptable, I sit him on the bottom stair and look him in the eye, saying "no hitting (or whatever the offense was)" and walk away. If he gets up, I put him back, and usually only let him sit there a minute or two once he's still and quiet. Then I go back and re-iterate the rule "No hitting," and he usually repeats me and says "sorry Mommy." Then we hug and go on with our day. Sometimes it takes a few trips to the stairs for it to sink in for him, and sometimes it takes a good 10 minutes for him to calm down enough to stay on the stair, but as long as you keep your cool and stay consistent, I think you should be okay.

The second part, the communication barrier, was actually eased by incorporating sign language in our house. A few basic signs should do it, usually the more common ones like eat, play, potty, etc. will get the main point across. Or you can use a photo chart of things he commonly wants (a story, a snack, the playground) and have him point to what it is he wants. Then repeat the word to reinforce it.

My son has recently started wanting to 'help' me with everything, which is sweet, but difficult sometimes. I let him help with smaller tasks (pouring the pasta into the water if I'm cooking, using hand-vac when I'm cleaning, etc) and he's usually happy to just be involved.

I'm sure it's just normal behavior and will pass eventually. The hard part is keeping your patience during this phase, lol.



answers from Chicago on

Terriable twos can be emotionally rough on YOU but he knows how to get your attention. Crying. Talk softly to him when you go check on him but don't give in to his crying. They know from birth that crying brings you right to their room. After 2 years, they real good at it. This is just a phase. The longer you hold and coddle him the longer and more severe the crying becomes. Stop it now. You'll save yourself the anguish and his frustration from not getting his way by nipping it in the bud. Please watch "SUPERNANNY"
Friday night at 8p.m. You'll learn so much that you could never learn in a book. The stories are different every week and yet the methods stay the same so they are very easy to learn. 10 minutes or half an hour, it doesn't matter. Your child can be changed in a night or 2 if you stick with it. If you don't, you're hurting yourself and your child. He's not being bad, he's testing you. If you don't stop it now, the things he does will be more drastic in the future. You have to be the strong one. Afterall, he is the child.



answers from Chicago on

I'm sure the two issues are tied. He's not getting enough sleep so he's cranky and irritable.

Try doing what you have to do to get him to sleep for a short period of time to get him back on track. He's overtired and therefore doesn't want to sleep...and then he's more tired the next day from fighting it! Once you get him back on sleep track, slowly wean him from whatever you're doing.

My stepdaughter was pretty cranky for about a week. She was overtired and didn't want to sleep...then was tired the next day and didn't want to sleep again at night. Turns out she was getting sick. Poor thing.

Hope your son gets back on track soon!

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