Any Toddler Parents Have This Problem?

Updated on November 02, 2011
K.B. asks from Islip, NY
17 answers

My son just turned two lastweek and I would say for the past month or so now he's been having massive meltdowns, tantrums, bossy moody moments throughout the day and night. One of the things that starts his meltdowns is having choices. When he eats dinner, (he does want to eat, he doesn't want to eat) when he's watching tv (he want's freshbeats, no he wants gabba) when he takes a bath (he wants out , no he wants to stay in) I'm sure you get it, the meltdowns he has from doing this are god awefull, the neighbors must think what are we doing to him I sometimes think. I need help. I was wondering the best way to correct this?? I recently have taken his choices away like I just pick him up from the bath now instead of falling for him saying in , out, in, out. Which has cut down a little on the tantrum but I know within a few minutes he'll do it wit a toy or something. Thanks so much for reading and helping everyone. I appreciate it.

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answers from New York on

Its really hard for them because they want both and cannot choose. (My son would put on many shirts because he couldnt choose. Only give him choices that don't matter and are ridiculously unimportant. Use a timer whenever possible You get out of the bath when the timer dings. You eat dinner when the timer dings. You are taking those choices out of his hands but you are not controlling it -the timer is and you cannot argue with a timer. Oh look! Fresh Beat is on TV. (don't mention other options)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My almost 3 yo does this, drives me crazy! Just this morning I asked her "do you want to go to the store or stay home?" She chose to stay home. So as I was getting up to leave the small conversation she changes her mind to say, "store" but then back to "home" and it always ends up with her crying and me walking away to gain my sanity. So I understand, and no, I don't have an answer, I'm just glad I have similar company to rant this out with:)

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answers from Cleveland on

I think most kids go through this.
It could be his way of trying to have control over things in his life.
For the important things, like eating, sleeping etc, you make the choice
When it comes to movies, TV, toys etc, LET him choose
Give him 3 options. Tell him he gets to choose, but remind him that once he picks that was HIS choice and it isnt being changed.
Then when he picks one, be excited for him making that decision.
This is what worked for me and my son. Obviously all kids are different.

I would simply tell my son that he got to choose something, but once he made his choice we were sticking with it.
Worked for him.

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answers from Cleveland on

Sounds JUST like my son. From what I've seen 1.5-2yrs is the time they start asserting their authority. Actually what usually works better is to give them MORE choices. But go for ones that don't really matter. Pick out 2 or 3 outfits in the morning and ask him "which one would you like to wear?"
"Would like milk or juice with breakfast? Cereal or waffles?"
"Would you like your bath now or in 15 minutes?"
"You can either watch freshbeats like you asked, or should we turn the t.v. off?"
This is a REALLY hard phase, I know all about it. But they are testing boundaries, looking for structure, and also wanting independence. So trying to balance all is hard. But really the silly choices really helps. But also being firm about not wanting different things constantly. My son is HORRIBLE with that. I want to watch t.v., two minutes later I want to color, 2 minutes later I want to play play doh.............
We had to start telling him, No you asked to do this. So we are finishing that or doing it for X amount of time before we pick something else. If he throws a fit...time out. And then we'll start over. It's exhausting, but it gets better. Just stay consistent, and don't let him see you lose your cool. Which is the hardest part for me! Good luck!

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answers from Reno on

I ignore the poor behavior. My 2 year old little girl is extremely stubborn and strong willed. I have discovered when my 2 want to misbehave I ignore them even if they follow me around. I will say 1 time and ONLY one time "when you are done whining and crying we will talk". My daughter has carried on for 20 minutes before and if she is being incredibly disruptive I pick her up without saying a word and lay her in bed. As soon as she is quiet we will talk about the tantrum and reitterate that we don't behave like that. I also praise her good behavior.

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answers from Richmond on

My son is 22 months and time outs work beautifully, and have been working for a few months.

If my son pitches a temper tantrum, I'll ask him 'Do you want to sit in time out?!'

9 times out of 10, he stops dead in his tracks now.

Those few times he continues to flip out, I pick him up, put him in his crib with the light on, and give him 3 minutes to chill out. I'm NOT an advocate for using the crib for time out and wouldn't recommend it, but this is the only thing that works for MY son. I highly recommend a time out chair, stool, step, whatever instead; this is like the one exception to the rule.

ANYWAY, after 3 minutes, I go in there and ask 'Are you done now?' He nods his head, I take him out, and he's fine.

Choices or not, tantrums need to be nipped in the bud EARLY, and time out works very, very well :)



answers from Tampa on

Terrific 2s, perfectly normal. It's a sign of a very smart toddler. I usually let them out of their system and say I understand you are upset...Wait until 3s:)


answers from Laredo on

My son has these tantrums sometimes He is two and a half. Whenever he starts going into a fit I give him a chance to be nice. I tell him that I can't understand him and he needs to stop crying so he can use his words. Sometimes he is just too upset to reason with but most of the time he calms down. When he doesn't I tell him he can go to his room if he needs to scream about it. I used to have to take him to his room, but now he just goes in there himself and screams until he is done and then tells me he is ready to be nice. It works great. especially for me. When he is in his room I don't have to worry about him, and I can remove myself from the screaming and I don't have to stress because he comes out when he is ready to be nice.



answers from Houston on

Welcome to the terrible twos!!! and it last until late 4s!!! I am in the middle with my 3 year old girl and is no fun, but rest assured you will survive! For me, not giving in the drama, keeping (or trying to) calm, removing my child when we are in public and time outs, kind of helps but just kind of.
I read and have always recommend the book 1-2-3 magic and really helps me, give it a try I am sure you will find it at the very least, interesting.
Good luck! I know what you are going to through!



answers from Houston on

Kids go through phases when they are trying for more independence. This will continue through their teens, so get ready. :) I completely agree with those who have said: give them two choices and let them make them (the kid feels like they have a say); tell them to use their words to let you know how they are feeling; and walk away (calmly) when their behavior is out of control (be where you can be sure they are safe). They are looking for where the boundaries are, and when they can't find them, they will keep looking/pushing.



answers from Victoria on

when he is doing the back and forth thing like eating and he says no i dont yes i do. then no i dont say to him yes you do and walk a way. say it cute and kind but dont wait for him to argue. when he cant make up his mind on the tv select one for him. he wants you to be in control of the situation. he is learning from you right now on how to make choices. perhaps its just a way to get more attention. hope this helps you.



answers from Houston on

We've been going through this as well - it can be so frustrating. Sometimes you need to remove yourself from the situation to have an attitude adjustment. My DD went to grandmas for a sleepover and I got a break and a good night sleep. My tension and anxiety got better and so she got better - they can feel our stress and impatience and I think that makes it worse. I try to stay firm and calm and let her know this is what needs to be done now - get dressed, eat dinner, take a bath, go to bed, etc. It's tough but it is a phase - you need to stay in control to avoid letting your child turn into a little monster. Good luck to you!



answers from College Station on

The poor little guy is probably just overwhelmed. I like your less choices/ not giving him a choice idea. You can put some of his toys away so he is not so overwhelmed or you can give him words to express himself instead of screaming. This takes time and patience.

Good luck


answers from Santa Fe on

I ignore those kinds of tantrums. The kind that make no sense whatsoever and no matter what you say to your child they are just going to act works and continue the tantrum. Totally ignore! I didn't ignore enough with our son and the tantrums lasted longer. Our daughter just turned 2 and I know now to just walk away and act like she is not even there. She does not have them very often any more. But maybe it is just her personality.


answers from Williamsport on

With tantrums, you can't question why or how to prevent. All kids do it. For all the usual reasons. If you want the tantrums stopped, you have to outlaw them for any reason, and that takes discipline. It does work, if you're willing to go that route. This book is great: Back to Basics Discipline by Janet Campbell Matson. I have three non tantrummers.

Also, you never discipline genuine fussiness for fatigue, hunger, fear, after nap monster, etc, just the bratty melt downs that quickly become habit. Your child is very smart, knows the difference, and won't do it if you're FIRM and don't allow it.

If you want it to be outgrown, ignore. If you want it to stop now, never ignore. If time outs don't faze him (some kids aren't scared of time outs and will tantrum IN the time out which defeats purpose of teaching self control, but if it works, it works), swats worked in all mine right away. Literally, now even when my super difficult 2 year old starts to well up in a pre-tantrum way, all I have to say is, "Hey, no fits" calmly, and she doesn't start it, she just moves and and resumes playing, or calms down enough to express herself if she needs to let me know what's upsetting her. Once given the warning, she knows she has a quick choice to make for the next step.

Also, you're right, kids often DON'T like so many choices. You know when sometimes you want the MAN to just PLAN the date and tell you what you're feel secure if you're in charge, so while you do want to offer choices throughout the day, sometimes it's not warranted. If it frustrates your child, take that cue to make a choice for them. It's OK to say, "Its bath time. It's bed time." But again, nothing you do will prevent the desire to throw a tantrum. You just need to decide how you want to handle tantrums.



answers from New York on

It is common for this age. My son was doing the same stuff at 2 (though not so much with my daughter who is 2 now--very different personalities). I put him in time outs for tantrums and it helped. I did give him choices but less about the routine--I kept the schedule as consistent as I could--he could pick from the foods served but had to sit at mealtime. Also my kids were/are more prone to tantrums when tired so they get fewer choices around dinner and bedtime than earlier in the day. I also make him stick with his choice for a while even if I get an argument. It is mostly the age and it gets a lot better as the kid matures and you are consistent about limiting and discouraging the tantrums. Happiest Toddler on the Block and a few other toddler books have good tips (try the library).



answers from Muncie on

My daughter is 5 and still does this. It's bad when I half in the middle of doing her first choice and she pitches a fit and has chosen something else. It's frustrating. I tell her, "Too late. This is what you told me you wanted, this is what you get." Limit his choice between two, this or that, go with his fist choice, don't budge.

Good luck.

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