Disciplining Two Year Old for Saying She Doesn't like Her Mommy and Daddy

Updated on March 26, 2010
H.H. asks from San Clemente, CA
22 answers

So I'm the disciplinarian and my husband is the push over. However the tides have turned as my husband feels we need to crack down on my 27 moth old saying "no like mommy/ daddy". She has verbal skills that seem average for her age. I feel since she doesn't have the vocabulary to say "you've hurt my feelings", or "I don't like that you try to make me eat lunch", we need to let her express these feeling with the vocabulary she does have. For now that seems to be "no like mommy daddy". She also says "hit mommy", "kick daddy" (we very strictly punish for actually doing these things). I feel my husband is inconsistent as he agrees to allow her to say these phrases but not "no like momma- dada". I try to let him make his own (perceived) mistakes in parenting without having to have my way, but this time I'm adamant. What do you guys think.

(to clarify an issue raised, by "strictly punish, I mean swiftly punish". In other words we aren't letting it slide when she kicks and hits in anger, we don't warn and warn, its a rule in the house, she gets one warning, then time out for hitting, kicking, biting in anger)

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for giving me your time. There was lots of advice and so much of it I'm afraid my head was spinning with contradictory information. One thing people did was offer lots of advice on what we should do with our daughter, but I was hoping more for advice on what to do with husband. I know we are both shooting from the hip on parenting and each is convinced that the other is wrong. I have half a dozen parenting books and I find the same problem, "contradictory information" and so we continue to shoot from the hip. I don't imagine I'll get my husband to read any parenting books. Many seem to have gravitated to one parenting philosophy or the other. I'm still trying to figure out what all those philosophies are! One thing is for certain, this parenting thing ain't easy. Even tonight my husband threatened punishment on her. I reminded him we were still debating the issue. He said one more month of redirecting her language and then we put a discipline to it. He's acting without me when I'vemade it clear that I don't think its the right thing. Still feeling on my own here.

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answers from Detroit on

maybe offer her a new phrase, like I mad at mommy/daddy.
but maybe she is not saying i don't like mommy and daddy, maybe she is saying I don't like _____, mommy and daddy.

I think its important to remember toddlers have limited way to express themselves and its important to be patient and offer other options/phrases and way to expres themselves.

I am with the other mom, we all have different ways to disipline, but "strictly punish" for kicking and hitting, seems silly and counter productive.
Toddlers don't know enough to really mean I don't like mommy and daddy.

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answers from Honolulu on

I don't know that "punishment" is in order, but you do need to give her the words to express her feelings. She can say "I'm MAD" pretty easily. You can correct her when she says "no like mommy" you can say "You are MAD" (or angry or frustrated or whatever you feel she is trying to express) and validate her feelings "You are MAD when mommy won't give you the cookie. I know, I like cookies, too. Too bad cookies are not a healthy snack. Here is a yummy banana!" You can even teach her some sign language. I did that with my kids and it was really helpful. Sometimes, we all just need to be heard! It will probably diffuse the situation if she knows that you understand how she feels and why she feels that way.

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answers from Austin on

My three year old says he will be batman. This doesn't mean he will be. He just doesn't understand what it means. Your daughter doesn't actually understand what she is saying. If you husband doesn't believe that, he should go talk to the pediatrician. Seriously. Also, punishment at 2 is generally a time out, so I'm not sure what you mean by "strictly punish".
On another topic, are you really trying to make her eat all her lunch? If so, you really should sit down with your pediatrician to assess your expectations.

Thank you for clearing up the "strictly punish" issue. I stand by my previous statements.

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answers from Dallas on

I would not discipline a child for saying they don't like me, especially at that young age. It sounds like what she is trying to express is that she doesn't like whatever you have just asked her to do. In my mind there are two ways to go here. You can ask her, "What don't you like?" and get at the real source. For example if she says "I don't like picking up my toys," then you can respond appropriately. I'd say something like, "Yes, it's more fun to make a mess than clean up sometimes, but when you make a mess it's up to you to clean up. If you work hard too I will help you."

Or, I would answer the not liking mommy thing......"I'm sorry if you don't like what I am saying right now, but I like you very much. I like you so much I want to teach you how to be a big girl and clean up after yourself."

What I'm trying to say is I would do my best to avoid turning this into a power struggle. Keep your expectations age appropriate. In reality your daughter is pretty much still a baby. Buy the "Love and Logic" books.

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answers from Seattle on

We do not discipline our daughter (roughly the same age) for something like this. I feel that it's okay for her to vent her feelings this way.
I will usually try to guide her expression, for example if she says "no like mommy" I will reply "I understand that you don't like if mommy ties your shoe" and explain why we need to do it anyways.
I understand that there are different "schools of parenting" but our parenting style includes that verbal expressions one's feelings are ok - even if I don't like hearing them.

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answers from Cincinnati on

When I worked in daycare, our students frequently told us in fits of anger that they didn't like us for one thing or another. Our responses ranged from, "That makes me sad when you say that," to "I'm sorry to hear that, because I still like you," to "You don't have to like me, but you still have to do X." If you make it into a big deal (punishing her), she'll realize she has power in her hands, so whatever you do, I would gloss over this. It seems a little silly to punish her over this - after all, she isn't required to like you, and it isn't like she's calling names. She's just, as you said, expressing herself, and figuring out what gets her what she wants. This should get her no real reaction - it doesn't change what happens to her at all.

I'm also not sure you should discipline her for saying she's going to hit or kick you. Instead, I would tell her, "We don't hit in this family. If you hit me, you will have to do time out (or whatever you use). Use your words." Give her a chance to rethink her decisions instead of disciplining her for her words. If she actually hits you, that's a completely different story.

I agree that you should not disagree with your husband about discipline in front of your children. The two of you need to work this out behind closed doors and then present a united front. Good luck.

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answers from Portland on

Please read, with your husband, the opening paragraphs in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk. You can read part of this wonderful resource here: http://www.amazon.com/How-Talk-Kids-Will-Listen/dp/038081....

If you sense how closely it fits your situation, please buy or check out the book. It is wonderful and wise, and a great book to have on hand as your children grow. You don't have to disallow your children's feelings, and you can find effective and kind ways to enhance attitudes and behavior.

Don't expect a 2yo to have much of a sense of how hurtful her words might feel to a big, powerful adult. It will be years before she develops much empathy, and she'll do a better job of it if her mommy and daddy model empathy and kindness consistently.

You can, of course, shame or manipulate her into expressing only those feelings that make you comfortable, but the only real learning there is that she shouldn't trust her feelings, and that she should withhold her real feelings from her mommy and daddy. Those are both dangerous lessons for many reasons.

The more quickly parents can recognize and deal with their own issues when their children are young, the stronger the bond of mutual respect and admiration becomes. This is especially helpful when kids become more independent in their teens.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Jacksonville on

What is your response when she says this? Maybe if you give her the words to express what she is feeling, she will start to use them instead of the words your husband finds so offensive and inappropriate.

When she says "no like mommy/daddy". You could simply ask her.... "Did mommy/daddy hurt your feelings?" "It feels bad/yucky when our feelings get hurt. Sometimes it makes us feel angry. Do you feel that way right now?" When she nods her head or whatever, say "so your feelings are hurt?" or "so you are angry about having to eat?" Then as her vocabulary increases to include these words you are giving her, she will stop saying the "no like " phrases...


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answers from Los Angeles on

Heidi, please know the advice you are seeking is called PARENTING not disciplining. First and foremost, you are the parent, you set the guidelines. Parenting your children is about discipline discipline really means - a system of rules of conduct or method of practice) - so PRACTICE being the parent you want around your child. If they are doing something you don't like tell them what you DO like. You are the guide, the role model, the final decision.

It is very simple. It may not be easy, but it is simple. You state in a very clear tone, "we do not do that in our family. Are you part of this family? Fine then we don't do that (whatever the behaviour is). If you want something, need something are upset about something we discuss it, we don't (whine, be disrespectful, say hurtful things, etc or whatever the behaviour) in this family. So in this family we discuss what we want. Are you part of this family? Great, then let's discuss it. Do you need a minute to think about what you want to say? (Give her the opportunity to calm down and formulate her thoughts yes even at 2)"

Be firm, but not mean. Be straight, no guesswork on her part. There are no consequences, just facts. "In this family we do this, and this is what we don't do". Fact. No story, no explanation, no variations. You MUST have your husband on board.

The other day we were at a friends place visiting. I told both my daughters we needed to leave by 6:30 to get home in time for my conference call at 7 PM. I said: We will say our good byes at 6:20 and be in the car, backing out of the driveway before 6:30. Tonight I have a conference call and we will be home in time, alright? Everyone agreed. At 6:10 I reminded them we had to leave in 10 mins. My daughter's friend said, "Can Taylor Rae stay and play longer and my mom will drive her home?" Taylor Rae answered and said, "nope, we can't". I didn't have to say anything. It was already decided earlier.

Some might argue for negotiation skills...seizing the opportunity, but you know what, there are some non negotiables. Brushing their teeth is a non negotiable, drinking their nutritional shake in the AM is a non negotiable, getting in the car so that I was on time for my team call...a non negotiable. They know the rules, they know their boundaries and we never have or will have the whining, the disrespect etc.

Heidi, if you don't teach them daily...yes daily...things will not change. Think they "should have learned by now"... just take a drive and count how many speed limit signs there are on the road, how many stop signs there are...how many traffic lights there are. We all need constant reminders of the behaviour that is appropriate to our leading healthy productive lives.

Family Success Coach

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answers from Norfolk on

We say either "You don't have to like me, but you still have to do X." as Amanda said or we say "It is OK to be angry (upset whatever, just help them classify their emotion) but it is not OK to hurt someones feelings. You need to apologize to _______." Basically I say the first one if my kids tell me they don't like me, I say the other if they tell someone else.

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answers from Honolulu on

As Peg said, the book "how to talk so kids will listen, and listen do kids will talk" is REAL great. AND it is helpful for even adults talking to each other.
I have the book and it is great and gave me insight about adult level talking too.

In addition to everything else... young toddlers go through a stage where they do say "I don't like (a certain parent)." One thing is, don't take it personally... sure, teach her about feelings/communication/what is nice or not... but also keep your expectations about it age-appropriate. Meaning, don't expect change over-night, nor swiftly, nor for it to be perfect. MAIN thing is that that child TRIES their best. Praise her for trying. Not about being "perfect" or not about it. NO child, can be perfect as to how their parent wants. Because... learning will take all of child-hood to get "our" expectations correct, that we have upon them.

Also, the emotional development, of a 2 year old.. is NOT fully developed yet nor its abstract connotations & nuances and understanding yet.

Either, work with her and expect age appropriate things and problem solving on your part, as parents... or, expect her to be/act older than she is in cognitive understanding and impulse control & maturity, and have frustration... for you and her, and battles.

At the same time.. it is REAL important for a child to LEARN about expressing themselves, and how, and how to cope, and how to problem solve. So, sometimes, instead of slapping punishments on the child across the board for anything... teach her how to "problem-solve." If she talks back... teach her "how can you say that differently?" "Can you say it with a smile instead?" Wow, that's better!" and praise her. Thus giving her the ideas and skills to think of OPTIONS of how to behave... and as she gets older, by repetition of this "practice" with her, she will understand better, and it will become a routine... so that it gets instinctual. She is so young to get it all perfectly yet. So there is a learning curve... each child being different. Accept that.
Even some adults don't even have social skills or understanding nor can they talk nicely.
With my kids, that is what I do. Now, when the are icky... I tell them "Redo that... " and they will. To the best of their ability. I accept their effort... and say thank you. I do NOT expect "perfection." Just the effort of trying their best. I give them CHOICES and the chance to REDO their actions/voice/attitude. BEFORE I just plunk down a punishment generically. And I teach them HOW to say/do/think of alternative ways of acting out, but positively or saying it.

Teach her about feelings too and the words for it. happy,sad,mad,frustrated etc. I tell my kids, its okay to be mad/sad/grumpy... but to tell me and we are a TEAM about it and WE will help each other. I am not perfect myself and get crabby... so, I don't expect my kids to perfectly navigate their emotions either. And, when I am crabby, at them, I apologize to them too. It is a 2-way street. They need an example... from us. Not just it being about who is the better Disciplinarian or not. But teaching them over time... about emotional intelligence and competence and coping/problem solving. Little Toddlers can get it... if you start young.

All the best,

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answers from San Diego on

Hello, I would allow her to express her feelings and then mirror them with comments like, "It sounds like you are angry with Mommy/Daddy." Or, "You must be really mad at Mommy/Daddy right now." That way she learns the correct way to express how she is feeling with out having the feeling of being negated.
Good luck with your precious little girl.
K. k.

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answers from Las Vegas on

I think sometimes you have to take your emotional response out of the equation when you are discipling your children. It is NORMAL for a child to tell you at some point that they don't like you. What gives it power is how much power you give it. When my now 3 year old went through that stage, we simply said "that isn't nice, we don't say that" and just left it at that. Since it had no "power" he quit. Kids will push your buttons. It is what they do. And your are very right that your average 2 year old doesn't have the vocabulary or the ability to say what they really mean. Which is "I'm angry" or "I'm frustrated" or whatever. To get overly upset is just a recipe for disaster. For one thing you are modeling how to act when someone says something you don't like. If you are freaking out, not exactly what you want to be teaching. Kids this age don't understand "do what I say, not what I do." As far as giving her one warning for hitting, kicking or biting, I'd quit that too. We have a zero tolerance policy for hurting each other in my house. You hit, kick or bite you get a time out, every single time - if your brother yanks something out of your hand and you pinch him, you still get a time out. I'm guessing you don't have any other kids. But if you plan to have any more or your daughter will be around other kids at some, it is much better to teach that we don't hit/kick/bite ever than it is okay to do it once...

Parenting is never easy. One book I really like is "Positive Parenting for Preschoolers." My parents were very punitive. We got punished for everything. All it made us was sneaky (we did whatever we thought we could get away with, punishment doesn't necessarily teach self-control, it teaches that you don't want to get caught). It also made me fear and dislike my parents. Not a real good situation. When I was a kid it was probably okay but as a teenager, I was hell on wheels because I was no longer afraid of my parents. I prefer discipline that has a long term goal of learning self-control as opposed to bullying my kids into submission right this moment. It is a different philosophy. But one well worth exploring.


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answers from Charlotte on

When my nephew was that age, he didn't like his own hand! They are just learning how to express themselves. Just keep reminding her that is not nice and proceed with time out or whatever you deem appropriate. Help her find the right words. Ask her, "did mommy upset you?" and try having her repeat it.

You and your husband definitely need to be on the same page about what is not acceptable and the consequences. She may get confused otherwise, making the situation worse.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I don't think disciplining is the right course of action for saying she doesn't like you. My son says this to me all the time and, while it hurts my feelings, I don't think he means it. If I say to him that his words made me very sad, he turns around and says "I like you mommy" and gives me a hug. He's a little older than your daughter (turning 3 in May) but he does understand how his words can make me feel bad.

I think you are right in that your daughter is angry and doesn't know what other words to use. Instead of punishing her, tell her how it makes you feel and help her find another way to express herself. She does not understand well enough yet that her words are hurtful and she is not saying them with the intention of being mean to you and your husband.

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answers from Washington DC on

Next times she says that tell her..." that's ok sweety, mommy and daddy love you anyway..".



answers from St. Cloud on

I do NOT agree with letting your husband discipline as he sees fit, as one person said. Parenting is a team sport and the players NEED to be on the same page, so to speak.
Disciplining just because his feelings are hurt is not a good reason to pick this situation out of all the others.

I really liked what Peg and some of the others said. Please try not to take it personally. My neice used to tell my sister that she hated her just to get a reaction.......and she was in middle school at the time. Don't play into that one! It just gets uglier as time goes by!
Hugs! And know that your daughter loves you. :)



answers from Victoria on

My daughter did this but she said, "I don't love you." On one hand I figured I must be doing something right, but it did cut through me & hurt bad. I took a deep breath & hubby exploded in my defense. I told her that what she said was mean & it hurt my feelings. I told her that I expected an apology, which meant she needed to say she was sorry. She said, "no" Hubby wanting to punish her, but I wasn't sure if she really got it. So, I just kinda let it go, but when she came to me & asked for something, I just asked her if she was ready to say she was sorry. She wouldn't for about 2 hours & then she finally came over & did so earnestly & all was forgiven. she has not do that since.



answers from Los Angeles on

I agree with taking swift action for hitting, kicking, etc. But a 2 year old expresses her feelings the only way she knows how. So if she says she doesn't like mommy or daddy that's the only way she knows how to say she's angry. I wouldn't punish her for that as much as explain to her that it hurts your feelings when she says that and teach her how to say she's angry. Tell her it's ok to be angry but not ok to say mean things. You shouldn't punish children for expressing their feelings or they'll never tell you how they feel and you want them to tell you how they feel especially when they are teenagers. If she says a bad word, she's probably just repeating what someone else said... so explain that you don't use those types of words and then give time outs if it continues. My mother used soap or pepper in my mouth. I still can't eat pepper. My husband and I never agree on punishments either. But I always try to respect my son's feelings and only punish if something is really bad.

Hope this helps.


answers from Memphis on

Very common for 2 year olds to say this. Just don't get pulled into the game by saying it back to her, especially in the heat of an argument. Just say to her 'that's not nice but I still love you'...that kind of thing. But time out (1 minute for each year they are) worked great for my kids. Teaching how to respect each other by not saying things that are mean like "I hate you" or "I don't like you" is punishable by time out, IMHO.

Best of luck hon, it does get easier.



answers from San Francisco on

I think you should allow your husband to discipline her the way he sees fit. She should not learn that it's okay to say no like mommy and daddy. A 27 month old knows what no like means. And there are times when she probably doesn't like you. Where did she learn this word? She should not be allowed to say she doesn't like you. It sounds like he is pretty "adamant" that she should not be allowed to say this. It's undermining his authority.

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