Help! My 21 Month Old Is Sooo Frustrated and Is Acting like a Neanderthal!

Updated on June 25, 2008
H.N. asks from Chicago, IL
7 answers

Moms, please help!
I have a 21 month old boy who use to be such a happy boy. Unfortunately for the last 3 months, he has been miserable 50-60% of his day. When I say miserable, I mean...crying, tantrums, hitting, biting, kicking and throwing things so that he is constantly in a time out. Right now, he has to sit for one minute in a naughty chair when he hits, bites or kicks. He is constantly testing me by standing up when I walk away from the chair...ugh! Some background info: he has a baby brother that was born 3 months ago, he isn't talking and gets extremely frustrated because of it. I just went back to work full time and he is at an in home day care with 2 other babies and a 1st grader who is autistic. Part of me wants to use all of the above info to excuse his poor behavior....however, I want my old happy go lucky little boy back. (for both of us) Is this just a combination of the above conditions combined with turning two? Will this ever end? Any advice on how to handle him?
BTW...he is receiving speech services for one hour once a week but we have only had two sessions so far. He hit the speech thearapist today.....I think he was in a time out 4 or 5 times during his session. UGH!

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answers from Chicago on

It's very simple. HE WANTS HIS MOMMY! You have had another baby and went back to work. He misses you. I was a working mom too, I know the pressures and guilt, don't let it get to you, just make the most of the time you have with the boys.

Whenever you can, pass off the baby to someone and hold your 3 year old. If family or neighbors call, ask them to come over and tend to the baby while you have some quality time with your big boy. You will have plenty of baby time during the night. The timing of his unhappiness is not just coincidental. Good luck and just do your best.

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answers from Chicago on


It sounds like you are both frustrated. Did you go through Early Intervention, and was your son fully evaluated? (by an OT and DT as well as the ST?) If so, and they had no other recommedations, then you may want to request a review by the team and see if you can increase his speech therapy to 2 or 3 times a week. I didn't know I could do this until my son was almost out of EI. I'm not sure if your son's only had 2 sessions because he just started or b/c of unreliability of the ST. If it's for the second reason, request another ST, or find one yourself (I had to do this for my son's OT b/c it wasn't my son's case manager's first priority.)

In the short term, I agree with the others. Try to be a little understanding, or ask someone to come and be with the baby so you can spend some quality time with just your son. My friend had a 2 year old when she gave birth to triplets, and she found a mother's helper to come and be with the babies during nap time so she could spend time with her 2 year old, and it worked out really well for her and her 2 yo daughter.

Just a few thoughts. Being a mother is definitely challenging sometimes!



answers from Chicago on

I am going through similar with my daughter right now. She has not begun the tantrums or hurting me but I know she is EXTREMELY frustrated since she is barely talking! She does know some sign language and that has helped and I try to keep questions to yes and no so she can tell me in words or nodding her head.

Does you son do any signing? I would try to do that or do pictures of things that he may want and he can show you the picture if he can not communicate it. I am sure the speech therapist will help you to come up with a way to do this to benefit him.

Be patient with him, he is definately going through a lot all at once! I believe some of the behaviours may be just ways of getting even more attention from you, even if it is negative attention! Of course at the same time, do not allow him to get away with them!

I have not done time out with my daughter because I know she does not understand the concept of it and she can not communicate the whys of her behaviours so I feel I can not do this because she may have what she believes is a legit reason behind some things. We do sit down and I explain what is wrong and give a little extra loving- most of the time this stops it right in its tracks. She will then show me what she needs by signing it or bringing me to where she wants. Of course I will admit there has been times for everyones sake I have put her in her crib and let her cry while I go in another room and do the same! lol

I can only imagine how frustrating it has all got to be for you! I could not do what you do- and to have 2 in diapers at once! OH MY!

Good luck with everything and many blessings to you and your family!



answers from Chicago on

You've identified him as frustrated- how can you help with that? How can you say "yes" to him more, set him up for success, be on his side, see the need behind the behavior, etc? Choose to see him in a positive light, as a human being trying to learn how to Be in the world using the best tools he has at the moment. He needs help and patience to develop better tools as he slowly matures.

Here are 2 articles from a website I love that might be helpful for you:



answers from Chicago on

Well I don't really have any advice, I just wanted to say I have a girl the same age who is throwing frequent tantrums these days too. I chalk it up to the age and when she throws herself on the floor (literally) I ignore her for a bit then go pick her up and tell her I know she is frustrated but she has to start telling me what she wants or we don't always get our way, whatever fits the situation. I just try to be extra patient and she is distracted pretty easily once she has been throwing a fit for a minute or two. I will be checking these responses too.



answers from Rockford on

It sounds like the little guy has gone through a lot of changes lately and may feel uneasy. He has a new brother, you just went back to work, and he goes to daycare. That is a lot of change for him and he is unable to communicate to you about how he feels, and is so young he could not articulate it anyway. The time outs appear to not work at all for him, so there needs to be another way. He may be craving your one on one attention. If he senses you are stressed or unhappy, he will have a sour mood as well. He does not talk so that makes everything harder for both of you. The behavior you describe makes him sound troubled. I would suggest first that you find time to spend that is absolutely just with him. Talk to him and give him lots of attention. I know my son did not really talk until he was 2, then began speaking in complete sentences. Before that, he cried and fussed a lot like you describe. Once he could talk he seemed calmer. Even being able to ask him yes or no questions helped quite a bit. I just believe he needs some extra tlc from you right away so that he feels reassured and so that the behavior does not become a habit for him, in which case there will be a much deeper behavior issue to deal with as he gets older.



answers from Chicago on

I agree with Cari. He wants his mom. He had you all to himself and now he has to compete with a new sibling and daycare. I am not faulting you for going back to work. I think that he is after your attention and he'll go about it any way he can. He hits, bites & kicks because he can't say how frustrated he is and how much he wants you. Everything Cari suggested I think was right on.

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