I'm Always Yelling and I Don't Know How to Stop. Need Help.

Updated on December 20, 2011
L.H. asks from Hollywood, FL
14 answers

My daughter is just about 2.5 years old. She is a handful. She is very sweet, but does such annoying and mean things to me. She hits, kicks, does not listen and thinks it is funny, throws a fit every time I brush her teeth, and other stuff. I know that this is just how 2 year olds can be, but I can't deal with it. This all has been going on for almost a year. She is extremely verbal and I think she is very intelligent. She knows exactly what she is doing.
I feel like she is always in time out and that I am always yelling at her. I am not happy that I can't deal. I am a stern Mommy and I believe in schedules and discipline (to a certain degree). I have very little patience. None of the other kids we know are like this. I do love being with her when she is being sweet, but I want to run away at other times. I feel like a bad Mommy and I don't know what to do. Please help.

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answers from Houston on

I have a 3.5 year old, who is and has been exceedingly hard going. I sometimes pretend that there is someone else in the room watching me - CPS, mother in law, whoever. And it makes me think about what I say and how I say it, I think like I am being evaluated.

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answers from Washington DC on

At almost 3 - she is exerting her independence and testing her limits and boundaries.

The minute you start yelling - she has "won". She got to YOUR limit and pushed it. YOU are the adult. YOU set the rules, boundaries and limits. When you feel yourself starting to yell - take a deep breath.

BE CONSISTENT. If she does not follow the rules - the consequence happens.

Don't chase her around the house. It has just become a game.
DO NOT allow her to hit or kick you - if she does - put her in time out for 3 minutes. DO NOT talk to her. IF she gets up - put her BACK into time out. When the 3 minutes is up - you tell her that her behavior - kicking, hitting, etc. was NOT acceptable and will NOT be tolerated.

Does this mean my kids are perfect? Nope. Does this mean I don't yell? Nope. Wish I could say I don't yell - but there are times when I do.

If she throws a fit while brushing teeth. Tell her to do it herself. Will it be perfect? nope. but you can stand there while she does it.

When she does not listen. There is a consequence for that action too. I don't know how you run your household - but I do know that when my boys don't listen? They lose their computer time, XBOX time or play time. They KNOW when I count from 5 to zero - they had better be front and center by the time I get to zero or heads will roll.

YOU CAN DO THIS without yelling. Doesn't mean you won't yell. You CAN do it!!
Set rules, boundaries, limits.
Keep your words simple.
Look her in the eye when talking to her.
Tell her what you expect.
If she kicks, hits, etc. - time out. I know there was one time my son kicked me and I kicked him back - it hurt him (no bruise or blood) and he NEVER kicked me again. As on of the rules in our house is - if you don't want it done to you - don't do it to someone else.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Ah yes, the intelligent, opinionated strong willed child.. Oops.. they can all be like this,

You have to take some deep breaths.. sometimes I used to take a step back,. Sometimes, I had to tell our daughter I was too angry/frustrated or sad and I needed a time out for myself.

You and your husband need to Model the behavior you want her to learn. Use the words for when things go wrong. "Oh, no, I dropped the milk. I am so frustrated."

" I am not getting ready fast enough, I need to concentrate on getting dressed. "

"Oh my, I forgot my favorite sweater. Oh well, it will be ok. "

"I cannot figure out how to do this. I need to ask for help."

It will feel strange giving a running dialogue, but I promise it will help her understand a different way to express her feeling and needs.

How does your daughter do when you give her choices? (You set the choices).

We are going to brush your teeth in 2 minutes. Do you want to brush them yourself first and then mom brushes them or do you want mom to brush them first and then you get to brush them?

Do you want the Dora toothpaste or the Sesame Street toothpaste today?

Do you want your pink toothbrush or the green toothbrush today?..

Do you want to try to brush moms teeth after I brush yours?

I do not understand fits.

I cannot listen to you when you are screaming.

Go to your room and find your inside voice.

I can tell you are frustrated. Do you need a hug? You need to quit crying, yelling kicking, befoe I can give you a hug.

You look angry. Do you want to time to yourself on the couch or in your room?

When you kick and scream at this party, we will leave and not come back. (and then really do it)

We do not kick people. We can go outside later and kick the ball.

If you kick people you will sit in time out.

It hurts when you kick. I hope no one kicks you when they get mad.

Hang in there mom, we have all been there. They just need to learn we will not respond to these behaviors.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

She is battling for power, and there really is little in her life she can control. Constantly give her choices as Laurie A. told you. Every step of the way give her two choices, eat lunch in this chair or this chair? milk in the red cup or green cup? Do not ask her what she wants to drink or when she wants lunch! Very small, limited choices but lots of them! It sounds like Time out is not working for you. Redirection often helps. and rewarding good behavior is better for a child like this. She likes getting a rise out of you! She likes getting you to yell and react to her behavior. She pushes buttons you react, just like a baby shaking a rattle to see what will happen, over and over and over. You have to ignore eveything but hitting, and kicking. Find simple easy ways to reward good behavior, Try an empty jar and drop a beautiful colored Pom pom in every time she IS a good listener. I woudnt even offer a reward for pom poms just praise, "Wow you're getting lots of pom poms!" "Daddy look how many pom, poms she's collecting!" Make cute check lists (DKLTK charts) for brushing teeth, putting on pajamas and have her put the check mark on it when she completes the task, now her focus in on making the check mark not on being forced to do something, do it so you can make another check mark and isnt it great when the chart is filled up and we can pick out another chart?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I didn't read the other responses so I'm sorry if I repeat anything. I am a yeller too and I hate it. My mom was and of course, I inherited it. However, with a total change in attitude and acceptance, I have been doing a great job with not yelling at my kids (son is 2 and daughter is 3 1/2). I too am structured, but I relaxed a L. with my discipline. I realized that all my kids want is to be their own person and their developing independence is an important life skill for them to have. So, I picked my battles or rephrased things to make my kids feel like they had a L. control, but I was the one in control. Is it really that big of a deal if my daughter wants to wear pink plaid pants with a purple striped shirt? Or, if my son is insisting on taking 3 of his trucks in the car with us but I only want him to take one, is it that big of a deal? Also, being able to smile and joke about things has helped immensely! When my kids were throwing a fit or being grumpy I would pretend like I was throwing a fit too (while laughing) and they would start to laugh. Or I would say "Did you forget to take your grumpy pants off this morning?" and pretend like I was pulling them off. Once I started smiling and laughing more, things changed so much with my daughter. She has been going through this defiant, attitude phase and it is so frustrating. Me not yelling anymore and trying to laugh with her has eased a lot of the tension and she has not been so difficult. Don't get me wrong, I still yell at times, but now when I yell, my kids are so surprised because I don't do it as much. Raising kids can be so frustrating at times, so don't beat yourself up. Take small steps like taking a deep breath or walking out of the room for a minute. Hang in there!!

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answers from Dallas on

You are not a bad mom. You recognize where you need to improve, and you are working on it. That is the sign of a good mom. :)

Check out Love and Logic. They have a website and a whole series of books. It matches the way we parent naturally, but we've gotten some good ideas from them, too. Moms here recommend Love and Logic all the time. It's all about giving choices and setting boundaries. It has made us better parents, and our kids are 7 and 14 and are very nice to be around. :)

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answers from Chicago on

Cheryl has a perfect answer - most of what I was going to say. I do want to add - as my son is and was more than a handful. The best thing for us is ignoring - as long as the behavior is not hurting himself or others, when he throws a fit = I just walk away and ignore what he's doing. It is SO hard but he wants attention whether it be bad or good - so when he's being good I over praise = to the point of being cheezy and when he's having a fit and saying harsh things I do not respond - don't even look at him........then afterwards I talk to him about what he said/did and tell him how he's lost the use of whatever is the 'favorite' toy or activity at the time.

This is hard = very hard = as I have wanted to yell, etc. many times but i did notice this prolongs whatever is going on = it fuels the behavior because he's getting attention - although it's negative attention (as I said before it doesn't matter to him if the attention is good or bad).

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answers from Beaumont on

My younger child was very tough. Very clearly had a mind of his own. I had to get to the point with his teeth brushing that if he didn't brush, the next day there was NOTHING sweet, I told him, "if you don't want to take care of your teeth, I'll have to". It took a few days but the struggle ended. Once they know that you "don't care", there is no struggle and they give up. If you use this with her in all the other circumstances, I think it will help as well. I just stopped fighting. If he did ......, I did......No fighting, no yelling, just natural consequences. I told him that if he hit or kicked Mommy, he couldn't be trusted to have a playdate or go to the park etc. That was the only way it stopped. BTW., he is 10 years old now and an ANGEL!! Hang in there Mama!

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answers from Houston on

Just take a breath, you are not a bad mommy! Two year olds can push any reasonable person to the brink of insanity, it's part of the deal. You think the other kids aren't like this bc you aren't raising them!! I would say just start a one strike and you're out rule. If you say let's brush your teeth and she falls out yelling and screaming or refuses, you get down on her level and tell her 'ok, you can get up and brush your teeth or go for a time out'. If she doesn't cooperate, put her in time out and try again when her time out is done. The key to remaining calm is swift consequence. Whenever I get in a back and forth with my kids I will always end up the yelling maniac. Like you tell them to brush their teeth, they say 'no!' you say a little more forcefully 'I SAID, let's brush your teeth' they whine more and say 'no!', well it's all downhill from there. So once a child defies, our policy around here is you get one chance to get your mind right and do what your told and if no, discipline, but calm discipline bc I am not going to yell and scream to get your attention. It helps. Of course some days are better than others. Teaching and training a child is not for wimps and it is some real work so give yourself a break. Everybody loves it when kids are sweet, but they are actually learning in the other times ;) Also, kids are different. My first is a real pistol, and awesome kid, but man he can drain you some days. My second is a peaceful compliant child, it's just who he is. He cleans for fun :D He is easier to raise, but it doesn't make me love him more or anything, my kids are just different and have differing needs. Plus my second is sneaky! You think he obeyed only to find him somewhere shoveling marshmallows down his throat or something! My third, who knows, he is just a baby, but I am sure he will have his little quirks! So relax and just try to stay calm but realize she is going to test you. Also, any books on parenting by James Dobson are awesome. I highly recommend a book called The New Strong Willed Child. You will feel better after chapter one! Hang in there mama!!

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answers from Phoenix on

I have strong, passionate children too and I have a 20 month old right now who is more independent and vocal than any two year old I know. He's my youngest of five and I've found that especially when they're young and training is constant, I needed two forms of discipline. When they're this age, it's two swats and a two minute time out every time. I talk to them afterwards and have them say sorry and give a hug and that seriously makes all the difference in the world. When their older they get a time out and lose a privilege or get grounded. The key is to do two forms of discipline. If I do one thing or another, it doesn't do a thing. But both together works wonders! 100% consistency is the KEY! Hang in there. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Please look into taking some parenting classes. I think there could be a sad combination of temperaments at play here. It sounds like you and your little one are in a sort of power struggle right now that will only worsen if you do not change how you are parenting. I'm not saying this to make you feel badly about yourself, but to encourage you to seek *real life* (not online) help and support now, before things worsen.

Time out is not a silver bullet. For some kids, it only exacerbates things. When my son was little, I used positive direction at this age. (his acting out was usually getting into places he shouldn't be) I'd tell him what I wanted him to do. Here are some ideas:

Keep your direction short and simple. Not too much talking."You can hit the pillow or the bed (or couch)." Redirect her more aggressive behaviors as much as you can. Find soft balls that she can hit and throw and kick which won't damage furniture.

I find that I have to give myself and my son a "count to 100" sometimes, when I'm spent on patience or feel like he's taking too long to comply with what I'm asking.

When there's a tantrum, it's good to know that this is a time when your child is NOT capable of following directions or reasoning. Do not try to discipline during a tantrum. Just move your child to safer place and then leave. Just be within earshot. I hate to say this, but during a tantrum, there is nothing to be done.

You may have a very spirited, opinionated kid. Some parents do. It's wise to seek support, because I've worked with a handful of spirited kids. (No, I do not use the term "spirited child" as a euphemism for brat, the way some might. I see them as determined, very opinionated kids.) What I do want to tell you is that if you can get help on the parenting piece now, you are later going to have a child who may have some terrific self-motivation and success in life. I know several kids who were a lot of work when they were little. Now they are thriving academically and socially.

Remember, too, that your little girl is learning how to be in our world. One question that I wonder on: is she talking yet? I've seen this sort of frustration in later talkers; it's due to their frustration that they have ideas and wants which they cannot communicate. Also try to remember that she's LITTLE. I know you are a stern mother, but consider what about herself is being reflected back to her. Do you have some flexibility to play and have fun with her? For every one negative interaction, try to have four positive ones. I know this sounds hard-- heck, it is hard!-- but this can really help if you try to ensure that your child is getting to experience you as a loving, fun, playful mom too and not just the authority. I know it's hard to move from a more traditional Authoritarian parenting style to a looser but still firm authoritative approach. (I did this over a number of years early on in my childcare work and it helped immensely.)

One last recommendation, if you like reading: check out JoAnn Nordling's "Taking Charge: Caring Discipline that works at home and at school". I have used the information/material in this book very effectively over several years and I believe this will help you address the difference between your current parenting style and one which will work better for both you and your daughter. It's worth a try. And please get support-- it's so hard to feel discouraged about both your parenting and your child. Just know that reaching out for help is an indication that you are indeed a good mom. A bad mom just wouldn't care.

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answers from Tallahassee on

There are really two difficulties here--and my son and I have been working through both of them (my son is now seven). One book in particular changed my life with regard to this. My son started acting out, playing games with rules, disobeying even when consequences were clear, kicking me or the wall or the door when he was put in time out, etc. And I got angrier and angrier.

Then I read a book called EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. Literally changed everything. The writer talks about how children develop "book smarts" earlier than emotional intelligence, so they know logically what to do, but lack the empathy to make the good decisions because they are not in tune with their own feelings or the feelings of others. He (the writer) claims the problem is more significant with children who have a high level of intelligence.

Before, when I asked my son why he kicked the wall, he only said, "I don't know." So, using the book to help me, I dug deeper, talking about feelings each time until I got to the root of what he was mulling over subconsciously, and over the last year (he's 7) he has grown so gentle and kind to others. But he has had to learn to see his own feelings, recognize them, and find ways to express them that are appropriate. For instance, when put in time out, he doesn't act out. Afterward, if he's mad, he will tell me, "Time out hurt my feelings." And that leads to a whole discussion about what he was in time out FOR. He's learning responsibility, he's making great friends (finally!), and he is responding to hurts and joys verbally.

The book has a whole section on anger, too... and it helped me SOOO much! Now Mommy gets a time out before she loses her mind, for I've recognized when my heat is rising, and I have learned to take myself out of the situation. But I've also had to learn to express these feelings to my kids... honestly, but without yelling. And that is modeling for my son.

It isn't too early to help your daughter see what she is feeling. Between 2 and 4, children's emotional ranges expand hugely, but they do not have means for dealing with these heightened emotions--and this causes them to act out far more.

I don't know if this helps, but I with you well. Please write me if you want more details about the book (available on Amazon) or if you need more support.

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answers from Miami on

Hi L.,
You love your child. You are an awesome mom. No mom is perfect, and I believe we teach our children about unconditional love, forgiveness and imperfection that way.

I love the site of Dr. L. Markham. She also addresses quite often issues like the above. She is at www.ahaparenting.com She also has great weekly newsletters. SHe is very grounded and gives good advice.

Best of Luck.


answers from Williamsport on

I'm not sue what you mean by "to a certain degree". The only way to curb these behaviors in healthy, intelligent, very spirited kids this age is with firm discipline to the degree it takes. Otherwise, you have to either suffer the behavior and become understandably worn down and enraged, or make a conscious choice to accept the behavior as normal and be patient about it until it is out-grown, while managing it with milder things like time outs that let you "do something" even if it's not stopping the behavior. Positive programs like Love and Logic work for some, but for a spirited child, you'll be able to tell if it's working or not once you use it for a while, and if it isn't, you need to ratchet things up, or accept things as they are.

Discipline saves my sanity, and I actually enjoy being with my 3 kids under five 24/7 while their dad always travels. I take them on every errand and I never get a break. I have a babysitter only once in a blue moon. Time outs weren't invented when I was little, and I haven't seen them be effective in people I know, so I cant' speak to sticking with something when it's not effective. 2 1/2 is very much old enough for self control and comprehension for these things, you are right, she knows what she's doing. Using ineffective discipline is almost worse than using none, because she's learning your "best effort" can easily be flouted, and she has nothing deterring her from continuing the behavior, because she could care less if she gets thrown in a time out. Many kids are WAY too spirited for time outs to work. It's almost better to ignore (which I don't condone) because at least they don't know you "tried" to be the boss.

The behaviors you list are ONLY normal in this age group if you are not disciplining adequately and consistently enough to teach against them. No one likes to be tough, but if you are effective, your life suddenly becomes so much easier, and your kids are so much HAPPIER and full of self pride at acting well, it is WELL worth it. I can honestly say I've never been ANGRY at my kids, because if they're out of control, it's my fault not theirs, and I can take steps to fix it. You don't need to be angry to be an effective disciplinarian, conversely, the most effective disciplinarians I know are sweet, quiet people who speak respectfully to their well behaved kids and do not yell except very rarely.

And don't be so sure that no other kids act like this! My third, for example, was EXTREMELY difficult (still is a huge handful). She was an angry, raging, screaming baby who was deliberate with her aggressive behavior starting at around 9 months. She hit, she kicked, she screamed, she threw fits. She was NOT ALLOWED to proceed. Fits for brushing teath? Consequence. Fits for any reason short of injury, hunger fatigue or genuine sadness? consequence. We NEVER IGNORED a SINGLE FIT (except a couple in settings where we could do nothing). Otherwise, kids run the show by throwing fits. That is not effective parenting, and it's only natural it drives people to yelling.

We (I, husband was hardly home) were most diligent with her between ages of 12 months and 15 months (because she started so early). Now at 2 1/2, she's still super fiery and difficult, and WAY expressive, but does not throw fits or act aggressively. It's not an option, she behaves, especially when we're out and about on errands etc. She's one of those 2 year olds people think are so naturally cute and sweet (eye roll) but it did NOT come naturally, and she was not "born that way". It took WORK and lots of discipline. Many of my family members, each with many kids, have each had at LEAST one very difficult child, if not several. Yes, they take more discipline, but they CAN learn. Also, plenty of difficult kids are out there acting like terrors, so you shouldn't feel like your daughter is somehow worse.

You CAN improve this, but she's pretty set in her ways at 2 1/2, so don't delay if you choose that route! I recommend the book Back To Basics Discipline by Janet Campbell Matson for a timeless and simple approach that WORKS if you use it. Scan it on Amazon to see if it's in alignment with your beliefs. You can be positive and loving most of the time if you are firm enough when you need to be.

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