Need Help with Angry/defiant 2 1/2 Year Old

Updated on January 07, 2009
B.R. asks from Omaha, NE
3 answers

I don't even know where to start! My husband and I are at our wits end and we need any help that you may have to offer. Please be patient, this could be long.

Our daughter, 2 1/2 years old, literally turned into a monster when her little brother was born. We knew that she would have a difficult time transitioning to have a new baby in the house, but we didn't realize how extreme her reaction would be. Before the baby was born, we tried to prepare her by telling her that she would be having a new baby. She seemed very excited, but in all honesty, how much does a 2 year old really understand about having a new baby in the house? When he was born, she stayed home with grandma and we brought her up to the hospital each day. At first, she wanted nothing to do with either one of us, but after a while she warmed up to the baby. Then her behaviour started changing. She was throwing temper tantrums and just being naughty before we could even get home from the hospital. At this point, we were hoping that she would get better once we were home and things got back to "normal." We weren't so lucky. Since we came home, she has just gotten progressively worse!

When we first got home, my mom was here to help me. My daughter would have absolutely nothing to do with me. I mean, she wouldn't even respond to me when I would talk to her. That has gotten better. But now, she acts so angry! She used to be such a happy little girl. Now, she screams, bites, kicks, pulls hair, slams doors, throws things, talks back, etc... She chooses to be her naughtiest when I am breastfeeding. And she just gets such an angry look on her face. 2 year olds shouldn't be this angry. I know that she is just trying to get more attention, but I don't know how to give that to her. When I am not feeding the baby, I try to lay him down and play with her. Before feeding him, I try to get anything that she might need (juice, toys, snack, movie), so that I don't have to put her off until I am done. We are also having troubles getting her to sleep at night. She has always been a great sleeper and would go to bed and stay in bed the first time we laid her down. Now it takes at least an hour to get her to stay in bed. We lay her down and she gets up multiple times. By the time we get her to stay in bed, she is crying and my husband and I are so frustrated that we can't see straight. About a month ago, she decided to potty train herself. We had decided that we would put it off awhile, until she adjusted better, but she decided to do it on her own. She has done really really well, with only a few accidents, since she started. But within the last couple of days, she has started pottying in her pants. When I ask her why, she says "I don't know." And when I ask her where she is supposed to go potty, she says "in the potty." So, I know she can do it, but she is choosing not to. She is also getting into things that she knows she shouldn't be. We have had to put locks on all of the cupboards and doors. Two nights in a row, she has gone into her brother's room, climbed up on the changing table, and smeared diaper cream all over everything. We are so frustrated with her and we just don't know what to do.

We have tried time out and at first, it worked ok. Now we can't get her to stay in time out. We have even gone as far as taking her toys away and making her work to get them back. I feel so bad about this, but we don't know what else to do. We have talked to multiple people, including the pediatrician, about this, and everyone says, "she's just being 2, give her time and she will get better." Well, it has been over 3 months and she's not getting any better. How long do we wait?

I am really saddened by all of this. My husband and I are trying so hard to do the right thing. Unfortunately, we don't always see eye to eye on discipline. I think that he is too hard on her and he thinks that I'm too soft. I don't know how to find that middle ground for both of us. But, I feel like if we don't do something soon, our marriage is going to be in trouble. We seem to argue a lot about her and I feel like it's driving a wedge in between us. We need help, soon!

Any suggestions you might have will be greatly appreciated!

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Omaha on

I wouldn't wait to do something either. You don't want your child to develop these bad social habits. I would suggest reading the book by Jim Fay called Parenting with Love and Logic. It is a great resource that really helps in these kind of situations. While your daughter may not understand why she is behaving this way, it sounds like she is able to understand directions. This book is all about offering choices to give the child some ownership in their own life. You decide the choices that are ok with you and she gets to choose. This way you have set boundaries that are acceptable no matter which choice she makes. (example "would you like to to play with your toy or watch a movie while I feed the baby?")
You could even talk to her about what it should look like/sound like when you are attending to her brother or putting her to bed. See if she can tell you in her own words. This will let you know if she truly can follow directions or not.
Set up some kind of reward system (i.e. sticker chart/behavior chart- you can check at local teacher stores for these kind of things)When she does something correctly reward and praise her for it. Do this often at first (after each positive thing she does and then after she follows a couple directions correctly, etc.) Also make sure when praising her to connect it to an intrinsic motivator such as "I really liked the way you watched your movie while I fed baby brother. You are such a good helper for mom. Doesn't that make you feel good inside?"
This way she will start to want to please you instead of getting a sticker, reward etc.
If she doesn't follow through with your direction or choice she made, then you will need to set up some sort of consequence such as time out. At her young age, she shouldn't be in time out for more than a few minutes. Set the kitchen timer and then ask if she is ready to play nice again. Make sure you tell her what it was that she did wrong. This is the hardest part. You have to be very consistent with your actions so she knows you mean business.

I would also plan to do something special with her (just the two of you and your husband should spend some one on one time with her as well) several times a week if not daily. It sounds like she is acting out for attention, so you need to focus on giving her some alone time, but not at the expense of turning into a holy terror for you.

I also highly recommend the show Nanny 911. They provide a lot of good strategies to set up structured routines that are fair and easy for kids to understand.

Good luck to you! I am expecting a daughter in May and my son will be right at 18 months old. I may be in the same boat! Ugg!!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

We have a 2 1/2 year old little girl right now too, she has an older brother not a little brother but I can relate to similar behavior. My husband and I also didn't know where to turn, my sister in law suggested a book called Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood:Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years by Jim Fay. It is an amazing book and truly has turned our household from stressful to fun. It sounds cheesy and I wasn't a 100% believer at first but I started using the suggestions that the book gave and it works it really works. Just like anything do what is best for your situation & good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

It sounds like you have tried quite a few things. I know she is little but she knows what she is doing is wrong. I would sit down with her (with your husband) and explain of the things she has been doing wrong and tell her why they aren't ok. then i would explain to her what will happen if she keeps doing these naughty things. (sit down with your husband before hand to work out a set disciple for these offenses) But while you are setting the consequences of her actions set good things that can happen too. Examples - if she plays nice while mommy feeds the baby then mommy will color with her for 10 minutes, if she doesn't then she has to sit in a time out.

I know that angry kids can be hard to deal with, our oldest son actually went to a psychologist between the ages of 3-4 to help deal with some issues and anger was one of them. According to our doctor it is ok to force a child to sit in time out. He had us sit our son in a chair for time out and place our hands either on his legs or arms and if he resisted we would force him to sit, while calmly explaining to him that he was going to sit until mommy/daddy told him he could get up. If she is really fighting you, hold her on your lap and make her stay there until she calms down. The key is to have her sit until she calms down, not for a set time limit. Then when the time out is done, make sure you explain to her why she sat in time out and then thank her for sitting (even if it was forced).
I know this sounds harsh but it worked wonders for our son. The key is to teach them to control their temper, don't get me wrong he still has some issues with it but not nearly as many or as bad, and when he started having problems throwing fits we still go back to this method.

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

More Questions About

Related Searches