Patience with a Toddler

Updated on January 09, 2008
L.K. asks from Sioux Falls, SD
17 answers

My son has been great from the begining, but lately he has really been getting in to his terrible 2's. Most times I am pushed almost to my breaking point, that I need to just remove my self before something happens. I know it doesn't help the situation that I'm wiped out when I come home from work. I really just need some advice on how to keep my cool with my son so that hopefully we can have a smoother ride through childhood.

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answers from Sioux Falls on

I wrote this 7 years ago with my first child and it's worked through 3 kids now. Good luck!

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answers from Provo on

Redirect his energy. Go to the park, play a game, make him laugh and the situation turns from irritating to loving. Cuddle him on your lap and read his favorite story. Pull out photos of him that you can talk about. Tell him about the day he was born and how happy you are that he is here. Turn the tables on him and say "you be the parent I will be the child" and you act like him, and he has to solve the problem. He might laugh and laugh about seeing Mom act like a child. Have him draw a picture of how he feels. If none of this works, give yourself and him a time out in your rooms until the bad behavior is lessened. Sometimes they are hungry, tired, thirsty or just acting out, and need more attention.
Good luck! They do grow out of this stage, I promise. It may take a while. Keep a positive outlook. Laughter makes a lot of things better.

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answers from Boise on

If you give a little more info we might be able to help a little more. But the best I can give at this point is be consistant in what you say and meen, this is the age of testing every boundry out thier, you are doing the right thing by removing yourself if you feel your anger rising, they really know how to push our buttons!!!!! Make sure that when you first walk in the door your time is for him not the 50,000 things that need to be done, give it an hour and then find thing that he can do to help entertain himself while you start dinner or throw a load in the washer. Have him help with the chores, it won't be perfect but it gives him interaction time w/ you and at least lets you get a little done. That is the best I have at this point good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

L., Like the other gal said we don't know much about your situation. I am assuming you are a single mom and have full responsibility for him 24/7! That is not easy and you also have a high stress job, so I am doing another assumption that you are not a real fun person after work with everything on your plate. I am hoping that my ideas will work for you as much as for him to make you a happier person and him a easy going happy little boy.

Where does he go when you work? When you pick him up, do you talk and laugh and sing all the way home?

This will help put both of you in a much better mood. If you are talking to dead beats all day and listing to their excuses and lies, you are probably not in a very good mood when you get there to pick him up. He is getting old enough to feel that now. He can feel that you are not happy and that makes him unhappy. You probably are not being real patient with him either.


So, tomorrow when you take him to the sitter, sing some songs or play a child song CD or cassette on the way there. Then tell him that when you pick him up, you will have fun all the way home.

When you pick him up, IF YOU HAVE ONE, TAKE THAT FROWN OFF YOUR FACE AND SMILE AT HIM and DON'T TELL HIM HOW TIRED YOU ARE. (If we keep saying how tired we are to everyone, guess what. We keep getting more and more tired)

You can say to him: I bet I can laugh longer than you can and then start to laugh and giggle. He will do the same.

Then sing a favorite song - might still be Jingle bells if he was into that before Christmas.

If you play games that go to songs like the Itsy bitsy spider, you can sing that and have him do the finger play. (You keep your hands on the wheel)


Now you get home and get him out of his car seat. See if there is something he can carry in the house and say, "Can you carry this for mommy?" SMILE "Oh you are such a big helper!" KEEP SMILING.

You are now in the house. Do you change your clothes before you do anything else? If so, have him go with you to your room and he can help find your tennis shoes, and put away your work shoes to help keep him busy.

If he wants to change his clothes too, hey! get the pj's on him. Even if you have to take them off and bathe him later, the process of getting on the pj’s will be fun. He is doing something Mommy is doing. SMILE AT HIM. LAUGH WITH HIM.

Now you are ready to start the evening chores. He is no doubt hungry even if he had a snack so do you fix dinner first? Do you cook? Do you buy a lot of fast food (BAD - BAD FOR YOUR BODY AND REALLY BAD FOR HIS)

Kids don't really like a big plate of meat, potatoes, vegetable, and salad. So I am going to assume you make simple meals for the two of you. Mac and cheese is really good food and if you add some green beans and apple sauce it is DINNER!! French toast, scrambled eggs, pancakes or waffles are great for dinner foodsfor anyone. Toasted cheese sandwiches and soup is another idea. Cut off the crust on any bread things you give him. When it isn't cut off they leave another third of the bread uneaten. (When I babysat children, I alway cut off the crust - saved me big bucks. Also I would cut the sandwiches in 4 sticks or triangles. They loved it)

Home made spaghetti is a great meal for the weekend and then he can have leftovers during the week. (If he likes Spaghetti). At two we don't want to make eating an issue. You can cause big time eating issues by trying to force a 2 year old to eat something he thinks he doesn't like. Keep putting it on his plate and suggest he try it, but don't do the "you will sit there until you eat that." I have a friend who is 63 years old that was sitting at the kitchen table from dinner to bedtime for years trying to get her to eat stuff, and to this day she hates to eat and even if it is something she does like, she never finishes anything. I would guess she eats about 800 calories on a good day. Skin and bones is what she is. 5 feet 5 inches tall and under 100 lbs.

Ooops got off on a tangent.

When he is done eating, (and even if you did't eat with him because you want to fix something for yourself later and eat in a quiet relaxed mode but you sat with him and SMILED) now is the time for him to play or watch TV for a while and you can clean up, put in a load of clothes, and talk on the phone if you can be quiet and he is busy and not wanting your attention. Up to this point, he has had your undivided attention since you picked him up. I THINK HE WILL BE A HAPPY BOY!!!AND I BET YOU ARE A HAPPY MOM TOO!

I hope you have a bedtime for him. And a bedtime routine. If not you will need to start one. Include bathing, snack, brushing his teeth, reading a story or two, and tucking into bed. If he is still nursing or on a bottle, you don't want to break that at this point. So give him his bottle, pacifier, blanket or whatever when you put him to bed. BUT, HERE IS THE BOTTOM LINE. IT HAS TO BE AT THE SAME TIME EVERY NITE.

Don't get busy and try to do something before you get him down some days so that he has this bedtime rollercoaster. I would think 8:00 is a good time. So you need to start the ritual about 7:30. This 8:00, 10:00, 7:00, 9:00 bit isn’t going to make either of you happy. YOU HAVE BEEN SMILING AND LAUGHING ALL EVENING, RIGHT. (I tell you that if you can do the smiles and laughs you will feel so much better yourself that you will not believe it. You won't be so tired and you will ENJOY YOUR SON SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU DO NOW) (Cancer patients that have laugh therapy during the course of their treatment do better that those that don’t)

OK it is 8:00 pm and he is in bed listing to a music CD that is very low in volume and you are a FREE WOMAN! I always strived for motherhood to end at 8pm. It was then M. time. Makes a big difference. And you will feel so good because you gave him at least 2 hours of your attention and you were a happy mom and he was a happy boy.

Now, there will be times when things just don’t work out. So if it is a bad day, you just have to deal with it. But anytime things are going negatively start to smile and sing and it has to make you both feel better.

I didn’t’ mean to write a book but when I get started…….. Oh, I forgot, if you have to go to the grocery store on the way home and he hasn’t had a snack in the car PLEASE buy some crackers or his favorite ceral and let him eat it while you are shopping. A KID CAN’T CRY AND EAT AT THE SAME TIME!!


M. B.
Boise Id
[email protected]

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

Try to keep your cool. Take some breaths. Walk away - give yourself a time out. This is a limit testing time and you need to be strong. He is learning what will work and what you won't tollerate. If you know a pattern happens everytime you walk in the door - change the pattern. Maybe for the first 10 minutes of you walking in you have a tickle fight together or run around the house playing hide and seek together. He's looking for attention from you. Sometimes it's easier to stop and love him and then you can break and get into the nighttime hassle of dinner, mail, bedtime... Remember - it's a phase and it too shall pass.

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answers from Sheboygan on

Hi L., I read your question and found myself remembering when my kids were doing thier terrible 2's. After much frustration, I found that loving them to the extreme worked best. For example -- I would walk in the door, and smother them with kisses and hugs, and tell them I missed them. I would keep them by me while I changed my clothes and started dinner and talk to them non stop. Spend time with him. Let him fill you in on his day, to the best of his ability. If something does happen, and he starts to throw a tantrum, remove him to his room, tell him he can come out when he is done, and close the door. It got to the point, with my kids, that when they got mad, they would go to thier rooms on thier own, with no door slamming, and come out when they were all set. He will learn to work through some of his anger and frustration on his own, and learn that acting that was is no acceptable. When he comes out, it's time to cuddle. The terrible 2's are not fun, but inevitable. Look at it as "his learning process to deal with his own frustration..." L.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Hey L.,

I completely sympathize with you. I have a 2 yr old that can have tantrums that last hours. I used to try to calm him down anyway possible by giving in to what he wanted, but he just seemed to want more and get more and more upset. Lately I have mastered the art of ignoring the behavior without ignoring your child. Whenever a tantrum starts, I leave the room or turn away from him. He used to follow me around so I could see how mad he was. Any reaction I gave him seemed to keep the tantrum going.

If you have a time out spot, you can try to make them stay there. But let's get real- no 2 yr old is going to sit where you tell them when they are hysterical. For my son, putting him in his room and calmly saying, "when you're ready to be nice you can come out", then shutting the door and resuming what I was doing, seems to do the trick. If he comes out screaming, I reinforce what I said and put him back in his room and close the door. Now he stays in his room for a few minutes and comes out upset but not hysterical. Of course this doesn't work in public and I'll admit I've been one of those moms dragging the toddler out of the store kicking and screaming, but I am hoping he'll grow out of that soon.

The best advice is to not let anything escalate to where you are out of control. If it gets really bad, put him in a safe place and walk outside for a few deep breaths. I think everyone with a 2 year old gets to the point of snapping on a regular basis. Just keep reminding yourself this is just a phase and it's a good thing they are so cute at this age or we would all be insane!

Best of Luck



answers from Waterloo on

Ah, yes, the terrible two's. With my boys it got worse (horrible 3's) before it got better. The best advice I can offer is to just walk away and take a breather. He's testing everything in his enviornment right now: boundaries, independence, strength, voice, rules, and most of all, your patience. Good luck!



answers from Grand Rapids on

I like what Melissa said. I do the same bedroom thing...she now will put her self in there.



answers from Milwaukee on

My baby Claire has just recently entered her terrible two's and her sister is off on Christmas vacation which has made it even worse!!! It is ok to become frustrated sometimes. Sometimes I put up the toddler gate and go into the kitchen if I know I have had too much. I know it is something that will pass. My situation is I work outside of home and my husband works alternating weeks. So many days I am a "single parent." We had to really work on getting our discipline styles on the same page. If Claire is doing something bad we get down to her level and tell her it was bad and make her sit in her time out chair. It doesn't always work but I hear being consistant is what counts. I too sometimes will take a mintue to myself to blog. I find it helps to get out the frustration.



answers from Provo on

I have been studying the book "Positive Discipline" by Jane Nelsen. It has really helped me with my children. It helps me see past the misbehaviors and into why my kids act out. I highly recommend it.



answers from Provo on

Before you get home or pick up your child from day care, take five minutes in the car to breathe, read, listen to music, pray, what ever works for you to relax. That way when you greet your child you are already calm. Then devote about 20 minutes to play with him and focus on him, then you can move on to things that need to be done and he feels loved.

Also, in general, when you're feeling frustrated and angry, try to think about things from your child's point of view. How would you feel if you wanted or needed something and had no way to express that clearly and the other person was misunderstanding you? You would probably act out too! That has helped me a lot with my 2 kids to calm down and really figure out what they are trying to tell me with their behavior! Good luck!



answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi L.,

There is no easier answer when we are working parents. I work for a DayCare center and my knowledge of a terrible toddler is because they don't see you all day. Sometimes they have to express their frustration at home.

My advise is giving him his time to express himself, however he is not too young to be given a time out. At this age, all they need is more attention and some type of structure in the home.

Hope this helps.



answers from Grand Forks on

I understand completely. I take deep breathes and walk away when my 2 year old hits his tamtums or what ever else he is doing. I try to remain calm and not react to his behavior. I tell myself it is a phase and will pass soon. God I hope so



answers from Missoula on

I hear you. I have had to leave the room, punch some pillows, and blurt profanities to make myself feel better and I've never had a bad temper or a habit of swearing!
I also had a very sweet, easy son who became increasingly difficult as age 2 approached. I noticed he just wasn't himself, was irritable, and had a chronic runny nose. After many visits to the pediatrician, where I was told nothing was wrong or that he just had a virus, I started listening to him on the monitor at night and noticed he was snoring badly and having apnea. I insisted he see an ear, nose and throat specialist, who found his nose was 100% blocked, his throat (due to huge tonsils and adenoids) was 90% blocked, he had a painful chronic sinus infection, and an ear infection with a ruptured ear drum! He had surgery and was like a new kid (or our old sweet kid). Lately he has been having some apnea and snoring again, and with it irritability and bad behavior, so we are heading back to the ENT to see what's next. My point being that it is possible he has a health issue or pain. If you feel this may be the case and you are getting nowhere with his doctor, seek second opinions and be persistent. Good Luck!



answers from Provo on

I would definately cut out sugar and also make sure he's getting enough sleep. Do you make him have a nap each day, or at least a quite time where he has to lay in bed, but can read if he wants to? Don't buy junk food, so that there isn't any in the house get him involved in some fun activities like crafts, or art projects and stuff. Fun stuff with mom will really help. Maybe he's trying to get your attention because he doesn't feel like he gets much being in the middle. I had a really active child like that and if he didn't have a nap in the afternoon he would be ballistic by 6pm. He was such a happy boy after his nap!
Sorry this is so rambly! Good luck! Don't give up...I wouldn't suggest drugs either. Oh, there is an herbal thing that settles kids like yours. It is called kid-e-trac. It is a Dr. Christopher formula and you can get it at Good Earth or the Herb Shop in Orem. You might want to try it. No side effects!




answers from Madison on

Here is a short response to offset some of the longer ones you've received: Check out the video or book 1-2-3 Magic from your library and start now using that technique. It is the simplest, most effective discipline tool I've found for working with small kids and it is a method you can use through adolescence. It can be difficult to start the program, but if you're consistent with it, once it is in place it provides and easy way to deal with a childs' difficult behaviors. Good luck.

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