Terrible Two's - Please Help

Updated on March 30, 2011
H.M. asks from Miami, FL
9 answers

My two year old is having some behavior problems both in home and in day care. In general, he throws a fit when he doesn't get what he wants. I have tried reasoning with him, but he doesn't understand. The only thing that seems to work is when I can focus his attention on something else but I feel he needs to learn how to deal with the frustration on his own but I am not sure how to do this.

Another variation of this problem is with sharing. In day care, he tries to take things away from other kids even though there are plenty of other toys around, he wants the toy that his classmate is holding even if there is a similar toy available to him. When he doesn't get what he wants, he throws a fit or pulls on his classmates, which has caused some of his classmates react defensively by pushing and even one child has bite him. Now, sometimes he does not want to go to school. His teachers have assured me that they are working both with my son to try to teach him not to take things away from other and when the other children react aggressively...both which they assure me is typical for this age.

Outside of daycare, he seems to be willing to share his toys with other kids at the playground and I am able to stop him from taking things away from other kids but I am not there in day care to divert his attention so he gets upset in day care when he can't have what he wants. He also has problems at home when he doesn't get back he wants by saying ("I want X", and crying), but I divert his attention.

I am sure this is Parenting 101 but I am a first time mom and my own mom my passed away when I was young so this is why I am coming here for advice.

How can I teach him that it is not OK to take things from other kids?

How can I help him deal with frustration of not getting what he wants?

Many thanks for you insight!

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answers from Miami on

You can start to work on his self regulation and modulation through giving him extra sensory input to his body. This is the first place you start on a young child, not their reasoning or cognitive place. CHildren only understand through their bodies and some children need more input than others to be calm, alert, focused and ready to accept new ideas and make choices. PM me for specific info.

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answers from Dover on

Repetition, repetition, repetition! He's still a baby & is learning, plain & simple. He's going to need to be told & shown many times over before totally understanding something. Even after the understanding hits though, be prepared for him not to accept what you've told him. I would continue doing what you're doing with the distraction method, but also make sure you explain to him in a way he can totally understand that what he's doing is wrong. If he decides to throw a fit, make sure he's in a place where he can't hurt himself or anyone else, and just back off until the fit is over. Do not get yourself all wound up every time he does because babies feed off of your energy. Also, he'll learn very quickly if all he needs to do is throw a fit for long enough & eventually you'll give in, so stick to your guns! Never deal with terrorists! lol!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

In general, he throws a fit when he doesn't get what he wants - This is typical for his age. They want independence and the ability to show they can do things, most times it's mimicking what you or other older person does.

"In day care, he tries to take things away from other kids even though there are plenty of other toys around, he wants the toy that his classmate is holding even if there is a similar toy available to him" - This IS typical for his age. They don't really know the fine art or concept of sharing - everything is theirs/territorial..mine and mine alone.

You have to continue to distract, replace with something else and every now and then let him have a little independence as long as it does not compromise his safety. When he gets frustrated, give him reassuring words to acknowledge his frustrations, but stand your ground if it is something you do not think he should have and let him cry out his frustration by ignoring from one eye and watching him with the other, then give him a hug when done. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You are already doing it right. Two year olds have not mastered impulse control (hmmm, neither have many adults) so they do get frustrated when they can't have what they want now. You just distract him and give him something he can do. Rather than sharing we presented it as taking turns, which somehow was easier. And rather than 'you can't have that toy' try - 'it will be your turn next, then you can have that toy. Do you want to play with this toy until then, or just wait?' This gives him a bit of power in the situation.

Both taking toys away and reacting when they are taken away are normal and age appropriate. Try just reinforcing 'hands are for hugging (or whatever positive you care to insert) or teeth are for chewing and distract him. To be honest, it will get better as he matures no mature what you do. But you may as well make it as painless as possible.

We have never done 'consequences' , time outs or rewards and DS is currently a (mostly) well behaved 5 year old who interacts well with his peers and adults. And coincidentally NEVER did the classic tantrum thing (so no, you don't have to punish for children to learn). If you might like this approach there are some excellent positive discipline websites and groups on the web.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

If you want it to stop quickly you have to discipline it. Otherwise, you're just managing it by putting up with it and trying to redirect it, which doesn't teach him not to do it. That's fine if he's at home, but like you said, if he's in daycare, other people can't shadow him and distract him all the time.

He's not too young to control it, but he is too young to "reason" about it. A warning and a consequence will do it if you are consistent. If you enforce it at first, then he learns to control it, then it's natural to him not to do it after that. But no 2 year old will just decide on their own not to do it without consequences. Setting a good example is totally lost on them and they form bad habits. Prevention is key with tantrums, so if he's been doing this a while it will take a bit more work. PM me if you want, I have 3 non tantrummers, non snatchers including an ex terror 20 month old.

If you don't want to use discipline at this age, you'll have to wait it out and have the daycare workers help you deal with it until he outgrows it, which they should be fine with since it's the norm. I'm sure they deal with it in lots of kids. Same for snatching things or throwing a fit if other kids snatch things. Without a consequence for doing it vs. praise for not doing it, he won't get it at 2.


answers from Orlando on

Two is such a fun age, isn't it? Check out the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp, M.D. It has great advice for each age/stage for years 1-4 and it really helped me understand and communicate with my children at that age. And remember, everything is a phase--the good, the bad, and the ugly all pass in time. Enjoy your son!



answers from Houston on

time out for taking things away my special needs child doesnt get to do that because of his situation. mine says i want by laying in the floor. i can't reason with him due to hearing issues. but he shares very well. he is also very demanding crying and throwing a fit if he wants one special toy. that is his way of being adament. I don't always give in especially for toys. now if he wants to take his toy to the daycare i let him. because that is his only form of communication. he also pulls on people to get thier attention. the advantage i have is it is a home daycare. there are 5 kids there. 3 of them are old enough to understand he can't communicate cause he isn't talking. so they are more patient with him. I am not sure how she deals with it if she explains to the older kids or puts storm in time out. her time out is you come stand in front of her. i think the older kids are more capable of understanding pulling is his form of communication and let him do it to a degree. one is 4 and one is 6. and then she has a 1 yr old. Along with mine. So he gets one on one attention but he also has to learn the rules cause of other kids being there. She says she has no problems with him.

with mine being hh and extremely limited speech i ignore fustration tantums that is his only form of communication. if he doesn't get his way and has a fustration tantrum I ignore it unless he is trying to communicate he wants food or whatever. you might get ahold of eci and get him evaluated. also make sure his ears are good no infections and no fluid.



answers from Cleveland on

Two year-olds are kind of wonderful in that they live in the moment. You never hear of a two year-old worrying about anything to come! They dwell completely in the present. So, even if you lecture them every day about sharing, chances are good they won't remember.

I would suggest that you add Time-Out. I know it's the old standby, but it works. If he acts up, put him in time-out for about one minute. It's not long, because if you leave him in there any longer, he won't remember why he's there.

Put him in time-out immediately and make sure you tell him, in very simple words, why he's there. Then, when you get him out of time-out, do it again.

You may be putting him in time-out twenty times a day. But that's normal when you first start using it. After a few days, he'll start to recognize that, "When I do that, mommy takes herself away from me." That's the ultimate punishment for a two year-old. Separation.

I would also start giving rewards (stickers work great) for good behavior. When he does a good job, give him a sticker on his "sticker chart." It's amazing what kids will do for stickers. And he will be more bound to repeat the good behavior if you notice it.

Good luck! http://keystosimpleliving.com/kids_behavior.php



answers from Tampa on

Check out YokaReeder.com- her wisdom has made childcare very sane.
best, k

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