Two Year Old Fights Me on EVERYTHING!!

Updated on June 06, 2011
M.T. asks from Eatontown, NJ
13 answers

This past week I have been having the hardest time getting my two year old daughter to do ANYTHING. I feel like I am constantly fighting with from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed. Every step of the day she is fighting me from meals to doing errands to nap time and bedtime. I get that she is two and that they don't call them the terrible twos for nothing but I feel like it has gotten a little out of control. Sometimes she just starts yelling no and screaming while she is playing by herself and I haven't even asked her to do anything. There are a couple of things that I think it could be. For one I am nine months pregnant so not only is it hard for mommy to play with her the way I used to there is also the building stress of someone new coming into our family. The other thing is food. I hear all these stories about childrens behavior being caused by what they eat. I have a really hard time getting my daughter to eat anything let alone what I am sure most people consider healthy. I am so tired of always fighting with her. She used to be a go with the flow kind of kid but it just all rapidly changed and I find myself being that mom in the store that everyone looks at because they can't control thier kid. I know that I am a good mom and I stick to my guns but I also feel like I am on the brink of loosing it and could really use some advise as to ways to help the situation.

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answers from Dallas on

First - know you aren't alone!

Some thoughts...are you offering her choices? Instead of telling her to do things, give her a couple choices and let her choose from that. I also recommend reading this book: "Positive Discipline: The First Three Years: From Infant to Toddler--Laying the Foundation for Raising a Capable, Confident Child" by Jane Nelsen.

I don't know if you're into reading books, but they have some awesome ideas and can really help work out problems.

The key is to make her feel like she has a say in what is going on in her life. Giving her choices is a great help. If she gets upset at something you tell her, it really is okay (contrary to what SO many people think!) to sympathize with her and tell her you understand how disappointing it is and giving her a hug. That has cleared up so many tantrums for us. And, they act out less...not more.

Hope that helps some.

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answers from Honolulu on

1) easier said than done, but don't fight/argue back.
Kneel down to her height, use a low/calm/soothing voice and say "sweetheart, Mommy does not want to argue with you. I love you." then hug her and walk away and go back to what you were doing.

2) 2 year old kids, do NOT have, fully developed emotions yet. Thus, they spaz out/melt down/get all flustered, They don't even know the exact names for their feelings, nor even know, how they are feeling at every given second.
Like some adults.

3) They are not accurate communicators yet. These skills are not yet, fully mastered.

4) If tired, a Toddler will spin into a melt-down easier.
If hungry, a Toddler will spin into a melt-down easier.

5) Toddlers, want to do EXACTLY what is in their heads/imaginations. BUT they cannot yet do that. Because their motor-skills and appendages and coordination is not yet, fully lucid and able and mastered yet.
Sometimes, the Toddler themselves does not even know what they themselves, want, nor why.

6) Toddlerhood.. .is a time of reactions/cause and effect. They are little mega REACTORS.
They have not mastered complicated premeditated deductive reasoning yet. At all. At this age, everything/their reasoning/reactions... are rudimentary, still. They are learning. The learning curve is either harsh or patient. Per their cognition and per the Parental 'expectations' of their child.

7) Behavior like this, WILL OCCUR AGAIN. They do not have (a) coping skills and are too young to know coping-skills inherently (b) kids learn by repetition even if it is pleasant or unpleasant (c) they are getting their independence streak... coupled with them not having, ANY impulse-control yet. Even 3 year olds do not yet have, fully-developed-impulse-control, yet.

So... in a nutshell. This is phase. BUT it will happen again and is manifested differently, per a child's age. The ages of 3 and 4... are HARDER. So know that.
**(Edit: my son, was SO easy at 1 & 2 years old and the first half of 3 years old. THEN, from the later half of 3 and now at his age of 4.5- it is harder. ) But yes, each kid is different. Just as Linda P. said.
Teach your child NOW... about the names for feelings, how to communicate, that they CAN tell you how they feel, teach them MANY different ways of coping for frustrations, etc.
I began teaching my kids those things, from 2 years old.
My son for example, by the time he was 3 years old... he could tell ME if he was 'frustrated' or 'irritated' or 'mad' and he KNEW the difference for all these emotions and the correct names for it. And then, he'd tell ME... "Mommy I need to sit over there by myself and be alone. I am irritated." Then he'd do that, and then a couple minutes later come to me all happy and hug me and just continue playing like nothing happened.

ALL Moms, have kids that tantrum.
ALL kids tantrum.
They are human.
We are human.
We all go crazy too.
You are a good Mom.

NEXT: where is your Husband in all of this?? HE HAS TO BE HELPING. Too. And since you are pregnant. And since you will be having a newborn to care for.
Delineate tasks NOW... for your Husband to help with.

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answers from Kansas City on

Well, a lot of this is because your 9 months pregnant, you're tired and your patience is worn very thin. Besides that, yes this is all part of being 2. A lot happens at 2, and although it's exciting, it is also challenging. As far as the stress of someone new in the family, I'm sure she's feeling it. My daughter was 2 one week before my son was born, so I feel you. I tried to get her as involved as possible. She loved helping me get his room ready and fold his clothes and talk about the baby. I told her all kinds of things she'd be responsible for helping me with and she was really excited. When he was born she picked out a present for him and she got to wear her "big sister" shirt and it was all super exciting for her. I'm sure you're doing a lot of that already, but try to really play it up as something neat for her and your family as a whole.

As far as food....well it's hard. The rational part of you says 'don't fight it, she won't starve!'...and the mother part of you says, 'OMG she's going to starve, give that kid some food!' :) You have to meet those two people half way! Yes, it's okay to give her some treats, etc. but you also have to offer her healthy choices most of the time. Right about 2 is when my daughter's eating habits really changed. She used to eat everything, literally everthing I put in front of her; veggies, salmon, fruit, grains...then she didn't. She became a virtual fruitatarian for almost a year! But, now she eats more stuff, not as good as it was, but hey, it's progress! Honestly, you really can't make it a fight, and she really won't starve! Have her help you pick stuff out at the store or help you cook and that will help. I know she's still a little young, but if it makes her feel important, it will help! Also remember that toddlers eat a food pyramid in a week, not a day. So if she eats blueberries all day and doesn't eat anything else, don't stress about it!

As far as coping...well I hate to say it but it's not going to get easier once the baby is here either so find something that works for you and go with it, even if that means telling her to go to her room so that you can calm down and have the strength to deal with her. Or telling her that you're going to your room for 5 minutes so you can calm down! ;) Also if you can get help lined up to come in and help you with her after the baby comes. If you have family that's great, otherwise look into a summer PDO program or a babysitter or a class that someone else can take her to for a few hours one day a week...anything, something, it will help!

Hang in there. You're just exhausted. If you have to resort back to the old stand-by of counting to 10 before you speak! ;)

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answers from Charlotte on

M., you are the one who controls what is in front of her at the table. Instead of fighting with her regarding the food, put what you want in front of her. Try to include one or two foods that you know she likes, healthy foods, without red dye or preservatives. Then offer other foods you want her to learn to eat. If she doesn't eat it, say okay, you must be done, take her down, and put the food back in the frig. If she begs for food, bring out the same food. Don't give her snacks if she doesn't eat. She won't starve - I promise - she will finally start eating what you offer her. Don't ever be a short-order cook for your child. It never ends well when there is a strong-willed child demanding you fix what he or she wants.

I have read that it takes offering a new food that a child doesn't take a shine to right away, 20 times for them to finally eat it. (I wonder how many times my mom wanted me to eat spinach...) I don't know if that will work for you, but I'd give it many months before throwing in the towel for simple foods that you want her to learn to eat. Remember, if you are feeding her fried foods and junk, she'll always eat that over anything else. I would cut out fried foods totally. When she eats without fighting you, perhaps you could start offering smoothies with stuff in it that you would like for her to eat but she hasn't gotten a taste for yet. Saying something like "You were such a good girl at lunch today that I think we'll have a little treat." You have not offered a bribe, and you don't do it every time she behaves at a meal. But she thinks, like Pavlov's Dogs, that perhaps she'll get a treat after a particular behavior. And you get her to have something healthy as her snack.

Regarding the other arguing, offer her plenty of two-choice scenarios. "Do you want to wear the blue pants or the pink ones? Do you want to clean up the dolls first or the blocks? Do you want to brush teeth first or dress for bed first?" Only offer her a choice that you don't care which she does. And if she refuses to do something, you can try laughing and making a game out of it, "Let's see how fast we can clean up! I'm going to count to 20 - let's see how many blocks you can get in the box!" If she is supposed to come in the house and fights you, you may not be able to pick her up now, but you will after the baby comes, so stop taking her out by yourself. Sane thing with going to the store - leave her home with dad right now to go shopping. Wait until she is a bit older and you are stronger physically.

I would use her room for timeout if she won't stay in timeout. You can close her door to get her to behave instead of physically keeping her in a timeout place.

For her nap, you may not be able to get her to sleep, but you must insist that she stay in her room for rest time. Don't let her out for an hour, and don't stay in the room with her. You are going to need her to do this when you have that baby. Best make it so that you have that down pat now.

Good luck with this. Don't try to do too much right now with her - there will be plenty of time later when you aren't full of baby in your tummy!


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answers from Youngstown on

Two is a very hard age. I found that giving my kids choices in everything that I could helped. It gave them some control over what they got to do, eat, play ect. The key is to make sure you will be happy with either choice that you give them.

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answers from San Francisco on

You need some help from dad because you are DUE! If not for that I would advise take care of it while you are still the biggest, meaning, if all else fails pick her up, take her to her room or the time out area and repeat as necessary.

She's a bit too young to understand EVERYTHING about the new baby, but you could read her stories, talk to her and let her be BIG sister and mommy's helper when the little one arrives.


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answers from Kansas City on

poor mom! yes they call it "the terrible twos" but don't let that name dictate that this is unavoidable. for me the threes (and briefly, the fours) were worse. my suggestion is to take the battle out of every single thing that you can. if she doesn't want to eat the healthy food you put in front of her - okay! no big deal. she WILL eat when she is hungry. there is zero reason for you to battle over that. if she doesn't want to wear what you pick out for her - okay! let her pick another top to put on. it is definitely going to be a challenge with a new baby coming - she is picking up on it already and she is acting out. just be consistent with discipline and stick to your guns. it's more important now than ever. tantrums shouldn't be tolerated, she can go in her room and act that way if she wants but no one else in the house needs to be subjected to it. and stay positive! praise for good behavior, start now with the "big girl" talk. hang in there. you're doing fine!

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answers from Chicago on

Try to take the "fight" out of it. I know you're probably exhausted.

1. When she starts yelling or screaming simply say, "You don't treat me that way. When you're ready to talk nice, we'll talk." Then walk around her/past her and go about your business. Let her tantrum.

2. Don't make mealtime a food auction. Serve what you're serving, and make sure there's at least one thing you know she'll eat - like applesauce - on her plate. Whatever she eats, she eats. Then mealtime is over. Don't feed her again until it's the normal "snack" or mealtime.

3. Give her plenty of your attention now. Get dad involved in playing a bigger role in her everyday. That way you can (hopefully) reduce everyone's stress and anxiety when the new baby comes. Right now you need some rest. And you'll need it that much more later.

I've been in your shoes. You need to make a conscious choice what to take issue with and what to let go. If you take the "fight" out of it, then it's just a 2 yr old tantrum.

I've found that my toddlers "matured" faster than most due to my parenting style. People remark about how well behaved e

Now my kids are no saints. But I sincerely believe that if you stick to your guns now and are consistent about "acceptable behavior" that gets your attention, then it paves the way for the 3s and 4s and beyond.

Best wishes to you!

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answers from Syracuse on

they call it 'the terrible twos' for a reason---she is becoming her own person--lighten up!!!!

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answers from Pittsfield on

I like a lot of what S H had to say-

I just disagree about 3 and 4 being harder.

Three and, especially 4, are sooo much easier IMO. 4yo love to be helpful, are less likely to get frustrated as easily because they can communicate their wants and needs more easily, since their language has just exploded from the time they were 2. They are in pre-school- and love feeling like a big kid.

I always felt like I was holding my breath from 18 mo to about 2 1/2. All 3 of my boys started getting easier somewhere around 2 1/2. My DD took a little longer- she was closer to 3. She's 3years 4mo. now, and while I wouldn't say she's easy, she's a whole lot easier than she was a year ago. She makes me laugh every day!

You're also 9 mo. pregnant. I've been there..a few times- pregnant and having a toddler. When you're 9mo. pregnant everything is harder- *especially* when you have a 2 year old!

What helped me keep my sanity when I had toddlers was pretty much all the same things Dawn B. suggested.

Hang in there, you'll get through it !!! The next few months will be challenging, and you may even have moments when you feel like falling to pieces, but then things WILL start easing up. It may be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel at times, but it's there!!

Congratulations!! =o)

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answers from Phoenix on

I've been there! All I can say is hang in there and this too shall pass. I have 5 kids. I had two of my kids 19 months apart. I have kids with food allergies that drastically affected their behavior. I have a very stubborn 1 year old etc. Sometimes you just have to do what you can do. I think you're doing a great job under the circumstances. Don't get too overwhelmed. Try to be patient and have as much fun with her as you can. Hang in there!!



answers from Chicago on

I am in the same boat as you. My sweet little boy has turned into a tantrum throwing monster on some days:) I agree with Mom on the go. We tell him that "we use a nice, polite voice. Mommy and daddy will not let you yell and scream. Finish screaming and then come and talk to us" and then we walk away. We are not doing time-out or the "naughty spot" with tantrums, simply because I feel they need a warning first, and the tantrums can come on for no reason:)

Our son is a very good eater, but lately he has not wanted to eat as much. I know never say never, but we swore we will not become those parents that let our child eat whatever he wants. so we offer his food, leave it on his tray until he eats something, and then he can be excused. i will not give hime a "nola bar" just because he demands it.

Good luck and hang in there. Congrats on your soon--to-be little one!

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