Did I handle this situation with my toddler correctly?(53 Posts)
This is more of a 'am I right or is my Mum'.
I'm really struggling with my 2 and a half year-old at the moment. She is fighting me over everything - getting up for nursery, brushing teeth, getting dressed, getting shoes on, sitting at the table to eat etc. She's a lovely little girl, as long as she can do what she wants all the time. Obviously that's not on so I am having to battle with her to get through every day. I tend to start with making things into a game, if that doesn't work I work through distraction, incentives, negotiation and then resort to telling off and naughty step.
The other day I picked her up from nursery and she was happy. She put her little nursery backpack on and walked down to the car with me chatting happily. When I was about to put her in the car she tried to run off but I held her hand and took her back to the car. She started kicking and screaming. I tried to take off her backpack so I could put her in the car and she got really worked up, threw herself to the floor and struggled to keep it on. I tried explaining that we needed to take it off to put her in the car but there is no reasoning with a 2 year-old in the middle of the tantrum. As we were in a car park and it was dangerous for her to be thrashing around on the floor and trying to run away I took her back in to the nursery building, sat her on the bottom step and gave her a minute to calm down. Then I knelt down in front of her and explained that she could hold her backpack and put it back on when we get home but she had to take it off to go in her car seat. She started screaming and crying again. I tried to take it off myself and it made her more distressed so I tried talking to her about the fun things we could do if we went home. She just carried on crying. Then one of the nursery staff saw I was struggling and offered my daughter a sticker if she took her backpack off, at which point DD snapped out her tantrum, took a sticker off the lady and said sorry to me. I felt pretty mortified that I needed someone else to help me get control of my child.
I relayed this story to my Mum who said that as I'm bigger and stronger than my DD I should have forcibly removed the backpack and forced her into the car. She also said that by being given a sticker she was rewarded by her bad behaviour. So who is right? Should I have been more physically forceful? I don't really feel comfortable using my strength against her. She is a big, strong girl and I would have had to struggle with her which I know would have made her more distressed and I think it would have really struggled to have forced her into her car seat against her will
What do you think?
Also, if you have any tips for dealing with a toddler who says no to everything I want her to do it would be appreciated.
Neither of you are more "right" than the other, it's just different parenting styles.
I lean more to your way, I don't like forcing children to do things unless it's really necessary.
I don't think the sticker was a reward for the tantrum. Not unless it's a regular thing. Nurseries often use stickers to persuade reluctant children to do things and it can be hard when they're at the end of a tiring day and also they're sort of in limbo between nursery mode and home mode - my DS was an utter nightmare picking him up from the childminder.
Quite honestly I would say whatever works goes when it comes to tantrums, as long as the child's safe.
So either way is fine but your mum shouldn't be telling you you're wrong! I don't think she was being rewarded for bad behaviour because I think by the time it gets to that point it isn't behaviour it's out of control feelings.
You are right. (IMO)
Even if I didn't agree with how you did it (which I do) I would still say you are right, because it's your child, to parent your way.
Your mum has raised her children, now it's your turn to raise yours.
I think your way sounds nicer but I would probably have lost it and forced her into the car. I'm on DC3 and past the reasoning thing, I do sympathise, I have a 3yo DD and she is very stubborn.
I think the way you handled it was a lot calmer and probably more constructive than I would have, as I'd have flung her in the car eventually. However I see that as my failing, not yours!
Sounds like you're doing fine. Children are supposed to test their boundaries, and they only do it with people they feel safe and secure with, so it's often easier for other people, like the nursery worker, to get children to do things. The sticker was a reward for removing the backpack, not for tantrumming, and it won't lead to more tantrums.
Your dm's way of doing things is not wrong for some parents and some dc, but it will be wrong for others and you know your dd best. Unless you have asked for her take on things specifically she should not be offering a critique on your parenting style. Tell her to mind her own business!
Don't feel mortified that the nursery worker helped. Sometimes a new person on the scene is what it takes to distract from the tantrum. DS2 did that to me a few weeks ago on a train. Nothing I did worked. Random stranger had him laughing and smiling in seconds.
I think you handled it just fine.
I usually find presenting DS with two options
both acceptable to me and asking him to choose makes things easier. Doesn't always work, but for things like getting dressed it helps.
I don't know tricky, people say you shouldn't lure them to do things with treats and rewards...but I found luring DD to something in this way, just helped to get her out of rut ( refusing repeatedly over series of days) to do something..like get in the car, then I could gradually distract adn withdraw treat, and she was back to getting in car normally.
This is though, terrible twos, it s normal behaviour!
I think the way you dealt with it was really good, but I know with my DS (2.5) there is no reasoning whatsoever when a tantrum is ongoing so I'd have been tempted to just get him into the car. Not because I care of peoples opinions around me or anything like that, but so once he was strapped in he was safe and I could hope he'd snap out of it. So your Mum wasn't wrong or unreasonable as such, but it's whatever your comfortable with yourself that you need to go with.
Kids need to learn boundaries and that having temper tantrums over every little thing is not on. I thought that what you said you did (taking her to the steps to give her a minute to calm down) was spot on, and if you were not interrupted, you could have then used that time to explain to her how you won't put up with that behaviour because temper tantrums don't scare you! Then I would do as your mum suggested and just march her to the car. The thing is attitude; if she sees you upset, out of control or unsure how to deal with it she'll use that against you.
A friend of mine used her phone to film her toddler having a temper tantrum and then showed it to her! She didn't enjoy seeing herself red faced and screaming and it really calmed her down. I bet now someone's going to tell me that's terrible and exploiting the baba...
Don't feel bad about the nursery worker doing what you couldn't. It's typical that a third party got her attention. It's no reflection on your parenting skills. Children always play up massively for their own parents. It's like some unwritten rule.
I'd probably do it your mums way and let her calm down in her car seat before driving home.
That doesn't mean my way would be right though. I think it's easy to become paranoid about what you are doing wrong with children that age so try not to beat yourself up. You sound like your doing all the right things but obviously some days are harder than others. One day you'll look back on it and laugh, I promise!
I feel so much better. Thank you for your replies. My Mum has always been quite critical and I have been feeling a bit down about my DD's behaviours and whether I'm dealing with it the best way. I am being firm and consistent and not backing down but it is a constant struggle at the moment.
The thing is, she is so strong that it is actually nearly impossible to get her in the car seat if she is having a tantrum. She also knows how to make it impossible for me to carry her if she wants to be put down so sitting on the floor until she calms down is often all I can do with her.
I do what you do, my dh would do what your mother said. But then he usually feel scrap about it and agrees that carrot is better than stick (so to speak) and much more effective.
I have 4 boys so having one do similar is a nightmare and ds3 did this sort of thing a few times. If anyone tried to help he would get worse and I just had to make sure he was in a safe place and let him get it out of his system. He is about to turn 3 and hasn't done this for a while. Hunger made it worse so carrying a snack for these occasions helped as it was a big distraction.
What you did is roughly what I would have done, I think, though my son isn't quite two yet, so picking him up and getting him somewhere in mid-tantrum is more physically possible - I don't do it unless there's really no alternative, though. I do insist on tooth-brushing, whether or not he's in the humour. I'm not comfortable with adults using their strength against small children unless it's a situation of needing to remove them from danger.
Don't feel depressed about your daughter's behaviour. I tell myself that boundary-pushing at this age is a healthy and necessary (and unbelievably annoying) part of their development.
A friend adopted a two year old a few years ago, and was utterly, utterly delighted when this unnaturally 'good' little boy - silent, still, self-contained, obedient - felt comfortable enough and safe enough in his new family to be badly behaved and drive her crazy drawing on the wall with crayons. I try to remember that when my son is behaving like Genghis Khan on the battlefield.
I'd probably have done what your mum said, I have no tolerance for them putting themselves in danger like that in car parks or near roads etc.
I don't think there's a right or wrong answer though, you're doing fine, it's a tricky age!
I spend a lot of time wrestling DS, I have wondered if it's right, but when we're getting ready for nursery etc. I just simply have the time to be all 'nice' and wait it out - he has to get dressed by 7.20 otherwise we're all late, so after a few initial conversations I just have to pin him down and use brute force. But you were not being unreasonable - especially as you didn't think you could actually overcome her! I see this day arriving with DS soon so I might have to rethink!
I see using brute force on a child as the last resort. I'll do it - I have done it - when there's no other option, when it would be dangerous for them to carry on, or when their behaviour is having an unacceptable impact on others, but I wouldn't in the circumstances you describe.
There's a massive difference between 'being soft' which is doubtless what your mum thinks you are doing, and merely enforcing a more reasonable, peaceable punishment. Think of it another way - do you really want your daughter to learn the lesson that she has to do what you say just because you're bigger than her?
As for the nursery worker and the sticker - well, a well-known, often taught conflict resolution technique is the 'switch', where someone else steps in to defuse a situation. What's wrong with that, with a wound up child? As long as they aren't bribing her into good behaviour all the time, it won't harm.
There are no 'correct' answers when it comes to parenting. You deal with every situation as they happen. I think it's easy for the older generation to forget how hard it is to deal with the 'terrible twos'.
Id say wrestling them into a carseat as a last resort, actually my almost 3 year old is too big, there is no way I could force him into the car and strap him in without hurting him.
It sounds like you dealt with the situation admirably. It sounds like your DM would have dealt with it in a similar manner that I would have on my first DC; the more DCs I have had, the more patience I have and I the calmer I am with them. I have to admit that if a teacher had come along and offered my DC a sticker for doing what they had been told, the teacher might just have ended up being forced to eat the thing !
Neither way is wrong IMO. IME I give them a few mins to calm themselves through me talking and explaining. If that doesn't work, then whip them up and force them in the carseat. Close the door and sit down and start car. They're quiet within seconds of the car moving off. Then we have a quick talk about how what they did was wrong and dangerous.
I think you wouldn't have done what you did if you didn't have time and needed to rush off. I'm normally in a rush.
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