Help! At my wits end with 2.9 year old(29 Posts)
Life is pretty dire at the moment with my son's behaviour which seems to be having a knock on effect on pretty much everything including relationship with my partner .
He is a beautiful little boy but demanding doesn't begin to cover his temperament, it is incessant. He says NO from the minute he opens his eyes it seems to when he goes to bed and we are completely exhausted. He is incredibly particular over EVERYTHING for instance he will demand a particular item of clothing to wear and if said item is dirty/wet so he can't wear it, he will have an epic meltdown screaming, throwing things, trying to break toys, banging his ehad aginst the floor, the whole bit. He is constantly seconds away from a breakdown and my nerves are frazzled. People say to ignore the bad behaviour which I try to (praising the good obviously) but it isnt always practical to ignore him as I work 3 days a week and I don't have time to wait 30 mins for the tantrum to pass, we have to get to nursery and work on time. I've been late to work 6 times in the last couple of months due to these battles and its really stressful as I've always been on time and bosses aren't happy.
DS was potty trained a few months ago and he was doing well, this seems to have gone backwards as what he'll do is wet/soil himself just as we're leaving the house (having refused x10 to sit on the potty and have a try before we leave), which delays us all the more. Yesterday I asked him over and over to sit on the pot, he continually refused and ran away from me, he then ran straight past the potty, into the kitchen and pooed on the floor . He knew full well he shouldnt have and was just saying 'i wont do it on the potty'. It is most definitely a wont not a can't.
Weekends are pretty miserable as we try to plan ncie afternoons out, the museum, park, soft play, playdates etc but far more often that not he says NO NO NO and 'I want to tay at home'. This makes it harder again because I find it much better to get out and about and he;s incredibly destructive at home.
I'm terribly worried that theres more to his behaviour than normal 'terrible twos'. Im completely wrung out and my partner and myself have nothing left for one another as we're both nackered at the end of the day. DP works full time and generally walks in in the middle of a meltdown as theyre that frequent and says he sometimes dreads coming home awful as it sounds.
My son is likely to be my only child and it breaks my heart that, although I love him deeply I'm not enjoying him at all. Everything is a constant battle. I'm in tears typing this, thank you if youve made it to the end, I'd really appreciate any thoughts or advice.
Apologies for spelling/grammar there, should have previewed.
Oh dear, you sound like you really do have a 'terrible two' on your hands and I really relate to the constantly being late - I'm fortunate not to have to work, but getting my two ready and out the door on time for school each morning is always a bit of a battle and DS2 (the same age as your DS), often poos just as we're about to walk out the door! Anyway, back to you. I think I would say two things:
1) Some DC are AWFUL as toddlers, simply hideous, but it doesn't mean that there is anything necessarily 'wrong'.
2) However, if you are worried, ask the HV to come over (if you rate him/her - personally I've found the HV to be utterly useless, but I know there are good ones out there), or go and see your GP for a chat. S/he can listen to your concerns and refer if they feel it's necessary. An appt with a paediatrician may put your mind at rest and/or give you some coping strategies for dealing with this challenging behaviour. At the very least it might make you feel a bit more in control.
There are also books out there, if you'd rather start with a book. Jo Frost (Super Nanny), has written a book on toddlers, and a friend of mine who's daughter was
a complete pain in the arse somewhat challenging found This book helpful.
No advice but lots of sympathy here. I have ds 2.7 who sounds very similar. His latest thing is all items of clothing have to be 'beeped' before he will wear them. Only he can beep them and he won't be rushed! So it can take 5 minutes of cajoling to beep one sock and you still have the rest of his clothes to go he had been late to nursery a lot lately. In exactly the same situation with potty training too. Refusing to sit on potty then pooing in pull up as soon as its on. Exhausting isn't it.
I guess allowing as much time as you have to get him ready (not always practical if you need to get to work I know) allowing him small choices, eg red or green socks today, you choose. Lots of countdowns. 'I'll count to three then you will ..' Bribery for good behaviour.
Most of all give yourself a break. Parenting a toddler is hard work and I'm sure you are doing everything right. This phase will pass
Thanks so much both for taking the time to comment.
It really is a difficult time isn't it..a couple of tantrums a day I could cope with no problem its the frequency at the minute which has me feeling generally on edge and not a very happy mum!
I have Jo Frosts Toddler book, I really rate her actually and do try to implement her strategies. We use the naughty spot to occasional success but generally he has to be returned to the spot between 3 and 5 times before he'll 'relent' and stay for the 2 minutes, again pretty tough when I need to leave the house by a certain time.
Good to know I'm not alone, I guess its a case of persevere and maybe we'll get there in the end.
Thanks again for the kind words.
Also read the book the explosive child by Ross green. Even if your DS is completely fine/normal I think the strategies can be used for all kids. I needed this book years ago but was only just put into it. It has made a significant difference in a short time. I also find sleep deprivation has a major impact on my DS. Worth considering as I'm not sure if it is the same for you.
It sounds hard work! Have you tried things like choosing the outfit the night before? Or laying a choice of two things out in the morning? I would be tempted to give in to as many demands as you can. It might feel like 'giving in' and the usual story is that you'll be setting yourself up for more trouble in the long run - but for my mind the battles are more important later on, and he will have more language and understanding to deal with it better (theory at least!)
Could you even go back to pull ups? Is he happy at nursery? Is he tantrumming at nursery? I would be trying as hard as I could to see the world from his eyes and seeing where you can help him along to avoid as many flashpoints as possible. It's easy to get stuck in the parents - but we need to do this NOW and forget what it must be like being rushed from one place to the next, interrupted from play just as they're beginning to discover choice.
And it's almost spring! Life is so much easier when it's light a bit longer! He sounds like a bit that needs outdoors and roaming where there are no boundaries.
In many ways it sounds as if your ds is thoroughly spoilt. He's not even 3 years old but he's having a say (and it sounds like the final say) for things such as what you're all doing at the weekend. If you're negotiating things with him and asking for his opinion I'd stop. You need to start telling him what to do. He's only two. I think he's been in charge (in effect) for far too long and he needs boundaries put in place. Do not over praise him for things he should be doing at his age. I thinks dcs can see straight through over praising and as such it becomes meaningless. I aso think there is far too attention spent on him. Perhaps it is time to have another dc to stop all the concentration on him.
Exactly what Journey said. It sounds like he has far too much control and little children just can't handle too many choices. Give him a choice of two things, and only two things, at a time and make it small issues, like what colour t-shirt he wears, or whether he has a banana or a cracker for snack time. This will give him some control over what goes on, but in a way that is appropriate for his age. With all other issues, you or DH are in charge. If you have to get out that door by a certain time, it's up to you to make sure it happens.
If you have a local Children's Centre, you will get more detailed advice about managing his behaviour. Or speak to your Health Visitor as someone suggested upthread.
What's his currency? Identify it and trade in it. They all have a weak spot. Yes, you can waste a load of time trying to cajole them into empathising but its usually easier just to bribe them at that age.
@mojito thank you for that recommendation I will look it up.
@parliamo I tend to, in advance, organise as much as I possibly can the night before so clothes are always laid out in advance and I give him choices as much as possible. The problem is that i'll say, for instance, here you go would you like to wear the blue or the red t shirt and he'll simply say (shout) NO TSHIRT NO TSHIRT repeatedly and just runs off. I'll then say tell you what DS lets get (for example) your Thomas t shirt, he'll finally agree off we go to find thomas one, eventually get him fully ready coat on etc and 2 mins before we leave he'll then go BUT I WANTED THE RED ONE GET THOMAS OFF! OFF! OFF! Its all variations of this and I find it utterly draining.
I don't really want to go back to pull ups as for 6 weeks or so he was doing brilliantly on the potty and I know he can do it, its more that he's now decided he'd rather not. Nursery have been very helpful in assisting with the potty training so I feel it would be a massive step back to put pull ups back on him, but if this continues I may have to. I completely take your point about letting him 'win' where possible but sometimes its unavoidable. He does tantrum at nursery they tell me but nowhere near the level at home, at nursery its once a day. He's happy there in the main, he always protests (strongly) that he doesn't want to go in but when I arrive to collect him he doesn't want to leave(!) so I guess its transitions he struggles with. Having said that I do give him a warning ie 10 more minutes, 5 more minutes, 2 more minutes, before say leaving the park for instance but he still boils with rage when the time to leave comes.....and I end up carrying him out under my arm screaming like a tasmanian devil.
Food for thought ladies thank you.
Re: tantrums I didnt finish that sentence it should say, at nursery its once a day on average.
'he'll finally agree off we go to find thomas one, eventually get him fully ready coat on etc and 2 mins before we leave he'll then go BUT I WANTED THE RED ONE GET THOMAS OFF! OFF! OFF'
So he's moving the goalposts all the time - not unusual for a 2 year old. You need to ignore this behaviour OP and stay calm - easier said than done I know. The time for making choices has passed by the time you're heading out the door so do not even get into a discussion with him, just pick him up and put him in buggy/car/whatever and head out the door. This behaviour is a symptom of having way too much control for his very young age. Just don't engage with it.
'He does tantrum at nursery they tell me but nowhere near the level at home, at nursery its once a day'
So you need to work with nursery to figure out what they are doing that's different to what you're doing at home. Your child is the same person wherever he is, his different behaviour is a response to something different in his environment.
Thank you Journey and Lotta.
Regarding weekends my thinking is that (as I work wed-fri) on a Saturday as he has no control over going to nursery when he clearly doesnt want to (he has to go and that's that) , it's be good to give him a choice over what to do ie feed the ducks, swimming etc, obviously this isnt working. I'm torn between trying to pick my battles and give in at times, the reality is however that I'm giving him clear rules and boundaries and he simply rejects them. I do naughty spot following the steps properly and it does work eventually as I say but is very time consuming. Obviously I have the balance wrong.
When you say no, do you stick to it? For instance, "I want the red top on"...."no".....shout scream fuss.....red top gets put on.
@lotta I do, the vast majority of the time get him out on time, I have to, and do simply have to force him in the car seat despite the protests. It's the fact I have to do this all the time and have this battle from the minute he gets up, its so wearing.
Regarding nursery the difference, I feel, is that he's better around other children and tends to follow/copy what theyre doing. (For example if they're all sitting round a table he's much more inclined to sit there) whereas at home I'd have to return him to the table 10 times. Taking him out for a meal is simply not an option. The nursery environment with lots of otehr kids around is is something I can't re-create at home obviously.
It's very unlikely I'll be having another!
@ Myname I do yes. Its very important i think to mean what I say, for instance I never threaten something and don't follow through. Last week he wouldnt wear a lovely new shirt I'd bought him to go to a christening, I said no youre wearing it and thats final, got it on and he then proceeded to tantrum and try to pull it off in absolute rage , causing 2 buttons to come off . Could weep at times!
I really can't recommend Children's Centres enough. You need to get on top of this OP - however much time he spends at nursery, he will always spend more time with you and his dad and you need to know how to help him to manage his behaviour. This is manageable (but very wearing) in a 2 year old - it will be no fun at all in a 5 year old or even older.
You are not the only parent who is struggling with their young child's behaviour so don't worry about that.
My little bit of advice would be to offer him choices. red top or thomas top for example. then try to stick to the choice he made. try to ignore tantrums and if needs be lift him bodily into car mid tantrum if thats what it takes to be on time for work.
I know this won't work every time, will still be stressful for all but at least you may feel like you are setting rules and not him.
by the way, it does get better!
Ink spell that's pretty much what I do he just fights me all the way. When does it get better then ? ;)
meant to say limited choices. another poster said the same and I would agree. you may find that while nursery are offering choices they are limited ones.
Gosh, I really am stumped. All my DS never gave a care in the world at that age what they were wearing. Whatever I put out, they put on (or I put on for them when too small). Must be a complete nightmare. You sound like you're doing the right thing with following through with what you say etc. Good luck and stay strong. X
I find it got better as their communication skills improve. they themselves are less frustrated and just outgrow tantrums.
I work in a nursery with this age group. Yes, I offer choices but very limited ones. you can choose this or this. full blown tantrums happen with this age. Sometimes the children can be talked out of them but sometimes its a case of "no, you cannot do..... you will have to wait for a little while". Once a child is having a tantrum in a safe way for themselves or others I will let them work through it whilst talking calmly to them through it.
Distraction can often help. silly things like "I can hear a cat. can you?" the child usually stops tantruming to see if they can hear a cat. search of the room then happens to see if we can find the cat. by the time we've done all that the tantrum is forgotten.
perhaps if your ds starts when you are heading out in the morning you can turn getting ready into a distraction? Who can get dressed first? Who can get their bag first? Who can win the race up the path to nursery?
I fully appreciate that dealing with children in a nursery situation is entirely different than at home. It is very hard to stay calm with your own child. It's much easier to do it with other peoples! I think it's the emotional connection that makes such a big difference. I found it harder to deal with my own childrens misbehaviour than other peoples.
You sound like you're doing so many of the correct things - hang in there!
I can see why you don't want to go backwards with the potty. But how would he react if you offer - eg no potty means nappy? Call his bluff a bit. Also I try and use a tip I read on here once- instead of saying no when he wants something say yes, tomorrow. Yes, later. Yes, after nursery. Red t- shirt, yes, when we get home. His language has to be good enough though. It takes the confrontation out of the situation and half the time it's forgotten about by the time it comes around.
Also, is there too much talking going on? When I take a step back and listen to DH or me, I can see where we've done too much to explain or placate or persuade or negotiate. Dc just zone out and stop hearing it. Just repeat a simple instruction a few times and then either walk away if you have time or do it if you haven't and them ignore subsequent kicking off. Likewise for leaving - my school age dd still chucks a wobbly when we're going home. I now just grimace/ smile at company and say - she's had such a nice time... I know the advice is to give them warning, but it never worked for us, it just started the fuss sooner. I just make sure we're all packed up and scoop her away as quickly as possible.
Do you think you're taking into account his language and conceptual awareness? Againy 4.6 school aged dd, good language already reading etc etc still hasn't really grasped tomorrow or days of the week, or how long an hour is etc etc. so consequences, naughty step, reward charts may well be a bit beyond him.
And it's good he can do it at nursery - at least you know he can do it. It will get better, as you get more practised if nothing else!
Sounds like my ds who's going to be 3 next week. He's getting a bit better now but went through a really similar stage a few months back. VERY wearing. Sounds like you're doing the right things though, keep at it!
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