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"Disciplining" a 2 yo. WWYD?

(7 Posts)
attethersend Fri 03-Jun-11 21:42:46

DS1 has just turned 2 and has started being really badly behaved at mealtimes and bedtime so that the whole evening has become a complete battleground. It is driving me round the bend and I am becoming increasingly irritable with him and find myself shouting more and more often.

He refuses to sit at the table, refuses to eat his dinner, demands other things to eat and then won't eat them either, decides he wants to sit on other chairs/ on DH's knee..etc. etc. Any attempt to get him just to stay sitting at the table and eat something is greeted with screaming temper tantrums. We have had to put the straps back onto his highchair and strap him in to stop him from running off, but he then claims to need to toilet or some other excuse that he knows we won't ignore, and then once he is down won't let us put him back at the table. I am at my wits' end trying to get him to eat a decent meal. We have tried just letting him not eat if he claims not to be hungry, but then he invariably comes back just after I've cleared the table and starts complaining he's wants his dinner, or biscuits, or something else. Or else he gets us up at 4am demanding toast.

He's also doing the same sort of thing about going to bed. Goes into his cot and then after about 5 minutes starts screaming, banging, throwing all the bedding out, kicking the sides, etc. Because of this he repeatedly wakes his little brother who then howls, becomes completely hysterically overtired and won't got o bed either. This week I don't think we've managed to have them both in bed before 9.30.

We've tried reasoning, pleading, ignoring, threatening removal of toys etc., nothing seems to work. If he doesn't stop it soon I'm worried I'm going to lose my temper completely and slap his bottom for him.

milkysmum Fri 03-Jun-11 21:57:39

Not sure what the answer is just wanted to say I am going through a similiar time with my dd who is just a little over 2. DH thinks I'm too soft and she should be disciplined but I'm not so sure which does cause friction between us at times. Hope someone who has been through this and come out the other end unscathed will be along soon for some wise advice!

StickyFloor Fri 03-Jun-11 22:08:06

Generally reading your post the issues seems to be - you need to stick to your guns more to get things sorted.

So, if he doesn't want to sit and eat or won't eat what is in front of him then that is it. You explain there is no alternative, and there will be nothing later. This means hard work following it through admittedly, but the point is that he starts to understand that when you say something you really mean it.

Likewise, you don't plead or threaten, you give one warning and then punish. no questions, no deviation.

My final suggestion is you go BIG on the praising and rewarding the good things, even if you are virtually making up good things to reward and praise him for - just to try and emphasise the difference to him when he is good vs when he is bad.

I totally sympathise with how hard this is, and my God the kids can really test you big time, but if you can stay firm then it works. Well, it did in our house anyway! Good luck.

DorisIsAPinkDragon Fri 03-Jun-11 22:20:49

Was going to say much the same as sticky flour.

Be firm stick to your guns.

We have a family meal if they (dd's 5. 3 and 1 (2 on mon!) do not eat tea there is no dessert, there is nothing else. If they wake overnight demanding more food they would be told off (dd3 has in the past when she really was too young been given a bread stick and some water but nothing more). She would not have passed out from 1 missed meal.

With the cot thing I presume he can't get out, stay firm if he wakes his brother, take his brother out give him some fuss and ignore the tantrum. You can replace the bedding once he is asleep.

We also have a naughty chair (I know it isn't polictically correct but it works for us) dd3 has been at our feet (on the floor, with our legs keeping her there, when she refuses to sit) now she knows the behaviour is not acceptable in our family and sits on the chair (she quite often pulls faces as well if she thinks she can get a laugh).

When I read this back it sounds like we are incredibly strict but that's not the case we praise loads, and also have loads of fun with the dd's knowing where the boundaries are ( and the routine of mealtime or bedtime).

It is hard at the start but consistancy is the key.

iheartglee Fri 03-Jun-11 22:53:43

I have been fortunate so far in that my daughter is pretty well behaved at mealtimes and bedtimes. Mealtimes can be annoying as she won't sit still, wriggles out of her highchair and prefers to graze at her dinner (coming back and forth for bits at a time) rather than sitting with me and eating together. I know she CAN sit properly as she is an angel at other people's houses, but I find not making a big deal out of it and shifting dinner time to half an hour to an hour later helps when she is really ravenous. I'm not sure if this would work for everybody as I am a single parent of one and only have to cook two meals but its something to consider. Other than that just try to be repetitive and keep plonking your son back in front of his dinner and make it very clear that there is nothing else.

Tgger Fri 03-Jun-11 23:03:19

Ah....terrible twos.......good fun eh!

I think you have to decide what approach to take and then be consistent. They are horrors at this age with pushing the boundaries but then will settle down quite well (on a good day) with boundaries in place.

Can you give choice? Sit on a big chair and eat your dinner or go in the highchair. Of course not compulsory to eat (I leave this up to the DC) but is compulsory to sit.

TBH I am a lot softer on "eating a decent meal". A lot of toddlers this age are snackers. Their tummies still aren't that big and they have so much else going on that eating at the correct times is not such a biggie to them.

I tend to think that if they eat one or two on a good day, decent meals a day you are doing well. DD (2.5) at the moment eats a good breakfast and the rest is up for grabs. If you wrote down what she ate during a whole day or week though it would be fairly balanced.

Bedtime is another ball game, but similar thing. Did you have a good routine that has gone wrong? We have such a firm routine that when my Mum did it DS corrected her on all the details smile. What do you do when he kicks off at bedtime?

Be careful with how much attention you give all this two year old behaviour. They thrive on it you know!!

attethersend Sat 04-Jun-11 08:10:21

We have the sit properly on a big chair or go in the high chair rule in place, though unfortunately we have had to take the front bar off his high chair because he was climbing into/out of it over the top of the bar which was too dangerous, so the only way to make him stay in it is to strap him in. I guess we will just have to persist. To be honest it is more the getting up and down from the table/climbing on the rest of us that I want to conquer than the eating, since this makes mealtimes miserable for the rest of us. If he's not hungry, he's not hungry and often it's worse on days when he's been in nursery and hence had a main meal in the middle of the day (he ALWAYS eats at nursery, even vegetables!). However, he does have a tendency to come back and start agitating for other things later.

As far as bedtime is concerned, he has always been a bad sleeper since about 6m and inclined to refuse to go to bed and to wake for long periods in the night, in spite of us having a clear routine and sticking to it. However, recently he had been a lot better. It's almost as though someone told him that he was expected to start playing up the minute he turned 2. Our routine is bath, a few books, bed. Then if he won't go to sleep we leave him as long as we dare before he disturbs DS2 and go back in, lie him down again, and go out. On a bad day we'll be doing this for 45 minutes to an hour.

I suspect some of this is related to the arrival of DS2 and the fact that a lot of my attention is taken up with him. Doesn't help me know what to do about it, though!

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