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Cant cope with dd (2yrs9months) behaviour

(16 Posts)
Cannotthinkofaname Mon 13-Jun-11 17:30:18

My daughter who is 3in September behavior has gotten worse over the past few months and we (dp and I) are finding it hard how to cope with her now sad.

She is always having tantrums (I know 2year old do have tantrums but she seems to be having more then other children that we know have/had at her age) , wont listen eg if we going for a walk she will run off and she will not listen to dp and I when we tell her to stop doing things, We have had to put her on reins for her safety, she used to be able to walk beside us. (we do not mind her being on the reins as we know she is safe etc).

The other problems are she won't eat her her meals, we cook for her every meal time food that she likes and sometimes asks for. She will eat 4-5 forkfuls then say "I dont like it", even though she liked it the last time she had it. We usually get stressed as she seems to not eat enough, she has not grown the last few months and she is still in 12-18month clothes. At her 2year review (before all the problems started) the HV was not concerned about the weight as she she is and always has been in proportion and on the small side.

She has also started to hit/smack and bite me and when I tell her no she does it even more and laugh. When I tell her "no" more firmly she starts to laugh even more. So I would put her on time out and she will really really scream.

She will also throw things around the house, st the tv, the windows etc, If we tell her "no" she will shout at us.

For example today we were sat having lunch and dd decided that she never liked hers, so dp told her she will have nothing else to eat afterwards if she does not eat some more, we don't expect her to eat all of it but at least 1/4-1/2 of her meal. She said "no me not like it" so instead of having another tantrum over the dinner table we left her to it and finished eating ours, every now and then we kept saying "d will you try a little bit more" dd kept replying "NO" getting louder each time (we asked her 2-3times). We left it and said "ok no desert as you never ate enough potato (it was jacket potato)" DD decided to throw herself off her chair onto the floor under the table and headbutt the floor as she was not allowed a yoghurt (she wanted a yoghurt). We asked her 3times to come from under the table as we could not get under to get her and we scared incase she hurt herself (first time she has headbutted the floor), she would not come out so I said "if you don't come out from under the table you will go on time-out" dd started screaming "NO NO NO TIMEOUT, HURTING ME" (I will say we were no where near her and definitely not touching her to hurt her). Dp finally got her out from under the table after 30mins and tried to put her on time-out. (time-out used to work) It took over 30mins of her screaming and getting off timeout for her to do her time-out, She was still very upset afterwards so instead of us giving her the cuddle afterwards she smacked dp then ran and smacked the dog, then she tried to throw her toy kitchen around the room. I stopped her and made her sit on the sofa until I could calm down myself as I was really angry and upset with how my little girl has turned out, I am also not very well at the moment. By the time I went back to dd (15mins) she had calmed down and she wanted cuddles which I ended up giving. That was at 4pm now she is back to being Happy.

We have tried time-out, shouting, ignoring all of the bad behavior but it is not helping, we do not know what we can do anymore.

Can anyone help?

Masalamama Mon 13-Jun-11 17:50:30

Hi there, oh dear. You poor thing. We have a pretty hideously behaved DD toddler too and found Dr Christopher Green's Toddler Taming book very interesting and useful. Sounds to me like she is very smart and she knows she is winding you up. The thing to remember is that you are the boss and if she realises that she can wind you up, she will only do more of it.

Next time she refuses to eat, see if saying okay and leaving the room works. If she shouts "yoghurt" at least you won't hear it (or can pretend so). Also, are you still managing to do fun things together or is she just driving you insane? If you start having fun again you can introduce a reward chart and encourage the good/discourage the bad.

Good luck.

Gastonladybird Mon 13-Jun-11 17:58:18

Toddler tamer also worked here as did a reward chart(time out has no effect). Dd a couple of months older but I do recognise most of what you say.

Also the food thing is best ignored as she tends to get too hungry to argue after a while.

Cannotthinkofaname Mon 13-Jun-11 19:56:13

Thanks for the replies.

Masalamama DP and I have spoke this afternoon, whilst dd was watching her Dora DVD and we have thought that she knows she is winding us up alot and she does it more. We are trying to be more strict as when she first started the behavior it was a shock so we "let" her off with a lot thinking she will grow out of it, We also thought as she had been through a lot (me in hospital or in pain a lot of the times) we could not tell her off. How wrong were we then.

We tried your advice on leaving the room, we did it at dinner time and she actually it much more then when we stay in the room saying "eat some more its yummy"

The only time we do fun things is when her nanny is with us (my MIL). I dont know why but dd is like a different child when we are with MIL. When dd misbehaves when MIL is with us all my MIL has to do is say "xxxxxxxx stop doing that" and dd stops doing it first time sad why cant she be like that with us her parents.

I will start to have some fun with dd but as her behavior is taking all the day up it is hard to push everything else in. We have told dd that we might be going to the park with the dog and a ball tomorrow and we will have an ice-cream (we said might as the weather might not allow it).

I am going have a look for the book if we get into town this week.

Gastonladybird Mon 13-Jun-11 20:02:53

Her acting different with nanny and you rings a bell. Dd has a whole different set of things (good and bad) she does with our nanny. The only thing is to be consistent between you on what you are acting on and how.

Rosebud05 Mon 13-Jun-11 20:09:41

You mention that you're not very well at the moment - this is very difficult with a young child, and I wonder if you feeling ropey/being in pain etc is contributing to her behaviour.

The situation that you described around dinner sounds awful for all of you. I would agree with the 'okay, it's up to you' approach and not using desert/yoghurt as a reward to be withheld as this is setting up a confrontation. Young children just don't get the logic of eating a decent meal so that they don't get hungry later, so it's not really helpful to have this as an expectation. Would it really matter if she ate some of her potato or whatever else a couple of hours later?

My dd is older, but there's absolutely no way I would or have ever said that we might be going to the park or might have an ice cream tomorrow - I understand the need to promise her (and yourself!) some fun but this is setting up another confrontation. I also avoid saying 'no', 'stop', 'don't' as much as possible as feeling out of control really distresses her.

In addition to Christopher Green's book (which I didn't like but know lots of people who do), try 'How to talk to your kids so that they will listen and listen to your kids so that they will talk' by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Although it's aimed at children older than your dd, I found it very effective from 2 onwards and it avoids punishment based strategies like time outs which don't work for some kids or work for a bit then become counter productive.

Finally, is she coming down with something?

Hope that you feel better soon and that you have a better day tomorrow.

monkeysmama Mon 13-Jun-11 20:21:54

The book Rosebud suggested is brilliant. You can get it on Amazon.

mummy22gorgeousboys Mon 13-Jun-11 20:40:21

I'm another Dr Green Toddler Tamer fan!

Really good read and what I can say is that I think most parents - certainly me - have been there, done that and experienced what you are experiencing. It is completely normal in the respect that most parents have tough times and it's a learning curve for both you and your little girl.

It can be incredibly frustrating at times with a young one, and I certainly had times when I didn't know what to do for the best for us and our Son. And it's difficult trying to decide what is the best way to handle a raving little boy. I really found the book very helpful in lots of ways and it makes you realise that most parents go through what you are going through at the moment.

Good luck and try not to stress too much about bad behaviour, every mum goes through it.

And like Rosebud says, hope you have a better day tomorrow.

Cannotthinkofaname Mon 13-Jun-11 23:00:01

Rosebud05: I have been unwell for 16months now so it good be a reason why dd is acting up as she is becoming more aware of me being poorly and having to be in hospital.

It wouldn't matter if she ate any of her meals later as long as she eats I am not to bothered about if it is at meal times or an hour after. We have tried letting her eat her meals a bit later incase she was not hungry but she wont entertain the idea of the food back.

I don't think she is coming down with something as she has been this way for a few months but she is getting worse this weekend and today (I have also been really unwell this weekend and had to go to hospital this morning)

I have also been on the phone to my Hv this afternoon as I am finding it really hard to cope with dd and thought she could help sad So someone from the HV team is coming out on friday to speak to us.

I felt like the worst mum in the world when I could not handle dd behavior and now I know other mums have been through I feel normal.

Hopefully tomorrow is a much better day.

Rosebud05 Mon 13-Jun-11 23:46:40

How difficult for you all. The extent of your illness and admissions into hospital do throw some light on her behaviour. I had to have an operation last year and was out of action for a bit and sometimes stay away overnight for work and my dd doesn't cope well with it. It upsets her to the core - it's not just that she has a bad day.

Is your dd at nursery at all? This stability helps my dd (although she complains about it) and it does our relationship good to have a break from each other, tbh.

I hope that the health visitor is helpful. If not, I would honestly consider the GP and information about what type of specialist help eg therapy might be available as a family member being ill is incredibly stressful for everyone involved.

You're not a bad mum - most of us feel blown away by our kid's behaviour on a quite regular basis, and that's not even with being ill/

Off to bed with you and get some kip.

sims2fan Tue 14-Jun-11 01:08:30

From an outsider's point of you, from what you have said it really sounds like you worked her up into having a tantrum. Not your intention, and not your fault, but I think you need to step back and try to see things in a more objective way.

First of all - she wasn't eating her dinner. She's eaten it before so you know she likes it, so I agree you shouldn't have given her anything else, but why did you keep asking her to eat more? You said that every time you asked her to eat she got louder in her protests. So you drawing attention to it was gradually winding her up. If you had ignored the lack of eating she wouldn't have been stressed, you wouldn't have worried that she was heading for a tantrum, the atmosphere would have been calmer and she might have actually eaten some more.

Then, you didn't want her to have a yoghurt. I understand why not, but you telling her there was a yoghurt that she could have had obviously angered and frustrated her. Much better to just say, "Ok, dinner time is over, let's go and play." Then she wouldn't even have known about the yoghurt so couldn't have got upset about it.

When she went under the table, why didn't you just leave her there to calm down? You going on at her to come out would have just encouraged her to stay there. If you'd walked away, or started talking to her dad, or got a toy out that you must just show Daddy straight away because it's so exciting then she probably would have cone out a lot faster than the 30 minutes it took you while coaxing her.

And the time out wasn't really necessary I don't think. What was it for? For not eating her dinner? For going under the table? For being cross and frustrated? I am very strict and hot on behaviour, but i dont think she had done anything particularly bad. Not eating her dinner and going under a table didnt hurt you, apart from emotionally, so best to ignore. Threatening a time out when she's in a bad temper is only going to make her more bad tempered. Instead of forcing her out and forcing her into a time out I would have just left her there until she decided to come out. The same things would have been accomplished - she still wouldn't have been given anything else to eat and she would have still calmed down eventually, but she probably wouldn't have hit her dad or the dog and the whole situation would have been over with a lot quicker.

So really, from what you have said, and it is difficult to get a full understanding without knowing you all, it seems to me that you could maybe try thinking about how you react to her behaviour and if you are saying anything to wind her up into full tantrum rage! Before you say 'do this/don't do that' think to yourself 'does it really matter if this carries on?' and at times such as when she is crying under a table remember that actually it doesn't matter, and she will soon learn if you ignore it that she doesn't get attention by doing it and will come out.

Tgger Tue 14-Jun-11 21:52:55

Tricky these 2 and 3 year olds. Yeah, the toddler taming book is good for first child, it's when you realise that the horrific behaviour your DD/DS is inflicting upon you is NORMAL.

I would take it all in your stride a bit more and decide what your priorities are re the behaviour. Actually I would chill out about meal times. This is typical toddler tantrum time. Just offer her the food and if she doesn't eat it then that's it. Try to detach yourself a bit and if her weight is fine for her size then I'm sure it is fine, they don't starve themselves you know.

It sounds like you've got into a bit of a bad patch. Maybe plan some fun stuff to do, and do it. Take the behaviour in your stride- if it happens during it, but don't let it stop you from having fun. Somehow if there is lots of fun as well as the odd tantrum it balances it out and the tantrums don't take over.

Cannotthinkofaname Tue 14-Jun-11 22:32:36

Rosebud05 dd is not at nursery. She might be starting in January (she just missed september) or nexy september depending on numbers in her nursery. I would like her to go to nursery but as my dp had to quit working to look after me we just can not afford it at the moment.

I am really hoping the health visitor has something that can help as dd decided to jump on my fingers tonight whilst I was spending some time together doing a jigsaw with her, she put my hand flat on the floor then jumped on it shock it hurt so I said ow then she laughed then cried sad . I left her for 10 minutes. then I went to talk to her.

Meal times today was so much better. MIL was here today whilst DP was out food shopping.

Renaissancewoman Tue 14-Jun-11 22:46:22

You are not alone. Your child is doing what loads of other kids do, try not to worry. And your illness could be unsettling for her and she is unable to express this so plays up to get your attention, its what kids do.

I agree with all the comments about chilling out above. My Top tips would be to avoid conditional statements eg no pudding because you didn't do X, young kids can often find these frustrating as they do not see the point/connection and avoid conflict generally because it just sets up a pattern of having a crap time. If she doesn't eat just say OK we'll save it for later. Don't drag out the mealtime making a drama out of it this is just setting up bad behaviour habits and will make her dislike mealtimes and so habitually play up. Try and approach things really differently, let her plan a meal, stir the sauce or whatever, try and get her excited about the buying of an ingredient or cooking.
If it all goes wrong and you do have a tantrum, distraction works wonders, go out or do something different or surprising. The first stage is to get out of the pattern of the tantrums by taking a different approach and from there just give masses of praise when she does something right and create new positive memories/experiences eg say she stirs scrambled egg then eats it, afterwards go on about what fun it was to really create a strong memory that that was good, hopefully she will remember and you've notched up a positive memory/experience with a particular dish, ask her to name the dish and then talk about it next time eg Do you remember Sophie's special sausage/Peter's pink Prawns, Tommy's Tasty Toast.
Praise is so effective. I think this is hard to do as we have expectations of what is normal/acceptable and don't praise when it happens as it's just what we expect but its all too easy to punish or criticise when behaviour falls below the mark. Kids love love love being praised.

She also sounds like she needs some space to have a bit of freedom, is there a safe place you could go where she can just run without you worrying about her safety, then let her know she can run a lot in that place but not at the side of the road etc because that's different...

I hope it starts to improve for you. You need to get some strategies in place to cope with it because it doesn't necessarily go away, I found the How to Talk book pretty helpful and dig it out every 6 months or so to remind myself of what it says.. My DD is 8 and I'm still thinking about the best way to deal with her when she has one of her episodes of challenging behaviour, it doesn't go away, we always go through spells periodically of falling into negative spirals, but if I'm completely honest she responds a lot to me, if I'm happy and chilled she is and ditto stressed, irritable, or creating conflict.

Rosebud05 Tue 14-Jun-11 23:19:34

cannot, I hope this doesn't offend you but re-reading your posts, your dd sounds angry with you. I found it difficult talking to my dd when I was ill about being in hospital and how that made her feel as I wanted to forget all about it and sort of hope that she didn't really notice, but it did help her when I let her talk about how it felt for her.

I'm glad today was better and hope that the hv is helpful.

Cannotthinkofaname Sat 18-Jun-11 09:54:56

Just thought I would give you an update after the health visitor had visited us.

It was a nurse that works with our HV that actually came out as the HV was off sick yesterday.

The nurse said it seems like dd is a very bright and very bored little girl. So what we have to do is stop timeout as it is noneffective anymore and we need to just ignore the petty behavior and only intervene if it is dangerous, for that we need to find other ways to "tell her off" without saying, "NO, Don't do that etc"

We also try to allow MIL to have dd more often (it was the first time last week that MIL had dd since she was a baby) so DP and I can have some time alone, Then once a week DP has to take dd and I to sure-start (I cant go myself DP would have to take us and pick us up as I cant see the roads properly), then another time in the week DP has to take dd to sure-start himself. Then another time all of us do something such as the park, soft play, or even baking with dd. We can also introduce a star chart and see if that helps.

Yesterday we took dd to a new park that has just been built and we spent nearly 2hours there as she was really loving the bit of freedom and running about. As I was not well enough to join in I sat down and DP ran about and played with dd and she really really loved it, When we came home dd was very nice and full of kisses and cuddles (which she never usually does) she also slept all night so this morning we are all refreshed and ready for the day.

Once again thank you for all of your advice.

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