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Advice on how to discipline a stubborn toddler

(12 Posts)
Lottystar Tue 04-Feb-14 16:44:21

I've just comeback from an utterly cringeworthy situation and I'd really appreciate some advices from those who've been through the toddler meltdowns and behavioural issues or those also going through it. Sorry if it gets a bit long ...

My ds is 3 in March. He is genuinely a bright, warm and pleasant little boy 90% of the time and I love him incredibly. However, over the last few months he has really started to push boundaries. Today we'd been invited to a small birthday tea for a 1 year old. I took my ds1 and ds2 (21 months). My ds 1 decided to dominate all of the cars, push away any other children who were interested and then when chastised he screamed at the top of his voice for what seemed like forever. He was acting like a bully and many of the other children were younger which made things really hard. He was also being aggressive and tried to hit once or twice. I tried to distract him with other toys and explained he must share before telling him off but he was screaming and uncontrollable. It got to a point where I decided to take him home as I didn't want the party ruined. We live in a small military community and wherever we go we see the same group of Mums and children. I could feel all of their judgemental, pitying eyes on me as I tried to wrestle my ds1's coat on. I made him apologise to any children he'd pushed or shouted at and the general group before we left. My poor ds2 also had to leave, which I felt bad about as he was as good as gold. Did I act in the right way? I feel very sad as ds1 can be such a good boy that I don't want him excluded from parties / group play dates due to his behaviour. He let himself down. I have tried the naughty step, explaining until I'm blue in the face, taking toys away etc - what else can I do to get him to stop misbehaving in a group situation? He just wants to dominate toys and gets aggressive.

bakingtins Tue 04-Feb-14 16:52:54

I think you did the right thing. I'm sure it's just a phase. You need to explain before the next occasion what the consequences will be if he misbehaves, give one warning, then follow through. Any of the mums who have dealt with toddlers will be looking with sympathy, not judgement. Any who have yet to deal with a public meltdown will get their come-uppance at some point. He'll grow out of it.

murphy36 Tue 04-Feb-14 22:25:02

My mum would tell us off and threaten to pull our pants down and smack our bums.

It was never the smack we feared it was the public humiliation. There must be an equivalent now which doesn't involve threatening violence.

Mummyjetsetter Tue 04-Feb-14 23:26:07

If it's people you know could you leave the youngest so it's not like he's punished too then just pick him up a bit later. That would also send a message to your 3 yo. It will just be a phase it will pass quicker if you can set an example. X

Lottystar Wed 05-Feb-14 08:15:17

Thanks for your responses, I would have left the younger one had someone offered but the stoney silence of the other Mums put me off. I'm not good at asking others for help with my children anyway and most of them I didn't know well enough to trust. We move a lot in military life and you very, very occasionally make what I would call as good friends, mostly it's largely a series of acquaintances. Today, having slept on it, I just feel sad for my little boy as he clearly has to learn how to behave in these more social situations with children of varying ages but yesterday he just let himself down. He is still under 3 and I have to remember that too. It's so hard to get the balance right. I'm just going to have to give one warning and nip things in the bud if he doesn't behave. I have a feeling we will leave a lot of places early!

Longdistance Wed 05-Feb-14 08:24:37

Both my dd's were like this. In fact dd2 who's 2.7 still is as stubborn as a mule don't know where she gets that from?

We were at a music class, and dd2 kicked off. I had to take her home along with dd1 for running around and screaming, and basically spoiling it for everyone else.

You did the right thing. Game over!

Lottystar Wed 05-Feb-14 13:12:59

Thanks Longdistance, reassuring to know I'm not alone. It always seems to be my little boy! We discipline him and I do not take misbehaving lightly at all but it feels like an uphill battle. This morning we went to a play group, which after yesterday I was dreading but thought I needed to just carry on and go especially for my younger ds. My older ds was good all morning until the last few minutes when I was popping his brother in the buggy. He ran off and before I could get to him he pushed over 3 kids who we're running around the hall. I felt like all the talking we'd done beforehand had just gone through one ear and out the other. I was so angry. He then proceeded to scream around Sainsburys - utter fun. He's come home, had a big chat (again) and had more toys taken away until he can learn to listen to Mummy and behave. His current behaviour is soon going to mean no invitations from the social group we've met here at our latest posting (we've recently moved here as military) and me just not having the energy to manage him in public play groups whilst pregnant and also looking after his little brother hmm Anyone use any other strategies effectively? Naughty step doesn't seem to make a difference.

ateddybearfromdelaware1 Wed 05-Feb-14 13:17:00

I think you handled it well. Here's a good link:

magichamster Wed 05-Feb-14 13:25:00

You did absolutely the right thing.

I'm no expert, but have been through that stage and the only advice I would give is make sure you're consistent - if it's wrong today, it's not right tomorrow just because something else comes up. Your ds2 may get left out for a bit, but it shouldn't take to long.

The second thing is if you're going to punish, make sure it's something straight away, because at not-quite-three, he will have forgotten all about it, and it won't have as much impact.

It does get better!!

neolara Wed 05-Feb-14 13:28:54

Have you read 1 2 3 Magic? I think it's a great approach. The kids know exactly where they are and what is expected of them.

I wouldn't try to talk to him too much about bad behaviour. He probably won't understand long explanations and he also probably won't care. Most 3 year olds are thoroughly egocentric. I would stick to a "We don't hit. It hurts" said in a very firm voice, followed by immediate consequences.

Lots of 3 year olds go nuts for a while. They eventually calm down if they are given firm boundaries and clear consequences. A lot of the judgy faces may find themselves in the same boat in a year's time.

MiaowTheCat Thu 06-Feb-14 08:10:10

Sympathies - I'm getting it at the moment and DD1 isn't even quite two yet... it's really pleasant getting the judgey bum faces off other parents of slightly younger/similar age kids who haven't hit that phase yet (I left a toddler group and cried in the car yesterday)... I just keep hoping if she enters the phase early she'll get out of it early too and then I can stand back and watch while the judgers have to deal with it with their own kids! (Not that I'd be as nasty as they were to me anyway!)

Lottystar Thu 06-Feb-14 11:34:00

I'll definitely look at those links ladies, thank you very much. I know other toddlers go through these stages but at the moment it feels like only me - reassuring it's not although I utterly utterly sympathise with you Miaowthecat! I was nearly in tears in Sainsburys yesterday, my pregnancy hormones aren't helping either. An old lady decided to helpfully say to my ds1 "there's always one". Grrr!

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