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Getting desperate - what discipline will work on 2.5yr old?

(22 Posts)
Chocwocdoodah Sun 24-Jul-16 08:24:23

Ok, I suspect most of you will say I just have to ride out the terrible twos but I desperately need ideas for disciplining DS that will actually work.

When he's on his own he can be lovely and calm and sweet - but the SECOND his sister (6) gets in from school he is a fiend and it is making life pretty miserable. He will jump on her, wrestle her, hit, destroy whatever game she is playing - and this is constant. You can tell when hes going to "strike" as he clenches his fists and jaw and runs around hyped up and shrieking like he's on something. When he hits her, he has a wicked grin on his face like he knows exactly what he's doing. Poor DD does absolutely nothing to encourage him - she is a really good girl.

No punishment works as he just doesn't care. We are definitely not soft touches with him - if a punishment is threatened, it is always followed through but he's just not bothered. An HV advised me to be consistent with him and he should get the mssg but he's been like this a good 6 months now and consistency is doing nothing. We have been putting him in his cot for time out as soon as he hurts her and he'll just sit there shouting for 20mins then come back down and do it again. I've tried taking favourite toys away - that doesn't work either.

It's got to the point where I dread weekends as we just spend the whole time shouting and telling him off. I've been so close to smacking him but I REALLY don't want to do that as we aren't smackers. And it's poor DD who really suffers as she can't do anything without him ruining it or hurting her. Fgs, she was sitting reading a book just now and he threw himself on the book and started trying to rip the pages out.

Please tell me you've got some suggestions.....pleeeaaaase......

NeedaDiscoNap Sun 24-Jul-16 08:26:33

I sympathise OP, that sounds very trying and exhausting.

Have you tried rewarding him for good behaviour?

FinallyHere Sun 24-Jul-16 08:34:45

He doesn't care about any punishment and he is fine until his bug sister comes home

He is looking for your attention, and would rather be bad and have you telling him off than be good, so your attention would go elsewhere. As PP said, have you tried rewarding his good behaviour?

popperdoodles Sun 24-Jul-16 08:38:18

He sounds like a handful but it all sounds very negative. He will get the message eventually when his cognition and impulse control develops. Are 2.5 it's quite hit and miss, he may look like he knows exactly what he is doing but typically he won't be able to see the world from another's point of view yet.
I would work with his lively temperament rather than against it. Make sure he gets plenty of outdoor physical play to burn off all that energy. Make sure he gets plenty of positive adult attention so he doesn't need to seek attention in less desirable ways. Sounds like he wants to play with his sister but doesn't really know how and probably they have little in common at the moment. Distraction really is the best tool with under 3s. A firm "no thank you, we don't do whatever" and move him on to something else. It is hardwork, I remember those days well! It will pass and consistent boundaries are worth it but he is so little still so it will take time.

Chocwocdoodah Sun 24-Jul-16 08:38:42

Yes, I try to make a massive fuss of him whenever he kisses, cuddles or is gentle with her. He has a reward chart but we've kept that mostly for toilet training - he's not that fussed about it to be honest. ...

Chocwocdoodah Sun 24-Jul-16 08:45:10

Hi Popper - yes they do play together really well sometimes. He loves it when DD makes up imaginary games to play and I love watching them together like this but it always eventually leads to him being horrid.

I find it hard to distract him - I have to pull him off of her and he will just keep running back to hit her when he's in one of those moods.

It's so unfair on DD. She got loads of craft toys for her bday but she can't sit and do them when he's around as he will just destroy them/throw them on the floor etc

popperdoodles Sun 24-Jul-16 08:45:56

I would suggest 2.5 is a little young for a sticker chart. Presuming he gets a bigger treat once it's all full up, it's going to be a tricky concept to fully understand. They have little understanding beyond the here and now at that age so rewards or consequences need to be instant.

popperdoodles Sun 24-Jul-16 08:48:50

I totally sympathise. I have all boys but similar age gaps and the frustration of a toddler smashing up your logo or ripping up drawings was really heartbreaking. It passes I promise, he will grow out of it.

sklooshy Sun 24-Jul-16 09:03:24

I could have wrote this, dd hitting 8 shortly though. I am a single parent so I constantly feel like I'm spit in two.

I've tried so many tactics and it just gets tiring. There are good days and God fucking awful ones unless I can morph into two people when ds is in a mood.

He's usually a sweet kid, but once he's fed up.... Look out! My XMIL walked in yesterday and took one look at him sitting on the couch and instantly said oh you've been giving your mother a hard time today! Apparently this is exactly what his father was like!

My dd was so easy going never had this before, sorry I'm not much help but your not on your own smile

thenewaveragebear1983 Sun 24-Jul-16 09:04:40

We had similar issues with ds and dd (much older) and jealousy/attention seeking. He still is at age 4, actively horrible to her at times. She, unlike your daughter, positively thrives on the 'trouble' and pushes buttons left right and centre. I am quietly dreading the holidays! We have been using a sort of jars/buttons system. Each child has 2 jars with those glass beads in. Start with the same number in each jar. We have a green dot and a red dot to differentiate. If they do something 'naughty' then move a button from green to red, or good move one from red to green. When they want to do something (tv, crafts, playing with friends) they can only do so if they have more beads in the green 'go' jar. This works for us because of the age difference, each child can start with a different number of beads according to age. If anyone gets all their beans into the green jar there will be a special reward (not happened yet!) In the early days you have to reward everything remotely good, it can be quite labour intensive, but it does sink in. I think 2.5 is about right for some kind of behaviour strategy, after all they would do so at nursery. I think jealousy is normal, but learning to control your reaction to jealousy takes maturity that some kids don't have.

Chocwocdoodah Sun 24-Jul-16 22:49:42

Thanks all for your support. Yes it is bloody tiring isn't it?? I hate that you have to be an amateur psychologist just to get a toddler to behave reasonably sometimes.

The sticker chart he has for toilet training - there's no big reward at the end as yes, he wouldn't understand that. He just likes stickers so he gets a wee or a poo sticker if he produces the goods on the loo. But as I say, though he likes getting the stickers, it hasn't seemed to motivate him to use the loo more.

newaverage I like the beads idea but as above, he wouldn't understand the concept of there being a reward at the end of it - but might just enjoy putting beads in a jar when he's good??

He thumped his sis this morning for no reason at all then laughed his head off as I carried him up to his cot.....boils my blood....

LardLizard Sun 24-Jul-16 22:55:46

Came on to post the same question, been doing time out in his cot and distracting etc
But it's happening everyday
Dh told dd she should hit him back
She's 9 he's almost 3

I don't think we should be going down that route but struggling to suggest much else

thenewaveragebear1983 Mon 25-Jul-16 07:05:17

You might be surprised; at 2.5 they understand more/less and definitely yes/no. Maybe a smiley face/sad face on each jar instead? You can start with just 3 beads on each jar for example, so after 3 good behaviours he experiences rewards. It helps in our family because dd (12 y) is so mortified if she has to tell her friends she can't play out because she doesn't have enough to beads! It also means she know she needs to do a few 'good deeds' so will tidy her room or help me to get the beads moved! Creep

jessplussomeonenew Tue 26-Jul-16 21:25:15

Some alternative suggestions here:

Believeitornot Tue 26-Jul-16 21:29:12

He's only 2.

You know when the flash points are. So anticipate them before they happen.

If he's acting up when his sister gets home, make sure you give him a lot of attention before she does.

Have a little routine for him and her during the day so they know what to expect.

He might need to have some toys out and you play with him while your dd does her crafts.

I just don't think you can leave him to it. Mine needed a lot of input at that age but they've got better as they get older.

strawberrybon Thu 28-Jul-16 16:22:54

Have you asked him why he hits her? Have you explained, simply, why he shouldn't do it? At 2.5 he will understand more than you imagine. Taking him to his cot simply isolates him and tells him he is bad, without him really understanding why - creating more of a disconnect between you and him, meaning he will act out more in this attention seeking way, because well, he wants your attention and you are doing the exact opposite.

2.5 is too young to understand consequences/punishment/reward. This part of the brain doesn't really develop until between 3-4 years. So anything around this idea simply interferes with your connection.

I would suggest focusing on things that strengthen that connection, spend more active time with him, explain things to him in simple terms and when DD is around you will just need to stop him from these behaviours and tell him why. There is not much else you can do. It will eventually pass... I know it's hard to think that far ahead but it will!

Good luck

pearlylum Thu 28-Jul-16 18:22:02

By discipline do you mean punishment?

It is possible to raise well behaved children without punishment. I have never punished.

craftyoldhen Thu 28-Jul-16 19:38:26

I have a 2.5 year old DS with an older sister. He isn't aggressive at all, but does have a habit of ruining her belongings.

DD uses a desk (big old fashioned one) to do craft or play with toys like lego. DS can't reach, so can't destroy anything.

She also has her bedroom, which is out of bounds for DS - she has even put an alarm on the door!

Mildred007 Thu 28-Jul-16 20:31:39

I have literally just come on here for some advice and seen your post when searching behaviour OP.
My 3yr old daughter has been very hard work (can't really say what age from but has been at least a year). I have 3dc - she is no 3 & by far the worst for tantrums. She can be the most loving, helpful, nice little girl but she can also be absolutely awful!! I thought her behaviour would improve once she was able to communicate better but she still has daily horrific outbursts. She hits, kicks, bites, throws things, destroys things in her temper - have never experienced this with her sisters. Am following your post for suggestions!
My sympathy to you OP, you are not alone.

Chocwocdoodah Thu 28-Jul-16 23:19:58

Thanks again all.

By discipline, I just mean I need a way of making him understand it's not nice to hit etc and stop him doing it again.

We have a good routine throughout the day so they both know what to expect.

I have asked him why he's hit his sister and I don't think he's at a level where he could articulate it. And i frequently tell him its not nice because it hurts.

There's so much conflicting advice - he understands more than I think he does/he doesn't understand right and wrong/time on his own is a suitable punishment/time on his own makes him feel abandoned etc...

I watched The Three Day Nanny the other night with the 2yr old and 3 yr old brothers hoping for advice but much of what she advised just wouldn't work on my DS. Like the whole "stop hitting or I will take you to your room - you choose" - my DS would "choose" to do something else entirely! And the stuff about using a firm voice seemed so obvious. However, the reward system she suggested with the wheels on the trucks seemed to work well and I was surprised to see that the 2 yr old understood the concept of collecting wheels for good behaviour throughout the day and then being allowed to stick them on the trucks at bedtime (similar to what you were suggesting Thenewaveragebear
I feel your pain Mildred

Believeitornot Fri 29-Jul-16 06:59:34

I would just keep reinforcing it immediately after the event. A straight forward firm "no hitting" then move him away from you and his sister.
He is young and impulsive. He won't be able to explain it properly and by the time you've got to asking him, all he knows is he's getting your attention.

Chocwocdoodah Sat 30-Jul-16 00:32:28

Yesterday he hit me and instead of shouting, I just said "we don't hit" and put him straight in his cot for 5 mins. I didn't shout or get worked up - I was v calm. When I went to get him I repeated " we don't hit" - he said sorry, we had a cuddle, then we chose some toys to play with and went downstairs. He was excellent the rest of the day.

I know it's probably a complete one off but dealing with him calmly seemed to have a better effect than well, losing my shit which is what I normally do 😶. So those of you so have talked about attention seeking could well be right - he loves the attention when I get all cross and shouty, maybe?

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