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Sorry long! Dont know what to do with my 2-year-old [sad]

(22 Posts)
timsmama Thu 20-Aug-09 20:27:31

I dont know what to do with my nearly 2.5 year old son anymore. I am so stressed I have broken down crying in front of my GP this week and just dont know what to do to make the situation better.

ds1 always been a "spitited" child, strong willed and always told or showed us very clearly what he likes or doesnt like. But at the moment EVERYTHING is a reason for a tantrum. OK, just the tantrums I might be able to just deal with...

but what's much worse is his behaviour with other children and now also his little brother (nearly 9 months). With other children he seems to sense who is weaker or shy (doesnt matter of younger, older whatever)and it doesnt really matter in which situation...he'll go up to them and push them really hard. There have been some situations where the other child could have really got hurt. I have started to stop meeting with other mums, going to the playground, toddler groups etc as it stresses me out so much. Not helped by the fact that other parents clearly show me what they think of ds' behaviour.

up until recently at least days spend just with my two boys were reasonable stressfree and enjoyable.But some weeks ago now ds1 started to be quite violent towards ds2. For no apparent reason he'll go up to him, hit him, push him over or dribe into him with his Little Tikes car |shock. Nothing seems to make him stop, if he is sent to his room, he just plays up there; if he is told off, he'll go back and hit him harder; if we leave the playground because of his pushing, he' cry for 10 seconds and then doesnt care...

I can totally understand why ds1 is feeling frustrated and unhappy at times at the moment. There have been a lot of changes in our lives these past 9 months. we moved from the UK to Germany last November. just 4 weeks later ds2 was born. then his daddy started a new job with which he is away during the week. he misses him so much! And of course he misses my full attention. ds2 screamed for the first 5 months and until recently had such bad stranger anxiety that no-one aprt from mummy and daddy was allowed to even look at him. thus, not an easy baby and ds1 did have to learn to entertain himself quite a bit. especially with me being alone with them during the week.

Right, so I can understand why is unhappy, but that doesnt mean I have to accept this behaviour, right?! But what can I do? I am seriously at the end of my tether. he is such a loveable little boy who gives lots of kisses and cuddles, loves company etc, but at the moment he really isnt very likeable at all sad

I am starting to feel so lonely. having just moved here I was finding it hard enough to meet other mums. But with ds' behaviour getting worse and worse, and with my nerves disappearing fast, I just dint have the stregnth anymore to meet up with anyone anymore. I spend my days with just my two boys, and then the evenings alone...

Until recently I would have described myself as a confident, calm, patient and stress-resistent. But at the moment I am nothing of the above and cant even say I enjoy being a mum at the moment sad

Please, there must be ways of teaching ds1 not to hurt others and let out his frustration and sadness in other ways?!

Sorry for such a long post, but I really hope some of you have some good ideas for a very desperate mum!

MrsHappy Thu 20-Aug-09 20:39:31

Poor you - I imagine that things like this seem even worse when you have just moved etc.

You are right that understanding your son's behaviour is not the same as permitting it. I do honestly think it is a (pretty normal) phase, but clearly you can't let him hurt other children.

A few of the parents I know deal with this sort of thing by ignoring their child when he behaves badly. So a child who hits in the playground is told firmly to stop and that if he does it again he will go into his buggy. If he does it again he is immediately strapped into the buggy (with no debate or further talk) and the mother carries on playing with the other child while ignoring the one who has done wrong until he calms down. When he does he says sorry and gets a big kiss and cuddle. It's a sort of enforced time out, but with none of the amusement factor of being in his room with his toys or getting to go home (which might be what he is after!).

It might be worth a try? Just a suggestion, so do ignore if you want!

cyphercat Thu 20-Aug-09 20:55:56

oh.. I feel very bad for you. I second the time out. When he does something bad, I would give warning that wherever you are, he would sit somewhere by himself (kind of like makeshift naughty step). If he's in the middle of bad behaviour, I would warn him by counting to 5, or 3 whichever is more comfortable and if he doesn't stop, he would have to have a timeout place in the house..?? Definitely works with my 2 year old DD and she's quite willful but combination of counting and naughty step seems to be really working. And outside of the house, I just make up any place for naughty step and improvise. And also praise him LOTS if he interacts well in any way with his brother or other toddlers. I hope it helps.

I would go out when you can because you need to be socializing for your sanity and he would learn socializing that way. If you and he doesn't go out, there will be no learning opportunities.

Big hug and I hope it will slowly get better! He sounds lovely by the way.

timsmama Thu 20-Aug-09 21:10:43

Hey! Thanks for your replies! Yes, time-out would be a good idea, and a place from where he can see us play! In the house his room was the only place where he couldnt escape. And having a baby as well, i didnt have time or patience to constantly keep putting him back on his naughty step. But maybe I can put up the travek cot in the living room for his time out spot.

outside, the pushchair is a good idea! I will try that.
I never knew being a mum would be this hard! Too right about needing socialising for my sanity!
Thanks again for your suggestions! smile

TheMysticMasseuse Thu 20-Aug-09 21:27:17

oh poor poor you. i can sympathise and relate to a lot of what you say... my dd is also a difficult (for want of a better word) child and she's gone through all the phases you've described including the random hitting of her baby sister (which i dealt with by giving exxaggerated cuddles to dd2 in response- so exactly the opposite of what i think dd1 wanted, ie attention on herself).

she's now a bit older (3.5) so i have a bit of a hindsight advantage wrt you and in my dd's case a lot of it was down to the fact that she just didn't have the language to deal with her frustration and stress. we speak 3 languages at home and her speech development was correspondingly a bit delayed. so when dealing with a difficult situation (eg other children, or having to manage her jealousy towards her sister) she just had a meltdown.

to me this was a bit of an epiphany and i gradually started trying to give her the language- ie "i understand it's hard and you would like to play with mummy now and that makes you a bit upset but that's ok, you can say you are upset you don't have to cry". or "if you don't want to share your favourite toy with your friend you can say please don't take it i will give you something else" etc etc

she's now much better- still prone to tantrums, but she can now say WHY she has them, so we can reason about it and she can rationalise and externalise through words.

i wonder whether the fact that you've moved to germany could have caused a similar "language breakpoint" for your son?

good luck- i am sure things will get better, it's just a matter of time...

ps and as far as i know parents on the continent are MUCH more laid back than british ones when it comes to children's behaviour so try not to worry too much about what others think!

rempy Thu 20-Aug-09 21:41:09

Mystic has just basically given you a "how to talk so children listen" tip. I never ever thought I would recommend a parenting book (being in the "burn all the books they are evil" crowd) but HTT is a very good source of techniques, if you can get past the american-ness of it. A lot of it is about equipping children with the language that they need to express negative emotions. It also gives you tips, so instead of being emotional and expecting your child to pick up on the tone, it suggests saying "when you hurt x it makes mummy upset" or that sort of thing.

I have a 2.5 and 1 year old, and we have a lot of snatching, and a bit of pushing.

I think this age really need to know what is coming, so I am saying a lot of "if you don't go to the bathroom now I am going to pick you up and carry you there, one, two three" and that helps a fair bit, explicit expectation (another HTT tip "I expect you to behave like this...) and consequence.

It is possible to turn this about, please dont dispair. A book, or our advice isnt going to transform things, but it may get the ball rolling, and everyone will settle to the new situations in time.

Good luck.

moomaa Thu 20-Aug-09 21:45:20

I too have a similiar aged DS and a 13 month old DD and have had problems with DS pushing. Fortunately (?) it's been mainly confined to pushing DD over but there have been a few incidents with other children. The worst time was when DD was 9 - 11 months and it's really calmed down now so hopefully a phase? I think it got bad because DD became mobile and started taking DS's things.

After a tip on here I taught him to play on the sofa or at the table if he didn't want her to play. I found that on days when I could give him 30 minutes really good quality 1:1 he was much better behaved that day. Every time he did it he had time out, I didn't give a warning, he knew that it was instant for hurting her. I didn't put him where he could see us, I put him in the downstairs loo or hall where there was nothing to play with and he felt excluded, but I think it's down to the child's personality whether it works better if they can see you or not.

It's hard because you don't want your precious baby hurt. I agree with whoever said carry on going out. You will sometimes find other people tell him off and I found that quite useful! Good luck, remember he is still your lovely baby too

moomaa Thu 20-Aug-09 21:46:22

p.s it made me cry too.

tinton Thu 20-Aug-09 22:05:33

hi have no helpful hints but i know that personally i don't really care if someone's dc is being a bit 'spirited' provided his/her mum/dad tries to stop any truly outrageous behaviour - what is annoying is if your (smaller) dc is being pushed around and the other parent just ignores it..don't stop going out, good for your sanity and anyone worth knowing won't give a monkeys (and just will think there but for the grace of god etc). good luck, moving to a new country is hard at the best of times

mathanxiety Sun 23-Aug-09 22:31:08

Try the 123 magic method? He's not too young.

neolara Sun 23-Aug-09 22:44:56

I think the How to Talk book is great, but my feeling is that is is probably more useful for children who are older than your 2 1/2 year old. I found "Toddler Taming" by Christopher Green very pragmatic in dealing with my dcs challenging toddler behaviour. Not only does the book give you very practical ways of dealing with inappropriate behaviour, it gives realistic guidelines about what to expect from your toddler at different ages.

If it's any consolation, my dd (who had previously been saintly) was absolutely awful from about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2. Now she is an absolute delight again. It really is just a phase. It will pass.

mathanxiety Mon 24-Aug-09 03:38:28

Have you tried involving him in 'helping' with the baby, fetching this or that for you, with praise and What a great big brother you are? Keep on going out...

ben5 Mon 24-Aug-09 04:16:43

it was the other way round in our house. it's ds2 thats the problem. he is getting better.it's not the fact that he doesn't always respone to you putting him on naughty step,or time out and everything else you try.the hardest bit is when other parents react and then always huddle together and say'oh look here comes naughty so and so'.this is hard esp when you see there child misbehave and they do nothing about it. i would love them to give me tips at how they can make son better. i also have been in tears with ds2 but keep with the time out etc. life is getting better and keep going to the toddler groups. have a word with the group leader to ask her to ask other parents for help. good luck

JustCutAndPaste Mon 24-Aug-09 07:50:33

timsmama you've had some great advice here already, just wanted to add my voice to those saying we've been through it. Ds1 was awful when ds2 was a baby - and like you I had a baby who screamed a lot and needed a lot of attention.

Did your GP offer any help? I shut myself in a room in tears one day with the boys downstairs screaming (both of them) because I felt I had had enough and couldn't cope any more. I called some helplines which were no help at all, and also our GP's surgery. After that the HV came to visit every week for a while, and we worked on the 'ignoring' techniques other people have mentioned. She also got me to do some ABC forms- when your child behaves badly you fill in a form with Antecedent (what happened before) Behaviour (what he did) and Consequences (what happened next). When you do this you might be able to get a better idea what triggers your child and what motivates him. You might also be able to see times when you are giving him extra attention for being bad, i.e. rewarding him for that behaviour.

This all helped to a certain extent although I also got a copy of the Faber and Mazlish book 'How to talk so children listen....' and that approach fitted in with my parenting better.

And he responded very well to the 'choices and consequences' approach - making it very clear to him that he had a choice, and that if he did X he would get one outcome but if he did Y he would get the other. I even heard him talking to ds2 like this when he was a little older (lol).

I can remember some awful times. One of the worst was when he screamed at me for about 45 mins on a bus and I had to hold him to stop him lashing out, and he was screaming 'you're hurting me' over and over again, and I felt like everyone was watching me but getting off the bus would have been giving in to him (as that's what he was screaming about - he wanted us to go back to where we started so he could get a cereal bar because we'd done that the week before). But I stood firm. And occasionally I would have a passerby saying some sympathetic words to me and that would really help. But this story does have a good end to it. ds1 is 7 now and everyone comments on how sensible and calm he is. You would never guess how terrible his behaviour was all those years ago. And ds1 and ds2 get on very well most of the time!

TheMysticMasseuse Mon 24-Aug-09 18:18:35

justcutandpaste...i can picture you on that bus once when dd2 was 2 months old dd1 (then exactly 2 1/2) had a megameltdown in the street- she phyisically threw herself out of her buggy and lay on the street thrashing... the baby started wailing in the swing... it was so awful. everyone was staring and a man asked me if i needed help, but when i asked him "like, what do you suggest i do?" he blushed and ran away. he was nice actually.

and yes my hv referred me to a psychotherapist too to help me cope.

ok bottom line- unfortunately atrocious behaviour in toddler is normal and will pass.. . there are things you can do help (mostly to keep your sanity...) but to a large extent you just have to wait it out!

JustCutAndPaste Mon 24-Aug-09 21:50:00

yes i bet we made quite a picture blush.

DesperateHousewifeToo Mon 24-Aug-09 22:15:00

I agree with all the above.

Also, could you find time to spend with him each day on a onene and play games that are his choice for about half an hour or so? Perhaps when the baby is sleeping?

Also, try to praise him as much as possible so that he is getting lots of positive attention from you. Praise anything and everything and be specific aboyt what he is doing well e.g. ''good boy for sharing the train with Joe'', ''good boy for holding my hand'', etc.

When out at a playgroup, could you ask one of the other mums to keep an eye on your younger one and shadow ds and praise him again but mainly try to step in before he has a chance to do anything physical. If he wants a toy someone else has, teach him the language of sharing and turn-taking.

How is his attention generally? Does he like to rush around from one toy to another, generally? This can sometimes make it worse as he will obviously 'get through' more toys than if he sat and played with one thing for a while. If that is the case, try to extend his attention during your onene time.

As has already been said. This is a phase, it will passsmile

Good luck with everything.

BubbaAndBump Tue 25-Aug-09 09:20:55

My DD1 is going through the same, and similar consequences for our DD2. Three things have helped us massively...

Asking DD1 to do things 'before I count to three' - and weirdly she responds (still haven't quite worked out why!). The threat of the naughty step equivalent was used initially if she didn't do as asked, but I don't need to say the whole thing any more.

We tried very hard to ignore little bad things if that makes sense - I had been telling her off all day long which was upsetting us both, wasn't very effective and I felt drained at the end of the day. Big naughtinesses (sp?!) were obviously dealt with.

I made a 'star chart' for DD1 and each day we would try and get her some stars [stickers] (and no sad faces). Explained that 3 stars (and no sad faces) meant a treat (whether a nice pudding or a trip to the playground etc etc) or 5 stars (if we had sad faces). Sad faces came about after big naughtinesses. 3 sad faces = a toy being taken off her and put in a see-through box (which I also drew a big sad-face on) which was out of reach. The next day we'd try and get 3 stars to help get the toy back. Sounds really mean but it worked a treat after just a couple of days. The key was trying to seek out the good, as it's all too easy to overlook when they're being good. It did mean, at the start, that I would give her a star if she was just nice to her sister or played nicely hmm, but as I say, it worked!

timsmama Tue 25-Aug-09 19:55:00

Hi! Sorry, I have been "absent" for a few days!

The "how to talk to" book had also been recommeded to me by a good friend of mine. I have only just started reading it and did find that it was more suitable for slightly older children.

I have started the 1,2,3 method and I think he is starting to get it.
I always thought I did lots of praise for the smallest "good behaviour" but have been trying to be more specific about it. Also I have been giving rewards for good behaviour. Just yesterday I made a "smiley face chart". Also considered taking a toy away for sad faces but wasnt sure. But it probably would work, especially if he was able to see it in the box all the time.

My GP was nice and understanding but she basically just said thar there is not hope to get an appointment with a psychotherapist as the waiting list in our area is 6 months (!!!). all she offered was a) reassurance that it will get better and b)anti-depressants if I needed it.

dh will finally have his first holidays since starting his new job in january. he'll be off for 4 weeks so I hope I will just be able to get some strength back during that time and work on ds1' behaviour together.

re one-2-one time: I felt the same. until very recently ds2 has such bad starnger anxiety that no-one other than me and dh was even allowed to look at him. It's heaps better now so have started the settling in at a local childminder. just one morning a week in which I can do something just with ds1. And for ds1 I have just found a place in a playschool whre he can attend 2 morning a week. he'll be with 9 other similarly aged children and I am hoping that this will help him interact better with other children. especially as he will be told off not by me but by the nursery teacher. the lady is really nice but also seems quite strict and very persistent - just what he needs grin

I know it's only a phase, but the thought of this lasting for another 6 months or longer is very scary! just like when you have a colicky baby and everyone says "it will get better at 3 months ", but even the thought of having a screaming baby for another day seems too long.

Reading all your responses has helped me loads though, so thank you very, very much for sharing your own experiences with me!

Mamulik Tue 25-Aug-09 20:26:01

you definetly need time alone with your oldest baby, just go to park together and have some fun.

nouveaupauvre Tue 25-Aug-09 23:05:45

lots of good advice, just to add - i also have a 2yo and a dh who recently started working away from home and it definitely triggered some highly lairy behaviour for a while in ds.
what i've found has helped is talking a lot about where daddy is, what daddy's doing, when daddy is coming back (it's hard at this age becuase they dont really understand days of the week or time elapsing, so while i know dh's comings and goings are as regular as clockwork i suspect that is not how it seems to ds: i just say daddy is back not tomorrow or the day after but the day after that, and then we count down) and we talk a lot about daddy being away and how sometimes we miss him but he's always going to come back.
i think you are probably right to see this as part of the underlying cause - with that plus the arrival of the baby he has lost a great deal - so worth thinking about how you can make him more secure about this. good luck! and fgs don't worry about the other mums - a good friend's child went through a phase recently of whacking other children constantly (after a new baby sister arrived, oddly enough) and it didn't even slightly put me off seeing them, because i like my friend and i knew it would pass. (and there but for the grace of god go we all...)

buy1get1free Wed 26-Aug-09 19:19:54

timsmama Can't believe you were offered antidepressants by your GP - FFS!! shock
123-Magic works, I've done it for my children. Lots of good advise on here too. Good luck.

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