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Nearly 2 Year old - Realllly Need help! Desperate..

(27 Posts)
Emmiedarling Fri 08-Aug-14 19:54:00

So, I am desperate for help & advice. (Sorry might be long)

I have a 23 month old little boy who I feel i should be enjoying, playing with and for the most part having a awesome time with.

In reality this couldn't be further from the truth and I feel absolutely terrible writing that. But honestly - everything seems like a REAL effort and most things from the moment we get up to the moment he goes to bed are a complete fight.. even the fun things.

We have the usual tantrums - they started early at 13 months but have gotten progressively worse and now he has 4-5 big ones a day lasting up to an hour each time. He also gets frustrated and cross at the littlest things (shoe lace undone, book not opening, wheel on car getting stuck)

Nothing at all is right.. and we end up cross with each other and never having a good time at anything we do. Even things like bath time - he throws a wobbler at now - even though I sing and have bubbles and get toys out.. He pinches me (yes i discipline appropriately), cries, wants to get out. He just seems so unhappy.

He is very, very active and with that in mind I try to plan things to keep him busy - lots of park visits (we have no garden) and trips to feed the ducks, play centers etc. He is also at nursery three full days a week. I organise playdates, but when we meet up with his friend he won't walk, and then he won't go in the buggy, he won't be carried...i mean honestly... we get them ice creams.. little joe bloggs happily sits there with his mummy eating it nicely and my LO chucks his on the floor.

Looking for reassurance I talk to my 'mummy' friends, but they tell me tales of days out or activites that they have been doing with their LO's. Let me just give you a taster of what I'm hearing..

1. Going out for meals. I've attempted this on numerous occasions ending in mass disasters. He only seems capable of sitting still for about 5-10 minutes only enough time to order food. By that time he's started having a full blown tantrum hurling the free colouring crayons, book/toy i've brought from home. Screaming, trying to hit me... by the time the food has come i've usually legged it.

2. A trip on the bus. We live in London, I have no car. I dread using public transport because my son HATES being in the buggy for any amount of time. I'm talking full blown's not a pleasant day out! I have tried taking him on the train - he loves trains - and getting him out the buggy to sit on the grown up seats to watch out the window. But he won't sit, he just wants to charge up and down on the carriage causing havoc and falling over, trying to pull emergency alarm. It's just not ideal.

3. Watching the ipad/laptop. I know some people don't agree with this one. But I wouldn't mind esp when he wakes up at 5am (most days) I open the laptop and put something appropriate on and he just bangs and hits the keyboard so i have to remove it. He gets SO angry and cross.

4. Baking/colouring/activities in the house.

My LO won't sit still. Can't seem to keep him engaged in an activity. Is this normal? I've bought crayons and sat on the floor with him. He threw all the crayons rather aggressively, then ate some, then had a tantrum. Baking - oh goodness. Don't get me started. We seem to wind each other up if in the house. He is just into everything he shouldnt be - the bin, the washing machine, the freezer...

Trouble is, I know they're not lying as I've seen it with my own eyes! And they've also seen my little one having massive tantrums. One even texted me after a park playdate (and i know she didn't mean any harm by it) saying, 'gosh if i had to put up with that I'd be feeling stressed out too! Feel really sorry for you x'

I'd like to add that despite all the moaning and groaning that I try and be a positive and nurturing Mum. I just don't know where I am going wrong.

I love him to bits, but please tell me other people are experiencing this too? It does get easier right?

I'm a single mum and really, really tired. I know there are tantrums and hard bits - i'd just like there to be smiles and fun bits too!

CultureSucksDownWords Fri 08-Aug-14 20:36:45

That does sound really stressful, and it must be hard work not to have a second adult around to confer with or share the work load.

It might not be your cup of tea, but I would recommend reading a book called Toddler Calm. I found it very helpful for thinking about how to break the cycle of frustration and stress.

This may be an daft question, but do you give him lots of praise every time he does anything well? There should be a lot more positive comments than there are "no", "don't", "stop" etc.

How is his understanding and his speech? Can he express himself or do you think he could be frustrated?

Notfastjustfurious Fri 08-Aug-14 20:43:59

How does he get on at nursery? My dd is 28 months and there is the odd tantrum but nothing like what you're dealing with, must be so draining. Maybe your hv can give you some advice/support.

Emmiedarling Fri 08-Aug-14 20:51:42

Thank you for responses - It's just so lovely to hear from other grown ups!! smile

Yes, I do try and heap on the praise when things go well and he does something positive.

Thanks so much for the book recommendation, I will look that up right now and order myself a copy - I am willing to try anything!

Notfastjustfurious - Nursery staff have commented on his tantrums and hyper activity - they are unable to get him to sit still. This obviously worries me and sets alarm bells ringing as surely they should be used to nearly two year olds!

I have asked for help from HV and they seem to think it is perhaps a bit too early to diagnose anything. I am starting to think maybe i ought to pay to go privately to check that there isn't anything else going on?

It isn't meant to be this bad i'm sure?!

Emmiedarling Fri 08-Aug-14 20:53:25

Oh and speech - yes it's really coming on. But could be frustration that he can't quite get his message across fully yet..

ThisFenceIsComfy Fri 08-Aug-14 21:05:09

You say he gets up at 5am, when does he go to bed and does he still nap? Maybe he is over-tired?

What kind of things does he enjoy? My DS doesn't really like drawing or colouring at all but loves pretend play.

I would never be able to give my DS a laptop either. TV only. The temptation to smash is too great.

God, it sounds really hard for you. You have my upmost respect and sympathies. My DS is a bit of a tyrant too. I think some kids just find things a bit harder to deal with.

BTW my. DS hated pushchairs until I put him in a Mamas and Papas Lina. It has a free harness so they can move about a bit but are still strapped in. I got mine for £20 on eBay

ChazzerChaser Fri 08-Aug-14 21:08:08

I was going to say toddler calm too.

A few things that stand out for me. Please take what is useful and ignore what isn't, bear in mind I don't really know your situation so could be totally off the mark.

Have you found out things he does like doing? Some of the things you mention I wouldn't do as I know my son wouldn't like it so would play up. Other kids would do them happily, as you've seen. And my son is pretty chilled as a rule. But there's some things he doesn't like at the moment. This was something I got from toddler calm. If it's a flashpoint, avoid it. So for example my son went through a biting other children stage. I worked out it was when he was in confined space with other children effectively competing for space and toys. So we avoided soft play/parks etc for a bit. Did lots of running around in big open spaces instead. He's fine now. The theory goes if they're acting up, work out why and then remove the cause. Kids like different things so what may be fun for some just using for others.

Also, you mention discipline but you don't elaborate. What do you mean by this? Again drawing from toddler calm at this age their mental capacity is very limited. They don't do things to be 'naughty', they don't understand what they should and shouldn't do in a very sophisticated way. So discipline can be counter productive (depending on what it is if course). I wouldn't say I discipline as such. I tell him no, I teach him things like kind hands, I remove him from situations where the way he's behaving isn't helpful. But I wouldn't call that disciplining. Of course this could just be semantics.

Above all though I'm a firm believer that you need to do what makes sense for you. It doesn't work just following what someone has written in a book if it doesn't resonate with you. Toddler calm hits all my buttons but if it doesn't for you I'd keep looking. Toddlers are as complex humans as the rest of us so no approach sip without problems, it just depends which types of problems you're most equipped to deal with.

CultureSucksDownWords Fri 08-Aug-14 21:16:22

Well I really don't think you're doing anything "wrong" with your DS, particularly as nursery experience the same problems too.

I would request a meeting with the nursery key worker (or suitable supervisor) to discuss what strategies they will take at nursery. They should be able to discuss with you approaches that you can also try at home. Do you know if you're due to have a 2 year check with the HV? You could discuss your concerns then as well.

I agree with you about communication being a possible frustration, so this should get better as his speech does too.

Emmiedarling Fri 08-Aug-14 21:57:01

Thanks so so much for taking the time to respond!

ThisFenceiscomfy - Yes he still naps after lunch I put him down at 12.30 and get him up at 2.30. He usually falls asleep at 1pm so has about an hour and a half.

His bed time is 7pm but he doesn't actually fall asleep until around 8pm. He's always been an early riser..

ChazzerChaser - I know the things he likes doing - being outside really.. playing on his ride ons in the park. But even then something will just tip a twig will get under the wheel and that's it - he get up throw the whole car and sob, cry and lie on the ground.. There are NO fail safe 'nice times.' It's utterly miserable.

Discipline wise - I really just mean around the hitting and pinching. I tend to just say, 'We don't hit - it hurts Mummy.' Then show him gentle hands. If he carrys on I move him away and ignore the behaviour. He can get very aggressive and then when 'told off' has a full blown hour long tantrum (often til he is sick)

CultureSucksDownWords - I am waiting for his 2 year check letter from the HV - hopefully they can be of some use. And yes, I should request to meet with the keyworker at nursery..

thank you..

QTPie Sat 09-Aug-14 12:11:07


You are an amazing mummy! To be honest I found this a really difficult/demanding age, despite having DH to help. You are amazing.

I am very lucky, I did not have much problem with tantrums, but the rest I recognise.

How do you handle/react to the tantrums? I used to ignore them (just look out of the widow and talk out loud to myself) and they fizzled out and never got hold. DS quickly learnt not to bother. But I don't know if it was my approach or just his nature...

Otherwise, your son sounds very like mine and I think "about 2" is a very difficult age: they are very mobile and trying to assert their independence and have the attention span of a goldfish. They get more reasonable with age and their attention span gets longer too. Don't forget that he is still teething (at least getting those 2nd molars) - that is going to make many miserable...

You are doing the right thing, getting out loads and exercising him loads.

If he doesn't like the buggy, can you mostly take him out without? Reins or a Littlelife toddler backpack, backpack for you to carry things in (do bigger shops online). He might like the bus more without the buggy.

Don't expect too much from him and his attention span - I was the same. If we did baking together, then a quick stir and a roll with the rolling pin and maybe cutting a biscuit out were the max of his contribution. The rest of it he wasn't interested. Same with crafts/painting and still is (he doesn't do much crafts at preschool - always physical play).

A 2 year old can't be expected to sit still long. DS started preschool at 3.25 and took sons time to settle down for "mat time" - still not his favourite thing, but he is pretty good now.

Even at 4.5, the crayons in a restaurant mostly get dumped straight on the floor. What used to work at 2 was finger food (used to take Organix snacks with me) and MAYBE an episode of his favourite TV programme (Curious George) on the iPad/phone. Generally the approach with eating at a restaurant was "order ASAP, keep handing him little bits of food, then eat as quickly as we could and get out quick". Places like "Yo Sushi" were always good: you could eat very quickly, lots going on, noisy and other families there too smile ).

Your son is active (good), curious (good) and has some independence (good). All good, if exhausting and blooming hard work...

Yes, there are many kids out there who are different: who will sit down and colour for hours, who listen, who will do two hour lunches in a restaurant without a whinge, who love baking (one of my friends' daughters was helping her mum by chopping mushrooms with a knife at 2! At 4.5 my son says "I cut you!" If he gets a plastic knife...). But neither your child nor mine is one if them. And that isn't bad, honest. They are all different.

The best advice is to acknowledge how he is and work with it the best you can (work within his tolerances): otherwise it us like hitting your head against a brick wall (I know).

Chatting to my son's reception teacher (he starts September), she says that she has 3 boys of her own. She has seen it all before and loves children with an. "Edge/personality". What are frustrating characteristics now are likely to be very good as he grows (independent learner, active, sporty, knows his own mind, confident) and he will develop patience and focus (slowly, over time).

Take care and hang in there.

Emmiedarling Sat 09-Aug-14 19:25:41


What a lovely and reassuring reply. Thank so much!

It has really helped to hear all of the things you've said...(esp after another really tricky day!)

I will just keep taking each day as it comes and try new ways to engage him as best as I can. I do indeed ignore the tantrums... He carrys on despite this though!

Thanks again - really appreciate you taking the time (and everyone else) to share your thoughts.

ChazzerChaser Sat 09-Aug-14 21:35:43

Re tantrums, I do the opposite. I see them as his way of communicating his overwhelming emotions. I know if I was trying to communicate and no one could understand me I'd get really frustrated if they all ignored me rather than trying to understand. So I'd respond to a tantrum with a big hug, lots of empathy, finding a compromise so if he's upset because he can't walk on a really high wall, for example, I find him a low one to walk on. Stuff like that. But that's me and him - everyone is different. I think this approach to tantrums is in toddler calm too.

slightlyconfused85 Sun 10-Aug-14 08:24:47

My dd is 21 months and what we affectionately call high voltage....although tbh your son sounds like harder work than she is. 9 hours sleep overnight doesn't seem like a lot. Can you put him to bed at 6 with the aim of him being asleep by 7? Or try a groclock for an extra half an hour in the morning?

Itmustbelove Sun 10-Aug-14 08:34:55

I read a book recently that says for some children, nothing is ever right, they whinge, cry constantly, they are just demanding.

My lo has always been like this. He moans and whinges wherever we are. I look around and see other children playing happily and it looks so easy!

I have found that accepting that all children are different in temperament has helped.

Also to say he has had a recent diagnosis of ADHD but wasn't 'hyperactive' as such when a toddler, just this constant nothing was right, then problems at school like aggression and lack of attention.

tryingtocatchthewind Sun 10-Aug-14 08:45:34

I would second trying to get him some more sleep, my two and a half year old goes to bed at 6pm ish and is asleep by 7pm.

I really feel for you and don't know how I'd do it.

My LO has only just started spending more than three seconds on a task. I found it really helps playing with him for a while first so he knows how to play. We played rescues (man falls off his farm building then toy helicopter rescues him) and now he'll happily play by himself, I can had him using phrases I've used. He's not bothered with other toys unless I've played first.

Good luck and keep going, you sound like a fab mummy, you just have a headstrong little boy

Phineyj Sun 10-Aug-14 08:53:04

My niece was like you describe and poor DSis found it incredibly challenging. DNiece is now a lovely 8 year old who is still a bit of a drama queen but she did grow out of the terrible tantrums. Poor you - sounds like you're doing everything you can. In a way it is encouraging he is the same at nursery.

Cies Sun 10-Aug-14 09:02:24

I've found the website really useful for changing my way of approaching toddlers.

PolyesterBride Sun 10-Aug-14 09:04:49

I can sympathise with you because I had a lot of the same problems with my DD. I don't think you are going anything wrong and I second a lot of the advice here, especially about accepting the child you have. I also constantly
Compared my DD's behaviour to her friends and it was really hard seeing other kids with their parents having a lovely time, wondering why we couldn't do that.

Have you thought about a parenting course? I did one called The Incredible Years at my local children's centre and although it didn't necessarily change things at home, it was great to get some tips, work out what I was doing right, and chat to other parents.

Otherwise maybe see if more sleep would help. Being tired and / or hungry can have a big effect. Also would he enjoy something like Tumble Tots or a similar very active activity?

Finally, do you get a break? Other than nursery when presumably you are working? It's important that you can recharge your batteries to allow you to approach each day positively and not wake up expecting the worst (as I often do).

Emmiedarling Sun 10-Aug-14 19:52:00

Lovely to get so many responses - i do really feel 'heard' which is so nice as tbh I have felt really alone and have been really struggling with all this on my own. I think what makes it worse is not having a partner to share it with. But anyway - that's life and it is what it is.

I have ordered a couple of books from amazon and hope they can be of some help. And otherwise, i think what most of you are saying is that i need to accept the little boy I have been blessed with smile

In answer to some of the questions..

Sleep. I have tried putting him down earlier (6ish) so he goes off by 7pm but he doesn't. He is even bloody minded on that one too (!) He seems to know when it's 7.45pm - 8pm and then sleeps. Otherwise he just plays/sings.

I will try getting a gro clock to see if i can extend the mornings.

ChazzerChaser - It is interesting what you say about tantrums - I read that approach too and tried it but im afraid it made my LO go twice as crazy and he started to bite me and hit me.. he just gets too cross... But like you say, they are all different. I just wish they came with a manual ;)

I don't get much of a break. Only when he goes to bed and the washing/cleaning is done. I am exhausted and at the moment, emotional. Juggling it all is a lot.. He is worth it, I just wish there were some smiles in between all the angst!

Thanks all for your input smile

ChazzerChaser Sun 10-Aug-14 20:09:26

My little one has an 8pm setting too. No idea how he knows either but he does without fail. grin

He also can wake earlier (like 530 I think) but I give him a feed (I bf) and he'll go back to sleep. We're in the same room which I think helps with that. I think he sleeps as I am doing so. If you want to try seeing if he'll sleep more you could try co sleeping perhaps? That's also in the toddler calm vein (don't know if it goes that far in the book or not).

But ultimately I think you're spot on about them just being all different types of people. Casual observers would see my son as pretty calm and well behaved. But he has his moments.

bumblingbovine49 Sun 10-Aug-14 20:21:56

ds was a lot like this. I can't say I managed it very well really , you seem much calmer. Things that did keep ds happy usually involved being outside without too many other people around which when you live in London (as we did) was not always easy to achieve.

We went out most days, whatever the weather. I remember dressing him in all over waterproofs a couple of times at this age and taking him to the park. I would sit in the rain (under an umbrella) and he would actually sit in the massive puddles and play. He was soaking wet when we got home but he was happy and that was enough for me. I go some strange looks though from the people running past as I sat in torrential downpours watching ds play/sit /splash in puddles. Water generally kept him happy, so I used to let him play on a stool by the sink with water. The kitchen would be soaked afterwards but it kept him happy for up to 30-40 mins which for ds was almost unheard of in those days.

I also used to let him sit in paint in the kitchen (again the mess afterwards was unimaginable). This was something I discovered when I tried to get him to do some painting. He just wanted to rub it all over himself so I just used to take him into the kitchen or outside to the shared gardens in our flat (weather permitting) and let him stand/sit in the paint. I would bring a towel to wrap him in afterwards and carry him upstairs for a bath.

He was difficult to keep happy for long though and nursery had problems with him as well though he didn't go to nursery until he was 3 years old. He had the attention span of a very fact moving gnat. DS does have a diagnosis of adhd and autism now but to be honest, it was the school that pushed for this as by the time he was 4 years old, we found him fine at home as we had developed a very close understanding of him and and we had stood quite firm on some of the important things (hitting etc) and he had outgrown the majority of he difficult behaviour at home. School was another matter, though this is much better now too.

He is 9 years old now and he is a lovely boy, though he is still quite sensitive and a little on the volatile side. I was reluctant to mention ds's diagnosis as I am not drawing direct comparisons just trying to say that even when a child has serious difficulties as ds does, things generally get better if you can see and accept your child for who they are and prioritise the relationship between you over getting him to do the "right thing. Just pick the really non-negotiable things (with ds it was hitting others) and stand firm on those regardless of the tantrums. Ride out the severe storms on those very few (or just the one even) issues and let the rest go. It really will improve

milkyman Mon 11-Aug-14 08:43:45

I wanted to say I too think you are amazing. I have a spirited 22mth old but a dh to help and it is bloomin hard work. It sounds like u are doing all the right things.

QTPie Mon 11-Aug-14 14:22:57

Wanted to add, follow your instincts re ADHD etc. Some children certainly benefit from extra help, but both tantrums and being absolutely "non stop and unsble to sit down or focus" are completely normal for around 2 years. You are unlucky that your DS has both - double whammy.

Your instincts as a mum are the best to follow, but definitely don't get hung up comparing with other kids and definitely don't blame your parenting (if you are sensible, fair and consistent, then you are doing great smile ).

Keep on with the active/outdoor activities and don't sweat the crafts/baking/concentration activities too much - just try a little bit every do often, but keep your expectations about his involvement very low. So do it and involve him if he wants, but just carry on regardless if he doesn't: so the activity is not hung on his involvement.

I would second something like tumble tots or a more informal Softplay. The downside with tumble tots is that you (or at least I!) feel down when your DS doesn't follow instructions. DS was a stinker for following instructions at that age. However at 4.5 he is really good at gym class and swimming class and climbing class (started this week). Early behaviour is not an indication that that is how it will be forever smile. An open, informal, Softplay -where your son can do what he wants - might be easier for all involved.

Oh and swimming. I have always taken DS at least once a week. He did do Waterbabies (again often a bit of a tussle as to whether he would do what was asked - especially between 18 months and 3!) and now does swimming lessons, but I have just taken him swimming myself in between. Swimming is great for active boys. If he isn't used to it, may take a while though.

All children are different. Most are either anti or pro certain things (visual, listening, textures, touch). It is often down to accepting how they are and going with it, whilst regularly very very gently challenging things and building up tolerances. But very very gently and whilst keeping calm and sane yourself.

Oh and having a very active young boy, my biggest advice - if things are looking pear-shaped and you feel unable to cope - is definitely to prioritise sleep. I find myself best able to cope with a very demanding child if I have slept well. Easier said than done sometimes though.

Paloma12 Mon 11-Aug-14 18:54:39

Hi - just wanted to say it sounds normal, but exhausting. I have a 3.5 year old and a 20 month old, and found the 1-2 age the hardest first time round, and have the same with DD2! If you are in SW London I would be happy to meet up for coffee some time if you want some company!

BotBotticelli Mon 11-Aug-14 20:45:48

Hello OP, I have a 20mo DS and he sounds pretty similar to your DS. Mine has been an almghty handful since he was born! He was always 'that' baby screaming his head off as we had to leave endless baby groups, playdates etc as he was always just so unsettled and unhappy.

He also is a very physical boy: at nursery 4 days per week (my desk is my happy place!) and I moved him up into the 18mo - 2yo room 2 months early when he was 16mo cos he is just so physical - running and climbing like a monkey by 14mo, and in danger of trampling all the little babies.

He has a very short attention span and seems to need me t play with him ALL THE TIME when we are at home....i literally never get the chance to do anything round the house (we have just invested in a cleaner for 2 hours a week cos the place was turning into a total shit hole, but understand not everyone can afford this).

Things seem t be getting a little easier at the moment - he has starting stringing words together into little sentences recently, and can answer 'yes' and 'no' to closed questions, so we can ask him a series of questions to work out what is wrong with him. It works some of the time.

ANyway just want to reiterate what someone said upthread about needing some time for yourself (not at work either).Can you get a babysitter one saturday afternoon and meet a friend for a coffee? or go see a film? Get your nails done? Go look round a gallery? Whatever you used t like doing pre-DC. You're still allowed to eb a person too, and sometimes having a break from a challenging child allows you to miss them a bit and come back refreshed.

Oh, and my DS is always up for the day at 6am, and has gone through phases of 05.15am....during those phases I make sure I am in bed by 9pm otherwise I feel like shit.

And one final thing: for some babies, I think 2 hours nap sleep is a little bit too much at 2yo....I bet if he only had 90 mins/an hour after lunch he would go down to sleep easier at night, and might sleep longer?? Some babies drop their nap altogether around 2 after all...

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