Advanced search

What's for lunch today? Take inspiration from Mumsnetters' tried-and-tested recipes in our Top Bananas! cookbook - now under £10

Find out more

How do you discipline your two year old?

(20 Posts)
forwarding Mon 19-Jan-15 13:23:50

This is a new thing for me - dc has hit terrible twos and is really pushing the boundaries.

The tantrums I can deal with - I ignore, and I'm pretty good at staying calm.

However, she has started bolting. In car parks, by the side of busy roads, even at the swimming pool. She finds it absolutely hilarious - I can see her daring me to chase her and then with a fit of giggles off she goes. She loves it!

So' obviously to keep her safe I have to leg it after her. What I would like to know is how would you discipline once you've caught them? I give her a very strict talking to ie "no that's very naughty" and I do shout a bit. I'm trying to shock her into the realisation that it's not funny.

However it hasn't really worked and the last time I've smacked her on the hand. Just enough to shock her - she doesn't cry or anything. But she will then listen to me. The thing I don't really want to be a parent that smacks and I feel bad for doing it.

Can anyone help? What would you do?

There was also a one off incident over Christmas when she was angry with me and marched up to a completely random child and pulled her hair! It was pure anger. I did smack her hand then as well more out of shock than anything!

My friend says do to them what they have done to you, ie if they pull hair then pull their hair (gently), however she's very stubborn and I don't think once would help, and the last thing I want to do is get into a hair pulling fight with her!


Ju1es22 Mon 19-Jan-15 13:39:22

I'm going through the same! Any advice also appreciatedsmile

My little girl is 2.5 I use the naughty step at home it seems to be working. I shout (I know I shouldn't, trying not too so much!) that seems to be the only thing to get her to listen sometimes!

I've used the tap the hand but she hits me back, so I've stopped that!

Help anyone?!

3littlebadgers Mon 19-Jan-15 13:40:50

Ok, as frustrating as it is I would advise against smacking or hair pulling, for one it makes you feel bad, but more importantly it is showing her that you can controls someone's behaviour by hurting them. Not really the lesson you want give your child if you want them to grow up to be sociable.
The first thing I learned when becoming a teacher is to be firm but fair, and consistent. If you make a threat, you follow it through. This way the child builds up a sense of their boundaries and knows they can trust you to provide a safe and consistent environment for them to grow.
If she is behaving in a way that is unacceptable to you, and continues to do so when you have asked her to stop, you need to remove her from the situation. She will soon get tired of her fun being ruined and quickly learn to listen to mummy. It can be infuriating for you, but if you are consistent, you shouldn't need to do if for long. There after, once in a while if she forgets.
Combine this with pouring on the praise for good behaviour.
My children are all still under 10, but so far are polite and well behaved. Many of my friends complain that I have it easy with them, but if they could have seen me when my DC were going through the terrible twos (4's weren't much fun either) then maybe they'd understand.
Good luck flowers

sebsmummy1 Mon 19-Jan-15 13:40:52

I try and stop the behaviour before it starts. For example, if your daughter is running off then you need to have her on reins or a wrist strap. No excuses, no arguments, you must keep her safe. My son wears one of those back packs with a strap and he has never had any issues with it.

I have been Strict Mummy from the start with him so he knows when I am angry. I will smack a hand if he has done something really dangerous and scared me. Generally though he knows by the tone of my voice that he is on shaky ground. I will get down to his level and say 'stop'. The thing that will get him time out in his room for a few minutes is being cruel to the cat after I have said 'be kind' again and again. If he pulls her tail to tries to kick her then he is straight into Time Out. Some things have to be stamped all over straight away and cruelty to animals gets me wild.

3littlebadgers Mon 19-Jan-15 13:44:37

Ooh and about the shouting, there is a difference between a shouty angry voice, and an assertive voice, which although powerful, is more about getting the message over in a loving but firm way. I'd ask once nicely, the second time firmly ( a bit like if I was telling a pedestrian crossing the road to be careful of a car) third time I'd take action, by removing them or whatever.

forwarding Mon 19-Jan-15 13:54:27

Thanks for the replies. It's just crept up on me a little bit - suddenly my baby is being a wilful child!

She's great at home usually, don't really have any problems there which require the naughty step, although I appreciate this could change!

So when she runs then I just get down to her level and assertively say no? Which is what I've been doing but with the tap on the hand. Is it enough just to say no and then pick her up and carry her? It seems like there's no consequences for her actions?

And she laughs at me, argh!

Millionprammiles Mon 19-Jan-15 13:55:56

Both parents must be consistent otherwise you'll get nowhere.

When out and about we use rewards ("If you're a good girl, hold hands when crossing road, no tantrums etc, we'll go to the cafe on the way home etc. But if you're not, we'll go straight home"). You've got to see it through though, even if you're dying for that cappuccino.

When at home we implement 'thinking time' (the nursery calls it that), explain why the behaviour is wrong and what she needs to think about and leave dd in her room alone for 2 mins. If she comes out before then, she is taken straight back in. If she makes an excuse (eg pretends to need a wee), she's taken to the bathroom but then back to her room.

Dd goes through phases every 6 mths or so of challenging behaviour for 2-3 weeks but then usually settles down. The worst thing for her is to be made to spend time alone or to miss out on cake, so generally works well.
Helps that the nursery are very good at enforcing good behaviour (ie sharing, not hitting etc) and encouraging empathy (or guilt-tripping as we call it smile

forwarding Mon 19-Jan-15 13:56:04

Sorry I meant to say on the subject of reins that I do have them, it's just that mostly she's great, and then she catches me out! So it'll be as we get out of the car at the supermarket, or between the car and the front door - before I've really got myself sorted enough for reins etc smile

forwarding Mon 19-Jan-15 13:59:03

Thanks for that Million. We're in that tricky phase when she's asserting her independence but she doesn't really understand the concept of rewards and sanctions yet. So saying "if you run off you won't get a sweet" is useless because if it's not in front of her face right there she doesn't understand.

Same with "you've been a good girl, have a sticker". She's happy with the sticker but she doesn't really understand why she's got it.

sebsmummy1 Mon 19-Jan-15 13:59:33

Forwarding she thinks running from you is a game, so of course she will be laughing. You need to get her out of the car, put her reins/wrist strap on and then say 'stay close to Mummy please as it's dangerous'. Once she is safe you can let her run. It's up to you to guide her. There is absolutely no point in setting her up to get told off, it's madness.

Thurlow Mon 19-Jan-15 14:03:50

Definitely reins at the moment. As she gets a little older and can understand/verbalise more this can be something you can use as a negotiation. DD is a little older but we've been dealing with this recently and she has two very clear choices: she either holds hands, walks nicely and doesn't bolt, or she's on the reins or in the pushchair. I found giving a clear warning, and then following through worked well, even though sometimes you end up doing it in the middle of a busy shop or high street and it's mildly embarrassing...

I prefer getting down to her level, trying to get eye contact (though this can be a challenge on its own!) and calmly explaining what behaviour was unacceptable and explaining what the consequences will be for a repeat. No tapping or smacking, as personally I believe that just reinforces the idea that physical behaviour is acceptable.

The consequences need to be something immediate. Generally it's leaving where you, I would say, or putting her in some form of time out. It's rarely an immediate fix but give it time to sink it, so she can hopefully grow to understand the warnings. Though having said that, we have had a few biting instances and generally they don't even get a warning, they just get a time out, which has seemed to work.

I would say don't expect her to never not be wilful grin They are always going to push your buttons. It's about deciding what behaviour you won't accept - biting, running off - and giving firm warnings and then following through.

I know it's not for everyone and I imagine it will depend on your child's personality, but we've actually found the Supernanny approach to time out very effective. It's about going down to their level, calmly but firmly explaining what they have done, putting them in time out if you need to, and then at the end explaining again why they were in time out and asking for an apology. We've found it actually works quite well without the time out - just getting DD's attention and explaining often works on it own.

Thurlow Mon 19-Jan-15 14:07:39

X-posts on the rewards. It is difficult when they aren't old enough to understand. When DD is going through a challenging phase, we go back to praising like absolute idiots. So when she started to understand she needed to hold our hands when out, the whole time we would be walking along telling her what a good girl she was holding hands, what a lovely walk we were having etc.

When we had a bad time behaviour-wise recently, I was doing some reading around and realised we'd got into the habit that bad behaviour got attention, good behaviour didn't. It felt a bit silly doing it, but lots of attention and praise for everything she is doing well, and a bit of ignoring (if possible) for bad behaviour.

forwarding Mon 19-Jan-15 14:09:57

Thank you.

I can see that giving her the opportunity to run away, albeit a brief one, is in fact just giving her the opportunity to get into trouble. Prevention is better than cure!

Thank you I think I'll get a wrist strap. I find the reins awkward and bulky so I think I'd be more likely to use a wrist strap.

BertieBotts Mon 19-Jan-15 14:53:18

Now 2 year olds I can do smile

Basically it's all about preventing them from doing what you don't want and then trying to communicate with them in a way they understand, which might include some logical consequences too. So out and about you go for some kind of restraint - reins or buggy. When you have an opportunist you need to make sure the reins/buggy is on before you even let her feet touch the outside ground! When you're in a relatively safe or contained place you progress to the next "safety level" down - hand holding. When she's hand holding nicely and co-operating you praise lots and when she does it consistently you can progress to this in more open areas. The first sign of bolting/not hand-holding safely you go "back" a level ie reins or buggy again.

(Reins tip - put them on over her clothes but under her car seat straps and just unclip the straps from the D-rings at the side while she's in the car. Clip long strap on, under the waist strap, before undoing car seat.)

For hair pulling/hitting you don't need to get angry but instead use very very simple language and actions tied right into what's happening in the moment. I found that "gentle" is a little counterproductive because if you use it while they're hitting etc then they get confused and think that hitting means gentle. So I used to say "That's rough. Too rough. Ouch, owie." Obviously move them away from the child they're hitting or take their hands to prevent them, then you can model/hold their hand and show stroking or cuddling and say "Aahh gentle" if appropriate. You can also explain "Hitting hurts - ouch." (Use the same kind of word you use for her when she hurts herself.) Encourage empathy and get her to look and think about the consequences herself. "Look, X is sad. Oh, poor X. She is crying. She's sad. She's hurt. Can we make it better?" (Lots of sympathetic/sad tone) Then to make it better you offer "We can say "Sorry", we can give X a kiss and cuddle. That's nice, that's gentle. Ahhh, sorry X." It's a bit of a performance but it does help. I don't force toddlers to say sorry - I think it's counterproductive because they don't learn what it actually means. But others do to form a habit and that's another way to do it.

(Note I'm not talking about consequences for her here, but the consequence of her hitting someone is that they get hurt, that's something she can see and judge/understand for herself even at two.)

Look at the reason too - if she's angry then showing her to stroke someone isn't helpful because she was never intending to stroke in the first place. You can redirect like saying "We can hit pillows, beds, and chairs but not people". If her language is good or improving you can remind her "Use words not hands. Do you feel angry? Do you feel sad?" You can also pre-empt episodes of violence when she is frustrated by validating her feelings back to her and accepting them, although that doesn't mean changing your decision about something. If she's overexcited you can redirect hitting/pulling to a toy rather than a person (a drum, a pull string kind of thing) or that's a good time to show the stroking. If there is a lot of hitting/hair pulling happening you have to hover around them a lot while they play until they either grow out of the phase or get the message. If she goes to hit more than once or is very angry/out of control then take her totally away from the area for a little while or change focus to help her calm down.

Two year olds are very very impulsive and they think totally in the moment. She sees something she wants to run to or a wide open space and she doesn't think about what might happen or what happened in the past, she just does it. She feels angry, she just does what her body and impulses tell her which is to lash out. So you're better off preventing it rather than relying on punishments which - as you've found - tend to have to be more serious than you'd like to make an impact. And while she won't necessarily take in the lessons and things you are telling her immediately, over time and as she gets older she'll be able to remember it more.

Good luck! smile (I've written this while fielding a couple of five and six year olds so sorry if I'm woefully cross-posted with a million others...)

BertieBotts Mon 19-Jan-15 14:57:22

My approach is more non punitive. Whichever is right will totally depend on you, your family, your child, etc. It's totally fine to go the time out route etc too - whichever appeals more to you.

cowbiscuits Mon 19-Jan-15 15:02:09

Thanks Bertie Botts I found this really useful.

forwarding Mon 19-Jan-15 15:26:08

Thanks Bertie.

I'm so glad I started this thread! smile

LetticeKnollys Mon 19-Jan-15 15:35:31

That's really well put Bertie, I'm attempting to take long-lasting mental notes for when DS hits that age! Do you work with 2yos or something?

BertieBotts Mon 19-Jan-15 19:40:02

I don't actually, although would love to do something about helping parents communicate with their kids better. I just find that stage really easy to "see into" if you like. A sort of fun challenge. And have done a lot of reading around the issue and experience on this board for the last 6 years or so, you tend to get to hear back on what works and what doesn't, although most of the time it's a lot of trial and error and working out how to "speak" to them (because straight up speaking like you would to an adult never, ever works.) Ages 3-6 I am terrible at, better in hindsight, aren't we all?

I'm sure I'll be hanging around this place for much longer than the next 2 years Lettice grin it has a hold on me that way.

BertieBotts Mon 19-Jan-15 19:40:48

(I really miss my DS being 2 and not 6! Though 6 is a massive, massive improvement on 3!)

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: