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Help me deal with my toddler!

(14 Posts)
EyUpDuck Thu 17-Mar-16 18:10:47

Dd is 2yr 3mo. She is wonderful and very funny, but has extreme mood swings. Her tantrums are starting to get very hard to handle. She has a reputation at the play groups I go to for being very overly dramatic. Some of the childminders comment that they have never seen a child like her before, which is worrying!

I know in reality this is normal toddler behaviour but I have no idea how to deal with it. I am not a very 'soft' parent (sorry wasn't sure what word to use!) and I have no problem with being firm with her, but I just don't know how to implement it. I don't find parenting comes very naturally to me. I'm a SAHM by circumstance rather than choice and I find it quite difficult sometimes.

For example, she lashes out quite badly and will scratch my face or claw at my hands/arms randomly. My left hand is covered in deep scratches from her doing this recently. Yesterday she managed to grab a handful of my hair at the roots and I struggled to get her off me for a long time and it hurt quite a lot! I will firmly tell her no, we don't do XYZ as it is not nice, and she will say sorry to me but she will just keep doing it. I am unsure what else I can do in these situations? She hits and pushes other children and won't say sorry (she will only say it to me, or DP or inanimate objects (?) but never other children), and I always feel awful about it. If she's having a tantrum I just leave her to it and carry on with what I was doing.

Are there any techniques I can use or something I can implement in these situations to get her to calm down/understand what she's done is wrong? I could really do with some help as none of my friends have children so I don't really have anyone to speak to about it.

Theleavesonthetrees Thu 17-Mar-16 18:49:29

My son got very violent at about this age. I found what worked best was to say ' I don't want to play with you if you hit me. If you do that again I will walk away'. If he did it again, I walked away which he hated. It really helped. Other advice I have read here was just to walk away for a count of 10 every time child hits you/ lashes out. Then return as if nothing has happened.
For play group violence, could you try stating your expectations before you go? One mum I know found this worked well, albeit for a slightly older child (three years)

EyUpDuck Thu 17-Mar-16 19:56:51

I have tried that before. She isn't interested if I walk away. A lot of the time she says bye and waves! Apparently DP was the same as a child 

I try speaking to her before every play group (we go 4 times a week) and repeat myself constantly. I tell her she has to be a good girl and play nicely/share etc. and everyone will be happy (she's very big on pointing out instances of happy and sad at the moment) and I give her tonnes of praise on the very rare occasion that she shares a toy etc but I'm just getting nowhere. I know it will pass eventually but my god it's hard!

Theoldone Thu 17-Mar-16 23:03:30

Errrr I might not have done the right thing with my DS (2 years 10months) but if he ever hit or use physical violence whether in tantrum or not I would always do the following:
1. Tell him that we NEVER hit / push etc EVER in a strong voice at his level looking him straight in the eye (wait till tantrum is over before doing this by ignoring tantrum)
2. Make him apologise (I've been doing this since he's about 2, as he was a confident talker)
3. Warn (if he refuses to apologise) or if he hits again that he gets no INSERT TREAT HERE, or take a toy away that he's playing with / fighting over until he apologises.

It must be a threat that can be implemented immediately or in the near future not "tomorrow you'll get no TV or whatever" as undoubtedly you both will have forgotten and he/she won't care that far into the future. If she enjoys playgroup I would warn her on number 1 hit that if she does it again you will take her home and then if she hits again you MUST stick to your threat! Painful in the short term. Try and be consistent even if it means you go home after 5 mins every session for three weeks.

It is a phase and it will pass but horrible when you're in the middle of it!!! Hope advice is helpful... Don't know if I'm a mean parent but generally my little one seems content...

Good luck

DirtyHarrietOnABike Fri 18-Mar-16 06:29:59

I was taught a technique by my psychologist that nipped my son's emerging tantrums in the bud. Basically you don't leave them to carry on with a tantrum but lift them and start soothing them immediately when you see a tantrum coming.

I was a tough parent with my first one but now am a very soft parent with my second one and I found that it works better.

Also, my psychologist said that punishments do not work and the whole world is so fucked up because of punishments. The answer is being kind to our kids and lots of talk and explanations. I have to say that I am converted. I never punish my second child now and have no problem with discipline.

I recognise that may not work with every child but since your situation is this bad, you should try it definitely and give it some time. It might work! And it is very kind on the child.

Littlef00t Fri 18-Mar-16 20:06:48

I take DD away from the situation and sit her on my knee and get her to look and me and go all serious about what she's done (she's just turned 2). I say if she does it again we'll have to leave. And I do.

If you go 4x a week it won't take long before she starts to see the consequences.

EyUpDuck Fri 18-Mar-16 21:59:04

Thanks everyone, all very helpful replies!

I will try the threatening to leave thing and make sure I follow through with it. It will mean my day will drag like nobodies business if we have to go home but it should in theory only be temporary if it makes her behaviour improve.

She was good as gold today at play group and even shared toys (which never happens!!) shock

Muskateersmummy Fri 18-Mar-16 22:08:03

I do a combination of harriet and littlef00t

I remove her from the situation, sit and cuddle until she's calm, then we discuss what happen and how she can make it right. Ie if she has hurt someone how she can make it up to them, she will say she doesn't know, I say what makes you feel better when your hurt?" "A cuddle" "ok so should you cuddle mummy to make it better and say sorry" "yes" and then she will.

Tantrums generally come from frustration and not being able to communicate effectively. Which is why we rarely punish or make threats for tantrums. I find talking them through works more effectively for us. And it's important that they work out the solutions to the problems, the consequences to their actions.

Good luck

EyUpDuck Fri 18-Mar-16 22:15:31

I can't get my head around cuddling her when she's done something wrong. Isn't that giving her the wrong message? Hopefully that question doesn't offend you!

When she's having a tantrum she chucks herself on the floor and screams horrendously. I literally can't do anything in this situation. If I pick her up she will push away and hit me/scratch me and there's nothing I can say that makes it better. That's why I just leave her as she seems worse when I give her attention. If that makes sense!

MissesBloom Fri 18-Mar-16 22:21:45

I think a mixture of both techniques could work well. It also very much depends on your child. My son was very passive and never got into the hitting phase but he did have tantrums. I tended to ignore them and tell him I'd speak to him once he'd calmed down. I would play with the other children until he'd cooled off and this worked for him. Another child might react the opposite way to this though.
It will pass as trying as it is. Feels like it goes on forever but it won't last....promise flowers

DirtyHarrietOnABike Sat 19-Mar-16 07:29:15

Good morning, OP. I cuddle him to calm him down. Then we discuss if he has done something wrong in a calm way and I try to point out how he will feel if he was in the position of the offended child, for example. It is true that the tantrums are just because they have an influx of feelings that they don't know how to express. They feel overwhelmed. When they are having a tantrum, they will hardly listen to any explanation and reason. When they are calm, the chances are better.

In your case you can start by not picking her up, but just maybe gently stroking her hair, talking in a calm soothing voice and assuring her everything will be ok and showing her you are there for her to help her get over being upset.

My pshychologist gave me a good example that opened my eyes. She told me to put myself in that situation, where I am upset and crying (no matter for what reason) and how will I feel if a close person who was around just ignored me or was critisising me at that moment. I have to admit, I would not feel good. The natural reaction of a human being when upset is to expect comfort from their closest. Try it, OP. Like they say 'kidness moves mountains'. Our kids are so tiny, they are looking up to us to teach them about the world. I am sure they don't want to be naughty. They just don't know how to cope with certain situations. Maybe we can give them the tools...

Not sure if this will work for your child, OP. Just making a constructive suggestion. You are a brilliant mum and very right to feel worried because you watch your child suffer in front of your eyes and want to find a solution.

Good luck, OP. And this too shall pass. I should know, because my first child was a very difficult child, right up till now, when she is near the end of her teenage years. I have done some major mistakes with her and I hope I have learned from them. Sadly, there is no instructions book for being a parent. We just have to keep trying. Our mother's love is endless. (apologies for the lyrical deviation). smile flowers

ODog Sat 19-Mar-16 07:37:05

I try to adopt a similar approach to dirty but get that sometimes they resist being cuddled when they are really worked up. In those situations I just sit next to DS and keep telling him in there when he's ready for a cuddle and he will eventually calm down but knows I've not left him. Try reading toddlercalm by Sarah ockwell-smith. With any parenting book don't expect to agree with it all but it will give you a new perspective in dealing with some behaviours that more mainstream books don't tend to provide.

Arpege Sat 19-Mar-16 07:42:58

I would say I'm probably pretty strict.

I always threaten to leave if mine misbehaves in public and I am quite prepared to carry that out.

Lots of counting down from three.

If we have a full on tantrum it tends to be at home so I just ignore. If it's outside the home then I would take home immediately.

I have smacked hands before when I have been hit, bit or kicked. Ok I feel shit at the time but it works.

Please, thank you and sorry I prompt every time but we're still hit and miss. That'll come though so don't force it.

EyUpDuck Sat 19-Mar-16 14:29:29

Thank you Dirty that's a very good way of explaining it. There's no way on earth she will be picked up but I will try stroking her hair or just reassuring her next time and see how it goes. Hopefully it will make a difference!

Thanks everyone for your responses. Every post has been very helpful.

She will say please and thank you without being prompted, but the only issue is her saying sorry to other children. I'm sure she will do it eventually as you all say.

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