Monday, February 21, 2011

Toddler Tantrums and Misbehaving

Toddler Tantrums and Misbehaving
Normal developmental milestone or punishment for having had such an easy time with our daughter up until now???

Katie is starting to be defiant.
For fun.

We tell her not to do something and it becomes her favorite thing to do such as putting toys in her mouth (her new favorite thing to do to make us mad) or putting her hands in her cereal bowl which we tell her every morning not to do.

I know, I know, these aren't huge infractions... but we specifically ask her not to do it and she does it.

The other item we are having a tough time with is getting her to stop running around the house at 7:30 at night. It's like she gets this crazy energy burst and has to run laps around our apartment. She isn't the most delicate runner so I am sure it's loud as hell downstairs - so we tell her to stop and then spend the next 20 minutes repeating ourselves and eventually we are angry and irritated because she isn't listening.

She also does this now when we are out at stores now. I am ridiculously unable to chase after her, so it makes me super mad - plus she doesn't look where she is running so there is always the risk of a collision with a shopping cart or another person - so we try very hard to discourage it.
That makes it more fun for her to try to get away.

We have tried time outs - she has a special carpet that we put her on and we set the timer and everything.

So far, she thinks it's fun. There have been no freak outs or tears or upset at being in time out. She just asks to be all done and we have to remind her that she has to stay in there until we let her out. She is able to tell us why she is in there - and it is usually because she's not listening.(Which she will gladly tell you)
She apologizes before she gets out and then we give her a hug and then she goes back to play.

2 minutes later we hear her putting her trains in time out because they aren't listening.
I don't know if this is good or bad. I guess it's good because she is mimicking us - but I think it's bad because she thinks it's fun - either way, I don't think the time out thing has been very effective thus far.

I also think that perhaps I need to pick which behaviors are really worth fighting over. Is it the end of the world that she puts her hand in the cereal bowl? No, it just bugs me because it's messy.

So... what are your current behavior issues with your preschoolers/toddlers and what are you doing to fix it? Is it working?
Everything I read says they are supposed to be testing us at this age and that it's a good developmental sign. I think they are saying that so that parents don't beat their children.



  1. I can definitely relate to the issue out in stores. Jake LOVES to test me in the supermarket and consistently tries to tear through the aisles. So I give him a choice. He can either sit in the cart (which he never wants to do), hold my hand (which he also doesn't want to do), or walk nicely next to me. Now all it takes is a little reminder of his choices and he goes right back to walking nicely.
    We do time outs with him and he'll sit there and cry and say "all done, mommy" and I have to remind him to wait until I say he is done. I've heard of many people having horrific time out experiences- like their kids simply scooting out of time out or running through the house like little crazies so I do consider myself lucky.
    We are a little strict I guess, but I see it more as there are certain ways to act and we expect him to behave and do his share (like picking up his own toys or listening) so we try to just be consistent. I guess our main ways of disciplining are through giving him choices and if that doesn't curb any bad behavior then we go to time outs (which go almost exactly as you described).

  2. First off- You ar not alone! JC is chosing to not listen more and more each day. So we have do 3 things:
    1. We don't ask more than once. If he is chosing not to listen we polietly remind him that if we have to ask again to do____ he will be in time out.
    2. We don't always use time out (which is a bench in our hall away from everything) for the above.
    This past Thursday JC was horrible at day care and continued his aweful mood when he got home. So I told him that if he had to be put in time out one more time before we had dinner in an hour there would be no TV for the rest of the evening. So he made the choice to not listen and for the rest of the evening the TV was off. It was one of the best family nights we have had in awhile but it also helped him to learn his lesson cause we didn't have any further issues for the evening.
    3. We bought a magnetic wood chart from the Melissa and Doug line. It has areas for chores and behaviors and then smiley faces that can be used when the task is complete. On Sunday's we clear the board and ask JC what he wants his end of the week reward to be. Then as we go through the week smiley faces are added for completing chores and good behavior but also taken away for bad behavior. On Saturday is there are more smileys than blank spaces JC gets his reward. Sometimes it's toy he wants other times it is to goto the park or indoor jump place.
    So far the reward system keeps him mostly on track and it it teaching him to strive for a long term goal where as the reminders of what will happen if he doesn't listen lets him decide on his short term goal.
    Hope some of our home life ideas help you out.
    Christine Bouchard

  3. Christine - Just wondering how old is your son? I was thinking about starting a chore board with our son since he does have things he does around the house - like feeding the cat and clearing his plate after dinner. He is 2 1/2 and I'm not sure if he is too young still for an actual chore/ reward system just yet.

  4. Katie- JC is 2 1/2. His chores are the following:
    1. Stay in bed all night (this was a huge accomplishment starting a few weeks ago)
    2. No potty accidents (we still have issues pooping in the potty so this one helps us work on that)
    3. No time outs
    4. Set table (he puts a fork at everyone's place and puts the condimnets on the table)
    5. Feed dog (he loves to give extra BIG scoops of food)
    6. Get dressed by himself (sort of- we are working on our self help skills so this one is a work in progress)
    7. Take out trash (this is actually just take out recycling- JC loves putting the recycling in our garage into the right bins and then going to the recycling center with us- though he has to stay i nthe car but he gets to watch them crush the cardboard which to a 2 year old is COOL)

    Hope that helps Katie and others.

  5. wow that's great - thanks! gives me a good idea of where other kids his age are at (which is tough to gauge when you stay at home and he isn't around other kids as regularly).

  6. I have heard of other parents using rewards system for good behavior. I want to keep it in my back pocket as I am hoping I don't have to go to that extreme yet as the things Katie is doing at this point are so minor. I am sure once her brother comes we will have an entirely different experience and she will start really acting out and I will have to pull out all the stops!
    Glad to see we are finding useful things on here through each other:)_