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Help me with destructive and violent toddler

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

DD just turned 2. DS never was like this. DD loves to bite, hit, pull hair, pinch, throw everything, break things, hurt the pets. She thinks it is funny. No proven strategy helps with her (talking, reprimanding, having her bite herself to see how it hurts). She just doesn't care. She has broken so many things and toys and keeps attacking her brother. I just don't know what to do. All a game to her, she can't understand that DS doesn't like being hit on the head with a toy golf club. She just took a DCD out of the DVD player and broke it in half thinking that is awesome followed by a huge tantrum as she no longer can watch Curderoy because she broke it. Waaah. She throws all her food on the floor too. It's getting very old and annoying and has to be under control or she cannot play with other children anymore. I have never seen such persistent violent behavior before and nobody models it at home (she does not go to preschool) - DS had his biting stage which was short. Never destruction. I'm at wit's end.

post #2 of 7
I'm sorry, that sounds very frustrating. My DD1, while not globally destructive, did go through a prolonged biting stage at age 2 through 3, and I don't think I ever successfully found a strategy to deal with it. I know that isn't what you want to hear, and hopefully someone will come along with good suggestions, but basically my DD eventually outgrew it. I tried lots of tactics, some good, some bad: redirecting, explaining, punishment, trying to teach empathy, even yelling and losing my cool completely... you name it. Eventually I learned to remove her from situations where it looked like she might hurt another child (she bit defensively, mostly, but I had to watch conflicts very carefully), and I didn't have the energy or the inclination to continue freaking out whenever she'd do it, so my discipline became more gentle and consistent. And now she's a lovely, sweet natured 16 year old and we tease her about it sometimes.

I'm sorry I'm not a ton of help. It sounds like you're doing a good job, and I do hope this difficult phase passes.
post #3 of 7
Hi there, I can imagine how tough that must be. My LO is only 14 months so I wouldn't dare offer tips, but I came on mothering today to recommend a book on another thread that I've found very useful so far and it addresses toddlers too. I like it is I feel I share the values that the author describes, which are nurturing, kind and respectful to children. It's called The Thriving Family by David Coleman. He's an Irish clinical psychologist. You can get it on kindle though. Maybe through amazon.co.uk or easons.ie
post #4 of 7
My 22 month old DD is more of a slapper when she gets excited. "Luckily" she saves them for DH and I eyesroll.gif . Now she's not as intense as your DD sounds but I thought I'd share what works for us in case it might be something to try. I say "no thank you, that hurts." and get up and leave the room briefly. I do this consistently and it seemed to help with the biting phase and the slapping is also dying down. I'm gently trying to send the message that if you hurt people, fun stops and they don't want to be with you for a while.
The other thing is that I show gentle touch and say "gentle" while doing so. Whenever she is using her hands gently, whether it be on me, the cat or even a toy I praise her for being gentle and say "that's nice gentle touch. Kitty/mommy/dolly likes that. Good job". I think as much as the correction helps, so does the praise for being gentle. You may have already tried this or it may not be a good fit for your DD but it works for us.
It sounds like you have quite the little firecracker. I hope you get more input from moms with similar kiddos. Hang in there, you're doing a good job.
post #5 of 7

I had one who was like this between the ages of 2 and 3. It was difficult. She broke about everything.


I think it was because she was very physical. She was constantly manipulating things - hitting them, picking at them to see if something came apart, twisting them, just to see how they worked. And yes, things break when you do that.


I would get stuff that she can manipulate. Google "busy board" for one idea. Those are awesome! Also, those dolls that have snaps, zippers, buttons, etc. on them.


We found that getting some bongo drums helped keep her from hitting others to some extent - they make a satisfying sound when you hit them and don't get upset.


Nothing is perfect, and to some extent you have to keep things out of reach that can be broken, and keep close supervision, and just keep repeating to be careful and redirect them to other things they can hit/manipulate. They do outgrow it but it is a difficult time. I saw a website about "stuff my kid broke" or something. Oh wait, I see it's called "S... my kids ruined." The S word is not spelled out here but I'm sure you can fill in the blanks. If there's a whole website devoted to it, it's safe to say we aren't alone.


Don't leave scissors or Sharpie markers out EVER. Trust me on this. Way way up high out of reach. Also, keep your cell phone safely stowed away. Especially don't leave it out on a table next to a glass of water. If you follow those few rules, you will hopefully avoid our most expensive incidents of destruction anyway.

post #6 of 7

I would recommend Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. One of his big things is simplifying the environment- I wonder if that might help your daughter and you. There are videos on youtube if you want to get a peek at his philosophy before checking out the book. Good luck!

post #7 of 7

Our DS went through an intense hitting and hair pulling stage from about 3 - 3.3 (his language is delayed so he was probably behaviorally closer to 2.5 at the time.)  When he got in that place he was destructive and wild.  It was horrible, I felt like I couldn't take him anywhere because the second he didn't get what he wanted, he would go after me and yank my hair and hit my face (which hurt and was embarrassing.)  He also tried to hit a few other kids but I managed to intervene before he ever did.


For the first few weeks I was not handling it well and would say "No hitting" very sharply then leave the room, clearly mad.  This was at the suggestion of his preschool teacher who said I should let him know I'm mad.  I see the idea there, but I realized after a while that it was actually escalating whatever feelings were triggering the hitting in the first place. 


Instead I started saying "nice, nice" and, even if he was trying to hit me, I would sit with him and model gentle touches and just reflect loving physical contact back at him.  I would sometimes have to hold down his arms or restrain him gently for a few seconds and it sucked at first, but it seemed to diffuse the situation much more quickly and the behavior just slowly faded over time until it finally went away.  The other thing that helped was totally tiring him out!  For a while I was literally doing 2 or 3 park runs a day so he could get all his energy out.


Though (and I HATE to admit this) DH got really mad at DS after he split my lip once and DH yelled at him.  Like really loud, really close to his face yelled "DON"T HIT MOMMY!" with a red face and it was the first time, even after all my storming out of the room, that DS actually got upset and seemed to understand that it wasn't a game.  I am totally not suggesting that you yell, but I wonder if there is any way you could help her understand that it is serious? 


Maybe the other mamas here have thoughts on that?

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