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Defiant Toddler

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I know it's been covered several times, and I've read many of the older threads, but I'm posting to see if anyone has any other concrete examples of how to handle a toddler throwing objects, hitting, and refusing to pick up toys.  I have tried "redirecting" him, but whatever I "redirect" him to just gets thrown as well, so that doesn't work.  Telling him "No," or "Do not hit.  Hitting is not nice," doesn't work.  I've had to hold his hands down when he smacks me and then he arches his back and tries wriggling away.  It seems like nothing is working.  Talking isn't working.  Redirecting isn't working. Yelling doesn't seem to work, because both of us just get angrier.


To make matters worse, we are staying with my parents temporarily, and my mom took him yesterday and made him "sit on the chair" at the dining room table after he threw a cutting board against her curio cabinet. Tonight she told me "Whatever you are doing isn't working.  He is out of control and doesn't play well with other kids.  You need to fix it or take him to a doctor because something is wrong with him."


I'm really hurt and offended, but at the same time I know that he cannot continue throwing objects, especially those that could hurt him, someone else, or another person's belongings.  


When I ask him to pick up his blocks, he just ignores me, so I ask him again and maybe he'll pick up one, and then walk away. Other times I'll ask him to pick them up and he'll pick up one and slam dunk it into the box, then refuse to pick up the rest.


Tonight I felt so out of control with anger over this.  I yelled at him to pick up the blocks.  I even cursed at him in the middle of one request because we were about 15 minutes into this power struggle, and he still was just sitting there, picking up one, then playing with the rest, or walking away.


I'm feeling confused about why this is happening, and wondering if something really is wrong with him.  My mom said she's never seen a two-year old behave the way he does.  It made me want to cry.  


He doesn't really throw anything in public.  We go to music class and story-time, and he is usually happy, running around, looking at books, playing with the instruments.  Why does this keep happening at home?  


Trying to "understand his perspective" isn't doing me much good, either.  I "understand" he is full of emotions and is expressing his feelings, or his will, but it is having a negative impact on those around me.  


I don't know what else to do.

Edited by Binduspire - 2/17/14 at 5:17pm
post #2 of 10
Gosh that is hard mama. Today I had one of those days too. I feel ya. How about making a game out of it like" hey, I wonder how many blocks I can get in the box" wanna try?" Sometimes telling toddlers" that is nice nice" does not work because I don't think they understand what nice is. Humm, I have a song I sing to my ds( I have my own tune) okay, ready?" We don't hit mama and we don't hit papa( or whomever) and most importantly we don' hit( insert your son's name) and we change up the verb too. Sometimes my ds will actually sing it to which distracts him in addition he's learning( I hope) and how would he feel for a behavior chart with stickers that he gets to put on when he accomplishes and evening task or such( yes work I know) and sometimes I know my ds will wan to do something like the other day I knew he'd want to share my blackberry pancakes. So right before I sat down he was approaching me and I said " hey I know you want to share this with me but I need you to put your undies on first" it works every time for me. Maybe for you too.
Sorry your mom seemed insensitive. I think parents forget what it feels like to be in these situations.
post #3 of 10
Your mom is wrong, that is totally typical toddler behavior.
post #4 of 10
I'm sorry your mom wasn't more understanding. I think your son's behaviour is absolutely normal, and my 2 yo is just the same. It is incredibly frustrating, the feeling of having no control. But what we do have control over is our own reactions to our crazy toddlers. I try to hold onto that when I'm feeling powerless.

What we're trying right now: limiting the amount of projectiles available to him, closely supervising him, taking a toy away for the rest of the day once it's been thrown, taking him outside to throw toys (and talking about appropriate places/times to throw), repeating about a million times a day "we don't hit/kick/bite people, it hurts and makes them sad", redirecting with water play or books, trying to spend more time outdoors generally. If your son is calmer in public (I think they're like this because they are outside of their comfort zone) maybe try to take him out more?

As for your mom, would it be worth it to talk with her (when everyone is calm) about normal childhood development and realistic expectations? I've seen a book series recommended over and over on these boards, "Your 2 Year Old", "Your 3 Year Old" etc, they are supposed to be excellent for explaining what is "normal" at each age and stage. Maybe you could both read them? I'm trying to find a copy myself.

Hope some of this helps...you're not alone!
post #5 of 10

Could you try redirecting him to something that he CAN throw?  Throw this, not that.  Maybe you have a future pitcher on your hands.

post #6 of 10

I have had a very similar experience with my son (28 months old). It is so frustrating and upsetting. My son threw a toy at his grandparent's house and my father-in-law yelled at him and stomped out of the room. It's at the point now where some days are better than others but I honestly am starting to think it has a lot to do with temperament (some kids seem to be more spirited and persistent than others). I find putting all the blocks or dinky cars or whatever it was that was thrown, and doing it very quickly after a toss, while saying "these toys are not for throwing and because you are throwing them I am putting them away". Then there is no power struggle with him having to clean it up on top of being punished (because like your little one, he resists and says "i am not gonna clean those blocks up" and then I get stuck). Anyway, I clean the thrown toys up asap and say matter of factly that they need to go away and then I suggest something different "do you want to read a book and have a snuggle or do you want to have a snack and we can do cheers with a cup of milk?). If he really freaks out, sometimes I ask him if he wants to start again with the blocks but this time with no throwing and sometimes that helps. And honestly, sometimes nothing helps, except for time. I think they just need to get through it. Good luck and hang in there!

post #7 of 10
I have a 28 month old as well, and it never occurred to me to expect her to pick up her toys when told. She's sort of like a cat, in that she'll do something if she thinks it's her idea...
The throwing and hitting happens when she gets wound up. I very firmly say no hitting or that is not for throwing and then I remove myself or the object. I don't make a big deal or give her a big reaction. Anymore, if I get firm with her, she'll start crying or say she's sorry.
post #8 of 10

I feel ya. Just had a similar "issue" with my almost two year old. He throws things, hits and bites. We had a childcare situation where one of the other children was doing all these things and getting time outs. I feel that my son is too small still to understand what a time out is (another topic entirely) and we ended up enrolling him in a full day program at the Montessori school he was already at. He stopped hitting and biting. Throwing, we're still working on but two out of three for a not yet two year old is good enough for right now.


When he throws things he shouldn't, I take them away and tell him "we do not throw" whatever the object is. If it's something at dinner time or when we are sitting at the table I'll ask him if he's finished or if it happens more than once take him off his chair and tell him he's finished. Generally this gets him to sit down and stop.


I wonder if he feels tension (if there is any) because you are staying with your parents. I know that my son was "acting out" (all age appropriate stuff really) because he was seeing that modeled for him by an older child at the sitters and because he thought that was how he got attention. It was funny because when I mentioned that he was hitting to the teachers at the half day Montessori program they were shocked because they said he was all hugs and would back down if another child challenged him. So I knew then that something else was going on at the sitters. I wonder if your son feels the tension or feels that something is off.


It's all age appropriate stuff. There's nothing wrong with him. Maybe find him something he can throw and see if that works for a bit. Good luck! it's a though situation for everyone.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the book suggestions.  I'm going to try tracking down the one that applies to two year olds.  Yes- my son is always much calmer in public, and at friends' houses.  I am really looking forward to the day that the snow ends!  

post #10 of 10

I know it's really, really hard (especially with your own kids), but I think the best advice is just to stay calm. If my daughter won't pick up something or otherwise follow simple instructions I try to just keep a happy tone and keep on top of it until she realizes I'm not going to forget about it and move on. "Nope, sorry, we can't go outside/read a book/etc. until you finish picking up that mess you made." "I wish we could do that fun thing you want to do, but we can't until you fill-in-the-blank." Of course, on a bad day, I'm much less chipper, but I do find she's a lot more cooperative when I can stay matter-of-fact and upbeat.


I find it's MUCH easier to keep this attitude with other people's kids for some reason. For example, if my nephews are being naughty and their parents are about to lose it, I can see the power struggle forming which I've been engaged in many times with my own kids, but as an outsider I find it's really effective to just take the trouble maker outside for a few minutes and have a casual chat. Step one is to get them to admit that they know the right way to behave. "Is it okay to hit?" (In a I-don't-really-know-the-answer-so-please-tell-me tone, not a condescending parent tone.) "Should we push our cousins into the houseplants?" "Do you think Nana likes it when you take her glasses?" Step two is to get them to sincerely agree not to do it again. "When we go back in the house, are we going to do fill-in-that-naughty-thing-you-were-just-doing?" Usually within 5 to 10 minutes I can get them to happily agree not to do whatever they were just doing and everything goes smoothly after that (for at least the next 10 minutes until the next problem arises). When visiting relatives, I have the same take them outside, try to connect, persuade them what to do or not do, and go back inside happy technique with my own kids, but I have a hard time not falling into the standard, irritated parenting lecture trap when dealing with my own offspring.


Good luck!

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