I'm sorry, that sounds really difficult. My kiddo is also 2, and seems to really like pushing the boundaries to see how we react.
What seems to work best with her is that I have really minimized my reactions when she starts acting up. She'll throw her dishes on the floor and make a big mess, and instead of saying no or trying to punish her, I just act like its nothing unusual, get us some paper towels and just noncholantly say "oh I guess we have to clean this up". When she hits, I no longer say "ouch!" since she thought that was funny, I just hold her wrists and say "don't hit, it hurts" but other keep my reaction really minimal.
They are too young to reason with, so I don't bother with time-out or explanations. I physically redirect/remove/restrain her when she is too destructive, but mostly just try to de-escalate. When I yell, or say "no!" or "stop it!" she just thinks it is a game to do it right back. So I started reacting differently, and just plain ignoring small irritating behaviors that aren't all that bad. And it REALLY seems to be helping. And sometimes when she is being difficult I'll realize I haven't spent that much time paying attention to her, so I'll offer to read a book with her or take her outside. In some ways it seems wrong to "reward" bad behavior, but it distracts her from whatever fit she is throwing, and they are just learning how to communicate and don't know how to tell us they need more attention in a positive way.
I have a 2-year old daughter who can be Jekyll & Hyde. She's so sweet much of the time, but often goes a mile a minute and definitely goes ballistic at many a meal time (we only use plastic bowls & plates &cups for her), upturning a finished meal, pounding on the table with utensils, etc.
In her "meanie" moods, she doesn't turn her ire towards me, but can be mean to my parents and husband and say "no" or show them the hand or not let them help her, instead handing me a spoon to feed her (even though she can actually feed herself). It seems like a familiar mom-separation anxiety that we haven't seen for many many months. My husband was putting her to bed for a while and she's had babysitters, but not lately...now only mama can put her to bed. She is also fine at a playschool she goes to a few hours a week.
I'm not anywhere near my wits end with it (it's a new thing), but the thought of this going on for months is already tiresome.
Thanks for posting this thread and hopefully some good ideas, like the one by the pp, will come out of it. I hate to say it, but what the pp talks about is very similar to training a puppy... ignoring the behavior you don't like instead of using big reactions (which just gets the dog more worked up). It's a good reminder of a technique that is right in front of my face - we have a 2.5 year old dog :).
Does anybody know if this behavior is perhaps related to any language milestones that might be occurring around now? I know that sleep regression and fussiness accompany many milestones (like sitting up and walking, etc.). Please let this be a short phase...
New mom who left a life at sea for my DH, my "firstborn", 10-month old puppy Betsy - Lab/Border Collie mix - and my DD Amelia, born June 2 and growing like a weed .
My 2 year old can be a complete and total sweetheart, and then try out for a role in the next Exorcist at the drop of a hat. I've noticed with him that he gets overstimulated really easy, and things most people wouldn't realize could be upsetting add up and spoil his mood. He won't always complain, but he hates loud noises and constant noise. If we decide to vacuum, then run the dishwasher, then make a smoothie, before that smoothie is done, DS is going to be wreaking havoc one way or another. If we play music for too long, he's going to progressively become more agitated and all hell may just break lose. He loves music, but he prefers it in small doses, not a constant soundtrack for our day. The biggest problem he has is that his 8 year old sister happens to thrive on chaos. She talks, sings, hums, and runs around constantly. To add to it, whenever possible, she interferes with absolutely everything he does. It can get pretty ugly as when he flies off the handle, he's prone to physically attacking DD, and he um... wins. He needs opportunities to play on his own uninterrupted, and he needs peace. I've noticed he's a much happier kid when I send DD off to do her own thing regularly, make sure I'm not butting in too much myself, and keep the noisy activities broken up throughout the day instead of all at once. Also, he's a major homebody. Spending too much time away from home doesn't work for his personality. He likes to go out, but he doesn't like to stay out all day, especially not regularly. It can be confusing at times he since definitely makes plenty of his own noise, but I guess he's immune to is own.
DD is and always has been the complete opposite. She needs lots of stimulation and turns cranky and mean when she doesn't get it.
Have you noticed any particular times of day or after certain activities that she's at her worst? What about changes in routine? What's going on when she's on her best behavior? Sometimes it helps me to think about what was going on for the hour or so prior to the crazy. If I can pinpoint what's bugging DS or DD, I can usually prevent the same thing from happening in the future (or at least limit it) and prevent the meltdowns and general grumpiness from showing up in the first place.
Sometimes our toddlers feel the need to cry, scream or make messes and its not our fault necessarily. It sounds like your DD is looking for attention and since she knows you give her a lot of attention when she acts out, she keeps doing it. You give her other attention, too, but a 2-year-old's behavior is not terribly logical. What you put emphasis on is what they often hang onto as being a way to get your attention, so maybe try making less of a deal of her chaotic behavior. The extra negative stuff she does will become less and less over time if you dont make a big deal out of it. Case in point, oftentimes when i stop trying to comfort my daughter or talk to her when she's crying from not getting what she wanted, she'll stop sooner rather than later.
Two year olds can certainly be trying! What has helped me with kids that age is to set up the environment for success, get breakables and things you don't want them to have up out of reach, use baby gates to keep them in areas of the house that are kid-friendly, try to set up a routine for when you are together that works for both of you.
This article from Dr Sears has tips on toddler discipline:
This article covers why not to hit your child for discipline:
Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds 10yo dd 8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds