worried about 2 yo's aggression and personality - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 08-11-2009, 10:52 PM - Thread Starter
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okay. I have a 21 month old DD. Over the past few months she has become increasingly aggressive towards me, DH (not as much), our cat and other children (boys a little moreso than girls). She will hit, slap, kick and grab. It is escalating and she recently "stabbed" a kid in the head with a dinner fork. WHen she behaves this way, she will sometimes develop this devilish grin on her face. I dont know if that means she is just testing her boundaries or if I have a seriously problematic child on my hands. She also started asking for time outs about a month ago. We had never even given her a time out before so we think she learned about it at daycare (not sure if she received one there or if another child did and she witnessed it). Now i do give them to her because, well, everyone else seems to do it and I dont know what to do with her. I do not think they are very affective and i dont really identify with that style of punishment in my heart/mind. I have ordered some parenting books recommended on this site but I havent received them yet.

I have been redirecting this behaviour since it started a few months ago. I also say things like "gentle honey" "hands are for being gentle" and then touch my face with her hands gently. I also say things like, "feet are for kicking balls, not people. kicking hurts the cat/me/your daddy"

She is also exhibiting some worrisome behaviour in that she is SO darn hard on herself. SHe gets extremely frustrated VERY quickly when she isnt able to do something within seconds of trying, even if it's the first attempt ever. She shouts, screams, gets SO frustrated, throws things, falls to the floor, stuff like that.

I am very type A and very competitive and very hard on myself. i am so scared she has inherited this type of personality and these attributes. I am sorry for her bc this type of self-imposed ridigity has not served me well my whole life and i have suffered from feelings of inadequacy, depression, frustration and self-loathing at times. I am okay right now.

We have never met her aggression with more aggression. I still nurse her a couple of times per day. SHe was excl bf until 6 months but I did go on domperidone due to supply issues. Could that drug have caused some of these behaviour issues?

We didnt vaccinate, we dont EVER medicate, we buy/eat mostly organic food. She doenst get food colourings or msg or artificial colours, sweeteners etc. well actually she does probably get some splenda indirectly via breastmilk bc i have a weakness for diet coke. could this be a cause? we have cut down on dairy and gluten. I havent seen a difference but we didnt cut it out 100%. one thing, she is v v verbal. i mean moms say their kids are really verbal and then i will be around their children and wonder what they were talking about compared to my DD. not trying to brag at all, just saying that she is really advanced verbally. she was saying complex 6-7 word sentences by 17 months and has an absolutely gigantic vocabulary. the reason i mention this is someone once suggested that maybe she gets frustrated with other kids her age who arent as verbal?

i dont know. i am just at a loss. i feel i did somethign wrong and i dont know how to stop her from turning into,well, ME! i am worried about her for the immediate and distant future if she is so tough on herself. I also do not like the aggression and violence and how she seems to find it entertaining to receive time outs.

i am sorry this is so long. Does anyone has BTDT advice for me? is this normal? how much does a child's personality at age 2 and earlier, reflect their future personality?
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#2 of 4 Old 08-11-2009, 11:20 PM
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BTDT with my two older daughters. With DD, now 11, we used to laugh about how we needed to hold on tight on the emotional roller coaster. My middle DD, now just past 2.5, is also demonstrating a lot of the stuff your child is doing.

Raising Your Spirited Child is an excellent book, I highly recommend it to you.

For my DD, the trigger is ALWAYS boredom. And while she plays very well on her own and enjoys doing so, when she's bored...look out. I find she bores more easily when she is tired.

What I do is try to ensure she is getting adequate sleep. I also try to make sure we do one fun gross motor skill activity every morning and afternoon. I find if she doesn't get enough good movement for a day or two, she gets harder to deal with. It's been challenging as we have had a very cold rainy summer, but we've just started having fun in raingear.

Another thing I ensure is that she eats very regularly. Hunger is also a trigger.

I can also tell you that now DD is 31 months old, it is starting to get better. We have longer periods now where she is sweet and helpful and listens to me. We have less conflict. But I think a lot of that is me taking the time to learn to read and understand her cues and to respond to them in a way that doesn't make her crazy.

I don't do time-outs. We tried but she would just hit her sister and then send herself to time-out. It was a total joke for her. I'm pretty sure she won't grow up to be a sociopath - my ODD was just like that and today she's a remarkably lovely 11 year old who is loved by everyone who has ever met her. She's my pride and joy
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#3 of 4 Old 08-12-2009, 02:05 AM
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First, you have a 21 month old. NOT a 2 year old. Really, those 3 months do make a difference. Not in terms of her verbal skills (since she's clearly got those down well), but in her experience, her ability to self-regulate (almost non-existent), her lack of impulse control.

Several thoughts:
Her behavior sounds very typical for an intense toddler. Instead of looking for outside 'causes' (you seem to have eliminated most of them), I would work on learning to deal with her outbursts and personality. For better or worse, that's what you've got to work with.

Right now, you're seeing all the 'negatives' in your personality traits. But clearly there are some positives too, right? Having high standards and being persistent are good things. For a 15 or 20 or 50 year old. They're hell in a 2 year old (for the parents). But who better to teach her to deal with these traits in a healthy way than you? She doesn't have to grow up with self-loathing.

I'm having our ds assessed for anxiety next week because anxiety runs rampant through my family and he's showing signs. Part of me is grieving because I really wish he could avoid this for him. Part of me is thankful that I know the signs and there are resources available now to help him.

FWIW, my niece was a child with high personal standards, intensity, sometimes aggression. My sister describes her standing next to the pool SCREAMING for 30 minutes because she wanted to jump in, but couldn't bring herself to do it. There was NOTHING her mom could do to help. She wanted to do it herself, but couldn't. Today, my niece is a beautiful, accomplished 20 year old taking high level science/math in college, playing piano beautifully, and singing in an a capella choir for fun. She has a very loving relationship with the sister that she nearly hugged to death (and nearly dropped a pumpkin on, and pushed over more times than you could count.) She's well adjusted, has good friends, and is quiet and very likable. This could be your daughter's future!

I've got some readings that I think you might benefit from. Some may be for yourself more so than your daughter because she's so young.

Raising the Spirited Child
Understanding Your Child's Temperament
Living with Your Active Alert Child
Living with Intensity (this is the one that's more for you)

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#4 of 4 Old 08-12-2009, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
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thank you both for your replies.

You make a good point about the fact that she is 21 months, NOT 24 months and that those 3 momths represent so much change and development.

I have ordered the spirited child book. i had never heard of the last one about living with intensity. i should get that one too. i have so much reading to do it seems.

i think i might be feeling overwhelmed bc we are contemplating baby #2 very soon.

thanks for your suggestions and for reading my looonnng post.
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