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Loosing Patience with 2 1/2 yr. olds

559 Views 11 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Proudmomoftwinsplusone
I need some help! My boys are just really getting into trouble lately and I feel we're going down a negative path! They aren't listening, throwing food when they eat, and peeing places they shouldn't! They also aren't getting along with each other. I'm needing advice on how to keep my cool during these times. I've found myself yelling lately and really not enjoying staying at home with my kids! Is this just a phase? How do you continue attachment parenting through these disipline issues? I feel like they aren't listening to me at all!
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I haven't parented a toddler yet, my boy's only 4 mos. but i did work in daycare with 10 toddlers.

So, FWIW, whenever i ran into troubling behaviours I'd try think about the situation- the ABCs of behavior:
A=Antecedent (what happens BEFORE the behaviour occurs)
B=the behaviour itself
C=the consequence (does the outcome of the behaviour lead to a positive or negative result for the child?)

I know it's kinda text-bookie but it makes sense, clearly they're getting some reward out of it, even if it's negative attention. Try to change either the A or the C and the behaviour *should* follow. If you notice they're peeing somewhere inapropriate after lunch, factor in a bathroom run as part of the day's routine.

Never lose your cool, and don't be affraid to discipline. Having negative consequences is a part of life, your children need you to set boundaries and teach them what is and is not acceptable behaviours. Be consitant and predictable!

Hope that helps, I know trying to alter a behaviour isn't always that simple.

Good luck Mama!
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i am right there with ya. we went outside for a good part of the day and that helped.

as frustrating as peeing all over the house is...can't really get mad at them for that. one day my son only had one accident and it was ON MY BED when he wasn't even sleeping. ha. i guess i should get a waterproof cover.

if jason throws food he is done with the meal.

if he isn't listening, i try everything i can to distract him, explain why he can't do that, or whatever. if that doesnt work it is a time out

i think i need to make a big poster to remind me to be patient. i was just thinking today what kind of a mother am i that i get frustrated with just one child? i was thinking what about people with twins?!
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I do have twins! AHHHHH! No, really, I have identical twin boys, and wow are they a handful! My husband was off work today and HE was loosing his patience worse than I've ever seen him. Literally, my children are just too much to handle right now. I don't know why they are having these problems. I feel like we're mostly getting out a lot. Usually 2x a day, even if its crappy weather. Maybe they are getting sick again. They are getting molars. Anyway, lots of behaviors they know are against the rules. Like splashing water WAY out of the bathtub-then throwing his body around, so it was soo hard to get him out of the tub. Any suggestions? Thanks for the ABC's. I'll try!
Go hang out in the Gentle Discipline forum here.
Lots of good advice and support.

Also check out for some really good, *practical* discipline/behavior tips (ie., how to speak so your toddlers will listen, positive ways to say No, etc.).

FWIW, I don't think that 2.5 yr olds are really old enough to know what is/is not "against the rules." That's why repetition is so important at this stage -- they simply don't yet have the cognitive ability to remember "No splashing" on their own. You just have to keep repeating it, and trying other methods of dealing with the problem. Any kind of discipline has to fit the developmental stage of the child, or it's inevitably going to fail. And IMO, by looking at their actions as "getting into trouble" or as "problems", you're setting up a dangerous dichotomy which is only going to frustrate everyone in the family. They aren't misbehaving; they're just two and a half. This is what two and a half year olds do, KWIM? Their language skills are limited; their abilites are limited and restricted; and they have few ways to express their own frustration, anger, and other emotions (even the positive ones) other than this behavior. So it might be helpful to try to address the underlying stuff. What emotions are they feeling when they do this? Are they angry, tired, hungry, need to burn off some energy, feeling like they need some attention from you or your partner? Or are they just exploring their world and experimenting with cause/effect? Or some combination of those things?

Also, check out Alfie Kohn's work -- especially "Unconditional Parenting." It's not as practical as Dr. Sears's website but it is a great read nonetheless -- more underlying theory. It really has changed the way that both DP and I think about discipline/parenting. You can read some of his work on his website ( or look for the book at your library.

HTH. Hang in there Mama. I have a 32-month old myself, and a newborn, so we're dealing with lots of that stuff too.

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I second the advice to look at the Gentle Discipline forum - lots of good advice and ideas there
ha we have been working on little splashes. i sound like a really not fun mommy! i'm doing the best i can. i can't clean up a big flood and wash all the towels every bath time. you could put less water in the bath. just an inch high. they could shower with you?

my son dumped a cup of water on the floor and i know at the time i was like WHYYYYY. he also dumped his little potty full of pee onto the bathroom floor and i'm thinking NOOOOOO. ha PATIENCE!!! i try to get the cleaning over first so if he gets too crazy, i can take him out. oh i see he resisted getting out. if you empty all the water, they will get cold and wanna come out. i don't know what to tell ya. at the time he drives me
but afterwards i see he was just being a kid.
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Just to say . . . I have 2.5 yo twins too and some days I think they will be the end of us. We have been practicing AP/GD since day one, and lately the Alfie Kohn book a pp mentioned has had a lot of impact on me (but let me point out, he never had twin toddlers!)

Anyway, lately I've been focusing on the worse behaviors (life and limb kind of stuff) and shrugging of the rest a bit. And, as I always have, workign to identify the most important things we need to work on and leave the rest till later.)

On the weekends, whenver we can, my dh and I "spot" eachother. In other words, he'll take them till he feels burned (not at the point of losing it yet), then we'll trade off while the other adult recovers.

And, now that the weather is nice again, when I'm really on the verge, we pack it up and go outside. I think the biggest thing to remember is that they aren't being "bad" or "defiant", they just don't have any impulse control and aren't able to think ahead, or remember the distant past. When you remember that they are still more like little monkeys than little humans, sometimes it makes it easier to take.
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Thanks. I know using such negative words doesn't help the situation. I know my boys aren't "bad" or anything, I just work so hard to be patient and sometimes it feels like they're working so hard against me. I've also noticed that since birth, we go through spells of things feeling really out of control, but it calms down and everything is indeed fine.

I just need support from other SAHM, because this is so hard! I want to do the best for my children. I'll look at the gentle disipline forum.
One thing that might help is telling them what you want them to do rather than what you don't want them to do. So instead of saying "Don't hit your brother," you say "We use gentle hands on other people." That way they have a clear directive for what behavior you want and you don't go around saying "don't" all day.

I think this is good advice but honestly I have a hard time with it. I am programmed to say "DON'T" first, but I do try and have good results when I remember to do it.
My very verbal, normally compliant 2.5 yo is being very challenging too right now... of course I'm 41.5 weeks pregnant too!
I personally think it is a combo of the stress of waiting for the baby and DISEQUILIBRIUM, which is totally a developmental thing that can throw everything for a loop. It seems to happen around half-year marks, so that is why my 2.5 yo and all the others I know seem to be really hard to deal with lately (The Ames & Ilg books do a great job explaining this.) I personally view it as a good thing- she's not acting up b/c I'm being a horrible mommy, but she is really pushing boundaries because of her own developmental issues that she needs to work through. My job is to keep us all safe and sane during this time.
And I get to look forward to some positive developments on the other side!

Oh, here is a great link I just found talking about the disequilibrium issue... But I don't recommend Ames & Ilg's parenting advice, I just like their description of behavior and development.
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I am having the same problem with my boys. They have been acting like this for a while and they will be three years old soon. It is getting a little better though. Whenever I try to tell them that throwing is not nice, etc. they are too busy looking at each other and laughing to pay any attention to me. So, the minute they look like they might be contemplating any devious behavior at the table, I immediately take the food away and say "you look like you are done". I try to preempt them.
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