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More Toddler Tantrums

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Dear Susan:

I have a 2-1/2 year old who has changed from being a great kid to a monster in the past few months. I understand the terrible two’s” are on us but he is becoming unbearable and I’m afraid of making mistakes now that cannot be corrected later on. I have also come back to work part-time after being off for almost a year and I know he is probably confused about this but he appears to love his childminder a lot so I have no worries there. He is being taken care of in our own home. He also has a 10 month old brother whom he loves one minute and hurts the next. Please can you advise what to do, I am reaching the end of my patience with him.


Dear Angela

Thank you for visiting my web site and for writing. My words of encouragement to you are that children who are younger than 4 “test” their behavior to the limit. They want attention for both good and bad situations, and they want to be reassured that you are in charge and that you will set limits to them. They want always to know you are in charge when you are home and the child minder is in charge when she is there.

Even if your son acts up, the reality is he needs to know the schedule, give him plenty of notice before you leave and call him from work. Give him many, many “reminders” about the schedule, even if he cries, acts out or throws a fit. Give him reminders about your family rules, about what you think is acceptable, unacceptable and inappropriate, and set up consequences so he knows you mean it. Say what you mean. Mean what you say! No threats, no bribes, no surprises. Avoid yelling or hitting because what you do, is what 2-1/2 years old love to mimic and copy. Be sure your child minder knows what to do to enforce your consequences.

“Time out” doesn’t work with 2 and 3 year olds. Holding, distracting, substituting, talking, singing, changing an activity, and playing are all techniques for his age. Have a sense of humor and write me again if you would like more ideas.

Thanks again for writing and visiting our site.


Susan H. Turben, Ph.D.

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