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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

I am feeling pretty inadequate right now as nothing seems to be working.  My eldest is having the terrible two's and I'm finding it really hard to cope.

We've used and had mixed success with all sorts.  We use the "naughty chair", it normally works on a 3 warnings and then in or if it is something really serious straight in.  She's asked to sit in there and calm down.  We sometimes don't use the chair if we are not in the room and just use the calming down/time out method.  We've tried ignoring, but this just makes her worse, and we've also tried to make light of it by laughing together and saying she looks silly when phlailing around on the floor (this just turned her into a performer - has worked on friends kids!).

However things are now getting progressively worse, as she has now started to scream in people's faces, particularly when told not to do something (we don't always just say "NO"), we've tried previous methods to control/stop this but to no avail.  Today I decided to take drastic action and use shock tactics by screaming back to show her how unpleasant it is.  I did it and then promptly burst into tears, I just feel awful.  I think that upset her more.

Can anyone suggest any alternatives?  I just want them to stop as it is making parenting so unpleasant right now.  Just hope the youngest isn't taking note and  decides to follow suit!

A frazzled Karen x

Premium Member
2,762 Posts
hiya Karen
first of all don't feel guilty about not enjoying being a parent all of the time hun....it comes with the territory that our little darlings are also prone to being little monsters sometimes...especially the wondrous periods between 2 and 3 years  ;)
It sounds to me as if she is merely testing her boundaries with you, which is healthy and normal for a child of her age.
Time-Out is a brilliant way to take control of the situation and give you both some much needed breathing space.
Have a particular "code" of warning her that her bad behaviour is not acceptable, warn her that it is not on, and that if she continues she will be taken to the quiet/naughty chair, or her room etc.
Little Angels uses a minute for every year of their life, so leave her in her room, or in the chair for 2 minutes. It's NOT easy as she may howl, kick the door, stamp her feet etc, which will make you feel 100 times worse, but! it DOES work hun!
My son used to drive me totally insane at that age, and I was at my wits end on many occasion.
Timing him out worked, over time he knew that if he played up, he would be warned, then the second time he would be swiftly scooped up, no conversation, and taken to his room.
Ohh he'd howl, kick ten barrels out of the door, but I knew he was safe, he couldn't hurt himself, he just had to blow his stack..and then calm down...which seems like an eternity to reach but they DO gradually realise.
Your daughter is growing up and reaching new milestones physically and mentally and it is a testing time for both of you. She is developing her own unique personality and is already forming her own opinions, and at the moment she is merely seeing how far she can push you...and beleive me...it's gonna get worse before it gets better.
The trick is to "try" and diffuse the situation as and where you can,
shouting back will only give her the idea that shouting is ok...if that makes sense?
Staying calm is hard to do when they've fed you up with their moods and tantrums, but a quiet, calm voice, will show her the way.
Her new found freedom associated with her age, is also a most confusing time for her, emotionally, and children this age can lose control so quickly....a bit of a "huff" can quickly turn into world war 3 if we don't recognise where it's going and learn how to stop it escalating.
Firmness, fairness and lots of love...although a hug is the last thing you feel like doing when she's driven you potty, a gentle "now there's no need for this is there sweetheart, come on let's go and do some drawing, play doh etc" with a hug and a kiss to boot.
The final bit of advice is ignore her outbursts, if and when you can, and of course, providing she's not wrecking the house in the process.
Sam used to have the "freddies of freddies" EVERY time we went shopping.
When told no! he couldn't have any sweeties, my oh my! he'd launch himself down the aisle...somewhere between the frozen peas and dog food ^roflmao^ you feel SO embarrassed and ashamed! you wish the world would open up and swallow you!
So....I decided to ignore him. Carry on (cheeks flushed) with my shopping list, keeping an eye on his break dancing tantrum along the aisle.
On one occasion he kept on and on....howling, kicking on the floor, so I moved to the next aisle. I kept him in my sight, just said "ok, Mummy's going now to get the cats food....bye bye".
I stood and watched the realisation dawn on his tear stained face and he went mad with panic that he'd been abandoned.
I felt awful! but it worked! He came back to me, and helped me to continue with the shopping, quietly and no further outbursts.
It wasn't the end of his tantrums Karen, but he soon learned that that kind of behaviour wasn't on, and it got him nowhere.
Similarly, when he DID behave when shopping he DID get a little treat. Nothing expensive like a toy, maybe a piece of fruit to eat in the car on the way home, or a promise to do some baking with him...simple incentives to encourage his good behaviour.
Parenthood comes with no instructions hunny, and we've all had times of despair, thinking that we're the worst parent ever etc..but you'll get through it sweetheart...persevere and you'll be back to enjoying being the wonderful Mummy you know you are  ;)
Lotsa love, and (((((((HUGS))))))

Premium Member
8,035 Posts
Hi Karen

Sorry to hear you're having such a tough time of it at the moment  ^hugme^  Some good advice there from Gayn  :) 

I too used the method of time out in the bedroom.  With not a word spoken, but just lifting Jack up and putting him in his room and shutting the door - sometimes used to have to hold it shut too!  Now at the age of 4, if he's naughty he just gets told to go and off he goes, screaming, but I don't have to yell so much.  It does make you feel really rotten, but it does work in the long term. 

I'm quite a strict parent, and don't know if it's that or luck, but have been pretty fortunate with tantrums in Jack - yet to see what Ben may produce  ;D  He had them, but they were short lived and easily controlled, by either ignoring in the house, or removing him from situations whilst out and about.  Whilst in a shop I'd first try and diffuse a situation as I saw it start, maybe with distraction or change of subject, and if that didn't work I'd ignore the tantrum and can't tell you how many times I pushed around a screaming child in the trolley - never used to let him just go for it on the floor or something, just picked him up and put him in the trolley seat and carried on as normal.  Probably made him worse, but it meant I could just quickly get on with the shop and out of there ASAP!  I decided in the end though that I wasn't going to allow myself to be embarrassed by other people, and once I was in that mental frame of mind it wasn't so bad - not always possible though and I did abandon a fair few trips midway. 

I think the key is to be consistent with both boundaries and punishment.  So, say give a warning first (I only use one and not 3), and only warn that the punishment will be something you will/can actually carry out, and then don't back out of it no matter what.  Often you can end up missing out on social events/leaving places that you really wanted to go to/stay at, but it only takes a couple of removals from these places, or not letting them go to something for them to soon realise that you mean business and what you say is what you mean.

So in the instance of one of my children shouting in my face, my immediate reaction would be no warning - as that's really inappropriate behaviour - and me saying very sternly that is the case, and then with no further discussion, they would be taken to their beds, put in them, and the door closed on the room!  The end!  Once the tantrum in the room had passed, I would go in and very firmly tell them that the behaviour was unacceptable, why it was unacceptable, etc.  Then have a big cuddle and move on from it.  Would probably have to repeat this about a zillion times over the course of several weeks before the message really sunk in, but it would sink in eventually  :)

When I send Jack to his room now, I make him get in his bed as well, as he was just going in there and playing with is toys  :mad:  so not much of a punishment really. 

I think ignoring tantrums really is the key though - even if it does make them worse for a bit, longterm things will get better.  As tantrums tend to work on the basis of a child thinking that if they behave in a certain way they will eventually get what they want, and the more you give in to them, the worse the tantrums become.  It's a viscious circle.  Time out is great for giving you both a bit of breathing space. 

It is such a natural part of growing up, but it can make life very difficult at times too.  It's hard for any parent to cope with, but I imagine as your girls are only recently with you, you want everything to be so perfect right now, and I can understand how it's so upsetting for you.

Really hope you can find a way that works for you and your family to help regain some control.  Be the boss!  ;)


Jayne x


1,708 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks so much for the advice girls.  I instinctively knew as soon as I'd done it that it was wrong.  I suppose I am so used to dealing with naughty adults and being able to let of steam in other ways (I really miss having my gym bag in the car and if someone at work peed me off I'd go and let off steam in the gym)

I think she realised though yesterday as she kept saying sorry and giving me a cuddle and telling me she loved me and I was doing the same too, so we are friends again!

I find it really hard to ignore her though when she upsets others.  Her little sister gets really worked up if she is crying and the dogs also do too.  When she does this I do show her how upset she makes others and without prompting she does say sorry to them.

One question - given the close age gap of my two (1yr 3 days apart) I am struggling to work out balancing each of their needs whilst its going on.  I can't take the eldest upstairs, as I'd have to take little one too (she gets so fretful if left on her own - I wouldn't find that fair), but also she gets really upset when her sister is having the screaming ab dab's.  Do you think if the eldest went in the chair (in the lounge) and I took the youngest into the hall with some toys, then I could see both but keep them apart??

I can't believe how hard this all is.  We have so many unexplained things about their behaviour as we've not had those first years with them.  The high's out weight the lows though and each time I have a day/intance like yesterday I always think I'll speak to the HV and by the time her visit comes around the issues have gone or feel insiginificant in the scheme of things.

Best dash youngest is getting naggy with her teeth and does not want to carry on napping!

Thanks again
Karen x


1,831 Posts
Hi Karen

So sorry you're having this stressful time. 2 under age 3 is not easy  :-\ :-\

I went through a really bad time with my dd at one stage, so I know how you feel!  And, as you do, read up quite a bit and also had help from my HV team.  Most of what I read indicated that Time out is great from aged 3 up - but before that you need to phyisically remove them from the situation and hold them close until they calm down (in effect you do the time out with them, and it takes as long as it takes).
THe best thing (and the hardest) is to ignore the bad behaviour, unless they are at risk of harming themselves or another child). If you need to remove them from the situation but don't speak to them until they calm down. Then when they do calm down give lots of praise for being a better calmer girl.  
You probably won't believe this, but I think this shows your eldest is settling in well and is ready to test the boundaries!  When she does something lovely do praise her (I'm sure you do!).

We did the naughty step from when our daughter was three ish. But when we went through all the trauma with her behaviour when she was four our helper said we shouldn't focus on one place as she may refuse to go upstairs.  I thought this was tosh. But now - ages later, our dd refuses to go upstairs to the loo by herself and it is a real pain!

We have found the spotting good behaviour and encouraging to revolutionise dd's behaviour. She still has epic tantrums (aged 5) i.e. when a friend has to go home after coming to play - but I try to cuddle and calm, and give heaps of praise when she does calm down or when she does say goodbye nicely.

I have not been an ideal Mum - I used to be very negative and embarrassed about my dds behaviour - but I now know where my pressure points are and try to forestall these. My anger management was poor too which didn't help.  I fretted when school seemed critical of her, and worried when she was noisy in church, and would then take it out on her and tell her she was bad. This in turn set up a cycle of her behaving badly cos that's when she noticed. Mostly it turned out to be boredom. Jeanette and others on this site were a huge help. This year things couldn't be more different. She's one of the youngest in her class, but leaping ahead in all her work. She's proud of what she's achieved, and we tell her how proud we are.

Like Jayne I'm fairly strict about behaviour too. And in fact the children are better for knowing where their boundaries are. We got the bad behaviour because I never followed through on threatened punishments.  We scored big time when we said NO TV for 20 minutes for a sad face (tantrum) on her star chart. WOW did that work fast! ;D  Like Jayne too we have a warning system. ASK, TELL, FINAL WARNING.  i.e Please come to the table xxxx and put the TV off. (You can do this more than once - but the three stages are the same). If no luck I then say "xxx Up to the table (no please) now" Then "XXX I'm now telling you to sit up for supper" she knows that at the word TELL I mean business and we never get to final warning these days. If you do get to final warning you HAVE to go through with the punishment. Time out is what we do.

We do have instant time out for breaking Golden Rules - i.e. hitting, pinching, biting, kicking and shouting rude names at Daddy. So I'm often on the naughty step myself!! ;D ;D

Sorry - all that above is a bit meish! But the truth is Karen that we all go through it!

So nutshell - if timeout isn't working it may be she's too young for that at the moment.
Also try
Praise and extra time with Mummy (i.e. a book by herself with you all to herself without the younger one being involved "Mummy wants to do this with you just by yourself today as you've been SUCH a good girl not shouting this morning/ afternoon etc)
Notice when she wants to do something  ^evil^ to get your attention but stops herself.
Give her a pillow to punch or scream into when she's cross.
Walk away (is she's safe) and take no notice of her for 2 minutes (kind of time out reversal!)
As she gets older
Star chart/ reward chart
time out

- Hope you don't mind all this waffle!


Premium Member
1,259 Posts
I don't know anything about this so not going to offer any advice but to say go easy on yourself Karen.  You haven't had the benefit of growing up with the kids for the forst year or so and try things out.  In addition you have to cope with all sorts of past history.

I do know as a toddler my parents just used to leave me to scream if I had a tantrum.  We also occasionally were sent into the hall for timeout.  I do know people who have naughty steps in their hall.  Personally if the hall is safe I would send the oldest into the hall and keep the youngest in the lounge.

Good luck and big hugs


Premium Member
5,346 Posts
Hi Karen - I agree with Clare, your life has changed enormously over the past few months and you mustn't be hard on yourself !  Toddlers have an in-built ability to know what winds us up and the worst ways of getting attention !  They become experts in it !  Sometimes you will be able to ignore her and other times you won't.  But either way, I am sure you are doing fine.  Enjoy the good times and don't beat yourself up about the not so good times.

Love and Hugs
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