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How to better deal with impulsive and defiant toddler.

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#1 miffee

Posted 12 January 2017 - 04:19 PM

Dd1 is 2 years 4 months and we have been dealing with increasingly defiant behavior. She is also very impulsive so somtimes its difficult to know if she is being 'naughty' or just not thinking. While I am sure it is very age appropriate I would appreciate some tips on how to (more patiently and effectively) deal with her.
We currently try to redirect, give a warning and do timeout for 2 minutes if the behavior continues. But it doesn't seem to necessarily 'change' anything. I.e the behavior reoccurs.
She is a very good talker and seems to understand well too.

#2 nup

Posted 12 January 2017 - 04:35 PM

Hovering helps me at times. It means i can run interference and block her sometimes. A swift yet calm "won't let you ...(insert whatever it is), and physically stopping it is asserting a clear limit. There will still be resistance but they soon lose interest if the limit is communicated without emotion.

The definace is a normal age appropriate response to limits. They just need to be communicated clearly, confidently and calmy.

Google Janet Lansbury's No bad kids. Her blog has loads of really helpful but short articles

#3 Prioritising Pooks

Posted 12 January 2017 - 04:44 PM

I cry, shout, beg and bribe. But mostly I try to get on her level and empathise while setting clear boundaries, and reduce the points of conflict... and not take it personally. DS was dreadful as a toddler and is now mostly delightful. It's unlikely DD will stay as revolting as current behaviour indicates. I try to remember there's a lot of time ahead to make sure she's not an a*s*hole. She just hit her brother with a board book and laughed when he cried. I'm sure our feral toddlers will come out the other side ok. Keep them safe and feeling loved and it will come together, I think.

#4 Lou-bags

Posted 12 January 2017 - 05:01 PM

What nup and Pooks said.

Since my DS2's arrival, my patience has steadily decreased. The new snappy shouty mummy has had an awful effect on DS1's behaviour.

For the last 2 or so weeks I've been working REALLY hard to keep calm, not shout, and just use simple firm, consistent boundaries and it's working much better. His tantrums and boundary pushing are nowhere near as bad. Less frequent as well as less intense.

He still does impulsive, silly (to me, and perhaps to him too) things. It's not deliberate, he just lacks impulse control because he's still only a little kid.

I really don't think there is any way to stop them from doing the same stupid thing again and again and again. Just keep running interference, repeating the same message again and again and ride out the storm I guess?

Good luck to you!

#5 José

Posted 12 January 2017 - 05:30 PM

I think part of the key to patience is yout self talk.  So if u find yourself thinking things like little.... or how dare she or she's doing this on purpose etc etc you will find yourself short on patience.
If possible try to find some more helpful thoughts eg she's doing her best, this wont last forever etc.

Whats an example of defiant behaviour? Im not sure timeout would effectively teach a two year old new behaviours?

Im a huge tina bryson (and dan siegel) fan

#6 miffee

Posted 12 January 2017 - 08:36 PM

Thanks so much for all the support and advice. I suppose today was a particularly challenging day. I also have an unsettled, non-sleeping 4 month old so my patience is thinner than it should be.
I am unsure about the 'timeouts' being effective too.
This is one example of what I see as defiance from today: trying to leave the house, she often runs off as soon as we get outside so I try to remind her of my expectations (something like this)
'Ok we're going to visit Nanna and Pa so we're getting in the car now. When we go outside we are getting straight in the car. We are going to have fun!
DD: we get straight in the car.
Me: that's right well done.
As soon as we get outside she runs off down the driveway.

I'm off to google the suggestions. Thanks again!

Edited by miffee, 12 January 2017 - 08:37 PM.

#7 Riotproof

Posted 12 January 2017 - 08:54 PM

I feel the need to apologise to anyone I gave toddler advice to before I had my daughter. TBH, I think my son largely skipped over the toddler stage, he was headstrong about a few things, but mostly he was easy going.
She is fierce. And adorable, but she seems to take the more extreme edge of everything toddler thing I've ever heard of.
Parenting toddlers seems to be about being consistent and constantly reinforcing expected behaviour, but within their limits. So, holding hands as you leave the house, or you will be carried.

#8 Nastyflea

Posted 12 January 2017 - 08:55 PM

I wouldn't consider that defiance though.
That's a 2 yr old with the world ahead of her and freedom at her feet. She's not thinking like an adult or older child would, she's seeing FREEDOM!
And some kids are runners.

I would hold her hand every time you left the house(if possible), or keep the gate closed until she and the baby are in the car, strapped in, then open the gate and drive away. In car parks, she has to either be strapped in the pram, or holding your hand.
If she runs off, she goes in the pram or trolley so she can't run off, and say "If you run away, you will be in the pram so you can't run off from mummy" every single time she does it, till she learns.
Chasing makes it into a game, so try to not chase her as much as possible.
I have a friend who has a 2 yr old runner, she's constantly chasing him. He thinks it's hilarious, he'll run into traffic one day! But she won't make him hold her hand, and she wont use those kiddy back packs with the tail leash things.

#9 Ellie bean

Posted 12 January 2017 - 09:05 PM

My first child DD was 12 months old when my second non sleeper was born (and DD could already run by that age and admittedly did have behavioura l issues), I'm kind of horrified to remember that I used to be so frustrated I would scream at her to come back etc, I look at photos now and she was so little! Im glad I managed to remain as patient as I did most of the time- I try to remember that when I want to scream at my youngest (now 3)- not that I always succeed! Be kind to yourself, try to count to 10 before yelling, go cry in a wardrobe- it's a tough gig!

#10 Ellie bean

Posted 12 January 2017 - 09:08 PM

Also I agree that's not defiance- I don't thinki you can verbally reason with them in my experience till around 3, you just have to show them by repeatedly enforcing the consequences eg you run off, you go in the pram, and not  even giving them the chance to play up when you can avoid it

Edited by Ellie bean, 12 January 2017 - 09:09 PM.

#11 indigo~

Posted 12 January 2017 - 09:25 PM

Similarly struggling with my 2.5yo son at the moment. Taking him out and about is very challenging as he's a runner. And he is surprisingly strong! I can't make him hold my hand as he turns himself inside out to get away. I can't keep him in the pram or wedge him back in the pram as he fights like a cornered cat if I try. Even picking him up, he turns himself inside out to get down. Next stop is one of those pack backs, I think.

My mantra at the moment is distract, distract, distract. And maybe not taking him out till he's 12.

#12 nup

Posted 12 January 2017 - 11:00 PM

I have perfected the sack of potatoes carry. Not possible with a baby but with older children it can be handy as it lets them all know I mean business, gets some giggles and immediately shifts us all into another gear.

The backpacks are fabulous. I've not met a toddler yet who doesn't love them.

#13 ekbaby

Posted 12 January 2017 - 11:23 PM

I don't think 2 year olds really have proper brains yet. They just do what they want, they are all "id". They can't put themselves in your shoes at all. They've just worked out they are their own person (separate from you) and they can move their own bodies and have their own wants and desires that are getting more complex than "food" "cuddle" "tired" etc.

That doesn't necessarily help you. Except to know that when time out etc doesn't work I don't think you are doing anything wrong, it's just that that strategy might not work on a young 2 year old, as they are a bit like goldfish and not really able to think ahead to the consequences. Consequences and time out have worked with my kids once they were 4 or so, my 5 year old definitely understands especially if the consequences are directly linked to the behaivour (eg... if you don't pack up your pool toys after swimming, next time you can't take the toys in). But for 2 year olds I think it's still a lot of fencing, distraction, using a leash when out if they're a runner, modifying the environment as much as possible to remove sources of conflict (eg having biscuits etc out of sight and out of reach so you're not having to deal with tantrums 50 million times a day)...
The warning and explaining the positive behaivour expected is really good too.. mine definitely listened better to being told what to do instead of what not to do... ie like you said, we are going to go straight to the car (instead of "don't run away!")... keep trying! You're doing great!
My 2 year old DD is an absolute devil and I would be stuffed if I had a 4 month old to contend with as well these days- do whatever you can to make things easier- fenced playgrounds, soft play centres and playgroup (in fenced or indoor locations) are my favourite baby/toddler combo activities.

#14 José

Posted 13 January 2017 - 05:38 AM

I think calling the example you gave defiance is a bit unfair. Perhaps if you reframe/ relabel the behaviour it will help you remain calm and patient

#15 MadnessCraves

Posted 13 January 2017 - 06:40 AM

DD used to do this. I'd give a simple stern, 'no' and hold firmer when walking. We also harness and that gave her some 'freedom' and as for the pram, we compromised, I didn't buckle her up if she didn't try wiggle out of it. Only time she had to be buckled was when we were near a busy road. I'd tell her there's a lot of fast cars and we need to keep her safe so she doesn't get hurt. She accepted that.

It really comes down to reinforcing and being consistent with your answer. If they sense weakness they will do it again.

#16 Rosiebird

Posted 13 January 2017 - 07:57 AM


#17 indigo~

Posted 13 January 2017 - 12:22 PM

Great link, thanks Rosiebird.

#18 WigglyWoo

Posted 13 January 2017 - 01:41 PM

DD is 2 years and 1 month and shows similar behaviour. With DS I never dealt with the terrible 2s, DD is making up for it! Ha ha! This morning, she picked up a book and walked over to DS 4 and looked at him for sale while before hitting him on the head with it.
In the past, I have tried telling her no and redirecting her, but I have decided when she hits etc to give attention/cuddles to the other person (usually DS) now and see if that has an effect as she doesn't like it when he gets more positive attention than her!!

#19 Elissa03

Posted 13 January 2017 - 01:55 PM

Janet Lansbury also has some articles about helping toddlers adjust when new babies come along - you might find some of that relevant as well, if that's what's driving her to test limits, etc.

Here's a couple I found with a quick search:



#20 PeaSoup

Posted 13 January 2017 - 01:59 PM

Sorry for the long response.

I'm following the Janet Lansbury "No Bad Kids" as well and I've found her suggestions very helpful when coping with a nearly 2.5 year old, 'spirited' boy.

For us, giving DS a choice about things that don't really matter (eg do you want the blue bowl or yellow bowl?) has helped give him some 'control' and he's pretty happy with that.

For situations where there is no choice (eg changing nappy, bedtime, etc), I will give him a set time to be ready for the situation (eg "let's get into your jammies when Peppa Pig is finished" or "one more minute then bath!") and he is usually happy to comply.

When he hits something or me, as they do, I will deflect or hold his arm and, with no facial expression and bored tone of voice, I will say "I won't let you hit. It hurts" or "I don't want you to throw that. I might break. Here is a ball to throw".  I've found that distraction or getting upset doesn't work at all for my DS.  Explaining why the behaviour is unwanted seems to work better for us.  And a bland face/voice takes the fun away from DS doing it.  DS likes getting a rise out of us, so I don't give it to him.

DS is a runner.   I try to avoid going out with just DS as I usually need DH to help keep an eye on him.  We always have a tight grip on his hand.  If he tries twist out, I'll give him a choice of holding my hand or being picked up.  Or we go home.  He will usually hold hands.  Sometimes he's happy to sit in the main part of a shopping trolly (he won't sit in the seat).  Sometimes he will throw a tantrum. Sometimes we just have to leave.  It sucks and it's hugely frustrating because I'm limited to when DH is available.  But DS will grow up soon enough.

I also 'don't sweat the small stuff'... if he wants to go to bed with all of his toys,... fine, whatever... I let him.  I remove the excess toys when he's asleep.  No drama.  He wants to play with cookie-cutters?  Fine.  They can't cause any damage.  Whenever I've taken an object from him, he's always become more obsessed with getting it, so now I let him have it (within reason of course) and he gets bored with it soon enough.  Easier.  Less drama.

I know it seems that DS just gets away with everything, but I found myself saying 'no' so much and it not having an effect, that I knew I had to change my attitude.  I save a loud 'NO!' for when it's really urgent and important...it has a greater impact.

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