Extreme terrible twos!

by Samantha
(Central ky)

I my daughter is 2 1/2 and is very smart and high energy! She has suddenly started screaming and being uncooperative and defiant. When I try to put her coat on and say "it's cold outside, you need a jacket" she goes nuts and refuses to put one on. When we try to put her in her car seat she screams so much and so loudly she almost makes herself vomit, and the same for bedtime!

She says she is scared when we go to put her in her bed at night and wants us to lay with her or sleep with us (which is a big no no for me) and it's a continuous battle, we have tried night lights, glow in the dark stars, as soon as I try to leave the room she keeps getting out of bed and opening the door to come out, I have had to sit beside her bed every night until she falls asleep.

I'm at a loss of what to do or how to approach her, I've tried getting on her level and talking softly and trying to explain why we need to do certain things I've tried being the firm parent and nothing seems to work or help, I am drained and the tantrums are just getting worse! Please help me with any advice you can give!

Dr Maud answers

This is not an unusual problem. It sounds as if your daughter is determined - that will probably be a big advantage in her life but I know it can be challenging at this age.

First off, make sure your daughter is tired by bedtime by ensuring she has lots of physical activity in the day.

For the nightime, you need to be sure that she is not occasionally getting her way. So, you need to be firm and once it's bedtime, if she gets up, she needs to be put back in bed immediately. Not only that, everyone has to be consistent, so both parents must be on the same page otherwise it won't work.

You could start reducing the time you spend with her once she is in bed as well, so start leaving the room just before she falls asleep and then a bit earlier - see the Sleep page.
A gate across the door may be very helpful.

Try to keep your reaction to tantrums fairly neutral and then make big fusses when your daughter does anything that is not 'unacceptable'.See the temper tantrum page.

Good luck. It already sounds as if you have the resolve to fix this.

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