Marty - destructive behavior

My 2 1/2 year old son is very loving, has fanatstic language skills, always shares his toys and is never horrible and has never thrown a tantrum, however he has little concentration on things and has recently become very destructive.

My mother looks after him during the day and he woke from his afternoon nap recently, climbed out of the cot and tore her front room apart tearing up fake flowers emptied all of the cupboards and put the contents all over the floor, it looked like a whirlwind had been through there. He has done this once before in my sister's bedroom, opening her nailvarnish and proceeded to "decorate" the room. He is generally like this with his toys, he tends to pull them all out and put them all over the floor.

It is upsetting my mother who feels he has a serious behavioural problem, but he isn't showing any other symptons and i am now getting to my wits end please help!!!

Dr Maud Answers:

You need to find out why your son is doing as he's doing. On the Toddler discipline page, you will be given a guide as how to work out what is driving your child's behavior.

First, what is the trigger - is it always the same?

You have described the behavior well. It seems destructive and attention seeking.

Next, what happens after the behavior - what is the "reward" for your son. Sometimes it's just getting attention. If that is the case, make sure he gets attention when he's doing "good" things and make very little fuss when he is destructive other than to say, "we do not break things". You could also start using time out - click here for more details.

Maybe after the havoc, your mother is trying to keep him occupied by reading a story or some other activity that your son likes - you need to make sure that the 2 are separated and he doesn't associate the reward with the "bad" behavior.

You may find the Talking to Toddlers audio course helpful - you can hear about great ways to change your child's behavior and avoid the terrible two's "Talking to Toddlers" - click here. The audio course not only gives strategies for dealing with a willful two year old, but it gives strategies for communicating more effectively with all ages.

Good luck

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