Terrible two's.. out of control!

by Amber
(Canada)

I am very concerned about my 2 and a half year old son. He has terrible behavior. He has never acted like this before, he is so bright and soo smart for his age.. I'm starting to think I should take him to see his doctor, maybe there is something wrong with him??


He will scream at the top of him lungs and throw himself around if we don't give him exactly what he wants, he has lost his voice from screaming for so long. We have tried doing crafts, colouring.. etc with him and he still just freaks out. We live with my parents and he will be upstairs with grandpa for lets say an hour and I'll go see them and say "Hi bear" all nice and sweet and he yells at me and says "NO!" and trys to hit me then he's in the worst mood ever.

Also we are trying to potty train him and he was doing great peeing on the potty but he will not poo, which is fine so he will tell us his bum hurts so we put a pull-up on him so he can poo because nothing works to get him to poo on the potty. But now since these tantrums have started he's peeing his pants. I don't know what is wrong, he gets sooo much love and attention from me, his dad, his aunties, uncle, and grandparents who all live in the same house.

So I don't know what it could be. We're all getting so frustrated and concerned. Please heeellpp???!! =(

Dr Maud Answers
This is why it's called the "terrible two's" - toddlers of this age really push the boundaries and often exhibit quite challenging behavior as you son is doing.

First, the screaming matches. Understanding them might be the first step - follow the ABC approach - click here. This often helps identify what needs to be changed - usually you need to change the consequence. Even if the consequence is negative feed-back that is still some attention, so ignoring (or no attention) might be more helpful. Certainly if the screaming matches are like temper tantrums and they do sound like that, then ignoring them is the best way to go if you can't avert them in the first place. You don't need to actually ignore them as that's pretty hard when there's all that noise, you just have to look like you don't care one way or the other (ie. as if it isn't affecting you). After a while of this ignoring consistently, your toddler will give up (but only if everyone does the same).

It is absolutely imperative, especially when there are so many adults in the house, that everyone is consistent in their approach. It is no good if someone is thinking a behavior you don't want is "kinda cute" as the mixed messages will confuse your toddler.

As for the toilet training, just continue to give lots of praise for using the toilet/potty and don't worry too much when your toddler doesn't make it.

All the best

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