Hi, my daughter is 21 months old and is currently going through a phase that is starting to seriously test my patience to the point where the smallest of things stress me out. She is hitting, grabbing, nipping, shouting, through and deliberately ignoring me. We have tried the daughter corner, naughty step and putting her in her cot. I have now resulted in screaming at her but she shows no remorse at all. It’s not the way I want to be but I just don’t know how to get her to behave. We have also tried ignoring her bad behaviour and encouraging the good. Is it normal for her to be acting this way at this age? Help please!
Hi, I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles. I’m no expert in this whatsoever but I thought I could offer some of the things I’ve been taught that may help you.
In my experience kids misbehave because they want attention. I don’t know your personal situation and I don’t want to make any judgements. Has she got enough to keep her occupied? Maybe she needs a regular routine of activities to cycle through in the day so she doesn’t feel the need to go everywhere and wreak havoc. I’ve been researching the Montessori method which is essentially to just have them involved in the activities you’re doing. For example, if you’re cooking then just give her a plastic bowl and ladle and let her ‘help’.
When you feel like shouting at her, you should take a step back, kneel down and talk to her at her level. It’s less intimidating for her and she’s more likely to want to listen to what you’re saying. Instead of straight to the naughty step or corner, give her the option of either behaving or sitting in the naughty corner, e.g. ‘hey look that’s not good behaviour. If you continue doing it you will have to sit in the naughty corner. Do you want to behave now or sit in the corner?’ She may retaliate with attitude, in which case sit her in the corner and try again next time. Hope this helps!
At this age toddlers want independence and control. Sometimes we have to find some time for them to have some control, e.g. you can give her a few options (keep it very simple though). Instead of 'Please put your shoes on', you can try 'Would you like to put your shoes on on the floor, or on the step?' Try to acknowledge her opinion and stay calm.
Or if she is refusing to put on her pyjamas, try ‘Ok, so you don’t want to put your pyjamas on.’ Then calmly tell her that she won’t have time for a book if we don’t put them on in the next 5 minutes. You will have to follow that through (and you will get tantrums and upsets) but the behaviour needs an honest and fair consequence. Stay calm while you are talking and acknowledge upset again. ‘I understand you are sad because we are not having a story. We are going to bed now and we will have a story tomorrow.’ Often when you acknowledge the upset, it helps to calm them as she is feeling heard and understood.
Give her opportunities throughout the day to develop her independence, e.g. ask if she’d like to carry something from your shopping basket into the house.
Continue to acknowledge when she is doing something you love: ‘I love how you are sitting at the table today.’
And model behaviour as much as you can. Tantrums are horrible to witness and I feel your exhaustion. But children don’t know how to control their emotions so we need to show them and help them how to do this, e.g. if something makes you feel grumpy, tell her: ‘Oh that made me feel a bit grumpy, I’m sorry. I need to take a deep breath to calm down.’ Modelling this behaviour and labelling the emotions can really help.