Saturday, December 11

Toddler with Worst Temper Grandma Has Ever Seen

Question:  I have a 2yr old grandson that has the worst temper I have ever seen.  He hits, bites, yells, and my daughter has tried everything that she knows what to do or what I TELL her to do but it’s not working.  We need help!  Does he need to see a doctor?  He is a very busy child, always on the go.  He is a sweetheart and I love him but we can’t take him out to eat or anything...HELP!  We tried to talk to a doctor about it and he said he is just a strong will child, but I have never seen a child like this.  I raised three kids and I’ve been around kids...he is the worst.  What can she do or what should she do? Should he be tested?  Thanks - please get back with me....
Answer:
Well, two is tough, and yes, some kids are simply strong willed, but I will tell you right now, a general pediatrician will not be of any help.  They just don't have the training with behavior.  It is possible (if this behavior is new and not normal for him) that it could be his teeth or something physical, but if this is normal for him - I hate to say it, but it is probably how he has learned to get his way.  As far as testing him...I would say 'no' at the moment, because this all sounds behavior related (as opposed to a disorder).  Most of the time (although there are exceptions) when the caregiver changes how THEY deal with the behavior, and stop reinforcing the bad/negative, the behavior calms down significantly.  My guess is that whatever it is that your daughter is doing to "deal" with it is only telling/training the child that "you get what you want when you act this way, so keep doing it".  Our intentions are usually honorable - we only want the best for our children, but many times we end up reinforcing the exact behavior we do NOT want to see!  It is frustrating, but true.   
You must learn how to turn around your entire approach to behavior.  My ABC method teaches you how to look at each behavior, figure out what he wants, then give him the opposite so that he will stop using that behavior (for example, biting) to get what he wants.  When it stops working, he will try something else.  Then we have to constantly SHOW toddlers how we WANT them to behave to get what they want in a positive way.  And we must never, ever, give them what they want when they throw a fit, bite, hit, yell, etc.  It is easy to give in when you are worn flat, but when you do, it only gets worse.  And if he is truly strong willed, you have to put in more effort. 
You are a wonderful Grandma, caring so much for him and looking out for the future, but this is first and foremost your daughter's task.  If she is the main caregiver, she must turn around her approach to EVERYTHING.  And that is not easy.  Most of the time, behaviors like these are related to attention-seeking or simple demands.  They demand and demand - and we give them what they want, thinking it will make them happy.  The problem is that toddlers don't know what they NEED - which is my Five Basics of Structure, Communication, Limits, Consistency, and Guidance.  If these are in place, and your daughter changes her approach/reactions to his behavior, he will feel much more secure and will not need to use negative behavior to get what he wants.
Go to www.LifewithToddlers.com and click on the picture of the fridge for a quick look at my ABC method.  It is a very, very basic overview - you really need to read the book for training on how to change your thinking, but it will give you an idea of the approach to that 3 step method.  My book also goes in-depth into many, many other ways to change behavior and train our kids how we want them to behave. 
For now, think about what you and your daughter are doing in response to the behavior.  Step back and really think about what he wants.  And does he end up getting what he wants?  If so, that has to stop!  Look at that ABC guide and see if you can figure out a different approach. 
Raising toddlers is so difficult - it is nonstop guidance and redirection.  But when you put in the time up front, the end result is fantastic - they grow up into these sweet, smart, secure little people - makes you want to cry!! 
Good luck!  You can do it!!  You just have to be firm and consistent.  

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