How do you discipline a 2 year old?

My son just turned 2, and he is a little terror! It's so difficult to take him anywhere, because of the constant tantrums, and it's even more difficult to stay at home because all he wants to do is get into trouble. I just don't know how to discipline him when I'm not sure if he understands things like time out yet, and I am against spanking him (I did once and I cried and got him ice cream because I felt so guilty). It's especially hard in certain public situations, because sometimes I can't let him just scream his head off, but I don't always want to give in to him either. I need help! Thanks!

10 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Time out works. All you are doing is depriving him of your attention during his temper tantrum. You place him in the corner, and tell him that you are unhappy with his behavior, and you are willing to wait while he decides to change it. If he stops crying, you can ask him if he's decided to change it, or if he does not have the ability to reply to such a question, then you can simply decide by the lack of crying, that he may be done acting poorly, and be ready to try to behave good again. Communication skills aren't needed for time out to work. He doesn't have to understand your actual words. He can learn from simply doing something wrong, and learning that it results in an unhappy mom placing him in time out, which he wants to avoid, by not repeating the same thing again. It worked on all of my children, and even on the family dog, who also learned to go stand in the corner when scolded for misbehaving.

  • 1 decade ago

    I know exactly what you mean. The main thing we have to do is to be consistent. It's harder than it sounds. Never let him get away with something once, and not allow it the next time.

    I recently watched a DVD called Painless Parenting for the Preschool Years, from Love and Logic. I really liked what this guy had to say. Here are some of the highlights:

    Effective parents give a large dose of empathy before consequences. He says to say "Uh-Oh" really long and drawn out in a sing-song voice and then give the consequence. We've been doing this. We just say "oops" or "darn it" instead usually. But this lets the child know that they are bringing on the consequence themself, and it's not the parent just making up punishments.

    There are 3 ways to handle misbehaviors: Remove the object of offense, remove the child, or remove yourself.

    The first one is easy. He's banging a toy on the TV. Say, "Uh-Oh." and grab the toy away and put it where he can't reach it. I usually leave it up until the end of the day. At first, there will be fits and tantrums. It didn't take our son too long to realize that if he uses something destructively, it will be taken away. And, it's not me being mean, it's him that brought on the consequence.

    "Remove the child" me, this means time out. We use sitting in the corner. I like that because you can usually find a corner wherever you are. The video actually recommended locking the child in his room, but there's no way I'm going along with that. At barely 2, he can begin to understand time out. If it's a public situation, try to remove him. If that's not possible, it's still best to not give in. Giving in to tantrums does nothing but increase their frequency. It worked last time to get what he wanted, so he's going to try it again.

    "Remove yourself" He's throwing a tantrum, walk away. This way, you will not be giving any reinforcement for the behavior. Lock yourself in the bathroom until he's done.

    Another very important thing is to praise him up and down for the smallest proper behavior. "Wow! You put that toy away. Great job!" If he even tries to help, "Thank you so much for being so thoughtful." What we pay attention to increases; what we ignore decreases. And, it does not matter if the attention is positive or negative.

    I really recommend the video if you can get it. We've been using some of the suggestions and like them a lot. Good luck!

  • 1 decade ago

    I have the same problem with my daugher who is 23 months old. But recently, I've been standing my ground and she's finally listening to me. I agree, it is the attention that they want. Since they're at the age of self-identity, they can't distinguish between right and wrong about everything. I try time outs and they work. I just sit her in time out for 2 minutes (1 minute per age) and she'll cry hard and then stop. After that, she'll say sorry and hug me and then she's done with getting in trouble. If she's not in the mood for time out and she cries the whole time, I'll redirect her. For example, if she's messing with the phone after the second warning, I'll pick her up and move her elsewhere and hand her a toy of hers. She eventually forgets about it. In public, I look her in the eye when she's throwing a tantrum and if she refuses to look at me, I'll move her head so that she's facing me and I remind her that it's inappropriate to be loud indoors and if she cries one more time, we'll sit in the car and let her cry it out until she's done. I've never really had to go to the car to stop her because when I remind her, I use a different tone of voice which she recognizes as the "unhappy, annoyed mommy" lol. It's a challenge but they're starting to learn right and wrong now and it's better to get them trained early before they get out of hand! Good luck :)

  • 1 decade ago

    I have been a nanny and worked in before and after school programs for about 7 years now, and I can tell you that your will know what time out is, but you have to introduce him to it. I am also against spanking, and I think that the best thing to do is not get upset, because a lot of times the child will act up for attention, if he thinks he is getting to you he wins. Calmly place him in time out, or if you are out take him outside of the situation and have his time out in the car or on a park bench. The thing to remember is that you are the one in charge not him...and after he is securely in time out ignore him so that it truly is a time away from interaction... let him scream, just make sure that he knows that if he does that he will not be allowed to participate in that activity. I will take awhile for him to get use to the new discipline but stand firm and I promise you that it will gradually get better.

    I know it can be frustrating just hang tough.... GOOD LUCK!

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  • 1 decade ago

    I feel just like you- hate spanking my daughter, never wanted to do it, and wanted to try the time-out thing, but thought she was too young to understand. (She'll be 2 in August). Aren't the terrible two's so much fun? ;-) I go through the same things... take her to the park, and when it's time to go she throws herself on the ground and just kicks and screams. At home I can ignore her tantrums and she'll stop (because at home she's wanting attention), but in public it's hard to ignore them because people stare at you like you are this horrible parent.

    I still haven't found a solution that works 100% of the time, at home and in public. What works for me most of the time is letting her cry for a minute on her own (and if she's throwing a fit at home I'll put her in her bed to calm down), and then I kneel down to her level, put my arm around her, and tell her quietly she's not being very nice. She'll start to quiet down, and when I ask her if she's ready to be nice, she'll sniff and give me that little "yes." Then she's over it. As for the rest of the time, I'm still trying to figure that out too!

  • 5 years ago

    There are some kids that will give a pretty hard time.. i'm still trying to figure it out to.. eventhough you tell them no, they will find something else to mess around with.. when you find the answer .. let me know plz.. luckily my daughter has never given me a hard time.. not when she was a baby or till now that she is going to turn 4.. she has always been a good kid.. but i know one that somehow doesnt get the point even though you tell them a million times..

  • 1 decade ago

    All kids are different, but mine at 2 definitely understood time outs. A few time outs at home and while we were out the words "time out" had him begging "No Mommy, I good!"

    I also gave him time outs while we were out and about. It was hard and very time consuming, but I would take him to a corner in a store or if he got loud we'd always go outside and have him face wall.

    Someone once told me, "whoever said being a parent was going to be easy?" That rings true every time I have to punish one of my kids.

    Good Luck!

    Source(s): 3 boys - 15 years to 7 months, I've been there!
  • Love!
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    You need to stop giving him the attention he craves for bad behavior. If he is being bad at home, put him in his crib/playpen/somewhere that isn't fun, no toys, and ignore him.

    In public, I beg you, please, do not be one of those people who lets their children scream and cry and not take him away where the other people don't have to hear it. Take him to the car and sit there with him until he calms down. Strap him in his safety seat and don't give in, let him sit there in silence until he calms down. Don't talk/threaten, just ignore him, it's attention that he wants and if it's negative or not, he doesn't care.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    spank him and i promise you it will work. imagine years to come it's only going to get worse trust me.

  • 1 decade ago

    dont spoil him, stand strong, and let him know whos boss.

    when he does something wrong tell him, and be strict about it.

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