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June 05, 2006


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ugh! md! we are totally going thru the same thing with our babystinkpup! he's turning 3 in July, and to tell you the truth, we've found two-and-a-half to be the worst part of the terrible two phase. A lot of people say three was worse for them, but I'm telling you, we are in the throes of defiance from our guy! All we hear from him now is "NO!" and "I want to doooo-wit MYSEEEEEELF!" in his best version of a screaming little boy doing his best to sound like a girl. It's deafening and ear pearcing! I totally emphathize with you and BL. Hang in there!


It's amazing, the things they pick up on. I think people frequently underestimate kids' ability to percieve, particularly when it comes to cookies.

I'd try to avoid doing the time-outs in the crib. That's one place where developing a negative association would be very bad.

Oh, and in hindsight, I think the terrible twos is a bit of a euphemistic term, given that at the age of three, they have very little improvement in impulse control and reasonableness, but are vastly more sophisticated.

Anyway, good luck.


Dude, it's no use. This I got from a very experienced child educator: from the age of 2 to 3, they've got their own book of Things I Need to Learn Before I turn 3. And they're going to barrel through those chapters without looking right or left and with total disregard for anyone/thing that tries, in any way, to impede their progress.

Yeah, yeah, we all try to follow those well-intentioned (annoying) parenting books, but looking back as a parent of a (marginally more rational) 3.5yo, it was mostly a grit-your-teeth-'til-you're-scarlet proposition.

Eileen Dano

The parenting books never warn you about the fact that the so-called Terrible Twos can often last until the child is around 4. Good luck!


you think this is bad. just wait unil she see's her first gucci bag. hopefully neiman's will have a time out too.


I commiserate. I am alternating between lachrymose (what have I done wrong?) and crimson (what are you doing???) at present. Having received all kinds of unhelpful advice, running the gamut from capitulation to fatal beatings, I am relieved to see what Anna Q had to say. Bonne chance.

Motherhood Uncensored

No cookies. You couldn't spare the poor girl a damn cookie?

teehee. Don't worry. We're in full fledged "I must have it now" mode here.

Good times.

Mama Nabi

Why is it so funny when it happens to other good parents? :-D Little Nabi has started showing certain stubborn tendencies... we are scared. LN also sees cookies and treats that are totally out of her sight range - do they have X-ray vision at this age??


As a father of a 2.5 year old, here's my best shot:
This works better than any other technique I've read, tried, seen... although I'm still often bested by my boy's *umm* age-appropriateness, especially when in public and his baby radar senses conditions are ideal for "maximum tantrum impact" :) I call it the "I feel your pain, dog" method.

So what I or my wife do: reflect back to him with equal intensity what he seems to be feeling... earnestly, not in a teasing way. If he's spinning on the floor sudsing up in the trauma of a "No, you can't have that cookie" from Daddy, I get down at his level and say" I want that cookie. I WANT that COOKIE now! Now! Now. NOW!" *Usually* he pauses and looks at me like "Gee, you get it, dumbass!" and then we dial it down from there. I explain I hear what he's saying and get what he's feeling, but a cookie isn't such a great idea right now because we're eating dinner soon, but maybe for dessert (or something to that affect). Something about conveying that you hear and understand what he's feeling FIRST makes the follow on efforts (whether explaining, distracting with something else or other tactic)work much better. He actually hears me (No way! Way.) if I can show him by "reflecting" that I hear him first. When I don't do this, he's not going to hear shit! Forgetaboutit! Having offered this up, I also must say keep your JEDI parenting meme in mind, because as good as all the theories sound from well meaning books, friends, commenters like myself, etc. "Fail, you will." The Force is strong in these young ones. Your bottle of scotch and sense of humor will also come in handy:) Good luck and it's great to read a post like today's and the ensuing comments because it reinforces how universal this toddler parenting challenge is - and lord knows, one can never have too many tips from the village. "I feel your pain, dog!" Indeed.


I do something similar as Mike. When my 2 year old starts screaming and flailing around on the floor, I get down right next to her and start doing the same thing. I don't know whether it confirms her sense that her behavior is ridiculous but it eventually calms her down. Being a newbie, I'm not sure what the long-term ramifications are. Unlike you, I've yet to read a parenting book. I keep planning to though!

Cookie Monster

Me wants to help you out MD. Me thinks you should send all cookies in your house to me so this never happens again. Me will keep them safe for you and the Peanut.


I can't offer you any good advice, but if you want to make her even madder the best thing to do is order her to lay on the floor and cry and when she keeps yelling say "good girl".


Welcome to my world, MD. Although we never used the crib for time-outs. We had to hold her in our laps for a few months until she learned (quite quickly, actually!) that if we told her to sit on the stepstool and stay there, then she had better do it. 'Cause we're mean, mean parents.

When the tantrums start, I just look at the Munchkin and say, "You won't win an Oscar with that one! Come on, kick your legs! Emote!" I like to mock my child. It's one of the perks of parenting.

Oh, and it's a proven fact that a toddler can detect cookies within a quarter-mile of their present location. Just turn them loose in a mall and watch - they'll find Mrs. Fields faster than you can. If they don't get distracted by Starbucks, the Disney Store, or the play area first.


As the father of twin girls who are only 13 months old right now, I think I'm going to be in big trouble when the terrible twos roll around. I'm looking forward to hearing the advice all the seasoned vets have for newbies like us.


Sarah: Wow. Just so evil. I love you.


Oh I do sympathize. I currently have a 3 1/2 year old who shows no signs of ceasing the tantrums and a 16 month old who does face plants on the floor (regardless of surface) when she is pissed. We do our timeouts in one of two corners in our house. I learned the (via the internet) that the terrible twos are a misnomer and that they last until about 4 years old (some bullshit about lacking impulse control--whatver!)

I now do a lot of walking away when it comes to the 3 year old's tantrums. More because it now pisses me off so much. Sometimes I will laugh at her and call my husband in and say, "Look who's being a baby? I thought Peaches was in the only baby in our house?" I know it isn't nice, but it gets REALLY OLD after awhile.


Consistency is key. I don't think it's so much where the time out is given as that the same sequence of warning and consequence is followed. We almost never had to give our daughter time-outs, but our son has gone through waves of behavioral changes that have sometimes meant a dozen time-outs a day.

I know some families do great with a 3-count, but we keep it simple: one clear warning and then a short time-out on the steps. If he can't stay in time-out, or repeats the behavior, or tantrums, he goes up into his crib for a few minutes.

And from our own experience with our daughter: yes, it lasts until 4. And then it morphs into whining. FUN!


She's like Sybil. Too funny. I have one like that too. As she gets a bit older and more vocabulary, you can reason with them a little more. But we do time-outs too. Just be consistant. If she throws a fit, put her in time-out. If you give in to it even once, she will continue to have them all the time. They are smarter that us I promise. Good luck.

Pickle's Papa

I'm just worried that when my daughter gets to that age - that I will have trouble 'out-tantruming' her to get what I want from my wife.


Dude is 20 mos too. He is yelling, "NO!" to everything. At least yours isn't a biter. (And how sad is it that we're looking to reality show care givers for parenting advice? Do you have any idea how often I say, "What would SUperNanny do?" I swear to god I watch just to make myself feel better about my own little monster.)


We're working on time-out too. Unfortunately, Eli LOVES the time-out chair. When I hand him a drink he runs to the time-out chair as if I am his damn waiter. Which I am, of course.


I totally agree with Velma, consistency is key. Also, making sure that the kid is well rested and fed. It's amazing how much adequate rest and nutrition do. I have a 13.5 month old and 4 and a half year old (and yes, tantrums last past 4 and merge or overlap the whining phase). I don't need any books to tell me that when they're hungry and/or tired I risk losing my hearing if I get in their way on anything that they want.

Also, you might want to choose your battles and there's nothing wrong with negotiating as long as you make it well known that you're the boss. Although my boy hasn't gotten to this stage quite yet, my girl got hungry a bit before dinner and started screaming for food (usually some junkfood) to which we'd gave her a small healthy snack (like a few apple slices or grapes) to hold her over till dinner which works...most of the time.

Good luck!


Just before dinner is the *key* tantrum time. Mine usually just can't wait as long as I can for dinner, so I usually give them a snack as specified above while I am preparing the meal.

That being said, sometimes they're just being two. Or four. MIM recently had a great post about this, with Mary P. If you didn't read it, I suggest it.

We never had t.o. w/ my first, and that was a mistake. My second does t.o. just fine in his crib; he settles very quickly there. But the key is to NEVER, EVER GIVE THEM THE COOKIE.

(unless you're in public and you really, really, really need them to be quiet...)


It gets better in the teenage years. You can actually get a diagnosis of oppositionally defiant. Not that I would know anything about that.


It's not 'til 21 that the social and emotional choice-making area of the brain becomes fully mature.

Just think, only 19 more years to go.



I hear you, man. My pumpkinpie is just into two and the craziness has just begum in earnest now. I thought we were getting there a few months ago, but now she has added a new weapon - finding reactions funny. So we began the timeouts this past week too.
So far, it has curbed the hitting that was the problem, but it's early days, so we'll see.


Its a Korean girls job to kick Korean men in the nuts emotionally, mentally, and occasionally physically for the entirety of their lives. You get married, so one Korean woman stops using your sac as a speedbag. That did not please the balance of nature, and it send forth another being to do that.



Stack up on scotch.


Yup! This is only the beginning. I missed my window of thinking it would be wonderful to have another one of these. Now I am waiting until the terrible 2's are over. Maybe when my son is 20, I'll consider having another.


Our Okapis went through the Terrible Twos and kept on with the Even Worse Terrible Threes. Our little girl is so much harder. When she gets upset she throws her head back and slams it against whatever happens to be there, the couch, the wall, her brother.

There are times when she is close to losing it that I can pick her up and ask her what's wrong and she can say "I'm HUNGRY" or "I'm TIRED" but that took a lot fo me asking to help her connect it all together. If she is hungry or tired she is more likely to go apeshit on us. Like yours, she is very smart and knows exactly what she wants. On the one hand we want to encourage that, but on the other we want her to be respectful of us as well. We don't want to crush her, but she does spend quite some time in time-out.

One last thing...time-outs in cribs are sometimes counterproductive because they associate something negative, punishment with the place they sleep. That's why a corner or a chair often works better. Just a thought.


I thought I was a great parent. my 2 yr old didn't throw tantrums. if she got upset, she covered her face for a couple seconds till she calmed down or she quietly layed herself on the floor and then got back up.

then she turned 4.

she's 7 now, and hasn't grown out of them - was late picking up her little sister cause I had to search for her shoes in the schoolyard today...

count yourself lucky. she's having them now. she'll probably grow out of them.

(and kids often grow to like their time outs and put themselves in it to cool down so I don't think the bed thing is always bad - really it depends on the kid - now that mine's older she tends to put herself in her room to chill out before I do)


i totally understand-- my son is about to turn two and has recently decided to go completely bonkers over certain things. But like you, i find it quite amazing how quikcly & drastically their emotions can change. And altho sometimes i find it funny too, i have to be the grownup and scold him as well. Altho sometimes its just easier to laugh.


My son just turned 4 in April and let me tell ya it has been a hellish ride for the past year and a half. I am seeing a glimpse of hope lately though.

His pediatrician offered the advice of say it once and mean it, which my husband and I have been so inconsistent that we felt we already screwed our chance up for that advice. But basically he gives his children one chance to do what he tells them and that's it, if they aren't getting dressed for school and he tells them to, the next time he goes in he's picking their clothes for the day and makes sure its an ugly mismatched outfit. This is just one example he used.

Yes it is early for your Peanut to be thinking that but wish someone would have offered that advice to me before now. We always give our son way too many chances.

Another friend reminded us that 4 year olds are just smarter 3 year olds so don't expect it to be much easier yet!! Good Luck, you sound like you handled this situation well.


"Winner gets a free cookie"? Fuck that, MD - how about a DVD player? Now that you're gettin' em for free, and all...
Posts like this one chill me to the bone, as Yoyo is about 7 or 8 months behind the Peanut - it's a depressing glimpse into our future. Luckily, it's all still fun & games at our place, for however long it lasts...


Um, yeah. You let me know when you figure it out because I, uh, understand.


Seriously with all that cuteness in that picture how could you NOT give her a cookie. I would melt.


They didn't have "time outs" or "indoor voices" when I was a kid. We just got smacked in the head. Good to see times have changed.


Good luck with the timeouts, Metro. As a few people have mentioned, they don't always work. My youngest LOVES timeouts. He practically runs to the corner and seats himself in the chair. It's not a punishment for him and we're working on alternative forms of discipline. Wish US luck!


My advice: don't do timeouts in the crib. Or in her bedroom. What, do you WANT her to see her crib as a cage? Believe me, if you want to continue sleeping while she's still living with you and Bosslady, you want her to have nothing but positive, warm and fuzzy associations with her crib and bedroom. We do timeouts with our 3 yo, but they are in a neutral spot: the top stair of the stairway that leads from the living room downstairs to the family room/play room.

And, I agree with what others have said. Timeouts work. For a while. Then you need to find something else. (We're still searching.)

el diablo

Welcome to the club, MD. There's no going back now!

Cityslicker mom

suppressing the smiles-that's the hardest thing...


Umm. I so don't want to tell you this, because if I knew this when my kid was 20 months old, I might have slit my wrists - but I think you deserve a warning.

THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING. This is actually the MILD form of the terrible twos, which, by the way, are at their most terrible during the 12 months that span 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 (currently in that stage of hell with my youngest son, but I see the light at end of the tunnel, he turned 3 in March).

Keep doing what you're doing, stay consistent (time outs in the crib are very effective at that age - and honestly I still use them even on my 3-year-old) and even when it seems like it's not working, I repeat, STAY CONSISTENT. It's crucial -if they see an inconsistency, they hop all over it and things get worse.

Have fun!! (Parts of it really ARE lots of fun...)


We try to work the Good Cop-Bad Cop routine with our rodent. If it can work for middle management, it can work for YOU!


Sounds like you know what to do about her tantrums so you go daddy! Unfortunatey, they only get worse and even more sinister from here on so stick to your guns and remember that you are the parent and she must do as you say and not the other way around. Hopefully, by the time she becomes a teen *shiver* you won't have such a bad time of it.


I'd have a hard time not giving a cookie to such an adorable little girl! How can you resist? Actually, it's good that you're not giving into her whims now. You'll be better off down the road.


Like a few other people said, I'd find another place for the TOs. Buy a cage if you must. Sometimes I wish we had one.

Beth B.

I love the fact that you and the Peanut hang out and play musical instruments together. You seem like such a fun dad.


Just wait until she starts talking back. When I tell my 22 month old, "Jeremiah, that's enough." His comback is, "NO!!" "NOUGH!!" It's hard not to laugh...


I say - choose your battles wisely.


Ah, now the real fun of parenthood begins! When she does this in public, THEN you are getting your money's worth out of parenting!

This stage will last until about age 4. It will get worse, sorry. I feel agony for you, because you are just starting. I, on the other hand, am almost done, HOORAY! I have 3 children, the youngest of whom recently turned 4, so I've been dealing with "the terrible two's" for 8 years non-stop now, but another year and it should be OVER for good! (Well, until the teen years anyway.)

But it's all worth it. In between the tantrums, the toddler and preschooler stages are pure magic. You will miss this stage terribly a few years from now, when she's in school, and you are "boring", and she only wants to hang out with her friends . Enjoy every minute of her toddlerhood.

Oh, one last thing--don't use her bed for time-outs. Walk away from her, or ignore her, or use a "naughty chair" or "sad corner".


The crib isn't the best place to use as a punishment, because she'll learn to associate it with being punished and will start refusing to get into it for sleep. I'd get a naughty mat or a naughty chair or something, ala Supernanny.

When my kids were in the tantrumming phase (and pleaase remember, it hasn't yet stopped for my almost 14 year old daughter) I used to occasionally just walk away saying "What a lousy tantrum. If you can't do better than that, I'm leaving." Or I'd say "Is that it? You can't do better than THAT?" and they would kind of take a breath and pause to think about it, and eventually they would become fairly reasonable again.

Then, when the Girl turned 3, and the tantrumming went from mild to white hot, we used the naughty step approach, leaving her at the bottom of the front stairs and closing the french door. There was nothing there for her to do, she couldn't get to the top of the stairs because of gates, so she just tantrummed herself out. At first it took hours, but eventually she'd wrap it up in about 15 to 20 minutes, which for her was mild.

Try and figure out what works best for the peanut. What worked for other people never really worked for my kids. I just had to wing it until I got something that was successful for us. Blech. Toddlers!

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