Saturday, October 19, 2013

My 2 year old son is throwing "fits." Please help!

Dear Kay,
My son will be 2 here in the next few months, he has always been good and for the most part he still is, but lately he has these moments where he will act totally different.

He will go from being good and listening to throwing huge fits or just totally ignoring you. We will be walking and I will call him or try and pull him back towards me and he will go limp or just not even acknowledge that I said anything to him.

It is really driving me nuts, he will be across the room while I am doing dishes and will climb on a table and I will tell him to get down and he will just continue doing as he pleases. His hearing is perfect his Dr. said, I just don't know how to or if there is a way to stop this behavior.


Dear Amber,

Your toddler is almost 2 and a 2 year old is exploring their environment and the people around them. It sounds like he is testing your boundaries. Often boys will test, more so than girls, their physical environments. Their muscles grow at a very rapid rate between the age of 2 and 12 years of age. He may need more climbing toys and to use his muscles more in physical activities. He also needs plenty of times when he is told yes more than no. When he throws a "fit" he is protesting the only way he knows how to protest.

I suggest helping him expand his list of feeling words. Get a book that illustrates feeling words with faces  and help him identify the words that express frustration, anger, irritation, annoyance. He is going to feel these feelings and needs an appropriate word to help him tell you. I also suggest getting a book on sign language as teaching children feeling words in sign language helps to support their emotional expression.

When he throws a fit, and he will continue to do so as he is learning his new words, ignore him. Do not give him eye contact, do not respond to him other than to say that when he stops and uses his indoor voice you will talk with him then and only then. If he is hurting himself, someone else or breaking anything then remove him to his room until he regains control. Understand that this is not an overnight process. You must be consistent in how you respond to him or everything begins from ground zero again. Stay firm. While the behavior will get worse for awhile hang in there and be consistent because suddenly it will all stop! 


M Kay Keller, PhD

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