Ellie’s behaviour has been a true description of the terrible twos lately; she is quickly becoming more independent and as a result of this she is definitely testing the boundaries (and our patience!) on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.
Both myself and hubby work with children/young adults with extra needs and deal with the same sorts of toddler-like behaviour at work, so it feels like such a challenge to stay calm and composed at home when we’ve had to do it all day at work. I would say my patience is much shorter at home than at work and I wish it wasn’t. It isn’t Ellie’s fault at all and I know she is just learning how to deal with her emotions and her new found desire to be independent and her behaviour is quite normal.
But how do you try to nip it in the bud before it gets too difficult?
I’ve never been good at the cry-it-out method, I can’t sit and listen to her cry no matter how many people tell me “it’s worth it in the long run”. If she is crying I know there is a reason for it and I won’t let her grow up thinking I’m not there for her when she needs me.
We started counting to three when she does something she shouldn’t do and then when she carried on we would carry her up to her bedroom and close the stair gate, sometimes I would leave her and come downstairs for two minutes and sometimes I would sit in her room while she screamed it out of her. However I don’t think this is really the best way to teach her that her behaviour isn’t good and I don’t want it to have a counter effect and she learns that her bedroom is a punishment, she barely sleeps in there as it is so I want her room to be her calm space, HERS, where we read stories, play and hopefully one day sleep through the night in her own bed.
This is where “the step” comes in to play. I HATE the phrase “naughty step” as I feel the word naughty describes the child and not the behaviour, Ellie is not naughty, she is exploring the boundaries and seeing how far she can go, she is learning and I don’t want her to believe she is a naughty child. I know that this is thinking too deeply and a 2 year old isn’t going to be thinking this but I am always thinking of her future too. I’ve started calling it “the step” and putting her on it whenever counting to three doesn’t work. We seem to be using it more at tea times as Ellie doesn’t sit at a table or high chair and can be a little madam. I have found having the step keeps me calm, I put her on the bottom step, explain to her why she is there (she doesn’t really understand but I tell her anyway) and tell her to come back in when she is ready. Usually she waits for me to sit down and strides in with a big smile on her face (rolls eyes!!) and we end up repeating the process at least three times before she says sorry and we move on.
I know there are lots of pros and cons to using a time out like the step or a corner and I realise there are more cons than pros but for now it seems to be helping defuse the situation before it becomes a full on tantrum. I must say Ellie has had less tantrums in the past few days than she’s had in months.
Has the “naughty” step ever worked or not worked for you? Do you have another way of dealing with this type of behaviour in toddlers? I’d love to hear what you guys think too.