Two-Year-Old's Tantrums


I have 3 sons: 3, 2.5 (fostered than adopted-been with us since 2 months old) and a 2 month old. I have two questions:

1. I work from home two days/week, and my mom and sister-in-law help those days. They basically provide constant attention to the older two except if they are tending to the baby. Should I redirect them to do other things rather than act as a playmates/attention givers all day long? I’m concerned it’s teaching them they are still the centers of attention in the house.

2. Our middle child has basically been in tantrum mode since 18 months. I try to stay cool, calm and collected but it’s really hard some days when he is literally screaming no in my face. He minds my husband really well but really pushes boundaries with me and is extremely defiant at times. We have a time out/tantrum space, but I’m getting really tired of dealing with it, especially now being sleep deprived with a newborn. Any other tools to help?


I always love it when parents have the answers and just need some support. Such is the case here. To address question one, I encourage you to design your child’s care to include time for them to amuse themselves. The caretakers can be there to supervise and do not always have to engage. Meanwhile, you will be stimulating your children’s ability to use their imagination and explore ways they can play on their own.

Again, you have answered your question two by identifying areas where you struggle remaining calm and collected. Yes, it is more difficult some days. I suggest you consult with your husband first, by admitting your challenges and asking him for any input on how you can respond instead of react. Reaching out in this manner can boost your communication relationship with your spouse and strengthen your marital connection. Instead of trying to make your son stop when he has a tantrum, become aware of what you are feeling. If you sense you are escalating, that may translate as encouragement to your child. During those times when you are really tired, create some positive self-talk that includes thoughts that “I am tired but I will handle this as a first responder.” Your consistency is key to how your son will interact with you once he believes that treating you differently than dad will no longer work.

You are on the right track – you may temporarily lose course – but it does not have to result in a full derailment.

Gretchen Slover

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