My son just turned 2 in September, 2002, and I am growing concerned about his terrible behavior in public places. I've reached a point where I don't want to take him anywhere because it is too embarrasing! He wants to do what he wants, when he wants and how he wants, and if I don't allow it for one reason or another, it is the END OF THE WORLD for him. He throws himself on the ground, kicking, screaming and crying. He was a late developer in all regards, especially talking. I've been told it is frustration that causes him to act this way, so I feel there's nothing I can do at this point because we are unable to communicate about the the problem. I am a single mom with no help from relatives so I feel my sanity is at stake at this point. I don't want to keep him from enjoying various events, but I'm tired of having to leave after 15 minutes because he causes a scene! I can't go on this way for another year - HELP!
This sort of behavior in a two-year-old is not uncommon. In part, you should spare yourself the aggravation by limiting the amount of places you go. However, it's a less-than-perfect world, and you're going to have to go to some places together. At the first sign of such a display, immediately go back to the car for a time out in his care seat. Let him know ahead of time (i.e., just prior to leaving the car) what you expect, and what will happen if he doesn't comply. Also, reward him for behaving well. You can show him ahead of time what the reward (e.g., a lollipop, some grapes, animal crackers, teddy grahams) will be.
After a certain point, there's only so much "limiting" you can do. You're a single mother - the rules are not the same for you as they are for those of us who have the luxury or quipping "Watch the kids, hun - I'm going grocery shopping!" as we flit out the door. And let's face it, the reason it's so bloody humiliating when our kids act like twits in public is because EVERYONE is watching to see how we react.
So you could limit how often you go out, provided you don't care about fresh air, physical activity, or getting your licence renewed... but in the end, your job of teaching him how to behave in public will only be put off to a later date when the general public (the average mother's audience!) will be less forgiving of a an older child acting like a twit in public.
I'd counsel the opposite. Go out in public, and do it often. Go for walks, go to parks, go to the corner store. Practice "outside rules" often and early. Stagger where you go between places that specifically benefit him and the places that benefit you. Go to the park and say "Yay, we're in the park, we can act like crazy people and run around!" and then throw your hands in the air and run around hooting like a monkey. He'll love it. Then go to the corner store (or someplace you can leave real quick!) and whisper "We're in a store. We have to be very quiet and hold hands!" while crouched down "being good". If he "plays the game" well, congratulate him and tell him he did so good you're buying him a popsicle. If he doesn't, tell him, and let him know HOW he messed it up "Too loud! We have to go!".
This sets up the groundrules in an atmosphere you can control easier than when you are at a mall. That way, the next time you are grocery shopping and he gets antsy you can use those simple codewords to let him know what, specifically, he is doing to prevent popsicles and fun games. And when he fails, which he will, because this is a process, not a solution - remember, they can stare all they like, whisper as much as they please, unless they have any brilliant ideas it's moot. And when you see a lady trying to peel her own hysterical 2yo off the floor of the mall, give her the thumbs up and smile at her "BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!"
LOVED your reply! Very good common sense! You are quite right-practice in places where you can leave pronto. Many opps for learning this way.
If this mom waits til the child is older, not only will society frown upon the unruly older child acting out, but the older child will be smarter about ways to push mom's buttons. Do it now!
Because you mentioned frustration with communicating, I would address his speech delay. Contact your Part C-Infant and Toddler provider under IDEA(Individual Disabilities Education Act). Look on NECTAS website for contact person in your state. The coordinator can explain services and help you schedule evals for hearing, speech and social/emotional issues. You would not have to pay for evals. This program should make you aware of other resources.
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