Help! My Toddler is Out of Control!

Dr. Laura,

How do you discipline??? Mr 2.5 is out of control! He doesn't listen to anything, he's always biting and hitting and just generally being crazy. He throws his toys everywhere and at people. He throws his food and his water and I'm always so angry!

I refuse to smack him or bite him back. The time out chair hasn't worked, neither does taking his toys. That just makes him bite and smack me more. If you could give me the magic answer I'd be ever so grateful.

I have always tried to practice attachment parenting but as my son is getting older it's becoming a lot harder. We still breastfeed and bedshare, I never let him cry it out, and I always try to be empathetic but sometimes my anger just doesn't let me and i find myself "turning off". I need to fix this. I want us to be as close as we were when he was a baby, but at the same time, I need him to listen to me and stop hurting me.

Thank You!

Toddlers are a handful. The magic answer is:

1. Regulate your own emotions, even when he pushes your buttons. (This is really hard, but if you have "tantrums" you can count on him being out of control too. So when you get triggered -- which you will, because you're human-- move away and calm down before interacting.)

2. Connect with him. (Sounds like you're doing this but anger may be getting in the way.)

3. Help him with the emotions that are driving his behavior. (THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE THAT I'M BETTING IS MISSING FOR YOU RIGHT NOW. Sometimes kids just have to cry, with us loving them through it.)

4. Because he is a toddler, understand what is age appropriate and redirect. (He sounds like a super active little guy.)

All of this is detailed in my book "Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids" -- have you read it yet? I think it would really help you regain the loving connection you want with your son.

Warmly,
Dr. Laura


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I have seen amazing improvement in my *very* angry 17 year-old son after acknowledging that there was a reason he was so angry and acting out. We have had several heartfelt conversations and I have seen a real change in how he treats his younger brother, and how he treats me.

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