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Bonnie, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  and pediatric nurse practitioner with 30 years of experience counseling parents.
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My husband and I have son that turns two this month. I had

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My husband and I have son that turns two this month. I had no idea somehow so tiny could be so stubborn! Although he's a compassionate, loving little boy, he's starting to have more and more tantrums when he doesn't get what he wants. For example, this morning he decided he wanted to take a bath 5 minutes before we left the house. When I told him no, he cried and screamed 'I want it' for almost 5 minutes. When he finally calmed down, he was clingy and easily upset for the next minutes. I've tried ignoring him during his tantrums, but that doesn't seem to help. I've tried redirecting or distracting him, which only works sometimes. I've tried sitting quietly with him. I know he's truly frustrated and doesn't understand why he can't have what he wants. But nothing seems to help.

As a result, I find myself ignoring and not addressing unacceptable behaviors, like dumping water out of the bathtub. I know this isn't the right thing to do, but I can't stand the thought of the tantrum that will occur when I pull him out of the tub.

Hello and welcome to the terrible two's,

There is no simple solution for this stubborn behavior (except turning 3). The reason for the behavior is communication frustration. Not only is he not able to verbalize his frustration but he is not able to understand reasoning. Add to this, the fact that 2 year olds have poor impulse control and cannot wait for things well.

All this will improve as language develops. In the meantime, you should help him by reflecting his feelings (that he cannot express). " I know you are sad because you can't take a bath." Allow him to tantrum in a safe place (and ignoring does work here) and then give him a hug when he calms down and say....I know you were sad (in an empathy voice) but you are all better now. Then, it is over...go on with the next thing. Sometimes the issue is difficulty with transitioning from one activity to try foreshadowing and enticing. " We are going in the car and there is a surprise there for you" get his mind off bath and on to the next activity.

Concerning pouring water out of tub: You say, "The rule is no pouring and if you do you must leave tub." Then, get him out and let him tantrum in a safe place and ignore.

I hope this helps....
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yikes-- so this behavior is going to continue for another year???!!!!

I was driving yesterday and he started crying 'I want it, I want it'. I carried him in the house and my husband asked me why he was crying. All I could say was 'he wants IT'--- I still don't have any idea what 'it' is!

Thanks for your help!
Oh dear.....I know it can be difficult. It is so much easier when they get to the age that you can have a conversation with them.
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