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Heidi LPC
Heidi LPC, Psychotherapist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 278
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor
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Youve helped over the past few weeks with dealing some of

Customer Question

You've helped over the past few weeks with dealing some of my 24 month old son's 'less desirable' behavior. We're getting better at dealing with his tantrums and his hitting/kicking issue seems to have ended.

However, I took him to a gym class this week and realized that he doesn't seem to think that he needs to follow the same rules that everyone else follows. He was one of six kids in the class, with three teachers and all of the parents present. When the teacher told all of the kids to sit down on the floor, five little girls obediently sat downs. Not my dear son-- he became obsessed with a stuffed giraffe on the other side of the room and wanted to play with it instead. I went and carried him back to his class, where he sat with me and cried and fussed. He was told to run and jump into a hoop, and he ran right past it and back to the giraffe. Even after the giraffe was put away, he wanted to do his own thing, and not what the rest of the class was doing. He spent half the class crying after I led him back to the rest of the group and didn't let him do what he wanted. It was embarrasing.

I thought this was just because he was tired. But when I mentioned it to his daycare teacher the next day, she said that they encounter the same thing. He'll be off doing his own thing, and they have to tell him several times to join him. Then he'll start saying 'mama, mama!'

By looking at his behavior compared to the other kids in the class, I can see that he should be able to participate in brief group activities. Other kids were certainly getting up and moving around, because that's part of being two. But they didn't resist being redirected. I also think that I'm probably part of the problem.

Do you have any suggestions on how I can get him to be part of the group and follow simple directions instead of going rogue!
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 4 years ago.

Heidi LPC :

Good Morning! Thanks for requesting me today! I promise that I will get back to you in just a couple of hours--- I have a commitment this morning, but will reply as soon as I am able to!! Talk with you soon!!

Heidi LPC :

OK... I am here now and able to give some suggestions!

Heidi LPC :

I have a couple of questions for you about his development: First, how are his language skills? Is he speaking in words, answering questions in simple language or asking simple questions?

Heidi LPC :

Secondly, how is his hearing?

Heidi LPC :

Is he making eye contact when he is spoken to or when he speaks to you?

Heidi LPC :

How are his sleep habits? And how about his motor skills, such as holding objects, running and walking?

Heidi LPC :

I will check back later when I can to read your answers so that we can keep working on this!

JACUSTOMER-wpxoxc1y- : His language skills seem to be ok. He speaks over 100 words, can identify items, ask and answer simple questions, and form simple questions. He is capable of following basic commands like 'go get mama's shoes. I've at times wondered if his hearing is ok, but he clearly hears things like airplanes in the sky and dogs barking down the street. When I ask him to do things he'll sometimes turn around and say 'no thank you mama'. His fine and gross motor skills are good-- he was walking independently without holding anything by 9 months.
JACUSTOMER-wpxoxc1y- : To be clear.. He's does interact with other kids during free play. One little boy is his 'truck buddy' and a little girl is his 'partner in crime'-- apparently she's just as stubborn as him. His daycare also has a preschool program for autistic children and they do frequent developmental assessments. They've said that his development is in track and he shows no signs of being on the autism spectrum. Their only challenge with him is trying to get him to fully participate. He does do so (for example, he always participates in circle time), but it at times takes a lot of coaxing to get him to give up what HE wants to do.
JACUSTOMER-wpxoxc1y- : As far as sleep, he's sleeping about 13 hours a day. I'm not sure that's enough. He's falling asleep later at night now because it gets dark later. For the past few days, they've had to wake him up from his naps (and he's been in a deep sleep with kids playing loudly 10 feet away).
Expert:  Heidi LPC replied 4 years ago.
Great! Ok, Barbara... that helps to get some more information on his development. What you are describing is impulsivity, and this behavior is fairly common in two year olds! Also, it can sometimes be a precursor to some attention issues down the line, but this is not something that is generally diagnosed at this age due to how young the child is. Impulsivity is simply the inability to wait. Waiting for juice, waiting for your attention, waiting for circle time, etc. In kids who later develop a clear case of ADHD, there are structural differences in the brain that cause this impulsivity, and just for informational purposes, I am sharing this here: What causes impulsivity?


Some people may think that this trait is just a sign of a willful child who is trying to be bad. The next time a relative or neighbor gives you flack about your impulsive child, send them here to read the latest ADHD research.

If you think your child is wired differently, there is scientific truth to back up your gut feeling. The brain of a child who has ADHD may be different from child who does not have this disorder. In this Health Scout article, a study was cited where it was found that a part of the brain called the ventral striatum was smaller in children with ADHD than those children who do not have this disorder. The study, which was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, concludes that this brain anomaly may be associated with symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsiveness in children having ADHD.


The neurology of ADHD is a fascinating topic and they are finding out new things all the time. In this Psychiatric Times report, you can read the details about high resolution MRI studies where they examine the ADHD brain structure. It seems that increases in the volume of gray matter in large areas of the brain such as the posterior temporal and inferior parietal cortices of children with ADHD may also play a part in symptoms such as inattention and impulse control.


Now, whether or not this becomes more focused and prevalent as he grows remains to be seen. What is important right now is to help teach him how to manage impulsivity. It is a LEARNING process that all adults must be on board with. I am attaching another great link with information about how to teach a child to wait:


Please let me be clear; I am not diagnosing your son in any way as having ADD/ADHD. The behavior that you describe has traits of the impulsivity that can accompany this type of issue, and so I am also attaching some information that will help to educate you on the behaviors itself:


My purpose in sharing this is to help you understand that there are behavioral training approaches that can help him, which are also used to help kids who are later diagnosed with attention issues. If you work with him now in a clear, instructive, teaching manner on slowing down those impulses, slowing down his movement where possible and rewarding the waiting, he will benefit all around. I hope this information gives you some ideas and please let me know if the articles are completely off base in terms of his behavior and impulsivity. It can be very difficult to give ideas and strategies without doing a behavioral observation of the child, and I want to be sure that I am understanding the behaviors you are seeing correctly!


Remember; all kids are wired differently, but that doesn't mean they are wrong or "bad"... and it is important for kids to grow up feeling special and valued for who they are, even those with the wiggles! Let's talk again after you've read the information, and until then, have a great day!