Friday, June 20, 2014


We have had a what we think is the beginning of a behavioral breakthrough with Ayden.

Sharing a pre-breakfast fruit snack.
Ayden is really into peaches right now!

He is a strong willed toddler who is very smart and that makes it tough for us as parents sometimes.  Especially since we are committed to a positive parenting approach.

He is a lot like his daddy

The behaviors we have been trying to alter show up the most when David is involved.  They often end up having a battle of the wills and we have been back to the drawing board for how to handle things time and time again. 

It was raining today so David was home with us this evening.  He and Ayden were having some quality time upstairs when all of the sudden David came down the stairs by himself and sat at our kitchen island.  My first question was, "Did he hit you?" and of course his answer was yes.  Ayden had thrown some buckets at Polly and David had told him that "We are nice to our pets."  Walking away speaks volumes to Ayden, especially when we are playing in his playroom with him (one of his favorite things to do!).  A few seconds later Ayden bursts into tears at the top of the stairs.  David had struck the right chord.  Before we knew it Ayden was saying, "I'm coming, Daddy! I'm sorry.  I'm sorry, Daddy." through his sobs.  David met him at the bottom of the stairs, scooped him up and gave him a big hug. This was a HUGE breakthrough for Ayden.  We praised him for making it right and hugged and kissed him and let him know we were not mad.  He was really well behaved for the rest of the night, even for bedtime (that's two smooth bedtime routines this week!). It seemed like he was trying to make up for it.

I will write about our revised discipline approach a little more in depth once we know whether or not we are really making progress. In the meantime, here are a few articles that we started with in case anyone is interested:

Just In Case:

This was the most helpful one:
Parenting A Strong Willed Child

The main thing we are trying to focus on is truly understanding the workings of a toddler mind.  I studied a lot of this in school and have a solid foundation but all children are so unique that there is never one answer or one way to handle a situation. It is a bunch of trial and error until you find something that reaches your specific child.  We have found that going straight to a frustrated or angry state makes Ayden feel the need to justify his actions.  In an effort to protect his integrity he begins to argue that, "I did not hurt you."  "I do hit the chickens." etc etc. What is working best is going straight to the object that he has hit and fawning over it, making sure it's okay, apologizing that he did such a thing to it/them, etc, without acknowledging him much at all.  What a lot of people don't realize is that negative attention is still attention and is usually preferred over no attention at all.  Parents thinking they are effectively disciplining their child by touching them, giving eye contact and talking to their child at length about why they should not act a certain way usually end up reinforcing the adverse behavior.

After a few minutes of this, Ayden will then walk over and apologize too.  It has to be on his terms but hey, it gets done.  I am not picky about the how, just that he makes it right. Sometimes we take a moment to ask him why he hit and once we figure out the reason we validate his feelings and tell him that he can just tell us how he feels.  Actions speak louder than words and though it was something I knew already, Ayden is confirming it for me everyday.  We can explain and talk at him in the moment about why he shouldn't engage in certain behaviors until we are blue in the face and make absolutely no progress.  Taking the basic verbal approach followed by modeling has been working wonders.  We say, "Hitting is not for people/animals.  Hitting hurts." then we head over to whatever/whoever it was that he targeted and model how they should be touched and spoken to.  It has been about a week and we are now seeing progress.  If we decide to discuss it any further with him, we choose a more neutral time when we are all happy and level headed enough to have a productive conversation, rather than in the moment.  I had actually had a conversation with him about how we love Daddy and shouldn't hit him earlier in the day and am wondering if helped with his apology this evening.

It is our job to teach and guide our children.  It takes time to learn impulse control and proper social rules/skills.  He deserves patience and consistency.  Most importantly, WE are not the two year olds.  Every time he frustrates or angers us we are modeling how to handle such severe emotions.  He is constantly taking notes and we have to act the way we expect him to act because of what I mentioned earlier.  Actions always speak louder than words.

Did you have trouble with your toddler hitting people and animals?  How did you handle it? 


Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Conquer the Bugs!"
And two years ago today: "Making Time"

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  1. Wow!! You have a lot of knowledge. You remind me if that lady on super nanny. Do you think perhaps Ayden is angry at his daddy because he is away in the evenings working on the house? I know in a 2 year old brain he would never understand if you explained the reason. Just a thought.

  2. Haha, thanks. We don't *think* he is angry about David being away at the house, though it is hard to tell I suppose. We've kind of moved our schedule around so that David has some quality time with Ayden in the mornings and we go spend time with him while he is building a lot. Anything is possible but it seems more like a personality clash (from being a lot alike) since it seems to be triggered by discipline. You make a good point, though, and it is definitely something we are watching out for. Luckily it is all temporary!

  3. My 2 year old boy is in the hitting and throwing stage as well. It can be so frustrating! I've found that saying, "no hitting Mama" and leaving his sight works the best. He finds hitting comical so it's hard when he's laughing. Of course he's not trying to hurt us or make us sad but he seems to respond well when we say no and then walk away. Then he will follow us and do a different activity.