How to get a two-year-old to behave

adrianna90978 asks: I am sick and tired of being mistreated by everybody. My little brother who is only two and a half already hits us. My parents say it is our fault because we frustrate him, but we haven’t done anything to him! And there’s so much else going on too. How can I get over all this?

Hi adrianna90978 –



Okay, I have a simple answer for you on this one.  Your parents probably aren’t being completely right, but not exactly wrong either.  But you’re right – it’s not your fault.

Now if you had a five-month-old puppy, and it was biting you all the time, you’d certainly be right to be irritated.  And it might be right for someone to tell you not to do things to bother it.  But it would also be right for you to just know that it’s a puppy, and that this is what puppies do!

Similarly, two-year-old humans are notorious all over the world.  As a perfectly normal part of human development, they’re at a stage where they test every limit they’ve got.  They throw tantrums, they hit and punch, and they say “no” to everything.  Just like puppies, it’s pretty clear that they have to go through this stage at a time when adult humans find them irresistibly cute, because otherwise they’d get thrown out with the weekly trash!

In other words, adrianna90978, I’m saying that there’s nothing you can do, at least for now.  Hopefully, your parents are setting good boundaries, so that this kid will learn what’s acceptable and unacceptable behavior.  But maturity doesn’t come overnight.  So he’s going to be trying to test every rule he can, as much as he can, for a while still.

But I will suggest one thing – you need to have a way to stop him when he punches, kicks, or bites.  It needs to be set up by your parents, and it needs to be enforced in a consistent way.  For example, when I was biting Handsome all the time, he got taught a great way of dealing with me –he’d sternly say “No!” to me, but then grab a toy (he had them all over the place) and shove it in my mouth, and then pet me like crazy, complimenting me on how brilliant I was to have picked up that toy!  Sure enough, after a few weeks of this, when I wanted to bite him, I’d grab a toy instead, and chew it to ribbons, with Handsome complimenting, petting, and kissing me.  It worked great.

So your little brother needs something like that.  Some very clear rules about what is and isn’t acceptable, and a good, non-shaming way of dealing with him when he misbehaves.

And then, when that’s working, then yes I’ll agree with your parents – that you shouldn’t try to frustrate him.  Because after all, he’s just a tiny kid who is probably completely crazy about you!




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