Is it normal for my 2-year-old daughter to not be talking yet? I see other 2-year-olds talking, and it concerns me she doesn’t.
As parents, it can be tempting to wonder why our children are not developing the same as others. Just as children have different personalities, they also develop differently. Don't worry; these types of concerns are normal. As far as developmental milestones go, there are four different categories -- physical, cognitive, social and emotional. Language development would fall into the cognitive category. A 2-year-old can speak anywhere from 3-50 words, but they may understand up to 200. They may be able to respond to simple requests and might repeat familiar and unfamiliar words. This is also a time when they might often be responding with "no.”
These are guidelines that were established by pediatricians, and they were not intended to make parents feel like something was wrong with their children if they didn't exactly fit into these categories. If you feel strongly that there is something wrong, contact your daughter's pediatrician for further information.
You may wonder how to best help your child develop. One simple answer is to spend time with her. And remember, reading to her will help her experience the magic of language.
My 1-year-old boy is getting very aggressive. He hits, bites, head-butts, throws things and pulls hair. He also throws food to the dog when eating. He yells a lot when he talks. He gets in to everything even after you tell him not to touch something. I try diverting him with a toy, but he’s right back messing with what he shouldn’t be. He also throws himself on the floor when he can’t do what he wants. I’ve tried timeouts, distracting, showing how it should be and ignoring him in certain situations. I really need some advice.
Once we learn how to do something, it can be hard to think back to when we didn't know how to do it. When you were a little person, did you instinctively know how to ride a bike or write in cursive? No, we are taught how to do it, and this same principal needs to be in place with your 1-year-old.
Your son is beginning to realize that his is an actual person. His language is developing, and he’s starting to walk which leads to wanting more independence. He’s also entering a phase of exploring the world around him. Your son's behaviors are normal. We might see them as aggressive, but this is part of his development. He may be discovering he can have an impact on things around him. What an amazing revelation! It's all new to him, and the only way he’ll learn if a behavior is good or bad depends on you to constantly remind him.
When it comes to "disciplining" or teaching a one-year-old, it's difficult because they don't understand what you're trying to do. Timeout is not appropriate for his level of development. Instead, when he hits, take his hand and firmly tell him "no." When he bites, grab the place he bit and tell him "ow, no." Instead of thinking of your response as "distracting" him, try to think of it as redirecting him to a more positive behavior. If he takes a toy and hits someone with it, tell him "no" and show him how to use the toy appropriately. If he repeats this behavior, tell him "no" and try putting the toy in timeout and then let him try again. You may have to repeat this several times.
Continue this so he can start to piece together the sequence of events. Understand that it may take him more than one day to understand that he's not supposed to do this. Stay consistent and only show praise and attention when you want the chances of a behavior to increase.
My 3-year-old daughter is touching herself and while I think this is normal to an extent, tonight I had to tell her to stop touching while she was in the bathtub. And it looked like she was actually penetrating herself with her finger. I don’t think that part is normal. I don’t know if she’s seen something she shouldn’t have or what is going on.
You are correct in understanding that some of this is normal, and even the finger experimentation is normal. Little ones often stick their fingers anywhere there is a hole that the finger fits into whether on their own bodies, someone else's body or even a pet.
Because this is a behavior that you do not want to encourage or see more of, follow your instincts and have her stop by telling her not to do that. Take her hand away from the area and redirect her attention elsewhere. Give her the soap or the washcloth and have her wash her toes -- something that keeps her hands busy on a different area of her body.
It’s also time to talk with her about her "private parts." Since she’s becoming more aware of those parts, it’s necessary to keep herself safe by labeling them "private" and teaching her what that means. Explain that others should not see or touch them. Have this conversation with her at bath time to make sure she remembers what parts are private and use the opportunity to ask if anyone has touched them.
I have two 3-year-old boys who won’t eat anything. One is very thin and his stool is pale. I have been told not to force them to eat and that they will eat when they are hungry, but I am concerned.
As far as the color of your son's stools and the interpretation of that color, that is a question for your pediatrician. However, we can offer some suggestions about getting your boys to eat food that is nourishing to their bodies.
Offer food frequently throughout the day. Try dry cereal in small containers in the morning along with milk or juice in a cup with a lid and straw. Limit the amount of both beverages. Sometimes kids prefer to drink than to eat, and that is not good for them. Breakfast bars can be very nutritious and easy for kids to eat. Small boxes of raisins make nourishing snacks. Cheese sticks are good for kids, easy for them to hold in their hands and a good protein source. Some children even like beef jerky. Apples cut into small slices or bite-sized pieces are more easily eaten by small children. Offer baby carrots and perhaps a Ranch dip.
Do not allow your boys to exist on snack foods such as cookies and French-fries. Only provide healthy choices. Then when they do eat, it’ll be something that’s good for them.
My 2-year-old daughter makes bedtime very difficult. She is stubborn, throws fits and will not calm down, no matter what we try. We have introduced a good-behavior calendar. If she goes to sleep without acting up, she gets a new book to read with us at bedtime. We try to make this as much fun as possible by reading books and telling stories. It never fails that once the fun time is over, she doesn’t want to go to sleep and gets upset. Our 4-year-old son never had a problem at bedtime; I just don’t know what to do.
It sounds like your toddler is really testing your limits at bedtime. Even though you didn’t go through this with your son, this bedtime dilemma is very common. Rest assured that bedtime is a learned routine, and it will get better.
You’re doing a lot of positive things already. By incorporating the calendar, you’re reinforcing the good behavior that you want to see more of (going to bed tantrum-free). The expectation of being good for an entire week might just be too long of a time frame for her. See if she responds to a more immediate reward.
Children respond well to structure and predictability, so try to follow the same bedtime routine each and every night. Start with a soothing bath, put on pajamas, read a story, then tuck her in and give lots of goodnight hugs and kisses. During the routine, tell your daughter what’s next, so she’s not surprised. For example during her bath, you might say: “In five minutes, bath time will be over, and then we’ll get our jammies on.” This lets her know each step before it happens. Also make sure that bedtime is the same every single night. This will condition your daughter to be sleepy the same time of day every day.
You may also want to consider eliminating your daughter’s daytime nap (if she’s taking one). A daytime nap may be affecting her ability to sleep at night because she’s not tired. Every child is different, but typically children outgrow naps around 3 years of age. If you’re unsure about whether or not your child still needs a nap, you can contact her pediatrician.
My 3-year-old son has suddenly started throwing fits and having a bad attitude. I am 20 weeks pregnant and not sure if maybe this has something to do with it. I know that this is normal to an extent for a toddler, but he is generally a pretty good kid. Also, his daddy has been working long hours for a few months now and only gets to see him for maybe 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. I have tried spanking and timeouts, but spanking only makes him even madder, and it breaks my heart to have to do it. The entire time he sits in a timeout, he’s yelling still and throwing a fit!
You were able to state several factors that are most likely contributing to the situation -- your pregnancy, his father’s schedule and your son’s age. Your energy and hormone level, his jealously and concerns about having another sibling and both of you spending an extended amount of time together without your husband may all be affecting his behavior.
Knowing these factors can help you to stay calm when he is upset. At this age, his behavior is motivated by getting a response. If that is a positive or negative response is of little concern. That is why it’s vital you focus on staying calm in all interactions with him. If he’s yelling, kicking walls or saying he’s going to wet his pants, remain calm. You’ll not only be taking away some of the fuel for his fire but teaching him self-control as he watches you take deep breaths and think before you speak.
My four-year-old sleeps with us every night. He starts out in his bed but comes into our room in the middle of the night. This has been going on for several years. We have tried rewards if he sleeps in his bed all night, but that doesn't seem to work. We have tried putting him back in his bed but later in the night, he will return to our room. What do you suggest?
It is difficult when our children do not sleep through the night in their own beds. When children learn sleep patterns, they learn not only how to go to bed (which your son seems to have no trouble doing) but also getting back to sleep when woken. It appears he does not have this ability. He has developed a pattern of only returning to sleep when he is in your bed. So, you need to retrain his brain.
Dr. Patrick Friman has written an excellent and somewhat funny book titled Good Night, Sweet Dreams, I Love You: Now Get into Bed and Go to Sleep! You can find it at boystownpress.org. The book talks about continuing to be consistent and calm and offers techniques that you can try to help your son learn to sleep through the night in his own room.
One method that may work for you is the robotic return. Hold his hand and calmly walk him back to his own bed without making any eye contact. Be like a robot, you are not upset or cuddly, just returning him to bed. However you decide to approach this issue, remember to stay calm and focus on praising his positive change.
My children throw horrible tantrums at bedtime and when I take them out for a meal. One of my children is four years-old and the other is two. My two year-old cries so hard at bedtime that she sometimes makes herself throw up. She will scream for hours until I put her into my bed. I am tired of not sleeping and not being able to take my children out. Please help.
Thanks for writing in with the parenting challenges that you are currently facing. Parenting young children can be exhilarating and exhausting. It sounds like you are spending a lot of time feeling exhausted.
First, you have to decide specific behaviors that you want to see them exhibit in each of these settings. Let's take the going out to dinner setting. It should have specific behavioral steps that can be observed and practiced such as:
1. Stay touching Mommy's leg at all times.
2. Use an inside or quiet voice while in the restaurant.
3. Stay seated at all times.
4. Use your fork and spoon to eat unless the food is "finger food."
This skill should be taught and practiced frequently. At home, you can pretend that you are in a restaurant. Show and tell them the behaviors you want to see. Then have them practice making sure to keep the practice fun and brief. Praise your children when they display the desired behavior with high-fives, clapping or whatever encourages them. It will take some time but if you are consistent, your children will learn better behaviors.
The bedtime issue is a bit more complex. Start by establishing a routine that includes a regular bedtime. About an hour before bedtime stop everything else and began following a nightly ritual that involves activities such as a snack, a bath, pajamas and reading a story while rocking the children on your lap. Place them in their beds, sing softly to them or whisper a few prayers. A kiss good night should be the last thing before walking out the door.
If they begin to cry, you can go back in and repeat the last couple of steps. Lay them back down, rub or pat their back and sing or pray, then walk out. Do this consistently to establish a new bedtime routine. Be patient and understand that if you get upset, the little one will only become more upset, and it will not result in a positive outcome.
We are having a hard time with my boyfriend’s 3-year-old son throwing tantrums at bedtime or any other time he is asked to do something he does not want to do. How can I positively enforce that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated? Also, he stays up late most nights and wants his dad to sleep with him, either when he falls asleep or if he wakes up during the night. Is there a normal age when this should stop happening? Is there a good way to wean him from this behavior and get him into bed earlier?
Thanks for contacting us. Parenting is truly a tough job, no matter the age of your child. However, you can teach your child how you want him to behave. Parenting with praise and re-enforcement is quite effective for changing behaviors.
It may help to understand the stage of development for your child. Children at the age of 3 typically want to try to push the limits set by their parents; therefore, it is up to you (the parents) to decide what your plan will be. Stay consistent, and over time you will see a decrease of his undesirable behaviors. It is important that you remain as calm as you can when you are teaching or redirecting him. It seems like what is currently happening is he does not go to bed or do the task you asked him to do, and you become upset. Thus, he receives more attention. It’s a cycle called, negative attention-seeking. As the parent, you want to try to “flip” this attention-seeking into a positive.
Sometimes the child may be trying to communicate that he is not feeling well, too tired, thirsty, hungry, not tired, scared, cold, hot, etc. Try to unveil his real concern. If it means that he will get new pajamas, a bed friend or a special blankie to make him feel safe, then try that. You may want to start slowly and progress to a sticker chart. For starters, try consistently taking him back to bed without saying anything to him or even looking at him. He may continue to scream, but he will grow tired of this, and after a few nights he will know that you are there for him and that he can go to bed.
There are many different strategies to try to motivate kids to change their behavior. At your son’s age, a chart works well. This chart can be a sticker or star chart. For example, make the chart for each day of the week. If your son stays in bed at 8:30 p.m. every night, then he will earn five stars during the week. Set up the reward: In the morning, he will get to choose his breakfast or maybe choose to eat his breakfast in his pajamas — the possibilities here are endless.
Ultimately, what has happened here is that your son earns positive attention from his parents through a positive choice that he made. Give him a hug, praise him, go over the top. He will like the response that he is earning.
If he chooses not to stay in bed, then he will earn a consequence — no star that day and short, limited interaction with him. However, reassure him that tomorrow he can earn a star if he listens to you, so he can see that he can earn some back, but not all 5 stars that week.
You can start to help him follow the tasks you expect of him by helping or showing him. At his age, he should be able to do small, simple chores, such as tidying up his toys, getting dressed, putting books away, choosing his own cup/plate/bowl, helping carry small bags from the car. If you show him how to do the tasks that you want him to do and he receives a star/sticker for helping, then he will be motivated.
Remember that if you stay consistent with teaching him skills, his choices will shift to the positive, and the interactions that you will have with him will be much more pleasant.
Give our hotline a call any time you have questions. Our counselors are available 24x7. Also, try looking at our websites parenting.org, boystown.org for more tips.