Boundaries For Toddlers

Dear Sara,

My first child is a boy and he has just turned two. He is talking some and his favorite word is “no.” He is also having temper tantrums and throws himself on the floor and screams. I don’t know where he learned this. His tantrums have gotten longer and louder and I don’t know what to do except give him what he wants. How do I get him to stop?

Dear Barbara,

This is not unusual behavior for a two year old. They are learning how other people react to what they do. Look at it from his point of view. He wants something and you won’t give it to him so he gets mad at you, this doesn’t work so he cries and screams. When he escalates this to a full blown tantrum you give in and give him what he wants. Now if he wants his way he knows how to get it.

If you want his behavior to stop, the best thing you can do is ignore it. He won’t give in right away but if his behavior isn’t rewarded, he will eventually learn that he won’t get his way by acting like this. If he learns he can manipulate you he will be more difficult as he gets older. Hang in there, this won’t last forever.


  1. Wow! Did this sweet child every READ any kind of book or talk to anyone about normal child development? You are very right about the ignoring part. Extinguishes pretty quickly with no audience. And if SHE doesn’t get tough and help her child learn what no means, cops and judges will be doing it in the future, unfortunately.

  2. Kathleen Hennessey says:

    Excellent advice! As a retired teacher, I’d like to comment that if more parents followed that advice, teachers would be able to give much more time and attention to pupils’ learning experiences and a lot less time to discipline and dealing with unruly pupils!

  3. Dear Sara,

    My 11 year old granddaughter was surfing the Net when she came upon a website obviously managed by a racist, false conspiracy nutcase. Since I don’t want her mind poisoned by such ugly, ignorant misinformation that this particular site espouses as fact and just fuels hatred and expands the divide that’s destroying this country, how should I explain to her that just because this fruit loop can post such vile garbage, doesn’t make any of what’s written true.

    A concerned Grandpa.

  4. Sara’s advice is 100% correct. The only thing I could add is that this is typical behavior for a two-year-old.

  5. …OR, Do like an “Old Fashioned Black Parent” and BEAT HIS ASS! Lol… Seriously though… U MUST be WHITE, because a BLACK parent would never stand for it!

  6. Janet Geddis says:

    Wrong answer. Your teaching your brat that it’s okay to be out of control. I am sick of these people who don’t know what to do with brats and their brats become everyone’s problem. This sick society has tied parents hands and taken away the parents authority to spank their behinds. Even Andy Griffith talked about tanning Opie. We live in a different day and it’s going to get worse. We have had more children killers than ever. SAD!

  7. Karen Howe says:

    One of my kids behaved like that. I not only didn’t give him what he wanted, I laughed and said he looked ridiculous. He stopped it almost immediately.

  8. It is because love he hears the work all the time at home. Next time you say NO run and look in the mirror and see if your face is red!

  9. Yep, just walk away and let him have his tantrum without giving him the attention he’s seeking. He’ll learn pretty fast that having a tantrum all alone isn’t getting anywhere. Won’t be long and he’ll give it up!

  10. It is true what Sara has advised. I went through what Barbara is experiencing with her two year old. Today, twenty two years later, my son and I are doing fine.

  11. If you don’t get control of your child by 5 you will not have any control by 15. I wouldn’t let my child throw a tantrum. When he tried, I gave him three wacks on his tush and sent him to his room. I told him he could come out when he stopped crying. And for all you adults who are horrified by hitting a kid, you are wrong. You say I only taught my kid that violence solves problems. But you never asked your kid what did he learn. If you did, he would say, “If I act like that again I’ll get spanked again.” Why? Because kids don’t have the thought process to think in bigger concepts.

  12. Please ignore him–walk away and he’ll know it’s not doing what he wants you to do..
    He’ll stop. Usually right away but don’t cave. It’ hard to do but will pay off down the road!
    This is only the beginning to teach him who is boss…with love, of course.
    If you don’t , it will only get worse. He needs boundries…

  13. We went through the same with our kids (3 boys). My wife and I, when this happened at home, after we had told them, “No.” we put them in “time out” in their room (no TV, no computer, no toys). We let them “act out” without an audience, provided they never tried to hurt themselves. They quickly learned that their attempts to gain their way via “pitching a fit” would not work. When out in public, we would take them to a quiet, secluded place until they stopped acting out. No spanking was required, although there were times that we did have to use the “board of education on the seat of higher learning”.

  14. You hit the nail on the head about the ignoring suggestion! Now if we can get through to some of the
    Snow Flake types!

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