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Can you Gentle Parent a "strong willed" child??

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Okay, I'm just going to be blunt.

My 2yo DD is a terror. We are having her evaluated for Sensory/developmental/behavioral disorders as well as Autism (PDD-NOS is our worst case scenario). She isn't always awful, but she is at least difficult most of the time. I walk on eggshells for sure.

I have tried the gentle parenting approach with her. She used to be a wonderful little angel, up until she turned 2. I'm patient with her and use a gentle tone. I don't spank and only use time out for when she does something really bad. But I'm sooo beyond sick of this and I'm at my wits end. She is mean to her big sister... hits and yells at her. So many times I tell my oldest to just give my 2yo whatever just to avoid a 30 minute meltdown.

Being gentle (talking to her gently or sturn-but-not-loud), explaining etc.... it just isn't working. Her behavior is getting worse and worse. Her evaluation isn't until January. I may go insane before then.

Is 2.5 too young for a pop on the butt? She understands what time out is, and knows that if she does certain things she will go, but it doesn't stop her from doing it!! A big one is spilling things on purpose... throwing bowls of food, spilling an entire bottled water into the floor etc. She knows she'll go to time out, but still does it.

Can you gentle parent a terror?

by on Nov. 11, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Replies (41-50):
by Gold Member on Nov. 11, 2012 at 11:15 AM

You need to wait out the terrible two's before you ask this question. It wasn't until my son was almost 4 and getting worse rather than better before I decided we had a real problem. She may have issues but at this age its hard to determine if its just age or an underlying issue. As for a pop on the butt she is definitely not too young.

by on Nov. 11, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Children who are strong willed need clear boundaries and absolute consistency. A two year old should not be running your home and it sounds like she behaves the way she does because it works for her. I would go get some nanny 911 books and change up things at home. I think you need to put down the gentle parenting ideal for about three months. Get tough on her and then see how her behavior is in three months.
by Silver Member on Nov. 11, 2012 at 11:22 AM
My dd was born this way. Have u read raising your spirited child? My dd has gotten easier in ways as she,has gotten older, she is four now. It's all about being firm and consistent but allowing choices.
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by Silver Member on Nov. 11, 2012 at 11:27 AM

 Nope...I would have popped that butt a while back...

by Bronze Member on Nov. 11, 2012 at 11:28 AM
When she has meltdowns just walk away and ignor her. Don't give ANY attention, if she's wailing on the floor in your way, just walk right past her and leave the room. Eventually after a few times the tantrum will get shorter and shorter. The spilling is pretty normal I have a classroom of 14 two year olds and their favorite thing to do is spill EVERYTHInG!
by on Nov. 11, 2012 at 12:04 PM

You don't have to pop or spankk to be firm.  You can use an authoritative voice to let her know you  mean business.  You have to do something to get her attention.  If she's used to gentle & kind, she will be shocked by intimidating & mean.  Nothing wrong with that if it will get her to straighten up and become a better person.  I'm not talking about yelling & becoming a screaming loon.  I'm talking about a firm, confident, intimdating manner of voice & body language.  She's 2, it won't be that hard to pull off.   But it won't be easy.  We had to do a complete parenting turnaround with our child and it was hard but it really paid off.  You can't be a friend to your child and you can't coddle them and give into their every whim.  It literally creates a monster.  I know all too well. 

by on Nov. 11, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Even with the several hour tantrums you are describing it still sounds like she's a typical child to me. My DS2 used to throw fits for a couple hours at a time and he's not special needs at all.

by Anonymous 14 on Nov. 11, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Yes, you ingore the meltdowns and you give her lots of hugs and love. When the meltdowns start just hold her and give her a hug, if she wants to go then let her go have the meltdown and ignore it completely. She'll be fine, she's two. They all do that. 

YES do not pop her on the butt. 

by Anonymous 15 on Nov. 11, 2012 at 12:10 PM
My DD was like that. I ignored her tantrums. Yes they lasted long (most of the time all day.) But I stuck with it. She's 3 and only has a couple of these days a month now.
by Platinum Member on Nov. 11, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Time outs are not the only option for parents who don't want to spank or use other forms of physical punishment.  You would get much farther with patience and natural consequences.  If she spills water, not only does she need to clean it up, but when she asks for a drink you need to hold firm that because she wasted what she had, she won't be getting any more for a certain period of time. If she throws food.  Meal time is over, and so on.

The biggest thing is that you absolutely can not give in to a tantrum.  If she screams, she screams, but your choice to avoid the tantrum is paramount to saying "you will always get what you want when you push my buttons".  My kids have always known that the minute they start a tantrum, my hands are tied and there is no negotiating/demanding for what they want.  Of course her behavior is getting worse; it is working for her.

You also don't need to explain everything.  A simple, direct statement and then a change of subject (redirection) effectively ends the fight. 

If she is a child with Autism, spanking her will be even less effective.

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