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How to get a toddler to behave and does the naughty step work?

N is usually pretty well behaved.   We missed the terrible twos.

Although we seem to have got a bit of the ‘threenager’ behaviour coming out now.

Most of his extreme behaviour (well, anger) when it erupts is down to his wanting to be independent.  So there’re certain jobs that N thinks are his and woe-betide anyone who tries to do ‘his’ job because he’s not got on with it in time.

N loves getting his breakfast ready.  At nursery, they’re allowed to dish up their own cereal and pour their milk out, so he’s pretty good at doing this job.  Kind of!  He’ll let me help and I suppose we have a slightly less ‘preschool’ friendly house/tools to let him do it all himself.

But toast is a different story.  If he wants toast, he has to open the fridge, get the bread out, pull a chair up to the work surface, put the bread in the toaster, get out the butter, a knife and plate.  Then put the butter on the toast.  If I go to the fridge first there’s yells of ‘no’.

The same happens with running the bath (it’s his job to put the plug in and run it).

But apart from these few occasions, he’s usually pretty well behaved.  Until the other day at Granny’s house for tea when he’d finished his food and was wriggling all over the place, mucking around.  We’d given him a warning, including telling him what would happen if he didn’t sit still.  He usually hates being told off which is why it’s a rare occasion.  But this time, he would not sit still.

I can’t even remember exactly what he did, but he was whipped off the chair and into the dark hallway (well, semi dark, not pitch black) and put on the stairs.  He’s never been put on a ‘naughty step’ before, and as there are toys under the stairs I wondered whether he would stay sitting there.  I told him why he he had to sit there (not listening to a warning and continuing to do something he’d been told not to), and that he would be sitting there until I came back for him in 2 minutes (I said 3 minutes first of all forgetting that he’s still 2!).

He only got up the once straight away, and then on being returned, he sat.  There was a bit of a whimper, but he sat there until I returned.  The OH wanted to go and get him, but I wasn’t having any of that as I was the one who put him there, and I’m sure the OH wouldn’t have explained everything to him so he knew for future episodes.

I reminded him why he had to sit out there on his own, asked him if he had anything to say (a quiet ‘sorry’ was said), we had a hug and that was it.  All sorted, although it was funny when the rest of us were sitting round the table while N was out in the hall.

I wonder what will happen next time he’s round for tea at Granny’s.  Seeing as usually he’s totally ashamed when he’s told off, I’d hope that he doesn’t play up again soon.

Some people might say the ‘naughty step’ is horrible, but it’s one method, and in a group situation where he needed to be removed from the opportunity to play up and ‘perform’ in front of everyone, it was the suitable one for the occasion.

What methods do you use when your child is playing up?

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  1. We’ve used the naughty step as a last resort in the past, it wasn’t overly successful here as we struggled to get him to stay there by himself at all. Now I tell him that I’m removing a favourite toy for a day – that certainly works! Good luck, the next year may certainly have some ‘moments’.

    1. I was surprised it worked. I thought he’d be off up the stairs or getting toys out etc. The removal of toys threat works here too, although it’s never actually happened

  2. Boo missed the terrible twos, but got a little worse at 3! We use the step sometimes, and she tends to stay there (though Little Man goes and sits there with her, which kind of ruins the effect!). I’d say making eye contact, talking quietly and calmly to her tends to be the best method, and an added warning can help – i.e. we’ll leave if you don’t stop. All in all, though, I know I can make the biggest difference by heaping praise on when she’s good, keep it going, set up expectations, and reward charts work well here. So, if I plan ahead, I can cut-out the frustration and shouts (from me!) by setting things up better in the first place. I need to remember this..!

    1. We use very similar methods, and generally they work here too. And very much about setting expectations and explaining up front. Really helps and gives them more of a say in things (or so they think)

  3. We do have tantrums and things here at 2 and a half. I think it’s down to them wanting their independence, wanting to do things themselves. LP wants to do things her way or just not do them and we at times have also done the naughty step although not for a set period of time yet – just whilst I went to do something. LP hates the naughty step and doesn’t ever go on it twice in one day – I think we’ve only had to use it twice so far! x

    1. I totally agree on the independence thing. I find giving options (both of which are acceptable to me) helps…usually. N hates being told off but I do find that the OH isn’t really into the telling off, if he had his way it’d be straight away a smack. Which is more appropriate in a dangerous and stupid situation, but when a telling off or alternative way works I’d prefer that. Thankfully I’m the one that deals with behaviour generally, so I can control exactly how he’s being told off, and I make sure I expalin things really well so he knows why he shouldn’t be doing it.

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