Every day is a battle.
At the end of each day, you feel battle weary and mentally exhausted.
If your toddler exhibits some ‘strong-willed child‘ characteristics, then you can follow the tips on this page if you want to know how to discipline a strong-willed 2-year-old!
Strap yourself in, it is going to be a bumpy ride!
What you will learn in this post:
- The personality traits of a strong-willed child
- How to discipline a strong-willed 2-year-old
Table of Contents
- Personality Traits Of A Strong-Willed 2-year-old
- How To Discipline a Strong-Willed 2 Year Old
- Time Out
- Toy Removal
- Less Screen Time
- Stand By Decisions
- Rewards Chart
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How do you stop a 2-year-old from hitting?
- Is my toddler spirited, or strong-willed?
- How do you discipline a 2-year-old who doesn’t listen?
- When should I seek help with my strong-willed toddler?
Personality Traits Of A Strong-Willed 2-year-old
Let’s begin with the personality traits of a strong-willed 2-year-old. You might be thinking ‘Hitler,’ but I am sure it is not that bad… surely!
Ok, so they may behave like an emotionally unstable, pint-sized dictator, but Hitler was worse, I am sure of it…
Some of these are symptoms of the terrible 2’s, so you might be lucky…it might just be a phase!
It goes without saying, right? You know this. They love to argue.
ALL OF THE TIME!
When will it end? Why can’t they do what I am asking them to do???
- ‘Time to brush your teeth’…argument
- ‘Time for bed’…argument
- ‘We need to go to the shops’…argument
- ‘Time for your bath’…argument (tips for helping you through a toddler bathtime here)
Inside my home, I can deal with tantrums. It’s easy, walk out of the room, don’t engage.
Outside of my home is not so simple. You can’t just leave them in the street and walk away. I get the feeling they know this too, which is why they love doing it.
They have the power! A stubborn toddler is a challenge.
If there is one thing that rattles my brain more than anything else in this world, it is the sounds of a toddler screaming!
It’s the screams that come out of nowhere that are the worst kind. The screams that make your head hit the ceiling when you leap up like those cat v cucumber videos on YouTube.
I hate it!
Shouting is another sign of a strong-willed 2-year-old. The worst thing about shouting is that it is difficult to get your point across.
Even when you have a valid reason why you ask them to do something, they aren’t listening… they are too busy shouting to care what you think.
They want something, and they want it now.
Sounds familiar? It should do… because your toddler is pushing boundaries to see what they can get away with.
How To Discipline a Strong-Willed 2 Year Old
Giving your 2-year-old time out works! I guarantee it…
Not straight away, but it does work over time.
To set expectations correctly, you need to be aware that the first few times you try this, it will be like herding cats. Here is the process:
- Please put them in their time out place (naughty step, whatever)
- You Walk away
- They walk away
- You put them back
- They run away
- You put them back
- They shout, scream, argue, then run away
- You put them back
- Repeat, randomly
The important thing is that you keep at it. Please do not give up, or they will lose respect for you.
This works, although more recently, it hit the buffers. Let me explain how it worked in the past:
My son would argue at anything and everything. I threatened to take a toy away and give it to the garbage men. The argument continued.
Now, because I threatened to remove one of his toys, I could not back down. So, I removed one of his toys.
Meltdown. Dad was being a boss, and he didn’t like it one bit.
After he calmed down, I got an apology, a hug, and a promise to be better in the future. Times were good.
More recently, I followed the same process. After he calmed down, he accepted that he had too many toys and didn’t need that one. Power removed.
Less Screen Time
Some people do not give their toddlers screen time. They think it ruins a child’s development. I disagree, to an extent!
While too much screen time has a negative impact on development, if you control the length of screen time, it can be very beneficial. Especially as you can use apps to help teach your 2-year-old spelling, math, and color recognition.
There is no doubt that kids love watching other kids play on YouTube. The fact that they love doing this means you can use it as a tool to discipline them if needed.
Stand By Decisions
If you want to know how to discipline a strong-willed 2-year-old, then DO NOT BACK DOWN! Backing down from threats of discipline is absolutely the wrong message to give to your strong-willed 2-year-old.
Not only does it negatively undermine your self-respect, but it also undermines the respect that your toddler has in you.
When you say it is time for your 2-year-old to brush their teeth, do not stop until the job is done. If you threaten to remove a toy for bad behavior, do it.
Reward charts are not necessarily a punishment; they are more a part of the punishment process.
For instance, your 2-year-old gets a star whenever they exhibit good behavior. They get a star removed when they are naughty.
At the end of a week, they get a treat if they have a certain amount of stars. If they have less, they do not get a treat.
Again, you mustn’t back down from these rules. If they are 1 star away from a treat, it is not good enough to get a treat. Don’t make stuff up just because you want them to be happy!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you stop a 2-year-old from hitting?
Firstly, you clearly set expectations about what will happen every time they hit someone. You explain why it is not acceptable behavior to hit others.
Tell them what will happen if they fail to comply.
Do not back down from any punishment you threaten to dish out. Stay strong, stand firm. They will respect you more.
Is my toddler spirited, or strong-willed?
It is a fine line between spirited and strong-willed. A spirited child’s bad behavior will not be as constant as a strong-willed 2-year-old. Spirited behavior will also be spirited in positive moments, whereas being strong-willed leans toward more negative behavior.
There is a difference here, and it is really important that you do not attempt to suppress your toddler’s spirit. You want them to have a bit of spirit, it is important in life! They question things, they improve things.
How do you discipline a 2-year-old who doesn’t listen?
If only there were 2-year-olds who do listen, then we could compare! I jest of course.
When toddlers do not listen it makes it more difficult to deal with. By following the tips on this page, you will not go far wrong.
When should I seek help with my strong-willed toddler?
There are times when you might consider requesting the help of a Child Behavioral Therapist. To be honest, it is extremely unlikely to get to that stage. When you follow a disciplined process for long enough, your 2-year-old with either grow out of the phase, or they will fall into line.
Your situation might be different. If you get to the point where you are asking when you should seek help, then it might be time to seek help.
If you want to know how to discipline a strong-willed 2-year-old, then the tips on this page will absolutely help!
If you are struggling with a strong-willed 2-year-old, then I really feel for your sanity. Follow the tips on this page and stay strong. You will get to the promised land… eventually!
It is worth remembering that many of the symptoms of a strong-willed 2-year-old are learned behavior! Is it time that you checked your own behavior? If you are also showing signs that you are strong-willed, then maybe you need to take that on board and live with it or lead by example!
Anyway, you have spent too long reading this post. Get back and deal with your pint-sized dictator!