Why Is My 2-Year-Old So Mean To Me?

2 year old looking mean

You have been trying so hard to be a good parent to your toddler and raise a well-behaved child. But your 2-year old seems to make it way harder than you’d imagined. They are so mean and aggressive towards you. 

One minute they’re kicking, biting, throwing a punch at you while stomping and screaming the next. What happened to your adorable little one, you wonder. Well, around this age, toddlers realize they’re human beings who want to voice their opinion and assert their independence.

It’s hard for parents to accept the fact that their 2-year-old is being mean to them. Remember your toddler isn’t trying to hurt your feelings when they’re saying hurtful things. They’re trying to communicate their needs to you.

Sure they need to adopt a more constructive approach to do that, and that’s what you’re going to teach them. For that, you need to figure out what’s causing your toddler to behave this way first. Then you can help them handle their feelings in positive ways. 

In this article, we’re going to explore how you can handle your toddler’s mean behavior.

6 Reasons Why Your 2-Year-Old Is Being So Mean To You

6 Reasons Why Your 2-Year-Old Is Being Mean To You

2 year old toddler looking mean

Let’s get to the bottom of this, shall we? Here are the reasons why your 2-year-old is mean to you. 


They’re Frustrated

Your toddler’s language skills are still at a developing phase. They don’t know how to verbalize all the big emotions they are feeling. That doesn’t mean they won’t try to express themselves. But, the problem is sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t understand what they’re trying to say. 

Also, they’re new at doing things their way. So, when they can’t figure out how to do something, they feel crushed and frustrated, making them lash out at you. The streak of meanness might continue when they’re 

  • hungry
  • overstimulated
  • bored
  • tired
  • overwhelmed
  •  scared.

You Give in All the Time

Your 3-year-old can be pretty scary when they’re mean. So, no wonder you don’t want your child to get upset over small things and do anything to keep the peace. So, you probably hand them over the iPad and allow them extra screen time even though you don’t want to.

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The problem with this approach is if you keep giving in every time they throw tantrums. You’re enforcing the idea that tantrums can get them what they want. So, can you blame them if they start misbehaving next time they want something?


They Want Your Attention

Your toddler has just realized that they’ve got a voice but don’t know how to use it yet. They might need more attention, and they figured the only way to get more of it is by being mean to you. When you keep telling them ‘no’ or ‘stop doing that,’ they still get the attention they wanted.

So you’re rewarding their bad behavior and motivating them to act this way again.


They lack Self-control 

Toddlers are yet to learn and master the much-needed self-control to handle all the big emotions they’ve got to manage daily.  They also want to assert their newfound independence and test the boundaries you set. 


They Watch Violence on TV

Does your toddler watch violent content? They are influenced by their environment and can’t differentiate between fantasy and reality. So, if your son or daughter shows mean and aggressive behavior, it might be because of the violent movies and/TV shows they’ve been watching.


You Don’t Give in 

Since you don’t want to overindulge your kids by giving in to their every whim, your toddler gets mad at you. They’re too young to understand that you’re doing it for their own good. So when they don’t get what they want, it’s tantrum city, and you start to wonder how your toddler can be that mean!

Also, children tend to act up, talk back to their parents, stick their tongues out and act mean for another reason. It’s because they have seen others do things like this and like to do it to imitate them. 

Don’t forget that they lack experience in problem-solving and communicating. That plays a part too.

What You Can Do To Stop Your Child Being Mean To You

toddler mean and crying

So, how do you stop your toddler from being so mean and encourage good behavior? Here are 10 practical tips for you to improve your toddler’s behavior.


Give Them More Attention

To encourage good behavior, make sure to give them more focused attention. Spend quality time together. Face your child and maintain eye contact when they talk to you. Put the electronics away and show interest in what they’re trying to tell you.

Their facial expressions and body language will tell you more than their words do. Practice active listening and don’t cut them off when they’re talking. If they can get your attention by being good, they won’t have to be mean to get that.

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Increase Predictability in Their Life

Create a daily schedule for your family and stick to it as much as possible. It will let your kids know what to expect next.

Keeping a daily routine and making their life more predictable will reduce stress. It will also give them a sense of security, which will help them behave well.

Set Boundaries and Consequences

Children need limits to learn what is socially acceptable and what isn’t. So you need to set a guideline for them and when you do, be firm. Don’t give in just because you can’t handle your toddler’s mean behavior and tantrums. Rule and regulations will help you both avoid the power struggle.

It would be best if you also taught them the consequences of not respecting the boundaries. You need to be consistent. Follow through with the consequences you set for them to take you seriously.

If your 2-year-old daughter feels like hitting a parent every time they get upset, you need to deal with this. Establish house rules. Make them understand that there will be consequences for breaking them.

Keep reminding your child that no matter how angry or frustrated they feel, they can never hit, push, shove or kick you, or anyone for that matter.

Give Them Choices

two black arrows showing good choice and bad choice

Your toddler needs to learn how to follow instructions without engaging in a battle of wills. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have a choice. If they always have to do what you tell them, it might make them feel powerless and frustrated.

They might start to act aggressively to gain some control. The best way to avoid this is to give them choices over small things. Things like what snacks they want or what color socks they want to wear that day.

When you ask their opinion, they feel more in control of their environment. That means fewer arguments in the house.

Distract Your Toddler 

Two-year-olds have a fairly short attention span. Instead of making a big deal when they’re about to misbehave, use distraction techniques to divert their mind and stop the mean behavior.

Here are my top 21 ideas for distracting your toddler!


Be Empathetic

Sit with your toddler and talk about how they feel. Validate their feelings instead of discounting them. Let them know that it’s okay to feel these big emotions. What matters is how they manage them. Teach them to say what they’re feeling at the moment instead of biting or hitting you.

Show them appropriate anger management techniques like:

  • Taking a deep breath and counting to 3
  • Running on the grass
  • Hitting a pillow
  • Drawing something

Watch shows and read books that talk about feelings to help them build a rich emotional vocabulary

Ignore Their Minor Misbehavior

You need to know when to respond and when to ignore your kid’s misbehavior. Sometimes ignoring is the best discipline tool to teach your toddler more positive ways to handle their emotions. However, make sure to praise your kids for good behavior before you start ignoring their negative behaviors.

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So, don’t engage with them. Rather, stay calm and walk out of the room. Make sure your children aren’t putting themselves or others in danger before you do it. 


Make Your Children Practice Self-control

If your 2-year-old doesn’t like sharing stuff or taking turns and starts acting out if they have to share, figure out fun ways to teach them self-control.

Play games where they have to take turns. It will teach them how to wait for what they want and compromise when needed. 


Teach by Example

Make sure to stay calm even when your toddler’s behavior makes your blood boil. Kids are constantly learning by watching their parents. While driving your toddler to school, if you swear at the person who cut you off in traffic, they might think it’s okay to swear at you when you make them angry.

Without knowing what the swear words mean, they’re simply imitating you. If they’re swearing or using inappropriate language, use an assertive voice and tell them to stop immediately. Make sure they know you’re the one who’s in charge here.


Improve Their Communication Skills

child communicating

Communicating needs and feelings is a significant development milestone for toddlers.

Start teaching them this skill by asking them how they feel and show them how to label their emotions.

They need to learn that there are many ways of emotional problem solving other than throwing toys at you.

The moment your children learn how to express themselves clearly and effectively, it will change the way they behave. Hopefully for the better!

Conclusion

There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to parenting. What works for one kid might not work for another one. So, it would help if you kept your cool, find what works for your toddler. Be approachable so that they feel safe coming to you when anything goes wrong.

They’re learning to navigate the world around them. With your help, your mean baby can turn out to be the most empathetic adult out there. Hang in there and keep trying to direct them onto the right path.

Reference:

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/what_causes_children_to_misbehave

https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/connecting-communicating/communicating/communicating-well-with-children

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