Montessori Mom Needs Advice for Toddler Who Misbehaves

Young girl in pigtails and shorts, with her arms spread wide, standing on the curb of an empty parking lot.

My toddler has started acting very irrationally and will display a lot of emotion to any type of discipline bestowed on her.

Has she recently outgrown her naps? Maybe she is tired...

It seems no matter how delicate I am about the issue she seems to be absolutely heartbroken or it will trigger a tantrum. I am really having a hard time figuring out the best way to discipline her at this age.

When your child is having a tantrum, the best thing to do is ignore it (and leave the room if possible). And don't try talking to her while she is crying, etc. This will only prolong the tantrum.

A common situation might be that I’m folding the laundry and she will come over first to help but when she loses her patience with that she will go on to pulling down or kicking the piles of laundry I have folded.

Toddlers want to do what mommy is doing around the house! It is typical of toddler behavior... she can participate, but it needs to be age-appropriate (not too hard so that she gets frustrated). She can sort by color while you fold, or she can shake them out and put them on a couch for you to fold... folding will be too hard for her. If she insists on folding, you will have to redirect her to another folding work, like baby clothes or doll clothes or socks... It also helps to NOT do this activity during a time of the day or evening when she is tired (before nap or bedtime).

I will try a timeout. (Our timeout is the step in the hallway.)

She is too young for a time out, you can ignore the bad behavior, and leave the room so she does not get any of your attention--so if she starts kicking the laundry, walk away, don't give it power! (We ignored our son's tantrums and he outgrew them by age two--but it wasn't easy!)

She used to eat anything we put in front of her but now pretty much refuses to eat anything.

This is very common with 2 1/2 and 3-year-olds. They eat less and they want the same foods day in and day out. They are reaching the height of the Sensitive Period of Order and don't like changes in routine, or food.

At times she will even cry when she sees what’s on the table and yell “No, not that.”

This is also very typical, they want what they had the night before! Try offering her a plate of foods you know she'll eat, and expect she'll want those same foods night after night, then each night offer her something off your plate, and teach her to say, "No thank you," if she doesn't want it.

We also try to involve her as much as we can in setting the table and choosing what she wants on her plate serving herself if possible. (She always wants everything.) I am stuck on what to do with this new little creature that has entered our home.

I suspect she is too tired. Try giving her dinner much earlier, even if it means not eating together.

We feed our son at 5 PM! He is in his room at 6 PM and plays until 6:30 or 6:45 and then crawls into bed and falls asleep (I usually tuck him in at that point). And my son is 6 1/2! (Developmentally he is more like 4.)

Children who stop napping get tired and cranky very easily and need to go to bed much earlier and therefore start their routine much earlier!
How do you best discipline a child at 2.5 if at all, and how do I get her to enjoy her meals again like she used to.

She probably won't be interested in eating different foods again until age four or five when she grows out of her Sensitive Period for Order... and not giving her any attention for kicking and crying, etc., is the best approach at this age.

This makes it a little more challenging to give complicated instructions and explanations.

This only encourages bad behavior. ~Lisa Nolan

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