Help with defiance — The Bump
Toddlers: 12 - 24 Months

Help with defiance

Hi, my daughter is 14 months and already is so defiant. She seems to think No means "yes, honey, that is so funny, keep doing it" I cannot get her to listen to me and have tried everything I can think of. I know she is young, but I am afraid if I do not get it under control now, it will be even more of a headache later. She is very smart and understands so much. She is very active as well. My friends with similar aged children have not come across this problem yet. I feel like when she turned one, she started the "terrible twos" early! lol

Any ideas or personal experience is greatly appreciated.

Re: Help with defiance

  • My child is just the same!  C always giggles at me when I tell her no.  She is definitely at a point where she understands the word (as she's perfectly capable of telling me no!).  I'm not sure how much is defiant and how much is not paying attention because she's so focused on what she's doing.  I tried time out once, but she's so young she doesn't make the connection yet, so I've tabled that for a few more months.  I just keep repeating myself and correcting her behavior.  For example, she stands up in the bathtub (best one I can think of right now).  I tell her no, that we sit on our bum in the tub.  She looks at me and smiles, or alternately looks at me and grumbles because she knows what's coming.  If she doesn't sit down on her own after the second warning, I pick her up and make her sit down.  Some nights that's it, some nights she gets right back up again.  She is slowly beginning to sit down on her own, so she's getting there.  I think at this age it's a lot of repetition.

    I also don't distract much.  If I say no, and she's going to throw a fit, I let her throw a fit.  I think it's healthy to learn how to deal with frustration and with not being given everything you want.  I never let it last long, but I don't believe that giving her something else she wants teaches her anything much more than wow, if I do something Mom doesn't want me to, she'll give me something else.  Just my personal preference.

    Married DH 7/30/11

    CSC arrived 5/7/12 

    CHC arrived 6/2/14

  • I agree that it's a lot of repetition. My son cries almost every. single. time i tell him no. Most of the time he gets over it pretty quickly and is on to the next. I think he just doesn't like the stern tone. I think especially with safety things (like standing up in the bathtub), it's important to just be consistent and firm, but calm. Honestly, I think it's probably too soon for much beyond "no" and then trying to refocus them. I'm trying to look at it as he's learning what's OK and what's not rather than he's trying to be "defiant" (though I can see why you'd use that term since he's smirking at you and doing things anyway).
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  • Par for the course.DD is 15months and our evening routine basically consists of constant correction and her pushing boundaries. Her personal favorites are climbing where she is not supposed to (end tables, speakers, top of toy chest, back of couch) and also banging her toys on our multiple end tables (two of which are glass)

    She also has a very difficult time sitting in the bathtub and it was getting to be too much for us to constantly correct and also keep her safe. So we switched to giving her baths in our laundry utility tub. It is far less slippery and for some reason she will sit much better in it then the big tub.

    I redirect sometimes, I physically remove her from situations when necessary (mostly climbing) and I have started using a warning system and counting 1,2,3 for some behaviors like the banging. If I reach 3 she loses the toy/item and doesn't get it back until the next day. There are nights she loses a lot of toys. At first she wasn't making the connection, but I can see in the last few days she is starting to stop when I reach 2, or stops immediately after I say 3.

    It is just requires repetition and consistency.

  • I've heard sometimes it helps to use alternative phrases, instead of only repeating "NO" over and over again. Things like "That's not for you", "Please, do something else", "I need you to stop and listen". Correcting them in different words may actually help it sink in faster, because after awhile kids learn to just ignore "NO".
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    aboynamedbarry
  • I was having this probem too.  I tried distracting, ignoring, but nothing worked that well and DS's tantrums were getting totally out of hand.  Then I read the book "Bringing Up Bebe" and kind of changed my perspective.  Little kids will want to explore and push boundaries, so we should try to give them that freedom.  Saying no too often decreases the impact.  At the same time, we are the adults and our LOs need to learn when no means no.  The book advocated thinking carefully about what kind of actions should be tolerated and what shouldn't be and why.  For example, it used to drive me crazy that LO would keep touching the computer/keyboard and I'd say "no" over and over again and he would just ignore it.  If I take it away, he throws a tantrum.  Same thing with opening and closing cupboard, climbing on little chairs, etc.  But then when I really thought about it, I couldn't come up with a very good reaosn as to why he shouldn't do those things, other than the "he shouldn't do them because he should learn not to becasue I told him so" reason. 

    So DH and I sat down and came up with a small list of things that we absolutely will not tolerate (e.g. throwing food on the floor, hitting, climbing the stairs without waiting for us etc.) and when DS does those things, we look him straight in the eye, tell him "no" once, and then remove him from the action immediately.  At that point he usually would scream and have a fit, but we've found that the screaming has decreased in length and he hasn't done some of the "absolute no" things in a few weeks, so maybe it's working.

  • I was having this probem too.  I tried distracting, ignoring, but nothing worked that well and DS's tantrums were getting totally out of hand.  Then I read the book "Bringing Up Bebe" and kind of changed my perspective.  Little kids will want to explore and push boundaries, so we should try to give them that freedom.  Saying no too often decreases the impact.  At the same time, we are the adults and our LOs need to learn when no means no.  The book advocated thinking carefully about what kind of actions should be tolerated and what shouldn't be and why.  For example, it used to drive me crazy that LO would keep touching the computer/keyboard and I'd say "no" over and over again and he would just ignore it.  If I take it away, he throws a tantrum.  Same thing with opening and closing cupboard, climbing on little chairs, etc.  But then when I really thought about it, I couldn't come up with a very good reaosn as to why he shouldn't do those things, other than the "he shouldn't do them because he should learn not to becasue I told him so" reason. 

    So DH and I sat down and came up with a small list of things that we absolutely will not tolerate (e.g. throwing food on the floor, hitting, climbing the stairs without waiting for us etc.) and when DS does those things, we look him straight in the eye, tell him "no" once, and then remove him from the action immediately.  At that point he usually would scream and have a fit, but we've found that the screaming has decreased in length and he hasn't done some of the "absolute no" things in a few weeks, so maybe it's working.

    I read this book too and we're trying this as well (though DH and I haven't sat down and made a list or anything).  We just try to be aware of what exactly LO is doing and only use NO when necessary.  I'm a big fan of other statement alternatives, too, such as "Let's not do that," or "That's not yours to play with" as well.  Also, for safety things like standing in the tub, I say "We don't stand in the tub, you could get hurt" (or something similar) as I'm sitting him back down.  If he tries to stand up 3 times, then he's done with his bath.
  • I've heard sometimes it helps to use alternative phrases, instead of only repeating "NO" over and over again. Things like "That's not for you", "Please, do something else", "I need you to stop and listen". Correcting them in different words may actually help it sink in faster, because after awhile kids learn to just ignore "NO".

    This is one of the things we do too. At 14 months time out was me putting her in her high chair facing the wall for around a minute. Usually less. And now, she's 19 months she will actually sit in the spot I choose for time out. Some kids just have more stubborn and strong personalities and soubds like that's what you have on your hands... and I would say I have to agree with your feeling that if you don't get it at least somewhat under control now it will jist get harder. But pp's are correct that what this requires is a LOT of repitition and assistanceto listen to you.

    At this point (19 mos) I will tell my daughter something, like "come with mommy, its time to go inside" and if she doesn't listen, I will go to her and repeat myself and take her hand. Sometimes that's all it takes, but sometimes she turns to jelly and throws herself to the ground aand has a fit. So I will let her finish, then say alright now ots still time to go inside... and ultimately carry her if needbe. Addressing any residual problems as they arise. Its very hard but I have seen positive improvement that gives me incentive to keep onkeeping on! Good luck!
    eliza bopple
    Eliza born 1-25-12
    Baby 2 EDD 7-18-14
  • Thank you everyone! I agree that "defiance" may have been a strong word to use, but was just trying to describe it in a universal way. None of my other mommy friends have had issues with this, and constantly repeating yourself can sometimes make you feel insane! All of your posts have really helped me to know I am on the right track and gave me a few pointers as well! :)
  • Thank you everyone! I agree that "defiance" may have been a strong word to use, but was just trying to describe it in a universal way. None of my other mommy friends have had issues with this, and constantly repeating yourself can sometimes make you feel insane! All of your posts have really helped me to know I am on the right track and gave me a few pointers as well! :)

    I Know what you mean about the repeating yourself thing and feeling crazy! Most of my friends children are not like this... but finally I have run across a couple whose ARE and I feel so much more sane ;) don't worry, you are not alone! :)
    eliza bopple
    Eliza born 1-25-12
    Baby 2 EDD 7-18-14
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