toddler training research

We have a one of the best two-year-old boys any parents could ask for. About 90% of the time, he obeys and follows the rules. Up until the past few months, he had been good as gold and hardly ever got into trouble. Now, we’re a few months into the twos and I’m starting to see obedience issues. I’ve decided to take action!

Last Friday night, I lost my temper when my husband, son and I went out to eat. I guess my pregnancy hormones are in full swing now, too (28 weeks along). We’d had a good day together and decided to spend the evening out and about. My son has started this thing we’re as soon as we leave the house it’s, “Home. Go back home.” We spend a lot of our time at home, so I don’t feel guilty for taking occasional family outings. Anyway, we assured him we’d be back home in a bit, but there were some things we wanted to do.

Our first stop was a rug store since we’re looking to fill in some decorating gaps in our new home. Of course, a toddler could care less about the rugs, he just wants to hide in the rugs and run from mom and dad (“Chase” as he calls it). We were only in the store about 15 minutes when my husband decided to follow him outside; that’s when my son fell down and ended up in tears. We got him all buckled in the car and almost left the one rug we did buy in all the chaos.

Second stop was the Goodwill store, where our son did pretty well. He likes riding in the “buggy” as we call it and he was pretty content for most of the time. When we went to leave, he wanted the car keys, so I gave him all but the one we needed to drive the car. He threw a terrible fit over that one key and cried like a maniac, even though I explained we couldn’t drive the car without it.

At that point, I told my husband that we didn’t need to go to the restaurant at which we’d originally planned to eat. This place was a little more expensive and more suited for adults on date night…not a toddler who wasn’t going to behave. We decided to go to something quicker, less expensive, and more kid friendly.

We ended up at our favorite Mexican restaurant where the son made a meal out of chips and cheese dip. I was happy because he was sitting still and eating. Then, he was full and we hadn’t even gotten our food yet. Of course, he didn’t think he needed to sit still since he was done with his food. So, the game began of going from one side of the table to the other. I finally told him he needed to sit still or he was going to sit in the high chair with the lap belt on. Did that deter him? No. We got the high chair and attempted to put him into it and he stiffened up straight as a board. At that point, I smashed my toe under the high chair (I was wearing flip flops) and that sent me over the edge.

I knew our son needed a diaper, so I grabbed one up and grabbed him, throwing my purse on the table and exclaiming a word I will not repeat and was so disappointed in myself for saying. On the way to the bathroom, my son saw suckers at the checkout counter and asked for one. I told him when we got into the bathroom that he needed to “behave” and he would get a sucker when we left. Then, it dawned on me…did he know what “behave” meant? I asked him and he told me “no”.  I had to explain that it meant to “obey” mom and dad and listen to what they say.

We got back to the table and our food arrived shortly thereafter. I was so ashamed of the way I acted. Thankfully, I think my husband was the only one who witnessed it – him and God. I handed our son over to my husband who had ordered french fries (one of my kiddo’s favorites) and they began eating. All I could do was sit there and hold back tears over my plate of food. I finally pulled it together and started eating, then I apologized to my husband.

In the end, it all worked out and we laughed about it going down the road. Thankfully, my husband was understanding and forgiving. I prayed hard about what I’d done and said and asked my son for forgiveness. It was so cute because he said “no” when I asked him if he forgave me. I think to a toddler, everything is “no” unless it’s “Do you want candy/Popsicles/to go outside…”

I had the privilege of teaching Sunday school this week since the regular teacher was out of town. I found myself expressing my frustration with my parenting skills and the preacher’s wife suggested I read the book “Dare to Discipline” by Dr. James Dobson. She raised 3 kids that turned out really well, now who are all in their 20’s. I remembered hearing Dr. Dobson on the radio years ago and I always respected what he had to say. Also, he’s a Christian and uses Biblical principles, not just his own opinions and ideas.


So, today I went to the library, checked out that book and three others that I found right around it. I’m ready to read and study! I’ve read a little already and have laughed out loud a few times. Here are some of the points that have stuck out to me thus far:

  • “Developing respect for parents is the critical factor in child management.” Dr. Dobson points out that this has to start at a very young age…in infancy, pretty much.
  • There’s a story he tells to help very young children understand the importance of listening to mom and dad. It’s about a mommy bird who tells her baby to stay in the nest while she’s out to get food. The baby doesn’t listen, jumps out of the nest and is gobbled up by a cat. He goes onto to point out that you need to tell your kids that you tell them to do/no do things because you love them and know what’s best for them. And, if they don’t obey, they’ll have consequences (that was one of my mom’s favorite words when we were growing up).
  • Raising your kids in a loving environment goes a long way.

There’s the funniest description of how bad toddlers can be, but our son isn’t nearly what is described in the book. Thankfully, he doesn’t refuse to take naps or go to bed at night. I really learned a lot about getting him in a routine from the book “Becoming Babywise” before he was born. I love that book and have already started referencing it again for baby #2 who is on the way.

I’m going to take notes from my reads and blog about them in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime, I’m open to questions/suggestions you have about parenting toddlers!


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