July 02, 2015

Q: I am a teen mom, and I have a 2 year old daughter.  She is out of control and I've tried everything, like whupping her and time outs.  When I tell her to stop, she doesn't listen and walks all over me.  What else can I do?

A: It is wonderful that you are reaching out for advice! It must be tough to be a teen mom with a 2 year old who is a real handful. The challenges with your daughter are probably similar to issues that many mothers have faced. My best suggestion is to find an ongoing source of help and advice, like a mother's support group, a community center, or parenting classes held at a local hospital, religious organization, or mental health center.

In the meantime, it is my guess that you hold yourself to high standards of doing things the right way, and that you are disappointed in both yourself and your daughter for not being able to have more control. You may be expecting her to behave "like a big girl" when it's a bit more than she can manage. Most 2 year olds do not really "listen." They are old enough to get the idea of what you want them to do, but they are not old enough to have the self-discipline to do it.

To get children to go along with instructions means that parents have to drop everything and slowly guide them in the right direction of behavior, but this can take forever.  And hitting or smacking children just makes them more angry and aggressive. Instead, give you and your daughter a bit of a break -- treat her like a child her age, and she might become more cooperative and less demanding. Letting her grow up more slowly might just do the trick for better behavior.

Answered by Dr. Elizabeth Berger