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Extremely challenging two year old.

(62 Posts)
shimeld Mon 13-Sep-21 10:42:54


My wife and I care for our two-year-old grandson every Monday without any major issues. On a few other days, he goes to his other grandparent's where he gets no stimulation, and she gives him sweets that leave him hyper.

To be fair, it's difficult for them because they have a severely disabled adult son, living with them full time. When our grandson was born, she made grand offers that she wanted to look after him all the time, which has since not transpired.

Knowing her situation with her own son, I don't know why she offered to help.

A week ago she announced that her and her husband were going on a three-week holiday, at short notice, I presume that their son goes in care while they are away.

That's left my daughter, who is working full time, in a difficult situation. We stepped in to help with more care and on Saturday night we experienced him throwing an extreme tantrum at bedtime.

He seems to have got into stupid routines. He doesn't seem to have any routine and structure, because he is getting bounced around from pillar to post and all the rules might be conflicting with each carer.

As I write, he has thrown another extreme tantrum and my wife is at breaking point. I help, but I'm afraid having me help just introduces another set of rules, for him to try and deal with.

What can we do, and where do we start?

Kind regards.

shimeld Mon 13-Sep-21 10:44:31

I forgot to say that we are in our late 60s and both work. I work from home full-time and my wife part-time.

Daisymae Mon 13-Sep-21 11:37:59

Very difficult to imagine how you are both working from home, you full time and your wife part time with a 2 year old. I assume that one of you at least is not working when the child needs looking after? The only thing that you can do is the remain calm and consistent in your childcare. Praise him when he is doing what you would like and ignore behaviour that you would rather he didn't do. Have lots of things to keep him busy. I remember making lots of paper balls out of newspaper and then throwing them into a waste bin. Or play hunt the thimble (can be hunt any small object). Let him hide while you find. Hide and seek is always exciting. Walks to the park or wherever but get him playing outside. He will soon grow up and out of this, lets face it, difficult stage.

SueDonim Mon 13-Sep-21 11:41:05

He sounds as though he would benefit from professional childcare, with more routine and stimulation.

ElaineI Mon 13-Sep-21 11:42:41

It is absolutely normal for 2 year olds to have tantrums frequently (my grandson age 7 still has occasional tantrums). You don't have "rules" for children so perhaps you are expecting too much and you do sound very critical of his other carers. The routines may be "stupid" to you but not your daughter and her PiL. At 2 most children can cope with different rules/toys/routines for different houses and you must have some of your own if you look after him already so stick to them but don't be too rigid. Mealtimes - if he doesn't sit still to eat don't force it, find out what he likes - if it's chicken nuggets etc get them. They don't eat much at that age. Bedtime - our family has - play or game, bath, jammies, story, milk, teeth, bed - order and time adjusted with age. Some children at 2 like to be sat with as they go to sleep. Daytime activities short things at that age but vary about - go out as much as you can, walks, parks, splashing in muddy puddles. See if there are any toddler groups or book bug sessions opened up in your area - some are starting back. It is exhausting but tantrums are usual.

shimeld Mon 13-Sep-21 12:43:16


In answer to a few points. When my wife is not working, she looks after him.

He gets plenty of interaction from my wife, and she does all the other things that you have suggested. The problem is that he doesn't get that from the other grandparent.

He is left to play on the iPad and watch TV all day, and accompanied by sweets.

My wife has cared for 3 other grandchildren over the last 10 tears without any issues. Yes, children at this age can be a trial, but this is different. He is not getting the correct message from my son-in-law, who just gives into him.

I'm sorry to have troubled you all with this.

trisher Mon 13-Sep-21 12:57:04

Well whatever goes on at the other grandparents is none of your business. If your DD doesn't like it she can ask them to change but you should stay out of it.
He's two, they're not known as the "Terrible Twos" for nothing. Temper tantrums are perfectly normal. There are some strategies which sometimes work for getting a child out of one. The "Oh look a flying pig" sometimes works-see, or say you have seen, something which he is really interested in. Doesn't really matter what you choose it's just something to distract him.
Some children respond well to being picked up and held closely, some are best left in a safe place and ignored for a short time, as long as you are sure they are safe.
You can sometimes prevent tantrums by telling a child what is to happen and giving them adequate warning.
So. "In 10 minutes you will have to put your toys away and get ready for bed" Repeat for 5 mins and 2 mins. Sometimes a 10-0 countdown helps as well, some children love counts.
Reward behaviour you like with hugs, cuddles and praise.
Ignore little infringements which are sometimes attention seeking.
Find fun ways of doing things. Singing a song whilst tidying up for example- all toys must be away before the song finishes.
Hope these help. Try to enjoy him, they are little for such a short time. And always remember "This too shall pass"

Caleo Mon 13-Sep-21 12:57:42

Could you say to your son something along the lines of " We would like very much to care all the time for Joey from now on and that would also perhaps let Meg and Bert and their Son enjoy their family life more." ?

Madgran77 Mon 13-Sep-21 13:50:44

Your daughter and son in law probably need to look again at their childcare arrangements but that is for them to decide. You and your wife need to be clear what you can and can't do and stick to it. You can't solve the problem of them being let down at a late stage by the other grandparents. Nor can you deal with the things the other grandparents do that you disapprove of.

Two year old tantrums are pretty normal and largely come from the fact that at this age a child is overwhelmed by their emotion, hasn't learnt how to regulate and deal with their emotion and frustration and consequently melt down happens.

Presumably as you have him every Monday you have together developed a routine with him involving both you and his wife. I assume that you and your wife have agreed your expectations and methods together to give him consistency when he is with you. If you haven't then do! If you have done that then I don't think your concerns about "having me help just introduces another set of rules, for him to try and deal with" are valid. Work together with consistency!

Trisher gives good suggestions which I wont repeat. My own children and my grandchildren when young responded well to:

* 5 minute/2 minute warnings as described, possibly with a consequence if did happen like "I will tickle you up the stairs" or "We can play trains" or "Lets read ..., your favourite story" or something else quick, silly that the child loves doing with you

*me sitting down, holding out my arms and saying "do you want a cuddle?" ...usually the answer was yes, waited until calm was restored and crying stopped or at least reduced and then gently explained that I understood they were angry /upset because ....but this had to happen because .....then carried on with whatever had caused tantrum etc. Usually the tantrum did not repeat, occasionally it did, so I repeated process!

This is a helpful article for you I hope!

BlueBelle Mon 13-Sep-21 13:53:06

Oh my goodness 2 year olds are full of tantrums they don’t have the language of a grown up or an older child to say “no I don’t want to do this” or “I m scared” or “I ve got too much going round in head” or just “leave me alone” so they scream and scream (I had one granddaughter who was a breath holder another grandson who was a complete destruction machine
(funny really as he’s now in construction) he was a whirlwind and now is a really hard grafter

If you and your wife are uptight and not managing this will come across to the lad without saying a word and he will feel less safe

Don’t be so hard on the other grandparents you’re daughter is obviously satisfied and everyone will do it their way, small children are very adaptable and will realise they do this at granny and grandads house, and this at the other house
He’s hardly getting bounced around from pillar to post if he has every Monday with you and a few other days with the other grandparents
If you’re wife’s at breaking point after a couple of bedtime tantrums you really aren’t up to this child minding perhaps offer to pay for him to go to a nursery or a registered child minder

JaneJudge Mon 13-Sep-21 13:56:42

I agree with BlueBelle

mokryna Mon 13-Sep-21 14:34:38

Please don’t criticize what the other grandparents do, he must love them as they do him. It must be very difficult if he picks up on the tension between the two families. ( I remember being in that situation when I was young and I had to hid how I felt)
When he is at yours make it the best time he can have, as others have already suggested how to occupy the time with him and I am sure you and your wife will make good, ‘one to one’ memories for him to look back on.

freedomfromthepast Tue 14-Sep-21 02:51:57

Bluebelle: My youngest was a breath holder as well. She actually passed out during the middle of a tantrum one time. Luckily as soon as she hit the floor, her brain kicked in and she started breathing again. I was torn between being horrified and being thankful she stopped her screaming for a second.

Some kids are just more difficult than others. My oldest was a very easy child, so I was not prepared for the second.

OP; does he know baby signs? I just throw that out there because some children at age 2 have trouble communicating and I have seen when they learn baby signs it helps. Not sure if lack of communication skills is part of the problem, but you could certainly try to learn a few things with him to see if it helps.

Hithere Tue 14-Sep-21 03:26:04

Consistency is key on a childcare arrangement. This child is bounced around too much with no common rules at all.

The terrible twos and threes are adding to this as well.

It is up to the parents of the child to pick the child carers.
That being said, this arrangement is clearly not beneficial at all.

May I ask how you know what happens in the other grandparents' home?
As a paretn, that would be a deal breaker for me. They have too much on their plate too add childcare on top of it.

BlueBelle Tue 14-Sep-21 03:58:51

May I ask how you know what happens in the other grandparents' home that’s a very good question * hithere*

Your opening title Very challenging 2 year old and then your description sound very different This little chap sounds a VERY very normal 2 year old

Dibbydod Tue 14-Sep-21 05:08:39

You sound very critical of the other grandparents, no doubt they have their hands full with their own severely disabled son , so maybe letting the 2 year old play with iPad and watch tv keeps him happy ? Why all the worry about ‘ rules ‘ , we all have different ways with children, that’s life . Also I don’t think it’s fair that you all have to do your bit in child care while the daughter can go to work and escape the tantrums of the 2 year old . Why is it in this day and age it that parents seem to feel they have the ‘ right ‘ to return to work while the poor older grandparents have to do all the running around looking after young grandchildren when they should be enjoying their well earned retirement in pursuing their own pleasures in life .

Eviebeanz Tue 14-Sep-21 05:46:25

We provide childcare for our youngest 2 grandsons while their parents work. I wfh but my husband is retired. I would describe it as having been a mixture of great pleasure and sometimes pain lol. I believe in getting the children outdoors whenever possible so they can see different things, play with sand or water in the garden and use their energy. I love books and so encourage them to 'read'.
I think its tempting to look back to when your own children were young and think that they weren't like that (feeling they were better behaved) but I think we should remember that memory isn't always totally reliable and that we ourselves have got older and sometimes less tolerant nowadays. There are things that are allowed at nanny's house (messy play is one example) that don't happen at home and vice versa. Children are remarkably adaptable and resilient. The child is only 2 and is learning the world so to speak and I feel that it is a joy and a privilege to be part of that.

Chardy Tue 14-Sep-21 09:05:36

For the last 7 years, since DGD was almost newborn, she's slept over at ours, the other grandparents, Daddy's as well as living with mum. There's been very little pattern to this. Genuinely, I've always felt that wherever she is, she's adapted to that environment. For example I've never heard her say that grannie lets me... or at Daddy's I'm allowed...
However the adult never had work pressures on them (retired, part-time or their own boss who could choose their work hours). You 2 are wonderful to look after him at short notice and work.

Polarbear2 Tue 14-Sep-21 09:13:21

Try not having so many ‘rules’ maybe? Don’t sweat the small stuff. And, my main mantra in childcare, don’t argue with a two year old. It’s a waste of time and energy. Make sure they’re safe and then walk away and do something else. Until they’ve calmed down. Then lots of cuddles and distraction. If you seriously can’t cope though you must tell the parents. It’s their responsibility not yours.

Hetty58 Tue 14-Sep-21 09:32:48

shimeld it's very common for two year olds to throw tantrums, especially when tired. OK - you may well find it 'extremely challenging' but it's an everyday thing for some.

I don't think it's helpful to blame it on a lack of routine or how he's cared for elsewhere. Instead, it's best to understand the warning signs, try distraction - and, once the tantrum's in full flow, recognise that he's unable to respond to reason by that point, so needs comfort and calm.

I do think your daughter needs to organise plenty of childcare options - instead of relying on you. My daughter uses a nursery, grandparents - and two friends with toddlers, all interchangeable at short notice in case of sickness etc.

Shropshirelass Tue 14-Sep-21 09:37:28

Oh dear, it is the terrible two’s, tantrums for no apparent reason. Stick to your structure while he is with you, he will slowly realise that you have boundaries and will adjust.

Hetty58 Tue 14-Sep-21 09:45:43

(I only have them on an occasional or emergency basis - as I don't want too look after them regularly.)

Gwyneth Tue 14-Sep-21 10:15:05

I would offer to pay towards child care fees. It must be very difficult to look after a two year if you are working from home.

jaylucy Tue 14-Sep-21 11:55:48

That's why they call it the "terrible twos" I thought !
Either his parents are unaware of what happens while he is being looked after by the other grandparents or they are quite happy with the situation. Either way, but sorry, it's none of your business, even though I can fully understand that you want the best for your GC.
As others have suggested, you could offer to pay towards nursery fees - but you have to make sure it will mean that neither sets of grandparents have caring responsibility - if you just pay so that the other grandparents no longer have him at all, it could cause such ructions in the family, it really wouldn't be worth it.

Fabulous50s Tue 14-Sep-21 11:59:17

If I was the OP, I wonder why I had bothered posting his question.
He asks for advice, quite reasonably perplexed as to how to deal with this problem and brings down a storm of criticism by some frankly unpleasant posters.
Whatever “modern thinking” is, generally children do thrive with kindly routine/rules and interaction.
IMO, he is not being critical of the other grandparents, merely describing what goes on there. Surely no one considers stuffing a child with sweets is a good thing.
A conversation needs to take place between all concerned, and possibly a cofounder nursery place for this little boy found.
Meanwhile, well done for patiently trying to find a solutionn.