Set Limits Without Yelling

In Common Toddler Discipline Mistakes, I explained why punishments and the perception of children misbehaving as “bad” undermine effective and respectful discipline.

In the following email exchange, I discuss with Lauren (mother to a toddler) some other common discipline missteps: 1) Yelling; 2) Not setting limits early enough (which often leads to yelling or at least feeling like yelling); and 3) Not following through (which can also lead to yelling).

Dear Janet,

I’ve been a reader for about a year, and I’ve found the tenets of Magda Gerber’s approach to be indispensable with my daughter.  I’m a SAHM, and it’s incredible how much better our days go when I’m able to maintain a calm face and tone when setting limits.

My problem is that I’m not very good at it. Sometimes I just get so frustrated with the constant demands of a 2.5 year old that I end up yelling.

My question is whether you have any advice about how to stay calm and consistent.  I’m already very much a believer, but I need something to help me manage my frustration level in the moment.

While I know it’s absolutely unreasonable to expect my daughter to know when she’s pushed enough, I can’t help wanting say something like,, “Come on, kid, I’ve nailed the respectful-but-firm tone here a few times already, and now I’m not screwing around!”

The thing is, when it works — which is a lot of the time — it WORKS. It seems like that would be enough incentive for me, but I still struggle.  I’m sure if  were to get this question from another parent, I’d know exactly what to tell them, yet putting it into practice consistently when the going gets tough is not easy for me.   Any hot tips?

Thank you so much,

Lauren

Hi Lauren,

Two and half is a demanding age, but “constant demands” was a clue for me that there is something in the dynamic between you and your daughter that is unsettling her.  There shouldn’t be constant demands. But if she senses that she is pushing your buttons and that there might be an explosion (yelling and frustration on your part, etc.) then she is going to be compelled to make more demands.

Have to go, but will try to write more later!

 

Thanks, Janet.  She definitely can sense when she’s pushing my buttons, that’s very true.  I don’t think I made a fair characterization of the situation by describing her demands as constant.

She really is wonderful at self-entertaining, and we do everything we can to foster her independence and follow her lead.  For example, she has just learned to open the screen door herself.  I think this is great, because we have a safe, fenced back yard, and she’s able to spend as much time as she likes playing out there.

As an example of something that pushes my buttons, now that she can open the screen door, she sometimes gets in a spell of throwing things outside, and she won’t stop until we lock the door.  It doesn’t matter what we say, whether we do the calm “I won’t let you do that” or  when she keeps doing it…she won’t stop.  The thing is, I don’t WANT to lock the door as an artificial limit.  I want her to just do what I say.

I guess my feeling is (and I know it’s a completely unreasonable expectation) that I want her to understand how hard we work to be respectful parents, to give her as much freedom and autonomy as she can handle, and to give us the benefit of the doubt and respect when we do say “no”.  When she blatantly does something we’ve nicely told she may not do, it feels hurtful and disrespectful to me, and I have a lot of difficultly not taking it personally.

What I’d love to be better at is just saying, after one warning, “I’m going to lock the door now because you’re having a hard time keeping things in the house” and calmly getting up and doing it.  I think my problem, now that I’m talking it out, is that I give her too many chances, more than I can handle, to comply on her own.  In my effort to give her the opportunity to choose to do what I’m asking of her, I end up pushing myself farther than I can handle.

So what’s the best way to balance giving her a chance to decide and comply on her own with stepping in and enforcing the limit?

Hi Lauren,

Yes! You answered your own question:

“What I’d love to be better at is just saying, after one warning, “I’m going to lock the door now because you’re having a hard time keeping things in the house” and calmly getting up and doing it.  I think my problem, now that I’m talking it out, is that I give her too many chances, more than I can handle, to comply on her own.  In my effort to give her the opportunity to choose to do what I’m asking of her, I end up pushing myself farther than I can handle.”

It seems that you are expecting too much of your toddler and misunderstanding why she is “misbehaving”. Yes, she can understand what you want, but no, she can’t just agree and quietly comply with your wishes out of respect. This isn’t personal — it’s developmental.

A vital part of her development right now is testing her power and her will, while also being assured that she has parents who are well-equipped to contain this power.  Toddlers do this by resisting us.  They can’t explore their will by saying “yes, mom, I’ll do what you ask.” So, defiance at this age is normal and healthy.

However, it is disconcerting and even scary for toddlers to feel too powerful – powerful enough to push parents’ buttons and rattle or anger them or powerful enough to make decisions they can’t easily make (like when to relinquish their will, follow a parent’s direction and stop throwing toys). Feeling too powerful means feeling uncared for, and toddlers are acutely aware of their need for our care.

Your daughter wants and needs you to follow through and lock the door. Then, if she has feelings about that, allow and acknowledge them.  She needs you to calmly connect and “parent her” way before you get angry. If you are getting annoyed, that means you are giving her too many chances and choices. She’s clearly letting you know that she needs your help.

My thought is that she may also be communicating that she’s tired, hungry or in need of release for some pent up feelings. But one thing is certain: she is asking for a boundary from you, presented calmly and respectfully so that she can feel safe and secure in your love and care again.

I would get close enough to make eye contact and tell her once politely not to do it (“please keep your toys in the house”) and then say, “You are throwing toys outside when I asked you not to. I’m going to lock the door.” She may squawk in response, or even have a meltdown, but she will also breathe a huge inward sigh of relief. Mommy stopped me before she got mad. She seems confident about taking care of me.

Taking care of yourself and your child — prioritizing your relationship to this extent is the ultimate in great parenting and something to feel extremely proud of.  Children don’t want to be considered bothersome, frustrating or annoying and they don’t deserve our resentment. But only we can set the limits necessary (and early enough) to prevent these feelings from cropping up and poisoning our relationship.

I hope this perspective helps give you the encouragement you need to remain calm and be consistent.

Warmly,

Janet

I offer a complete guide to respectful discipline in my new book:

NO BAD KIDS: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

I also recommend reading Stop! 5 Easy Steps To Effective Limit Setting With Toddlers by Lisa Sunbury, Regarding Baby.org

 

 

(Photo by Elizabeth/Table4Five on Flickr)

86 Comments

Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. Thanks Ms.Janet….didn’t I just comment about yelling to much on your previous post? lol :-)… this is perfect timing.

    1. You’re welcome, Chelle, and I finally responded to your comment on the previous post… 🙂

    2. ‘What I’d love to be better at is just saying, after one warning’

      My 3 year old knows what bothers me and purposely does them. I cannot count because he will only do it once (eg putting food in his water glass, making a mess w/baby powder, throwing clothes all around the room, I could go on for hours with examples.

      Time outs work but not if he stops after one and the infractions don’t deserve a time out.

      Please help me get some psychological leverage because he’s calling the shots these days.

  2. This is such a timely post for me as it was exactly where I was at today (a few minutes ago to be exact)! I’m pregnant and ready to pop, and I’m on my own for 2 weeks with my 20 month old…she just wouldn’t settle down to sleep for her nap or even for bedtime. I felt so overwhelmed that I just felt I couldn’t handle it anymore and I ended up yelling at her. I feel so awful about it now. Can you suggest how I can best deal with sleep/bedtime situations? Thank you, Janet!

    1. At bedtime, children are especially sensitive to our demeanor…and if there is tension in the air, it is virtually impossible for a child to relax into sleep. (I can certainly relate.)

      You are “ready to pop” (exciting news!) and your 20 month old is acutely aware of this anticipation and is feeling it herself. “What’s this change going to mean? Am I losing my mom’s attention…affection?” It’s disconcerting, to say the least.

      So, this situation doesn’t bode well for sleep, unfortunately. BUT, if you can find a way to “unplug” from any anxiety, worry or anticipation you feel, your daughter has a chance of getting to sleep.

      There are a couple things you can do… The easiest would be to find a comfy way of hanging out with your daughter while she falls asleep…meditating, or just relaxing and resting with her. You could be in a chair in her room or on a bed, or a sleeping bag on the floor. All that matters is that you let go and don’t worry about whether she falls asleep or not.

      So, the “limit” is that she must stay in her room (or wherever she sleeps) with you until she falls asleep, or for a period of “rest time” that you dictate.

  3. again with the PERFECTLY timed posts!
    seriously, i cannot thank you enough… i just read this three times in a row then promptly forwarded it to my husband. we both really needed it…
    baby’s due any time now… so naturally feelings are popping up left and right – for us all. this is *exactly* what i needed to remain on track and keep my head in the game!!

    i hope you’re doing well… and thanks thanks thanks again!
    xx sara

    1. Sara, thank you! Yes, now and after the baby, especially, this model will guide you well. So exciting, Sara! xo

  4. Wow! I feel like it could have been me who wrote those emails! I know what I ‘should’ be doing and what I ‘want’ to be doing…but there are times when I struggle to keep my temper when I feel like my little one is really pushing me. I love this advice and will really use it to help develop my parenting skills.
    None of us are perfect, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t constantly strive to make ourselves better. Today I feel like you’ve given me one extra tool to make me a better parent.
    Thankyou.

    1. You’re welcome, Juliet. And “none of us is perfect” should be a parenting mantra (or everyone’s mantra).

  5. Just loved your reply to this post. I also thought, as a Montessorian and believer in purposeful movement that it’s nice to honor their moving purposefully when possible (My daughter used to move our cd’s from one room to the other very purposefully and stack them against the wall 15 feet away.) I might say to this child “would you like to put your toys in their bin outside?” and then she could move them and put them somewhere that’s okay with you.

  6. LOVE THIS POST. I’m forwarding it to all my friends with toddlers.

  7. This is really helpful. I think I get lost a bit in giving my son the space to make a decision, and then find that I’ve gotten into a state of no man’s land where I’m actually waiting for a 2 year old to make the choice i need him to. Then we’re both doing this dance of frustration, both waiting on the other to take the action. I realize that I can be clear about the expectation or boundary and help him stay within it more definitively and quickly. Phew. Thanks. That sounds a whole lot easier!

    1. Pamela, bingo! You articulate this common struggle beautifully.

  8. great great post… thank you! The cycle we’ve been having lately goes something like this: “N please stop jumping (off the couch, while watching TV)”. N stops for a minute. When I leave the room, jumping starts again. “N please stop jumping – I asked you nicely before – why aren’t you listening?” Sorry mommy. Again jumping. “Ok since you are not listening i am going to turn off the TV.” “No mommy I am so sorry I won’t do it again!” And then after threatening to turn off the TV she settles down. I just hate having to ask a few times before taking something away before she listens. I try to not “yell” but do get a bit “loud” as she says, and firm. But again and again, most often once I “threaten” she listens. Sounds like I should only ask something once, but should I still have to threaten to take something away if she doesn’t?

    1. Thank you, Nadine. Hmmm…this kind of limit is hard for me to comment on because TV is extremely stimulating for toddlers, since they are so sensitive and absorbent. Some children will zone out and go into a kind of trance, but others become antsy and hyperactive… It’s as if they need to offload the stimulation. So, the jumping is probably so involuntary that I would offer your daughter another solution, rather than just telling her to stop. I think she needs more help with this. (My 10 year old dribbles a mini-soccer ball when he watches TV.)

      1. Interesting insight, thank you Janet…. we definitely try to limit TV and I have only recently used it as a “treat” when I need to tend to N’s baby sister, or to distract her to give me time to make dinner, etc. I’ll be re-reading this article again, as well as the related ones… so helpful and informative!

  9. Perfect answer, Janet. I wish I’d had this advice when my son was little! He was a terror for pushing buttons! And I was a pushover.

    If I may add my two cents’ worth to Nadia’s dilemma- TV is a privilege not a right, and I would turn it off the moment her daughter jumps off the couch and ask her to play in another room. CALMLY. No chances. I don’t know how old N is but if she can respond with those words, she is certainly old enough to remember that she’s been asked not to do this before.

    And so even if this means that N will be having a meltdown while Nadia’s trying to change the baby, it may be something that has to be endured at least once while Nadia says calmly “I hear that you’re upset because the TV is off. It’s okay to be upset but it’s not okay to jump off the couch. The TV goes off when you jump off the couch.”

    I bet she’ll only have to do this once. And if not, then I would have a TV-free period and explain that the TV is not even going ON until N can agree not to jump off the couch. If she wants to jump, send her outside!

    1. Thank you Aunt Annie – I definitely need to be more assertive when it comes to this. We have been starting the “outside timeout” recently since for a while the traditional timeout backfired (Do you want a time out? “Yes sure!”) We’re in a very challenging stage now of defiance and testing and attention seeking (especially with a one year old sibling) – all I understand to be “normal” for a 3 and half year old, but still challenging nonetheless. (By the way I really enjoy your site as well!)

      1. I’m really grateful for this website, it has changed my views on parenting.
        I would like to give alternative view on this jumping while watching TV. If it was my child, I would encourage her to move while watching it, since it is very unnatural to sit still and watch at one point for longer periods of time, (even for 5 minutes) especially for little kids. It is very bad for eye accommodation. I would make sure there are no sharp edges near, and let her jump.

  10. Great post, and like others have said well timed for me. I was just saying to my husband that I think I need to stand firmer with my boundaries. My issue, however, is not about saying “no” to certain behaviors, it is dealing with clinginess. My 21 month old is a clingy mess lately, especially at home. She used to play independently quite well, but now seems to want me to hold her or sit right next to her while she plays at all times. I’ve lately started telling her that it is time for me to do some work, and I will give her my full attention in 5/10/20 minutes (however long my housework will take). She throws a full-on crying fit for the entire time I am working. When I am finished I go back to her, thank her for waiting (even if she didn’t wait patiently) then we go off for some one-on-one time. For a while I thought it might be a late-reaction to a few weeks when I wasn’t as available to her while I was going through chemo to treat leukemia. She was amazingly solid all while I was going through cancer treatment a few months ago, but now that I am back to good health she has become incredibly clingy. I know children pick up on our moods, but what is odd to me is that the stressful time is behind us now. I am torn between respecting the fact that she may be frightened that I won’t be as available to her like I was then and between setting firm boundaries that I can’t hold her or sit right next to her at all times. Should I treat what seems to me as excessive clinginess in the same way as these other behaviors using calm, CEO like enforcement or do I treat this as a time when she needs my presence to reassure her that I’m not going anywhere? For what it’s worth, it’s been a couple months since we’ve been back to normal after my treatment. Thanks for any insight!

    Jessica

    1. Jessica, my sense is that your daughter’s behavior is very good news (believe it or not!). You say that she was “amazingly solid” when you were going through treatment. I imagine she sensed that you needed her to be — you couldn’t handle her toddler intensity then. She was holding it all together and that took every ounce of her strength. Now, because you are better, she can offload all of these feelings she’s been storing up. This is similar to what often happens when children come home from preschool or back home from a trip where they’ve “risen to the occasion”.

      I would do what you need to do, even though she cries, but give in to the clinginess whenever you can (did you happen to read my post on the subject? http://dev.janetlansbury.com/2012/04/calming-your-clingy-child/ ) I would also acknowledge all that went on two months ago (if you haven’t already) and how difficult that must have been for her… I’m sure she has a lot of feelings to release. Anyone would.

      I hope this helps… I am so glad you are back to normal and I’ll keep you in my prayers.

      1. Thanks so much for this reply, Janet! Re-reading your post on clinginess was incredibly helpful, as was the suggestion to speak with her about that time and acknowledge how difficult it must have been for her. I plan to do that this afternoon after her nap. And thank you for doing what you do — I recommend you to all my mommy friends. We are much better mothers for it!

        Jessica

  11. my son has taken to saying No, he is almmost 4. conversation would go like this. O, please stop talking with your mouth full (or jumping up and down wile eating). No. I have tried the I won’t let you jump up and down while eating, it is not safe. I guess what is the consequence with eating? would you take the food away?

    1. Gina, I would make it a point to sit with him while he eats. Make that a connected time together. Then, if he starts to get up from the table, that is the time to hold his hand and say, “I want you to stay here until you are done.” If he pulls away and insists on leaving the table, I would say with a calm, kind tone of voice, “Oh, you must be done eating then. I’ll put the food away. Thank you for letting me know.” He may jump back down into his chair…and then I’d probably give him one more chance.

      Personally, I wouldn’t make a firm boundary around talking while eating. What you could say is, “I can’t understand you with food in your mouth. Please wait until you’re done to tell me.” This is polite, honest, respectful.

  12. avatar YouDon'tKnowMeLikeThat says:

    I just found this article on Pinterest and I am so impressed. The strategies you’ve outlined here are so helpful not only for toddlers, but also for people with autism! Some people with autism are reinforced by the “big reaction” and you’ve given some great tips for caretakers not to reach that point. Kudos!

  13. Hi Janet,

    I have a question about this post. If, as you say, “My thought is that she may also be communicating that she’s tired, hungry or in need of release for some pent up feelings.” wouldn’t it make setting a limit with a child who is hungry or tired extremely difficult?
    Ideally, I would think the first step would be to be CURIOUS about where the behavior is coming from…I do understand that toddlers are often testing their powers and need limits. for sure! but i’m curious about this scenario as well. i’m always saying things like “no throwing in the house, please take it outside.” often children need a release ( i remember in carol’s rie classes that she directed a child to throw bean bags in a box. she found a way for the child to do the throwing, to release the energy.

    i just wonder if the focus on setting the limit is the answer here. why, is she throwing it. just to get attention? to get energy out? because she’s hungry and tired and young and can’t communicate her needs?

    i agree that a parent should follow through so as not to confuse a child. but i also think before a parent creates a consequence, they really consider if it is the best thing. it makes it about the consequence and the behavior and not the unmet need (food! rest! release of feelings. etc.)

    and finally, i really commend this parent for realizing how unreasonable it is to expect a toddler to empathize with how hard she is trying to be respectful and because of that to listen to her when she sets a limit. “When she blatantly does something we’ve nicely told she may not do, it feels hurtful and disrespectful to me, and I have a lot of difficultly not taking it personally.” I would recommend she NEVER take it personally. the child’s brain hasn’t developed enough to be strategic like that. taking that out of the equation all together may provide some relief. ??

    1. Jennifer, I really appreciate your comment because you bring up an area that many seem to find confusing…the idea of “unmet needs”. When children are behaving in a manner that they know is against our wishes, because we’ve made that clear (as Lauren had), their unmet need is, first and foremost, our attention — but a very specific kind of attention. They need us to confidently “parent” them by establishing clear boundaries, remaining calm, empathetic, unfettered, and then move on and continue to be our jolly selves without holding on to even an iota of anger, frustration or resentment. When we don’t respond to their behavior this way, children usually end up repeating the behavior or finding other ways, sometimes more extreme ones, to test this out… Testing is asking for help. When it repeats itself, the child isn’t getting the response she needs. It’s as if she’s saying, “help, you’re just not getting it!”

      I don’t understand what you mean by “wouldn’t it make setting a limit with a child who is hungry or tired extremely difficult?” It sounds like you think locking the door is punitive or negative. I believe children see this as positive. They feel cared for and safe. They feel understood — personally and developmentally. It’s a relief to the child when the parent takes control before getting annoyed. It’s “relationship rescue”. Once we have calmly established the limit, we can be curious about other possible needs, but not when our temper is rising! It is not fair to our child to place her in that position. We are the ones who must protect our relationship. The child can’t be expected to do that.

      Once the parent locks the door more will be revealed about the child’s “needs”. The child might test some more to see if the parent really “has this down”. The child might have a meltdown, which could mean that feelings needed to be released. It might occur to us that our child could be hungry or tired and we can ask about those things.

      Now, the first time this toddler discovered that she could open the screen and throw toys, I would handle it more like my wonderful associate Carol Pinto did in your class… “Oh, wow, you figured out how to open the screen door. Cool! And you’re putting the toys outside. Hmmm. I don’t want you to throw the toys out there. If you’d like to throw the toys, you can throw them in the basket.” Then… “You are still throwing the toys outside. I know that’s fun to do, but I don’t want the toys to go outside. Can you help me close the door?” Then… “I see that you want to keep opening the door, and I don’t want you to right now. It’s too delicate to use again and again. I’m going to lock it for now. Tomorrow, when we go outside, you can be the one to open the door.”

      1. Love this post and, especially, this response to the above comment! The way you explain handling the first instance (in this case opening the door and throwing toys) really validates that I actually “get it right” more than I give myself credit for… That is pretty much exactly how I relate to my daughter with first experiences like that. The original post, on the other hand, highlighted for me where I am a little “off” in my timing and demeanor; I need to have more firm and earlier boundaries (especially at times when it is a repeat scenario) before we both become frustrated.

        Thanks so much for another wonderful and enlightening post!
        I particularly enjoy posts such as this, where I feel both validated in the things that are already working for us as well as challenged to take responsibilty for and shift the things that aren’t. I guess that is really one of the greatest things about motherhood and life in general – appreciating our successes and learning from our missteps. Isn’t it so interesting and wonderful how much we learn right along with (and from) our little ones?

  14. This speaks to me so much right now. Thank you for posting this…

  15. I have similar issues but not so much with my2 1/2 year old, but more with my 5 year old daughter who gets violent when told no or should I “shut the door” as in the example. My 7 year old son with Adhd really pushes me to my limit with his impulsive choices (often causing damage) and modelling for his younger sisters (the 2 year old in particular tries everything he does …often so does my 5 year old. Some days I can keep my cool…other days, I find myself telling. I’ve even swatted my 5 year old because nothing would stop her from hurting her siblings or me (she beats up on her dad too). I tend to do well most of the day, but then one of my kids purposely hurts the other and the other retaliates…I can’t stand it. We talk about dealing with these things in a positive way…but it just doesn’t seem to get better. I am so warn out from my children not listening, hurting one another and me. I feel like yelling is almost a fight or flight response…not good. I know it is my consistent, calm responses that matter but it feels like I’m getting beat up all day long and everything is a battle. How can I keep my cool within this world of chaos?

    1. Cher, this doesn’t sound fun at all and I’m sorry you are feeling so overwhelmed.

      “I’m getting beat up all day long and everything is a battle.” My first thought reading this comment is that you are getting beat up because you are allowing yourself to and that the battles will stop when you stop battling. I don’t mean to sound cavalier or flip… But, the way I see it, you need to take back leadership of this house. Perceive yourself as a confident leader. Yes, stuff will happen. Siblings will fight, children will have “violent responses” to the limits we set… These things will happen. That’s okay. It is our job to calmly and confidently stop children when we can, but not allow these behaviors to get to us. The biggest problem with yelling and losing control is that it creates more out of control behavior for the whole family.

  16. I’m soo happy I read that article. I have the same problem with my 2,5 year old. Mos of the time I would a fine a compromise and avoid tears and meltdowns. What I find hard that sometimes it is hard to distinguish where the limit ends and punishment starts. Our major problem is throwing toys. I don’t think about teddy bears but wooden blocks, big plastic toys like musical instruments, etc. I don’t want to take the toy away cause it teaches nothing in my opinion. I’d like her to keep a toy and just not to throw it. I always tell her we don’t throw things, we pass them on and explain their potential safe use. With blocks I try to explain that if she throws them it means that she is finished and therefore we need to put them back to the bag. She has very strong character and she can be really persistent. Sometimes it’s hard to keep cool and calm. So it’s good to get reassurance and additional guide from articles like that! Thanks, Janet!

  17. Wow! Thank you Janet. I was really struggling with my own lack of patience and frustrations and could not understand how come
    that with my first born I had tons of patience and now that there is two of them 7 and 3 years old, I am loosing my composure.

    You have explained it so well that it hit home right away. Setting the boundaries early and calmly and keep at it…this is exactly what I kept forgetting and consequently my frustration was rising. I felt I had no control. And that was exactly the problem. My kids probably felt it too and it made them feel insecure.

    So again. Thank you for your wonderful blog:)

  18. Thanks Janet! I’m loving reading all the other comments too. Great to get a reminder about ‘un-met’ needs, particularly with my 3y.o. who has started doing things repeatedly that he knows are not acceptable. I realise he’s doing them because he’s getting a rise out of me and I’m forgetting to ask him what’s really wrong!
    Interesting to read about the television vs jumping around/trance like. This is exactly what he’s like – doesn’t watch much but fluctuates between the two extremes. Thanks for the insight into why = very-stimulating!

  19. So here is a problem- I am mama of 4 daughters we yell at each other and the underlying current in one of disrespect- My youngest (17 months) is being very much affected she yells at them and tries to hit them- It is breaking my heart but I am not sure how to change this current within my older children – I personally grew up in a yelling house and remember this at a very young age of how it hurt me- Please help!

  20. Thank you for this post. I just let a HUGE sigh of relief as the light bulb went off in my head. My own feelings resonate strongly with Lauren. This brings a lot of intuitive sense to the conscious front, giving me the knowledge of my own part in this dance I have with my almost 3 year old.

  21. This was so refreshing and exactly what I needed to read!! I am a new SAHM and am struggling with these exact types of things! I have a 2yr old and a 6m old- I feel like my 2 yr old really knows how to push my buttons n lately i have been struggling to keep calm n level headed. I sometimes struggle w what to let go and what to correct and to what level to correct. I also realize my temperament and reactions are what control the situation and ultimately the day- but I still struggle to keep my emotions n frustration in check. This is a constant battle n I feel just sick when I give in to my frustration and yell at my two yr old. My 6 m old still isn’t sleep well either so my lack of sleep is greatly playing into all this. Much thanks for this post!! I am working hard to be the best parent possible, this post helps me realize I am not the only one and gives guidance and hope! Thx!!

  22. This post is really helpful and timely. My 21 month old has taken to kicking us while we change his diaper. Every attempt I have made to stop this has failed. And even ended in him cracking up and doing it more.

    I have explained to him that he is hurting me and that kicking is not allowed. He seems to not understand me. When he displays these behaviors elsewhere I simply explain he is not allowed to hit or kick and if he continues I will put him down or stop playing with him. And that is exactly what I do, but I feel lost when it comes to a diaper change. He needs to have a diaper on…if I were to leave the diaper off is that him winning?? Can he win if his goal has nothing to do with the diaper and everything to do with being held still?? Feeling a bit lost, your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  23. Hi Janet,
    I love this article, it is clear as day. I have slightly different situation and struggling a lot lately. I hope you can advise me.
    My son is nearly 4 years old, not a toddler anymore. I do practice the principles you promote, but just like Lauren, I often end up frustrated and unpatient. I can get there pretty quickly if I’m preoccupied with work or other distractions.
    My son and I are getting into this ridiculous dynamic where he sais no to me all the time. even to the question: do you have to pee? or would you like to eat something? His first response is no. I feel like I either have to give up taking care of him, or assert myself and demand an answer. not fun.
    also, at bedtime, which is the same routine every day at the same time, he resists doing the steps (bath, pajamas, toothbrushing, reading, lights out) every step of the way. he knows very well what comes next, but instead of putting on his pajamas, he runs away. instead opening his mouth for brushing teh back teeth, he closes it. I ask nicely a few times, make up games, stories, I reason, explain and finally warn him, that I’m getting tired and frustrated and I ask for his cooperation. all the good parenting methods I learned from you, from “How to talk so kids will listen…” and Hand in hand parenting.
    And than, I loose it. I either tell him that I’m done helping him and go out of the room saying good night, which always triggers some abandonement issues with me and he doesn’t like it either, or start yelling and forcing him to do what I say.
    So, here is my question: am I doing this the right way? am i doing too much? should i not try all methods? how do I find my boundaries about this?
    do you ahve any practical advise?
    thank you
    Ilka

    1. Hello, Ilka!
      I wanted to post a question for Janet, but you have done it for me! My daughter is 3 y 5 mos now, and I am asking myself now (together with my husband), What are we doing wrong? I read about Adhd disorder in a previous comment, and I thought my daughter has it. She says no to everything, sometimes so repetively, not only in one case (please, don’t throw toys like that, Don’t do that, I am asking you politely, then I get to yelling and so ), but tomorrow is the same thing, she knows she shouldn’t do it, but she just looks me in the eyes and does it!!!
      “We do not drink water when we are eating hot soup”- Daddy, I WANT WATER – MOMMY SAYS NO, BUT I SAY YES!!!” She just does not listen, she loves to say no, so I am thinking, she might even like getting yelled at.
      She refuses to eat, she refuses to sleep, she refuses to go out, she refuses to get dressed, And I am not talking about doing as I say, just do what she knows we all do at home, things she has seen everyone else does, exactly just like you said, I couldn’t have said it better.
      She is inattentive, impulsive, she has difficulty learning new songs, I have repeated numbers and letters so many times to her, and still she does not recognise them; this adhd disorder scared me: does she have it?
      Please help, thank you in advance

      1. Linda – with respect, some of your demands sound unreasonable to me. Ideally, they should be few and far between. I’m wondering, for example, why you are making a big issue out of drinking water while eating soup.

        I would also not be teaching her numbers and letters, especially since she obviously has no interest in those things right now… She needs help with limits regarding behavior, but her playtime should be all hers to choose. That is the balance that makes the occasional limit acceptable to children.

    2. Ilka – you are yelling because you are doing way too much coaxing and reasoning when your child needs you to calmly insist and confidently follow through (which might mean lifting him out of the bath, for example). This is why I intensely dislike approaches like Lawrence Cohen’s “Playful Parenting”. His advice to make a game out of everything places tons of pressure on parents, misinforming them that their job is to keep their children happy all the time, rather than face their healthy, age-appropriate resistance head-on. I guarantee you that the advisers who suggest these kinds of things have not spent many hours observing parents and children interacting, week-to-week, as we do in RIE Parenting classes.

      It is our misguided effort as parents to keep the peace that creates frustration and yelling.

      Ilka, instead of getting frustrated and overwhelmed when your son says “no”, understand this as healthy resistance, acknowledge “You are saying no to doing such-in-such, but it’s important that we do this now, so I will give you a helping hand.”

  24. Timely for me as well. My two-year-old son loves to throw things…sometimes for fun, sometimes when he’s frustrated. I understand that when I do/say the right thing for these situations, I need to let him feel what he’s feeling, but what nearly ALways follows is a meltdown that lasts a pretty long time, and with this happening multiple times every evening (I work full time outside the home), I get so frustrated and oftentimes downright worried that I am just doing it ALL wrong.

  25. I must confess, I am at a loss for what to do with my children when they have broken my limits. I don’t really have anywhere separate to put them because we live in a house with a VERY open floor plan. They can easily hassle me in the kitchen and the only solution I have come up with (which isn’t working)is putting my 1 year old in her high chair while I cook.

    She isn’t content with this for more than a few minutes, and throws everything off her tray that I may offer (so I no longer offer anything after the initial throw).

    I have a pack and play that my sister has been using for her 7 month old and out of desperation I just placed my daughter in it so that if she was going to scream, at least it would not be directly at me while trying to claw my lap. She has settled down for the moment because my 3 1/2 year old took her extra toys and is being unusually helpful. If I recall though, it really isn’t best to put a mobile child into such a confined area, but I’m desperate and I don’t know what else to try.

    We live in someone else’s house and putting up extensive gates so they have their own little area isn’t an option I have (though I do own the fence/gates). My only separate space is our bedroom, where the children are absolutely capable of making incredible messes if left alone (pulling clothes out of drawers, mostly).

    I know I need to set boundaries, and I do, but how to follow through when they are broken is where I am at a loss. I do what I say, but it doesn’t seem to be effective enough without outright separation as a possibility. Maybe I’m not thinking outside the box enough. Any suggestions?

  26. When would it be ok/appropriate to unlock the door? If they ask right away, I say ‘what are you going to do if I unlock the door’ toddler says ‘throw toys’ (love their honesty!!!) so I say I can’t unlock it because these toys need to stay inside. What if toddler says something else. Can they have another chance almost immediately? My inclination is yes….

  27. avatar Melissa N says:

    Hello I recently wrote a comment but now seem to not be able to find under which article exactly.. But my question was .. I’ve noticed that a lot of your advice or methods are toddler centered .. I have a son and he is now 5 and I dont really remember having to deal with any real ” miss behavior when he was 2″ but now it seems like he has gotten to that point where he is constantly having to be put in time out and that he’s even started being difficult when we are out and about… I guess my question is are these principles and method also applicable for my son , who is no longer a toddler… I mean some of the things you say are like the child still doesn’t understand x&y but he is much older and I’m wondering if that is still applicable and I am just expecting to much of him….
    Melissa

  28. Fellow Janet,

    I just found your site yesterday, and I’m so glad. These posts are more on-the-mark than the other lovely and useful sites I browse. You have the exact focus I need: on my personal emotions and how to handle them, to be a better parent, and also to be a more secure person.

    I relate very very strongly to the feeling of not being able to breathe after a motherly slight. OUCH!!!

    I aim to keep that kind of experience in mind to spare my kids of the pain of my own selfishness, but I’m afraid I’m starting to fail miserably. I have twin 3-year-olds who have speech delay, so don’t talk/comprehend well (I can’t underemphasize how much THAT sucks) and parenting is getting very, very difficult.

    I am so relieved to have some new material to read on your site. Thank you for sharing. It’s appreciated greatly.

  29. Thank you!!!! I couldn’t have found anything more perfectly put and just what I was looking for. Your explanation has helped so much and I will continue to read your suggestions as a reminder. I can completely relate to Lauren and didn’t realize that I was doing the same exact thing and giving way too many chances until I read this. I can’t wait to try this tomorrow.

  30. Hi Janet, I stumbled on your blog while looking up a better method to what is going on in my house. Hoping you have some suggestions. So my Son is 2.5 years old and generally really good. we almost had him potty trained then he decided he wasn’t into it anymore and went back to diapers which is fine since I am not going not force him if he is not ready. But now on to the problem every time I need to change his diaper or his outfit like from pajamas to daytime clothes it is a battle. Here is usually the scenario In the morning when he wakes up I tell him I need to change his diaper he refuses. So I tell him well you can not get out of your crib unless you let me change your diaper. He is actually fine with that and would rather lay in his cir then be changed. I tell him to call me when he is ready to be changed and get out. He will call me usually 15 minutes later. He tells me I can change him but once on the table he starts to battle me by not unlocking his legs or holding his pajamas up. First I ask nicely I need to change you if you would like to come have breakfast please let me change you. He says no. Then I say you are being changed and start changing him which is me fighting to get a new diaper on him while he is kicking. I usually have to hold him down in some way to do this. After he is changed he goes back to being perfectly fine and sits nicely at the table to have breakfast. Then it is time to go to work and I have to get him dressed and he locks his arms and everything so I can’t get clothes on or off him. But I have to be at work by a certain time so I force the clothes on him and just say you are getting dressed and push his arms through. Then he cries and cries and wants to be carried everywhere till we get into the car where he becomes normal again. we are very routine and so is he like he likes everything the same all the time so we try to keep it that way as well so every night we have the same schedule and the whole changing thing comes back. I find myself dreading it. Like I already know it is coming. I almost think it makes me more upset then he is . He cries but I get so frustrated about the whole thing that I feel like I am then even more nice after offering extra bedtime stories and stuff like that. I need help changing this. Any suggestions?
    Thank you

  31. avatar Catherine says:

    My son is a month shy of 2 years. He is repeatedly testing limits in two ways (and while we manage to stay calm, we do find it wearisome). I’m intrigued by your comment that a repeated behavior means the child isn’t getting the response he needs.

    One way is throwing food on the floor while he is having a snack, standing at the counter. I am usually doing work in the kitchen right nearby and talking to him. When this happens, I respond by saying “You threw your food on the floor. Now we need to (or Please) clean it up and put it in the trashcan.” I move the rest of his food out of reach until he has cleaned up. If it feels appropriate (sometimes it isn’t necessary), I help clean up, but I make sure he helps too. If he protests or tries to “run away!” (a favorite mantra these days). I sit with him and/or prevent him from running away (he will then usually end up in my lap) until he calms down and is ready to help. The majority of the time, he is happy to clean up. Sometimes he makes a mess because he likes to clean up. I think another reason to do it may be that these days he wants to be “funny” and often does so by “breaking rules”. He also loves to say “oh no!” But, he also knows that we don’t like it. (As I wrote this, I realized that I probably show some dismay, if mild, every time it happens).

    My question is what do you think is likely the reason for the behavior, and why it’s being repeated? Also, when he’s done cleaning or when he’s protesting it, should we repeat the reason we’re asking him to clean, or trust that he already knows that?

    The second situation we have is that he will walk over to the fireplace and knock out a handful of pebbles. I know the best approach would be to prevent him from doing this, but I can’t figure out a way to physically block it and our house has an open layout without any doors, so the only way to prevent him from doing it is to be within an arm’s reach every time he is anywhere near it. And that is inconvenient, to say the least. Do you have any creative suggestions?

    Thank you, always, for your insights!

  32. avatar Michael Johnston says:

    Wow, this is brilliant. I could feel my worldview & understanding shifting as I read it. I have the same feeling in my 47 year old brain right now as learning a new programming or math concept when I was becoming a programmer. My son is 14 months (I’m a late starter, heh), and already this way of thinking about behaviour fits him so well.

  33. Thank you so much for this. I’ve followed your helpful posts for a while now. After my son attended a Wldorf inspired daycare (I am now a SAHM), I realized that fostering healthy development during the early years is detrimental to a child’s growth and well-being in the future. I have a question about my 18 month old daughter. I’m finding that she is just more emotional than my son. Up until a few months ago, my daughter was the easiest baby, to the point that I thought about having a 3rd. Both my kids were late walkers (son at 15 months, daughter at 18 months). Well, it seems that along with her new found confidence with walking and her flourishing vocabulary, she has started to scream to get my attention. I realize that this is at an age when there are soe communication barriers, and though we do sign, she still has this habit of screaming when she wants me, or if I am in the other room, if I set her down, etc. What is odd is that I am with her much more than I was with my son at that age as he was full time in daycare. Should I react to her screams or ignore them? I try to empathize with her and vocalize my concern, but the screams are becoming a trend. My poor son tries to ease her screams with toys, but I think he just wants it to stop as well. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

  34. I try making a game of things they want to do also. I’d say no toys being thrown outside as you have but I find a small compromise really makes a great way to still do that action and get a chance to play with them as well. Say for instance, placing a large bucket or laundry basket I don’t need outside and sitting on the door step together and throwing balls at it. I like to get creative and use the action they were trying to use, gives them options. It’s like, you can do that, but not that way.

  35. What a nice website with very informative material.
    My son is 2.5 years old and I am a (single) working mama. I always find it hard to give him enough time for which I feel guilty.

    When I reach home at 7 and he jumps and sings with joy…I just look at him and think from where to start… I get confused and most of the time…I try to overcome that confusion. By the time I am home, he doesnt leave me along. He follows my steps…every inch I move. He puts his foot very close to my feet that most of the time I am almost to fell down…

    He is very demanding and screams and weeps when not fulfilled. “I need a candy.” keeps on repeating the demand one after the other.

    This site is so helpful though…

  36. I love this but it seems so much easier said than done. This monrning was the perfect example. I have 17 months between my two daughters, they are 3 and a half and 5 now. My youngest was awake twice in the night so this morning I explained to my eldest that we had to creep downstairs so as not to wake her sister. So she went down the stairs making squeeking and yelping noises and giggling. Downstairs we found something to do and she was entertained for a while until she decided she was going upstairs again. I calmly reminded her why she couldn’t go upstairs yet…cue five minute of shrieking and pleading and grabbing the door handle and trying to push me from her, and a few minutes of me trying to stay calm an explain that all this noise was going to wake her sister and that she could go upstairs later. Result in me yelling at her “stop it!” And snatching her hand away from the door handle hurting her finger. She starts crying and then manages to explaine she wants her comforter (we always have to go anger, tears and then rational. And no surprise all the fuss did wake up my youngest….who went to bed wth me angry at her sister and woke up to the same situation. My eldest is very active and spirited and none of the strategies I read about seem to work with her and never have. My youngest is extremely calm and rarely refuses to listen.

  37. We are raising our 6 year old grandson who is not a toddler anymore but he still continues to push his limits and is very disrespectful. We have been advised to only give him one chance but at the mention of the consequence, he throws another temper outburst. So what do we do?

  38. Honestly, this is what I want to do except I don’t know how to put this type of thing into practice in relation to nappy changes. My 2.5 year old won’t get his nappy changed.

    I don’t like the idea of having to physically make this happen so it ends up dragging out and I realise he has too much control over the situation. Also, on work days I’m pressed for time and this dance can go on too long. What dialogue/actions would you recommend? I want to be better at this whole parenting/RIE thing!!

    Many thanks,
    Milly!

  39. Great information! I definitely see myself here! My question is that I have a 3 year old strong-willed boy who almost never does what I ask of him. This defiance pushes me to my limits then I yell to get what I want out of him. He has sensory issues and is dysregulated at times, has no sense of danger, and most times will NOT come back when I call his name if he runs off at the park. I recognize in this article that there are times when I’ve given him too much freedom at home and not enough attention if I am trying to get caught up on housework, etc. He is an only child and wants my constant attention although he is getting better at entertaining himself. I am trying to balance getting things done and spending more time with him. I DO let my house go to give him the attention he needs. But I hate that some days I get overwhelmed and get pushed to my limits and yell at him. It’s not fair to him and it’s not the kind of parent I want to be. What do you suggest for parents of kids with special needs who may be incapable of following directions randomly even though they follow directions at other times? Thank you!

    1. I hear you! My daughter is the same, only she is 7 years old. All the tips I read here work great on my son (who is a typical child) but they don’t work on my daughter. I need help with her!

  40. I have a 2.5 year old son who is very defiant, aggressive, independent etc… He really drives me crazy to the extent that I give him a smack on the butt, legs… Lately I’m having problems with husband and he is witnessing arguments, abusive language etc.. Today I promised myself that it would be the last time he experiences this, because of the look of horror he had yesterday while I was arguing with my husband. Any advice??? Would his aggressiveness and behaviour be a reaction to ours???

    1. Yes, your aggression towards him and in front of him is creating his defiant, aggressive behavior. Children push limits and behave aggressively when they are fearful and otherwise uncomfortable.

  41. Hello Ms. Janet,

    I recently was reading an blog/article and someone recommended your site to the reader. And now, I was googling something and your site came up. So far, have only read this one article. Looking forward to exploring yr site.

    I have a almost 4 y/o little boy. Most of the time, he does listen. I ask him to make his bed in the mornings and he does. I usually tell him about 30 minutes ahead of time and he turns off the tv on his own. Love it. But for some reason I have to tell him repeatedly to please lower his voice (all day). He is all energy from the moment he is up. I feel like all day I am on him about this and not sure what to do anymore.

    Just today, bcz of yelling/talking too loudly, I put him on timeout. He lost it and had a meltdown. I am standing right there and he keeps crying/yelling, as i tell him to stop yelling. I feel as if I am rewarding bad behavior.

    Ques: Do you think timeouts are appropriate at his age? Do you think they work? Any suggestions?

    Will continue exploring yr site!

    Again, love your site and THANK YOU!

    If not, can you please suggest something else?

  42. avatar Vicki Burgess says:

    The toddler’s brain is designed to test the limits in order to learn about their world. The adult’s task is to keep them safe by being consistent, firm, loving, and kind.

    When a toddler, we had an apartment with a bedroom that was closed off. The reason is due to a balcony that I, at age 2, could get onto and jump off. My mom had to just lock the room up because I would go inside it regardless. I recall those events when age 2, and how concerned my parents were to discover me on the balcony.

  43. avatar sue Manna says:

    I just love all these articles janet!! And Im almost in tears bc .. Im not alone lol many of the same issues with my children. I have a 4 yr old who is usually very low key but he has his moments of jumping on the couches and throwing things i also have a 2 yr old who is a little fire cracker. So i can def relate!! Thanks again!!

  44. Hello. I have a 4 yrs old daughter very independent and smart ans one beautiful 20 months old boy that is caos. I cannot go to amy store. I buy everything on line. He has not respect for anything I say. He qould not listen to a no, stop, tome out, or even spank on his diaper. He just laughs. I see him as a such smary kid. I dont think he jas a problem but I cannot understand whats going on. The pediatrician says he’s ok and I thik ao too but he cannot be anywhere else besides the house. We have to leave running. His behavior is as crazy as it gets. People tell me what to do about just make me feel even worst. I don’t know what to do. He’s wild. My whole hpuse os screwed to the wall because he claims everything. He won’t take a nap. Its a situation that goes on grom 7am till 10, 11 pm. Im exhausted. I tired of screaming. I dont want to be this crazy, out of control mom. I feel like a complete loser. He’s so sweet for few hours a day! I’m lost, tired, desperate. What in h$&l Im doing so wrong with him!!????

  45. Hi Janet, I find your articles so helpful. Here you comment that there shouldn’t be constant demands. But that is what is happening with my three year old daughter with respect to her requests to look at our phones or the iPad. I have used the iPad and tv sparingly during the past few months to give her something safe to do when I need to tend to my 5 month old daughter. She is also fascinated with playing music on my phone so that she can dance (which I sometimes have a hard time limiting because she enjoys the dancing so much, even though it usually then leads to surfing around on my phone). I am having a hard time setting limits on screen time without being completely arbitrary about it. But I also feel like she is way too interested in wanting to look at a screen. She is great at imaginative play and loves books, puzzles, etc., but the requests to use the screens are getting out of hand and I also hate constantly having to say “no, you’ve had enough to today” or, even physically yanking the device away when it has gotten out of hand. Any advice or suggestions for how to limit screen time in a way that will satisfy me and help me set a healthy limit that my older daughter can live by? Thanks!

  46. Hi Janet,

    Of all the parenting advice out there, I gravitate to yours the most and most frequently. Thank you for your dedication and knowledge.

    I have 2 boys, age 3 and 5 months. Since the birth of his brother, the 3 year old has seriously been struggling. I understand this transition is difficult, that my attention is divided, that he is grieving what we had together before. I try and spend intentional time with him as much as possible, and ultimately try and be sensitive to him. However, it’s just not working and the time I try and be intentional are often the times he shows me his anger about everything through his behavior vs us actually having an enjoyable time together. It’s obvious he resents his brother and the whole thing just breaks my heart–especially the fact that our connection seems totally frayed despite my efforts to “repair” it. That being said, I really need strategies on how to set limits to his ever increasing limit pushing behavior while I am also tending to his brother–diapering, breastfeeding, or while they are both crying. For instance, when I breastfeed in our recliner in the living room he can easily play with his toys, however, he uses this time to try and crawl all over me and the baby. I cannot simply remove him from the situation. All I really have is words. It is hard to not push him off ( I can’t imagine how that feels). I usually say, “i won’t let you jump on us. please give mom space. I am feeding the baby right now, I can ____ after I am done feeding the baby, or you may sit quietly beside us or go play with your toys.” Of course, none of this works. This is the same with diapering. I will change the baby’s diaper on the bed and he will get up on the bed and jump around, toss blankets on the baby’s head, etc. I will say “I won’t let you do that” and remove him from the bed. He gets back up and gets back up and it’s like a merry go round. He also likes to throw toys. How do I address toy throwing while I’m breastfeeding or tending to a baby? I really could go on and on with the different behaviors, but the final baffling one that I will mention is his demands that I do stuff for him. He will drop something on the floor and demand that I come and pick it up. I never agree to this, but am wondering if there is something that I am doing wrong that would make him expect that I am his servant? Your thoughts are valued!

  47. Hi janet,
    I’ve always been a very patient mom, but lately I’m having problems keeping my anger under control. My son is 2.5 years old and is constantly seeking physical contact 24/7. He does this in an annoying and in your face manner without any regards for personal space. He pinched me, bites me, jumps all over me, hangs on me, pulls my hair, licks my face, kisses and hugs with a lot of force (not only with me but with kids too). My patience has reached its limits and now we are caught in a vicious circle, the more angry I get the more he does it. I just don’t know how to set limits anymore without removing myself from him by for instance locking myself in the bathroom, or responding in a hurt and angry manner. I believe he has some sensory seeking issues, which we do address with a sensory diet. But it doesn’t help. Any advice?

    1. Are you not able to physically stop him? He is only 2.5. I’m wondering if you are fearful of holding his wrists and firmly blocking him from bothering you, etc. I would do all of this as competently and calmly as you can and do it right away, way before getting angry. It’s easy to lose perspective with our children, but remember, this is a teeny, tiny little guy. Certainly you can prevent him from bothering you without getting angry about it.

  48. Hello Janet,
    I always enjoy reading you posts and they are always a good reminder of how to be the parent I want to be. My son is 2.5 years old and has always been very easy going and easily adhered to my limits. Recently he has started laughing and smiling while doing whatever I’ve asked him not to do. Some behaviors are clear how to stop, like holding his legs when he tries to kick me, but how do you stop things like him trying to take his shirt off at an inappropriate time? I end up getting in a battle with him trying to hold his shirt on while saying “I won’t let you take your shirt off now. You need to keep your shirt on”, then we both escalate. At the moment I can’t think of other examples, though I feel like I should have a million, of behaviors that I’m not sure how to intervene without it ending up in a struggle. Lastly, when I do enforce a limit has a brief 5-10 second angers screaming outburst. Should I just wait this out, allow it to happen, and then how do I address that behavior? I want him to know its ok to get made but not ok to act like that. Thank you!

  49. I am having the same problems Merel mentioned. My son is 3 and wants constant contact, crying and wailing when I can’t be with him due to finishing a chore or cooking dinner. His wailing, hollering, and sobbing can last up to an hour or more, even if I stop what I’m doing and comfort him. He gets violent, and at times I can only prevent him from hurting me if I wrap myself around him and lay on the floor. At times we lay like that for upwards of 45 minutes, with him sobbing. I have a two other children who don’t deserve for me to ignore them for an hour plus multiple times a day. I’m at my wits end on solutions…

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