Take the 2-minute tour ×
Parenting Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for parents, grandparents, nannies and others with a parenting role. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm looking for anyone who might have had experience with an indecisive toddler. It happens mostly when tired but I'll ask him if he wants something and he will say no. Then when I go to put it away or do something else, he freaks out that he wants it. Then when I take it out again, he'll shout that he doesn't want it. And this continues until I stop. He is 2 1/2 right now. I realize that like most everything it's probably a phase but I'm just not sure of the best way to react to it. Looking for creative ideas of ways to handle it without making us both crazy. Suggestions?

share|improve this question
    
My son just turned three and will do the same thing. He says I'm hungry, not even a choice involved and when I go to get something he flips his lid. I put away the food whatever it is, and he ratchets it up a notch and screams harder.This goes on for two hours at a time at times, and the requests will change. He's hungry he's not hungry...then when I talk to him and say its ok to be upset. Lets go do etc. He will change the subject I want to watch an episode of Kailan No I don't want to watch an episode...etc. Then back to I'm hungry I'm not hungry. It does seem to be related to tiredness IMO –  user6662 Jan 24 at 4:31

5 Answers 5

It sounds like he is looking for control. This is not unusual at this age and very frustrating for parents. One way to look at it is..great his development is right on track! Now it is time to keep it moving in the right direction. If he says "no" he doesn't want it, then fusses when you put it away, give him one more chance. If he again ignores it, put it away again. This time ignore the fussing (I know it is hard) and say "you can play/hold/do something else now." Try to find a distraction, another toy, a song, anything that interests him. Once he sees that he can have you attention and control in other ways this will stop. And congratulations, He seems to be right on target!

share|improve this answer
    
You sentence "Once he sees that" is unclear to me, is there a word missing? –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 12 '11 at 18:30

As Marie has said you need to follow through on his initial choice so he learns the decision has a repercussion. The best thing after that is to redirect him to something else nice - like a story on your knee. I would also try and discourage the "freaking out" behaviour and ask him to calm down (nicely) and to say please. This way he'll learn to manage his emotions and express himself.

share|improve this answer

Would you be concerned with the mind changing if he wasn't shouting and/or misbehaving?

Don't be concerned with the indecisiveness .. be concerned with the acting out an inappropriate behavior. If he changes his mind, but expresses is calmly and doesn't throw a tantrum, good for him.

Apply consequences for the shouting and the persistent lack of compliance. Don't worry about the decision making for another year or two.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for separating indecisiveness from misbehavior. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Oct 19 '11 at 8:44
    
Very true, I have yet to see a decisive toddler, I worry more about behavior overall rather than moods and choices I know he will grow out of. –  MichaelF Nov 1 '11 at 18:14

Young children often are overwhelmed with options, especially when tired. When you allow him to change his mind, you are actually creating more options for him. I would suggest that you allow him to choose and make that decision final. He does not have to accept it, but his options are limited to take it as you selected, or do without.

Initially, he will likely "lose it", but if you remain consistent, this phase will pass more quickly. The challenge will be to not reward the protesting behavior. Be matter of fact and follow through with his decision. He will learn to value his choices and your limits and both of you will be happier!

share|improve this answer
1  
I would just add to this, that you respond with words stated calmly like, "Oh, I'm so sorry! Oh well, its already put away - maybe next time." Sound empathetic. Then, try to distract him with a story or something he enjoys that is calming before he has time to think about it too much and lose it. –  balanced mama Nov 21 '12 at 4:33

I would recommend asking questions in a way that doesn't require a yes or no answer. Instead of "Do you want milk?" ask "Would you like your milk in the blue or red cup?"

share|improve this answer
    
I do try to do that. If he is in his difficult mood, it would go like this... He would point at the red one, I would happily put the other back in the cupboard and start pouring into the red at which point he would freak out and start pointing at the one I just put in the cupboard. Then if I did switch to the other, he'd lose it again. –  Chrissy Oct 18 '11 at 21:55
    
Is it a problem to give him both cups? –  nGinius Nov 5 '11 at 23:46
    
@nGinius: I'd see giving him both cups as a problem because that would give him a choice again, which can start the argument all over again. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 12 '11 at 18:29

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.