My wife and I have a very stubborn 2.5-year-old son. He refuses to follow any kind of routine in sleeping, eating, screening times (TV and so), or anything.

Whenever he is sleepy, he fights going to bed until he is really exhausted, and this is normally after 3-4 hours of convincing him to sleep. He can fight sleeping until 3 or 4 AM! The same thing is for eating, whenever he is hungry, he does not ask at all and we spend a difficult time trying to feed him or make him eat by himself. Similar thing is with going to the toilet.

We tried many techniques with him, talking, playing, getting toys to encourage him, but none of these things happened to work. Whenever we take him out, he screams in a very loud voice if one of his requests has not been accepted (like getting the mobile phone or going to bus as he likes being in it).

All of these problems are not emergent, they are from day 1 at home, and we have no idea how to solve this. I am not sure what can we do with him. We feel so sad because of these problems with him.

Potentially helpful information about him:

  • He is in a trilingual environment (Arabic at home, German at kindergarten, and English at screens, in particular Youtube)
  • He has a very good health
  • He prefers to play alone in the kindergarten
  • He refuses to sleep in his bed
  • the only time we feel he is happy is when he has mobiles, TV, laptop, etc.
  • We restrict his screening time to 2 hours at most (sometimes it increases to three)
  • We are living alone. So he sees no people other than his parents and the people in the kindergarten.

Any ideas?

  • Would you describe his screen time as "happy" or as "sedated"? Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 13:18
  • See also parenting.stackexchange.com/questions/34167/… Commented Sep 7, 2018 at 15:12
  • How did this go? Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 16:01
  • Very well, a genius little man now, on the spectrum of ADHD. The symptoms on the original post faded out slowly after the 5th year.
    – M.M
    Commented Apr 17 at 6:03

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you're giving him a lot of attention for undesirable behaviour. You are basically putting him in charge of you. This is an easy thing to fall into, but you can now change it. Make very firm boundaries and very firm consequences. Don't give him lots of attention for not eating; let him not eat after explaining only once that if he doesn't eat , for example, lunch, there will be nothing until dinner and stand by it. Same as bed time. Explain that it is bed time and then do last kiss/cuddle, and walk away. Don't keep going back in as this will encourage him to stay awake playing games to get your attention. Kids love attention regardless of whether it's positive or negative.

Do give him love and attention at the appropriate times. This will help form a relationship. But you have to stop "rewarding" bad behaviour with lots of negative or positive attention.

When the boundaries are firmly in place, start a sticker chart where he can get a sticker each time something like a mealtime or bedtime goes well. But stick to the boundaries. Children actually feel safer with firm and clear boundaries than otherwise.

Hope this helps.

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