Q&A: My Two-Year-Old is Bright, Busy, and Destructive

A friend on Facebook said,

“My 2-yr old son is driving me insane with his destructive behavior (mainly out of curiosity and inventiveness). He’s very bright and physically and verbally advanced. But I’m losing my mind. Spanking doesn’t seem to help since he repeats messing with everything and breaking things. … I can not reason with him.

Q - Smart and Destructive - V

Boys have a natural curiosity about their world, linked with a desire to control it and change it, and a self-confidence which frequently doesn’t match their ability or good judgment! Ask us how we know!

It’s harder when it’s a first child. Someone told us years ago that it’s easier owning two dogs than owning one, because they entertain each other. We found that’s true with both dogs and children — a lonely child will look to the nearest parent for entertainment, or get busy with the nearest objects … usually with undesirable results. If you’re in that situation, don’t feel bad if you feel a bit overwhelmed!

The first concern is keeping him safe – and protecting other people! Obviously you need the house baby-proofed. If you have an active little boy, that means more than you might expect; we had one who actually climbed a six-foot step ladder to grab a wet paint roller which we thought was safely out of reach!

Discipline has to be consistent and persistent. Just be patient; you’ll have to repeat the lesson frequently with such a young one.

Here are some other ideas to help you both cope:

  • Try to get him involved in what you’re doing. Folding clothes? Give him a washcloth or hand towel and show him how to fold it. Putting away the dishes? Show him where to put the spoons, then hand him one at a time to put away. Look up suppliers for Montessori schools – they have lots of child-size brooms, garden tools, and more!
  • Get him more advanced toys than you think. Try toy tools, diecast cars, building blocks (ours loved the maple “schoolhouse” blocks — and the cardboard “bricks” that can be stacked and knocked over harmlessly)
  • Give him scenarios to pretend and play with. We found one of our two-year-olds playing “library,” using a box for a counter, talking with imaginary patrons, and “scanning” a book he’d found … just like he’d watched when we all went to the public library. Suggest games he can pretend from things he’s seen – “Can you build me a bookshelf like Daddy did for Mommy?”

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  • Choose when and where he can burn off energy. You know he’s full of zoom — why not let him rip in a place and time you choose, instead of trying to calm him down all day? When we used to travel with our young boys, we’d schedule stops at rest areas and roadside parks with lots of grass – then let them run! There’s a reason for recess in first grade … you can do it at home, too.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of naps. Sure, they’re great for worn-out mommies, but an overtired toddler gets more frantic before he conks out. Our young guys got afternoon naps until they were four — and a well-rested boy is more manageable, trust us!

If you’re a mom, whether your toddler is your first child or your twelfth, we’ve got a couple of resources that you’ll appreciate – our workshops “Homeschooled From the Beginning,” about a gentle, relaxed approach for introducing your little ones to the joy of learning – and “Homeschooling a Houseful,” about how a mom (Melanie, actually!) can teach six grades at once – with a toddler in the room, too! Yes, really! Just give us your email below and we’ll give you those two workshops and our weekly Raising Real Men News & Update – for free!

It’s a busy time to be a parent, but it’s not forever. As Melanie says, the days are long but the years are short!

Hal and Melanie Winter Full Cropped


In Christ

Hal and Melanie