How to discipline a 2 year old with SPD?

by Annette
(Sydney, NSW, Australia)

How do I discipline my little boy when he screams in public and starts hitting me. This can be triggered by a friend or stranger saying hello to myself or to him and it sets him off. Also how do you get him off to sleep at night. He keeps coming out of his room for 1-1.5 hours before he finally goes to sleep. Would love to hear some answers.

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Mar 07, 2011
2 year old.
by: Anonymous

Yes, it's not easy, but it gets better as they get older too, just to let you know. My son used to do the same thing and still does to a degree, he's six. But it's so much better. I agree w/the other poster.

I know it's embarrassing when others see this, but try to explain to them her issues. Also, give her reassurance that you still love her and want to talk to friends too.

Feb 18, 2011
A few ideas
by: Anonymous

I wish I had some easy answers for you, unfortunately it's not an easy process. Here are a few things I've learned over the past few years that I hope are helpful:

1. Tantrums - having tried several approaches, I've realized my daughter responds best to calm, patient affection and reassurance. I know it seems counterintuitive (like you're reinforcing the behavior), but for us a big hug and a "I love you all the time, no matter what" seems to really help diffuse the situation. THEN, once she's calm, I focus on correction. I think this approach only works if you are consistently training/teaching appropriate behavior during the time when your child is calm and responsive. For example, using role playing and social stories to teach right responses to situations. "When mommy's friend says "hi" to mommy in the store should we do this...(pretend to throw a fit)...OH NO! That wouldn't be good would it?! Then model an appropriate response and have them practice.

2. Don't go anywhere without a stroller! That way if he's having a major fit and hurting you or someone else, you can buckle him in and move him to a place where you can help him calm down.

3. Sleep - I think the inability to self-soothe keeps these little ones from being able to put themselves to sleep. Again, we've tried several approaches and the things that work best are:
a. Give a protein rich snack right before bed (no sugar)
b. Encourage the use of an object (teddy bear, etc.) that they can use for comfort
c. Stay with them until they fall asleep (if necessary). My husband will sit in the doorway to her room and read while she falls asleep, etc. It's a huge inconvenience, but it seems to make things run more smoothly and prevents the constant getting out of bed.

4. Don't stop trying to find the root cause of the SPD. We've had GREAT results by using a combination of dietary changes:
a. removing additives via the Feingold diet (
b. going gluten free
It is absolutely worth the extra work and inconvenience!

5. As far as discipline goes, focus on what will best build the RELATIONSHIP between you and your child. I spent far too long focused on trying to stop this behavior that was driving me crazy (!) and it was only when I realized that my little girl desperately needed someone to understand, love, and help her that things really started to improve.

Hope that helps a little. Best of luck to you as you parent your little guy!

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