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32MO refuses to do anything i even suggest she does

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I haven't spent a lot of time with 2 year olds except my daughter so i'm not sure what behavior is in the range of typical. My Daughter is starting to cut her final set of molars and also is in the process of dumping her nap (naps about once a week but acts like she needs more) so i am contending with a tired and in pain kiddo here. But lately things just seem to be getting worse with her and i realize this morning that i am starting to actually dread the day because i know it is just another day full of power struggles that leave me feeling lost and drained and feeling like i have miserably failed somewhere. I need advice.


Our biggest issue is teeth brushing. It has been an issue since the beginning but we have always found ways to get the job done, be it tickle torture, teddy brushing her teeth, letting her watch a video while we did it and so on. Now that she is getting older nothing seems to work anymore. I even mention teeth brushing and she runs to the other side of the apartment and shuts herself in our bedroom. The funny part is she will then start crying if i don't come in to get her as if she is playing a game with me or something. For the last week or so we have been using a consequence that if she doesn't let us brush her teeth for 20 seconds she cant watch a youtube video (nursery rhymes) It was kind of working but we had to battle with her a bit about it first in the form of am argument before she realized that she would have to open her mouth or the video really and truly wasn't coming. Then today i got the idea that maybe a reward would work better then a consequence so i made a sticker chart (is that even GD? prly a bad idea i know) and i think she got it after i explained but then she refused to let us brush and had a melt down about still wanting the sticker and went to bed with no sticker/or video/dirty teeth. I feel terrible and have no idea where to go with this. What do i even do now?


She also refuses to wash her hands when asked (i have to make it a game where one of her toys needs a shower with the kitchen sink sprayer), runs away when it is bath time, frequently refuses diaper changes, refuses to get dressed and changes her mind constantly about things in regards to clothes. IE. we get her all dressed and she starts throwing a fit about how she wants a dress not pants even though she picked the pants. I also know she is capable of dressing herself but she will never do it unless it is dress up clothes that aren't practical for wearing in 50 degree weather. I also feel like she should be doing more things such as taking her own coat and shoes off when we come in the door but i still do it for her. She is VERY smart and speaking full sentences for a long time now so it isn't as if she doesn't understand my requests. She just doesn't want to do ANYTHING that she thinks mommy wants her to do.


Also we are not potty training even though all of her peers we know her age are or already have. We have given up on it 4 times in the last year. It goes ok at first and then after a few days she refuses to sit when prompted. We started out with chocolate chip rewards (terrible advice from our pedi) and we even tried going without a diaper for a MONTH 2 months ago and she still had constant accidents so i got frustrated (i was so stressed i was in tears when i gave up) and now she is back in diapers full time. I think she is maybe emotionally not very mature for her age and just isn't ready yet?...but i have no idea how to pick it up again when she is in this stage. How long will this stage last or is it not a stage and just that i am doing something horribly wrong? How on earth will i ever potty train her when she flat out refuses to sit when i request for her to sit?


THANK you so much in advance if you even read all of this let alone if you have advice for me <3



post #2 of 9

I'm just going to give advice for the tooth brushing part.  Have you tried explaining why toothbrushing is important?  My DS would never let me brush his teeth around that age, so I googled "decayed baby teeth" and showed him the pictures.  The rational explanation worked for him (yes, at 2.5 yo).  If you don't brush, the sugar will try to eat your teeth.  Do you want ice cream next time?  Then we have to brush away today's sweet things.  If you don't brush your teeth, you don't get to eat stuff with refined sugar in it.  He just had his first dental checkup on Monday, and only one tooth had any plaque on it.  


I'll let others chime in on the rest of the stuff.  But she sounds completely normal (developmentally) to me.  

post #3 of 9

My DS is only 25MO but quite the handful.  Lately he is really into testing boundaries.  He refuses to wear clothes in the house wants to run around naked.  That's a struggle in itself that takes several times to get him to leave his clothes on!  He is vocal but that is not really helping much.  Let's say he wants milk he will say milk then once you pour him a cup.  That will somehow upset him either he will throw it or just dump the contents on the ground.  What I do to get through it with an ounce of sanity.  Is to keep repeating these words "this too shall pass."  Also as much as you can redirect!  or if it the situation warrants it a timeout.  Also VENT!!! seriously go on this and continuously VENT!  This forum is the best stress reducer! 

post #4 of 9

Just wanted to chime in that, while we're not having the same issues as you are, 2.5 is definitely no picnic here either.  So, I think what you're going through is normal.  My DD has actually gotten a bit more compliant lately (knock on wood), but now she's gotten super clingy and more demanding of my attention than ever.  Which is saying a lot for this child :)  Easier said than done, but I do find with power struggles that the only thing that works is trying to somehow thwart it.  Like, if I'm trying to get her to get dressed to go somewhere and she's running around making a long, boring game out of it, I'll just say "Okay, well, I'm just going to start doing some laundry."  (i.e. Yeah, whatever, I'm not going to wait around for you to do this.)  I start doing laundry, and she brings me her clothes.  My DD is easy to play that way because I know she craves my interaction more than anything else.  Is there any quality of your daughter's that you can utilize to get her cooperation? 


Also - I would definitely relax on things like the potty and putting on her own clothes for now.  There will be time for that stuff when she's out of this funk.  FWIW, my DD is about the same age, and really can't put on her own clothes very well.  So it's kind of like asking someone to just quickly solve a Rubik's cube before we go on our outing, you know?

post #5 of 9

The very best parenting advice I ever got (from my Mom):


"I promise she will be potty trained by the time she leaves for college."


This can be adapted for 1,000 skills - eat with a fork, speak politely in full sentences, dress herself, and so on. I don't know who wrote the timetable for all these things, but I know none of my Dumplings read it! lol.gif Today, my youngest are teens, who feed and dress themselves, are responsible for their own hygiene, and even brush their teeth!

post #6 of 9

All sounds very normal boundary testing to me.  The only thing that I might consider is that everything you mentioned is very sensory.  Clothes, bathing, tooth brushing are all things that kids with sensory sensitivities have trouble with.  That and later potty training suggest that she might just have some sensitivities.  Especially the picky clothes thing - that is a huge sign of sensory stuff. 


Could you ask her?  Do those things seem to really bother her more than they "should"?  She is at the age where she can finally control some of her sensory input and it seems possible that she is trying to avoid physically uncomfortable things.


I speak as someone who was very sensitive as a child.  I could only wear loose clothes with all the tags cut out. Shoes felt like torture.  Brushing my teeth felt like rubbing sand paper on my gums.  I grew out of it around 6 or 7.


Can you ask her why she won't doesn't want to do the things you are asking?  Does this behavior happen in other ways that aren't related to sensory stuff? 


I do 100% agree with others that every kid is on their own time table and, as long as she is communicating well and is socially doing well, I wouldn't stress about those other things for a loong time.

post #7 of 9
I can totally relate to your frustrations. My daughter just turned three, and her pickiness about clothes, teeth, etc seems ridiculous at times. I don't know if you have ever heard of this book, but Discipline Without Distress has really helped me in gauging what's appropriate developmentally and they have tons of different suggestions for all these types of problems.

Aside from that, I would suggest accepting that this is normal- you are NOT failing. And for me, I HAVE to force myself to relax, let go of the stress/guilt and really pick my battles wisely. I just can't care so much about her looking and acting as perfectly as I'd like. The more I push, the more she craves independence, and the independent/defiance escalates exponentially. So I give her as much control as I can, and I try to take the desperation out of making her do things. For me, I don't battle her on brushing her teeth. I just don't care if she brushes everyday. We brush our teeth with her, and she loves it. Honestly, though, if I made her brush at a scheduled time everyday it would never fly- she senses the desperation smile.gif. I don't try to get her excited about it, I just matter of factly sit her on the counter and hand her brush. I let her brush her on her own while I brush mine, then I take it and brush them for her for a minute. Same with clipping nails- I just go for it, and show her how I clip my own then do hers as quickly as possible. With both, I do make a big deal afterward about how clean they look and how great a job she did (if it's applicable smile.gif. I let her look at her teeth in hand held mirror to see how clean they are, etc.

As for clothes- that is our big battle. She's unbelievably opinionated about what she'll wear, and she will NOT wear anything remotely uncomfortable. These are all sensory sensitivities, I'm sure! She refuses to wear socks because they are "too tight!" She won't try on clothes in a store because they have tags. I have to cut the fabric tags out of her pants- which are sweatpants because that's all she'll wear! I totally get this because I was the same way as a child. I DO NOT care one wit that she's never really dressed herself, even though i guess she could. I consider it a great accomplishment if she wears clothes at all!

The best thing I have done for myself in this is just let it go. Who cares if she wears the same thing all the time brushes her teeth every other day or never wears actual pajamas. I know that she HAS to have some level of independence or she goes crazy, so I am trying to give her some space on these things and stick to correcting her on things that really can't be helped- like No- you can't hit when you're angry!

We potty trained a while back, and I think we did it before this fierce independence took over. Nevertheless, it wasn't something that I could ever convince her would be fun, so I didn't even really tell her what was happening- I just put her in undies and told her how great she looked and to keep them dry. As soon as she had an accident, I swooped her up, put her on the potty, and said Uh, Oh! Your panties are all wet, we need to keep them dry! She quickly started realizing what it felt like before she needed to go, then would hold it. I didn't wait for her to tell me in words, I saw her start dancing around and just matter of factly rushed her into the bathroom and said You need to potty! and put her on the potty. She usually needed to go badly enough she'd pee in the potty before being able to protest smile.gif.

If I directly told my daughter what to do, though, with anything, it would turn into a power struggle. I reserve that for things that I know she'll want to do anyway. I don't ask her to- but I do still make her do them. For things like washing hands, etc, I just put her next to the sink and wash them. She doesn't have a chance to voice her protest before it's all over. I just try to stay creative in the ways I say no or make her do things, so that my tone and body language are non- confrontational. I give her as much control as I can over everything else that I think doesn't really matter! But with my child-- incentives, rewards, and talking her into things has NEVER worked and only exhausts me further.

I hope any of this helps- and really, I can't recommend that book highly enough! Good luck- I totally feel your pain smile.gif.
post #8 of 9

Wow, I'm totally there.


One thing I've found (which I think is SCARY in the wrong hands--thus why we don't have TV) is that my DS is insanely suggestible. We were watching Sesame Street and Elmo got a drink of water, and immediately, he said, "I need my water!"


One night, following an epic toothbrush battle, I had a stroke of inspiration and looked up "sesame street toothbrush" on youtube. I found this (WARNING: THIS WILL BE STUCK IN YOUR HEAD FOR A YEAR): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxMrtK-kYnE


The next evening I showed it to DS and he let me brush his teeth while he watched it. The morning after that, he brought me his toothbrush and said "Elmo brush teeth?"


For the past week, we have had 90 seconds of voluntary brushing, 2-3 times per day. YMMV, but it's working for us.

post #9 of 9
I think what you are going through is normal, not that it makes it easier I know! Some things that work on and off with DD when she gets like this, making a game like you have been is one that works sometimes:

1. Give her two options - Do you want to brush your teeth first, then Mommy or do you just want Mommy to brush your teeth? or Do you want to walk to lay down or stand up for your diaper change?

2. Explain why in simple terms - I know teeth brushing can be boring, but we need to do it to keep our teeth healthy! or I have to change your diaper so you don't get a red butt (diaper rash).

3. Ask her why - Ask why she doesn't want to do something and try to address concerns, even if I don't get a straight answer, sometimes this just helps to derail the defiance

4. Do whatever with her or use characters in books/TV/videos doing it to inspire or talk about how her friends do X - Brush my teeth with her, show her books about kids getting diapers changed, talk about how all her friends at daycare that moved up to the next room are potty trained

5. Explaining what will happen along with something fun that will happen after - We have to get ready for bed, so teeth brushing, then read a book, then jammies, then I sing you a song, then bedtime

6. Bribes/Rewards - I use this sparingly, but sometimes DD needs extra incentive to do something I know she can do, so to get over the hump, I will use a small bribe/reward, I've only used this for potty training and occasionally when we are at an event that I really need her to settle down or quiet down for
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