My 2.5 year old girl has got me wrapped around her little finger! (kind of).
I am wondering if anyone can give me specific advice on how to handle a problem we're developing to do with endless repetition of things, rituals if you like. It comes in a specific form (see example below) - but seems to be affecting lots of other things too.
Here's a specific example. Bedtime (oh the dreaded bedtime) and nap time. Let me preface by saying that the below takes place after dinner, bath, milk, and bedtime stories (stories last about 20 minutes).
Finish bedtime stories (in a chair by her cot).
Carry LO to bed (cot/crib).
Then the fun begins....
'Touch the backs and the fronts of the books!'
(Don't ask me how this weird thing started, but I have to go and get the bedtime stories and she has to touch them before I leave. Something I'd like to stop completely, but can't figure out how to without a tantrum!)
Me: Lie down now and give caterpillar a cuddle.
'Sit bear up!'
And this is where we have our real problem. She has a bear (well, obviously) - and I have to sit it up multiple, multiple, MULTIPLE times at the end of her bed in a certain way, not too fast or too slow etc.
'Do it again!'
'Sit bear up again!'
'Do it again!'
Springs up onto feet.
'Again! Again! Again!'
And on and on...
All the while, she's smiling, laughing, having a good old time.
Sigh. I'm so tired at the end of the day especially, that I get quite close to losing it. But the odd time I've gotten cross, ends in tears...and bedtime becomes completely out of whack...so I resist with all my might being visibly irritated. Sometimes I find myself threatening that I'm going to GET cross (Mummy's going to get cross soon...) - which, in some ways is just as bad. She still smiles through that though, she's not getting the concept of a cross Mummy (which is good) - unless I actually get angry of course.
Having said all that, the only way I have managed to even slightly control this is by pretending to leave the room, which sets her off in a minor tizzy, but after the minor whinge/tizzy, she relents and asks me to sit bear up 'the last time'. Which nearly works each time. There must be a better way?
I've tried talking to her during the day about how we will only do it X (3?) times or whatever. She understands this perfectly well when not in bed, and IN bed, even COUNTS with me. I've tried this tactic over and over again, but I still get 'again! again! again!'. Limits be damned!
Firstly, it's not a massive problem...I'm usually out of her room within ten minutes of actually putting her in bed...so it's not the end of the world. However, this same behaviour is spilling over into other things. If we make the mistake of doing something just ONE time (like letting her watch a small video after her nap) - then it seems we are now doomed into having it repeat daily! She now gets more screen time daily than I'd like (about an hour in total?) because what was a once-a-day video, is now x3.
Our day is SO rigid and seemingly unchangeable, it's a little bit scary. She even gets up in the morning sometimes and announces: 'First change 'undies', then breakfast, then videos...' etc.
Maybe I'm being gutless in not laying down some firmer 'rules' - but the truth is...it seems so much easier to grit my teeth, and give in - just for some peace. I also have an understanding that in toddler world it is quite important for their growing autonomy to feel some sense of control. I also know that at bedtimes, she'd rather I stayed - but I have never done that...and don't want to relinquish my 'independent sleeper' anytime soon.
So hear I am....and I guess the question is:
How can I work on limiting repetitive rituals like this - whilst still being gentle and kind?
Any help or pointers to some advice would be MOST appreciated.
I feel like I'm missing something really obvious about how to handle it?
Edited by Grover - 4/9/13 at 6:20pm