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Gently curbing repetition and endless rituals with 2.5 year old? - Page 2

post #21 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post

 

On those days that you said you'd do it the 3 times and she's saying to do it again, are you doing it again?

 

 

Well, yes (as above). But she seemed to be getting the groove of saying: 'This is the LAST time'. And it was - so I was happy enough with that. However, it's gone a bit pear-shaped the last few days....and she (and I) are going back to old/bad ways a little. There is so much going on in our household....it's hard to find the energy to tackle this one thing properly. Though, unfortunately, after saying that she was a pretty well-behaved child, and that we hadn't had to think about discipline much yet - well, of course, she's been going a bit nutso-naughty this last week. Defiantly doing the opposite of all things asked. e.g. 'Please don't drop that food on the floor' - drops food etc. So we've gone from maybe 10mph, to 100mph in terms of testing limits suddenly. Needed that like a hole in the head! But there you go.

post #22 of 35
Thread Starter 

For anyone that was wondering....

 

I have not solved this problem.

It has not gotten worse - but it remains an explosive little part of my dynamic with my daughter (which is sad, and unhealthy I know). 

 

We tried one night of limiting the behaviour, then left her to it (with head round door  for reassurance occasionally) - this was such an unmitigated disaster, that I'm unwilling to do that exact thing again. She cried on and off for two hours - got to sleep very late (heartbroken) and had an awful next day too.

I understand she might need to be sad, and then learn to get over it - we are having some success with that during the daytime battles (video's / books / food) - but the sleep thing.....sigh.....it still seems impossible to solve. If I stay in the room with her for any reason - she simply wants out...she has always been like this. Thus, I just can't stay in there comforting her....besides, that would set up an even worse habit in some ways.

 

Having said all that - things in the house are generally pretty horrible at the moment. DD is choosing now (well, the last three weeks) to seemingly drop her last nap. I'm filled with actual terror about this...and have been just scrambling with head above water trying to manage compensatory early bedtimes every second night, all the while hoping against hope that it is just a phase. I do my job whilst she is supposedly 'asleep' - and...well...none of this is helping my insomnia one iota.

 

But - the comments above are all so correct. Whilst we are sometimes more successful setting limits for other things in the daytime...in general - having no boundaries for other things IS making life harder for everyone. (A warning to others who might read - and have more guts than I).

 

We're getting some very oppositional behaviour at the moment about lots of things (e.g. throwing food at mealtimes). I'm losing my cool more than when I first started this thread.

 

Am at a loss slightly.

Wish I could update that I tried a few things and something worked. But being silent - or trying to change what has become the status quo in any way....just isn't working for both of us.

 

How to feel quite useless as a parent. Especially of an increasingly demanding, autonomous, bright, energetic, challenging child.

 

 

 

PS: Though unrelated (well, not entirely) to this current problem. I'm having a bit of stress too about her bottle. She still has a small amount of watered down milk in a bottle four times a day. But not only the bottle, she has to have it sitting on my knee. Not daddy's. And in a certain chair etc.

I've tried really hard to introduce a cup - but she won't have it. Hmm. I should look up old threads on this....we are going to be in for some big trouble I think. Why are they such creatures of STRONG, STRONG habit?

(ETA: She drinks water from cups with all meals - the milk is additional and in between.)


Edited by Grover - 5/17/13 at 6:51pm
post #23 of 35

hug2.gif  It sounds like you just have a child who really needs those rituals to feel secure.  If making gentle changes just isn't being received well right now, it might be better to hold off until she is in a place that is more open to it.  It can be really hard when we are ready for a change and our kids aren't, but at this point the situation might get worse if you keep pressuring her.  And it seems to be causing both of you a lot of stress.  So, if it's not working, don't force it. 

 

So I would just try to get back to that status quo.  My son is also transitioning away from naps, and dropping this nap has been much less straight forward than when he dropped his others.  And it's going to be a while before this transition is over too, I can tell.  He naps every couple of days, sometimes he doesn't nap at nap time, but unavoidably passes out in the evening and bedtime is naturally really hard on those nights.  When something like this is going on with them, I tend to say "just do what works" until they get into a groove, then try to streamline or make small changes.  Another thing that I learned about my son, is that while when he was a baby routines had no bearing on him at all, and no matter *what* I tried we couldn't find something that worked.  Now he really needs a routine and he depends pretty heavily on them, and I think that this is a very normal progression.  As they become more aware of the world around them the consistency we provide them with is the *only* thing that helps them feel grounded.  So trying to change things right now may be making this worse.

 

In terms of setting boundaries, the best advice I can give is to really try to avoid wording things that will lead to a power struggle.  Try using different phrases and being excited about the choices you give her and letting her have some control over things.  (I really, really recommend reading over the AhaParenting website - it was so valuable and easy to implement while still being able to parent as "me"). 

Some examples of easy changes are to never ask a "yes" or "no" question - they are two and a half, the answer is always going to be "no".  Try not to ask open ended questions unless you can actually accomodate what they ask for.  Try giving a choice of two things (too many more options may be too much) that need to be done and letting them pick.  I sometimes have to say that if he doesn't pick, then Mommy has to pick and he hates to give up that control.  Sometimes I have to pick and that causes a meltdown.  Which means that there is a need that I am not meeting and it's manifesting itself in a power struggle.  So I try to identify that need or emotion for him and explain why it hasn't been met, and that we can meet it at X,Y,or Z time.  Once I started using that technique of identifying his feeling for him and explaining with empathy why we still can't do X, the melt downs tend to get shorter.  He feels more in control of himself because he can understand some of his emotions, and because I have empathy for his feelings, they are validated and I'm not the enemy, the circumstances are.

 

I would start out by just experimenting with how you phrase things and watching for her reactions.  She is going to try to push boundaries, so the other thing is that those boundaries need to be clear and with a particular consequence.  (Um, like, DS is allowed to walk in the parking lot without holding my hand so long as he walks on pace with me and doesn't run away.  If he runs, I carry him.  He hates that.  The first few times I implemented it, he did kick and scream a little (handle like I said above - I know you really wanted to do X, but remember that we are in a parking lot and you have to walk with Mommy.  It's really frustrating when you really wanted to do X and Mommy says no, but we really need to stay safe in parking lots and that means staying with Mommy).  Most of the time he does stay right with me and it's not an issue, but occasionally he can't control the impulse to run at the curb so that he can jump off of it.  Knowing his cues I can scoop him up in an instant, and since he knows that the consequence is that he gets carried, he doesn't fight it so much.  If he's overtired he does get upset, especially if he feels guilty because he just forgot the rule (which you can tell happens sometimes), and I acknowledge that he's not a bad kid for doing it, but we still need to stay safe. 

 

I'm starting to babble a bit, but it feels really good when you can connect with your child and they actually *listen* to you.  No child (or adult) is going to do things 100% all the time, but having a consistent empathetic way to deal with things makes it go a lot smoother. For both of you.  It's funny, I said that DS was never much into routines, and he really wasn't, but you know what?  That in and of itself turned into an expectation that we get up and lounge around in the mornings and he gets to play trains.  I didn't even *realize* that had become our routine until the weather got nicer and I started to want to get out of the house in the mornings.  And it's really hard.  Because it doesn't fit in with our "usual" leisurely morning.  So, when that dawned on me, I realized that I needed to set up a morning routine that will allow us to leave the house at a reasonable hour! Which means getting up and getting dressed right away (which being pregnant over the winter we didn't do much!).  Now, instead of it being a battle to get out, it's what he expects.  I think it's also easy to look over the "routines" or expectations we have set up for our kids because it's not a big deal for us to change those things, but it is for them.  So maybe starting there and trying to see from her perspective what expectations for the day look like, and work on implementing one or two changes at a time until you find your groove.  And involve her in the process too - let her choose how some things go.  

 

Hopefully you get something useful out of my musings, lol!! I hope that you are able to find something that works!

post #24 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by BabySmurf View Post

hug2.gif  It sounds like you just have a child who really needs those rituals to feel secure.  If making gentle changes just isn't being received well right now, it might be better to hold off until she is in a place that is more open to it.  It can be really hard when we are ready for a change and our kids aren't, but at this point the situation might get worse if you keep pressuring her.  And it seems to be causing both of you a lot of stress.  So, if it's not working, don't force it. 

 

 

You know, this is a fair point.....for instance, both of my kids had a pacifier at bedtime until between 3 and 3-1/2.  Starting somewhere right around 3, I'd try gently eliminating it from our routine...but if they weren't ready, I'd go back to it, we'd have gentle convos about how it was OK to need this for now and we'd try again in a little while...and then a month later, try again.  The consistent, but gentle nudges were all I did, and within a 6-month timeframe they both gave them up without more than a few tears that I cuddled away....and I'll just say that my daughter is NOT an easygoing kid by any means, so a few tears comforted away from her meant she was absolutely ready on her own. 

 

Soooo, perhaps- set the limit you described a few posts ago, but soften your frame of mind a little on the bedtime thing.  Heck, we laid with our kids in their beds until they were nearly 4 until they fell asleep. Some kids just need that connection to transition into dreamland, longer than others.  

 

I have a very strong willed, prone to negativity, daughter (she'll be 7 next month) - so I get where you're coming from, I get how draining it can be to have this little person butting heads with you so early on, so strongly, and so intensely....yet still, on matters like this IMO a gentler firmness always yields better, and more lasting results, than a hard line.  I save the hard line for things that are dangerous, rude to others, or destructive. 

 

I keep this age-centric thing in my head where the advice I think about first is that of what my own kids are living right now; and your situation, would just absolutely not fly with my nearly 7 and 9 year olds.  lol.  But 2-1/2?  Is SO LITTLE.  Bending the framework, without breaking it, especially with ones so little, can help them through tough things like this. 

post #25 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grover View Post

Defiantly doing the opposite of all things asked. e.g. 'Please don't drop that food on the floor' - drops food etc. So we've gone from maybe 10mph, to 100mph in terms of testing limits suddenly. Needed that like a hole in the head! But there you go.

 

I'll also note that, while this seems like minutae, phrasing can often make all the difference in the world.  Soooo... instead of:

 

"Please don't drop that food on the floor" (which she hears "drop that food on the floor", really)

 

try

 

"Oh, food stays on the table!"  or, "Keep that on the plate please!" and help her do it.  

 

Phrasing things by what you want them TO do often gives much, much better results than what you don't want them doing.  

post #26 of 35

I guess to me the issue is that the kid is learning she can push Mommy's boundaries. If Mommy says "we'll sit the bear up one more time" and then when pressed continues to do it, the kid isn't learning what the guidelines are, she's learning she can push. It's one thing to decide "I'm not going to fight this sitting-bear-up thing" and just go with the flow on it, but another to set a boundary and then change it. Like... be careful what you say "no" to, but when you say no it needs to really be no. 

 

Also I hear a lot of guilt here and the OP beating herself up for even trying to set what are totally reasonable non-abusive boundaries. 

post #27 of 35

No, I get that - all I'm saying is that gentle reconfiguring of the boundaries may work best with her kiddo, instead of trying to get several things all resolved at once.  That's all.  

post #28 of 35

^^^I agree. I wasn't trying to disagree with your post or mean it to come off like I was. :)

post #29 of 35

Oopsies!  I'm doing eleventy things at once here, sorry for the misread!!

post #30 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for those recent comments. I'm completely new at all this, and won't be doing it again...so am trying my best, to do my best for everyone but very open to learning as I go.

 

I think there is huge merit in the fundamental idea that I need to decide if it's a real problem for me (or her) or not. I think she is a child who, at the moment, does require these strong rituals. And when I stop and think through our typical day, there are many of them....many. I mean, am I going to start trying to minimise or eliminate them all? Who really has the problem...her or me? Well, considering she is mostly a happy child (a little more stroppy now...but I'm hoping it's just her age) - and does get comfort from all of them. I think, the bedtime thing is more a case of me not being able to 'control' the situation...and therefore losing my cool. The unhealthiness of it seems based in the fact that until I make motions to actually leave, and then raise my voice somewhat - she won't let me go - like that is now a needed part of the ritual. The only way to 'finish' it.  She basically curls up with her bum in the air, ready for me to walk to the door...then springs up and yells for me to come back. That is usually when I raise my voice, slightly stomp back, do bear quickly again...say goodnight fast...and escape. Ergh. Sounds horrible. Kind of is.

As soon as I leave, she's usually happy as larry...so voice raising is not upsetting her - but it obviously upsets me each and every bedtime.

I don't have anger issues generally, and am a bit horrified that my fuse is so incredibly short at the moment - but I am under a lot of stress (but that's not her fault)...and find it weirdly hard to count to ten, or do anything useful to express myself more positively, or be more patient. I'm frustrating myself. Daily.

 

However, last night, I tried being very quiet...and just go with the flow of 'bear'....but again, it went on and on and on, until I ended up raising my voice a little and forcing the end of ritual. Hmm. I do need to decide what to do, either way. For my own sake and for hers. The words 'last time', and 'no more' etc, have lost all meaning to her. Why though, do I find it so difficult to find the right thing to say?? Gah.

She does seem to self-limit somehow if I let things run and run - for example, we do stories before nap time too. What used to be two stories and 15 minutes, has now turned into 4 stories and half an hour (don't know if this is contributing to her not sleeping, probably). If I try and limit to two, there is much fuss and wailing...same at story 3. Story 4, she's always ready to go upstairs quietly.

I suppose the same thing applies with bear - I just do, say: 'time to say goodnight to mummy now' each time, and rinse and repeat, and rinse and repeat....and eventually, SHE sometimes chooses when she's had enough, and actually says goodnight. (But most of the time now, this isn't before the voice-raising business). The issue goes back to me not being able to predict or control it I suppose - and the fear that one day, she'll realise she can do it forever (because I keep letting her, well, doh.)

 

I will go and have a look at the AhHa site for sure.

Thank you for the points about being positive. It's SO EASY to say things in the negative. I find myself doing it all the time. Just two days ago I thought the answer to two problems was:

1) No yoghurt for pudding if you throw dinner...and

2) I'll take bear away unless....

In my madness...I thought, yes! That's sure to work. But then suddenly realised that this would be MEAN. I don't want to be mean. I want to handle things in a way that don't make her into a 'bad' girl that's being 'punished'. So...for the food, I've decided to:

a) ignore food throwing whilst happening, but then insist she help me clean it up afterwards before she can play...OR

b) help her eat her dinner

 

Bear? I can't take him away. I'll have to keep thinking....

 

Also, it strikes me, that in the scheme of things - we do have much bigger things that we should be focussing on. Her dropping her nap is a big scary one (though for the moment, I intend on taking her to her bed daily regardless...am just not ready for alternatives). Another example, we are not very social and the intention was that she would be having a couple of days at preschool at 3 (she is now 2.9 months). But we haven't even managed to get her to the local playgroup, which is the step before actual preschool, and is parent-attended and a lot more casual. There's that, and small things that may be big (I just don't know) like not yet buying her a toilet seat so she can start experimenting with going to the toilet (she has shown a little, but not huge interest).

 

I just hope we're not doing her a disservice by allowing her to dictate the way our days run (except for meals / bedtimes) to the detriment of having her exposed to other things, and/or not learning how to play and get along with life when we need to do grown-up things.

As I say, never having done this before - you wonder whether you are spoiling them somehow...or disadvantaging them...it's a tricky, tricky job. I admire you Mama's that have been there, done that, survived and lived to share helpful experiences and advice! Hopefully I'll be one of those too one day!

 

She is extremely bright (I have a feeling I might be posting in gifted threads a little later on, with many questions) - and like yours The4OfUs, she does definately tend towards negativity. She seems to have these brilliant answers for almost everything, and her logic can be several steps ahead of our own, so often she catches us out and we can't think of appropriate responses. But sometimes I feel that she is SO busy talking and using her brain, (and likewise we are always talking, responding, challenging her to think, playing word games...whatever) that her emotions get left behind a little. I think emotionally she is probably acting her age - but then comes out with things I would expect to hear from a five year old. She is also not terribly physical, and it takes a lot to get her moving (and tired!) - she's also going through a phase of extreme frustration over physical tasks at the moment. Giving up, before even beginning.

I try to compensate a little for this by trying to dance...tumble....tickle....cuddle a few times a day - try to give her brain a break. I'm not sure if it works or not.

 

I'm getting way off topic here now, but I feel I should mention that she is not a very cuddly child (not sure if I mentioned already). Doesn't particularly like to be held when upset, and even as a baby, didn't respond hugely well to rocking or cuddling or kissing. So that is sometimes quite challenging too. One's instinct is to swoop in and cuddle to death, and hold, and try and comfort - but she resists most of this (unless she's hurt herself).

 

I better stop waffling now.

Thank you all for the further food for thought. I think I either need to accept bedtime bear, and be calm and happy about it - or if I can't...then be prepared to follow through somehow. Since she generally lets me go still within a reasonable amount of time (5-10 mins max) - and I don't have to do other things, like rub her back for hours, sing songs, or sleep in her cot with her!! maybe I should count my blessings and just work on my own emotional temperature and responses to things.

Any tips for that? Keeping my cool when my life is just a big slice of stress-pie at the moment?

 

G.


Edited by Grover - 5/18/13 at 3:39pm
post #31 of 35
Quote:

Originally Posted by Grover View Post

 

Thank you all for the further food for thought. I think I either need to accept bedtime bear, and be calm and happy about it - or if I can't...then be prepared to follow through somehow. Since she generally lets me go still within a reasonable amount of time (5-10 mins max) - and I don't have to do other things, like rub her back for hours, sing songs, or sleep in her cot with her!! maybe I should count my blessings and just work on my own emotional temperature and responses to things.

Any tips for that? Keeping my cool when my life is just a big slice of stress-pie at the moment?

 

G.

 

First off, you absolutely can't fight her on all of the rituals and routines - that's very age appropriate and she will grow out of it.  If there is one thing in particular you really can't stand, you can try distracting her a bit with something different, but it will probably lead to a new ritual to replace it.  I think that remembering that we don't need to micromanage things can make a huge impact on our own psyche as well as theirs.  There is no reason why some of our "jobs" can't be turned into play-like adventures.  It's a lot more motivating for the kids, and it can relieve some of the pressure we feel to have to have things done a "certain" way.  Kids couldn't care less about our schedules and why should they? They have their own agenda and their instincts require them to follow it - and that is right now to learn how to live in and manipulate the world around them, and that very much includes pushing boundaries.  (And yes, the more you "give in" to the "last time" not actually being the last time, the more she is going to need to test it.  If something really *is* the last time, use that phrase, but if it's not, then try to avoid saying it.  Otherwise, like you said, it won't really mean anything.)

 

Secondly, the bolded part about you being stressed; my son absolutely reflects my stress levels.  I think most of the time he "acts out" is actually him just not knowing how to respond to my stress.  When he was a baby I really didn't need a lot of "me" time to reduce stress, but as he has transitioned into the "testing boundaries" phase, I need a lot more time to myself.  Just to reduce my levels of stress because it is mentally exhausting to have to think like a two year old and negotiate on their level and always be a few steps ahead so that you can avoid problems.  If you can find ways to try to reduce your own stress levels about things, I guarantee that you will see at least some improvement in her behavior. 

 

Hopefully you get things figured out!!

post #32 of 35
Thread Starter 

I have an update for this thread and issue.

 

I wish the problem had been solved in some gentle way by ME - but it seems my headstrong daughter has taken matters into her own hands. (Perhaps the friction and bad dynamics of it all has gotten to her too?)

 

Anyway - we had an incident during a daytime nap yesterday. She got a toy with a small loop on it's head (the kind of loop you don't bother cutting off...because it seems to small to be a danger). She got it stuck on her wrist - didn't have her nap because she had a silly tiger stuck to her the whole time. She didn't call out or get upset at all...but instead played with all her cot toys (of which there are a few, but smallish). When I got her up, she asked me to remove them all and put them on a shelf. When questioned carefully, she insisted she didn't want them in her bed anymore. 

I left bear in the bed, but she was all: "No. Put bear on the shelf too. I don't cuddle him anymore....I don't want him in bed." (She has two other fave toys at the mo that get the bed cuddles).

 

To cut a long story short. I asked her what we were going to do at night time. No bear to sit up etc. She replied that we could just do kisses and say goodnight.

 

Me, ever the cynic - was all ready to reinstate bear at the last moment - but NO - it went as she said it would. First night in MONTHS and MONTHS - just simple cuddles, kisses, and then a nice loving goodnight.

No silly games. No stressed out mummy.

 

Wow.

 

Not only this - but one of my other niggles was her having a bottle of milk AFTER she cleans her teeth in the bath. (The best I could ever do was get her to rinse her mouth with some water after the milk). I've been foreshadowing changing this routine for ages. Mentioning it to her daily. Perhaps she got sick of hearing about it, or perhaps she got sick of the water rinsing.

 

Last night she decided on her own that she would have the bottle downstairs, after dinner, but before her bath - so she could clean her teeth.

No milk for stories, and whilst she automatically reached out for it...she was fine doing it differently.

 

I don't know what the moral of the story is....maybe, not to panic - as things will change anyway over time?

I'm feeling very grateful at the moment that she has singlehandly eliminated one of the most stressful moments of my day. That stupid bear was killing me. Hopefully I'm not speaking too soon, and all goes well today too.

 

Thank you sweetheart.

 

May all your decisions be so timely and wise! (ha! as if!)

post #33 of 35

Love it.  I do think the moral is things will always change! AND if you have a child of a certain kind, and you respectfully let them know what you also need and expect... then maybe they will decide when they are ready.  And hopefully she will stick with that decision! When my kids have made decisions like that for themselves, they generally do mean it and stick with it.  Glad to hear the new turn of events!

post #34 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grover View Post
 That stupid bear was killing me. Hopefully I'm not speaking too soon, and all goes well today too.

 

 

I sooooo hear you, and I am sure my mother did as well. Only one child of mine has a "lovey" and it is for sure a pain. My mother "forgot" my lovey at a play date when I was two, and I am still irked about it (just about the fact that she really did throw away something that I clearly loved) and I remember being mad and hurt about why we couldn't just go and get it for years later--we lived in the same town. 

 

Anyway, I know it was a hard slog. Now your kiddo can grow up and not remember anything about this time, and definitely won't be fixated for life on where their special lovey is. Even if this new pattern only lasts a short bit, you are doing good work with your child.

post #35 of 35
Thread Starter 

My grandparents once threw away something I really loved....have never forgotten that either! Funny creatures...kids.

 

Bear used to be the toy-of-choice. Now he is rejected. In his place are two toys she recently chose for herself at a toyshop. Both cheaper and nastier than the bear...but, who am I to argue against a fake-fur penguin and a now-very-squashed and grubby caterpillar?

 

I should add one thing that I remembered after I posted my (her) success.

Which is that the two days prior to the BIG change, I had threatened (I did do it very gently...no shouting or anything) to remove bear from the bed altogether because of the silliness. I said this maybe on about three different bedtimes. It had the instant result of her just wanting him sat up for the last time (and it was) - i.e. curtailing the whole process....then, maybe she thought about it - thought to herself somehow that the whole rigmarole was just not worth the hassle? I will never know her exact thought processes, but we're four days into it now....sailing along all happy at bedtimes (kinda - well, much happier in that regard anyway) it seems the change has stuck. Hurrah!

 

I also got my first ever spontaneous "I love you mummy" that first night - and this now happens at every bedtime!! Woohoo! Who knew that would take nearly 3 years?

 

 

Now all we've got to sort out a little bit is her dropping her daytime naps (have another thread on this) - but am giving up hope a little on this one. Boo hoo.

That, and general behaviour, which has gone very toddlery and out-of-control-defiant of late. So, ha ha, I guess we swapped a nicer bedtime, for all the other annoying things! Damn! wink1.gif

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