Help with 2.5 year old who just.won't.listen. - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-13-2011, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD is 2.5 and has gotten into a stage where she just won't listen or follow simple directions.  We know that its pretty normal for a toddler to want to assert their independence and try to do things their own way but she is making us crazy.  The main problem is that it's not just us, she is also refusing to listen to other people of authority.  I don't want to teach her that she just needs to do what she's told but I do want to instill in her that she needs to respect certain people of authority, like parents, teachers, law enforcement, etc.  But, we just don't know how to do it without breaking her playful and independent spirit. 

 

We recently enrolled her in a toddler gymnastics class and she won't even listen to the instructor.  The first week was a little rough, she just ran around and wanted to do her own thing but she was in a new place with new things to climb and jump on so it wasn't really an issue.  Now she just refuses to follow simple instructions that the instructor gives her.  They have an obstacle course for the kids to go through but DD doesn't want to follow through the course, she wants to deviate from it and go through in her own order at her own pace.  I like to encourage free thinking and creativity but she also needs to understand that in a structured setting she needs to follow the rules that are set for her to avoid disrupting the class and other students.  Today the instructor had to actually pull her aside and 'talk' to her one-on-one about her behavior in class.  All through class today she just didn't look like she was having fun anymore, and that's the whole point of having her in the class is for her to have fun!  She kind of moped around the room and looked like she was pouting because she couldn't do things 'her' way.  When we got in the car to leave she kept telling me that she was sad.

 

Other examples of her not listening are the normal things like running away from us in stores or outside playing, not doing things that we ask or tell her to do......like when we tell her its time to get dressed, ready for bed, get her shoes on, etc she will run and hide somewhere.  I know that's all normal behavior for a 2.5 year old but how do you get them to listen and do what you want/need them to do?  Lately we've been finding ourselves yelling at her a lot more than we want to but she's just so frustrating!!!  We keep explaining to her that she needs to listen when we ask her to do things and she needs to listen to her teachers, grandparents, etc but she just doesn't seem to get it.  Any other suggestions?


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Old 05-13-2011, 07:44 PM
 
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If she isn't following along in gymnastics class (and she's expected to) I would withdraw her and try to find an 'open gym' time where she can explore the stuff in her own way. Why make her frustrated and sad (never mind why frustrate yourself or the instructor) by making her comply.  If the class isn't fun, why take it?

 

For the at-home stuff I found that I had to be very hands on.  I made sure to have my hands on DD1 when I said "time to get dressed!" so she wouldn't have a chance to run off :)

 

I'm not sure I would rely on a 2.5yo to 'do' much on your command. Especially if you're hoping to save time by having her help. You're still going to have to supervise and do most things with her.

 

My eldest was nowhere near ready for an organized class or for respecting her elders at 2.5.  She barely makes it through story time at the library without asking off the wall questions or coming out with a craft that is completely different from the other kids. And she's almost 5!

 

It sounds like your LO just needs more time to be free and be herself.  You can model good listening skills by being with her when others ask things of her. You could say "did you hear Grandma ask for the napkin? Please give it to her. Thank you!"  


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Old 05-13-2011, 08:10 PM
 
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You may want to look into getting her hearing checked.  Just a thought.


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Old 05-13-2011, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caedenmomma View Post

You may want to look into getting her hearing checked.  Just a thought.



Its not a matter of not hearing, she responds but usually with giggles and playful looks.  Its like she thinks you're playing with her when you ask or tell her to do something, like everything is a game to her.  With her gymnastics class, when the instructor tells her to stop doing one thing and come do the balance beam or whatever she just looks at her and then continues in her own direction.  The instructor repeats herself a few times until she finally physically moves DD where she wants her to be.  I want her to learn to follow the directions provided I'm just not sure how, or maybe like PP said, she just isn't ready yet?

 


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Old 05-13-2011, 10:15 PM
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It sounds like your child is not ready for a structured class yet.  She's only 2 1/2 - I don't think my son who is same age is ready yet either.  

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Old 05-14-2011, 06:52 AM
 
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Neither of my kids were (or in one case is) ready for a structured class at that age. They went/go about and do their own thing. Most instructors of kids that age know a lot of the kids don't yet follow directions and allow kids to do their own thing, but if this particular instructor does, I'd withdraw her from the class and find something less structured. Don't worry about her eventual ability to listen to law enforcement - not being able to listen at 2.5 has no relationship to ability to listen at 18.
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Old 05-14-2011, 08:03 AM
 
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We do a lot of structured activities because DS needs it -- and I can say with some certainty that he is just about the ONLY 2-year-old who consistently follows directions in that setting (and I suspect it's more due to his special issues than him being a particularly compliant kid!) It is quite normal to see the 1-3 year olds running around like maniacs and not paying any attention at all. Even at yoga (where the instructor is especially good at getting kids to cooperate) the toddlers are just very inconsistent compared to the babies & older kids. At story time for 2yo's, DS is often the only kid left sitting in the circle by the end of class. I'm sure he'd be off & running too if he wasn't dealing with other stuff!

So yeah, I would find an 'open gym' time for your DD instead of forcing her into a structured setting that she doesn't seem ready for. If she's not having fun then there's just no point. If it's too late to get your money back, maybe you can talk with the instructor so she can play more freely, or see if you can transfer to a less structured class?

As far as other situations, I agree with the PP who said to have a hand on her as you're asking her to do something. Be ready to physically help her comply with your request. We try hard (and sometimes fail...) not to ask things of DS if we're not willing to physically help him follow through, because I don't want our words to become meaningless, you know? And set up a system for out & about -- so maybe she goes in a back carry for errands, or maybe she gets one chance to walk and if she runs off she goes in the grocery cart, or whatever feels appropriate to you.

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Old 05-15-2011, 07:46 PM
 
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We hit this with my DS at 2.5 too. I learned over a few weeks that I had to train and teach MYSELF rather than train and teach HIM. Every single  defiant stand or yelling "NO" forced me to remind myself DON'T YELL - be gentle, explain, explain, explain, ask their opinion, apologize, empathize, remind them you understand even when it can't be their way. The more frustrated I got and started yelling, the worse he got. As I started retraining myself and trying to genuinely understand how it must feel to him, he got better and better and better. Now at 33 months, we have very, very few independent outlashes (and for some reason,  they tend to come in the form of throwing pillows when asked to do something?) Hate to blame DH, but usually when my DS gets defiant like this it's because DH is overly exerting his "because dad told you to" authority. It could possibly because my DS is bright (although too young to test), but he listens SO much better when he's been given a legitimate reason  - i.e. "Mom has to help with your shoes this time so we can get to the bank before it closes - I will let you do it on your own next time". Also if there is a benefit to your DD for listening, make sure you point it out. With my DS it's like "If you give me a little space to change your sister, we'll be ready to go to the playground sooner" & voila - he gives me some space, i can get DD ready, we get to leave & everybody's happy. 

 

 

As a side note - - -  It could possibly be the instructor's approach your DD struggles with. I taught a gymnastics class for 18-36 m/o as one of my first jobs. It was actually the preschool director at our gym who first introduced me to any natural parenting/natural learning concepts. Because I did not expect the kids to follow direct instructions, they did better. It was more like "here's the general area we're working in, here's our general goals of what I'd like you to do on this wedge, or with these balloons, here's the direction of the obstacle course, etc... " And then I'd gently direct them that way.... but if they would rather spin in circles holding onto their balloons ran toss and catch them, I certainly wasn't about to stop them. If they preferred to walk down the wedge instead of rolling, whatever. So long as they weren't running into one another, it worked out.  I only ever had one child who was TRULY not ready... and he was nearly 3. He would try to go running across the facility directly on to equipment where high-level gymnastics were training. YIKES. 


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Old 05-16-2011, 09:58 AM
 
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I agree with the PP that she may not be ready for a structured class quite yet. 2.5 is really so very young and it was hard for me to see that with DS until I had my second child.As for the other issues, in my experience consistency is key. If she runs from you in the store than she has to hold your hand. Every.Time. Until she understands that behavior is in no way acceptable. Personally, I struggle with being consistent with my own kids, I find it to be exhausting, BUT when I am consistent there is a world of difference in their behavior. I have also found that yelling has little impact in the long run. Doesn't mean I never yell, but that it just isn't as effective as some other approaches.

 

You may want to check out the Love and Logic series of books. They have one for early childhood (up to age 6). I really liked what they had to say, but again found it exhausting to follow through with day in and day out. So, I use what works for us and leave the rest. I have also had a good response with my kids using 1-2-3 Magic. I don't think any of these approaches are the miracles their authors claim they are, but I have found things that work for us in each one.  I figure that it never hurts to have lots of "tools" in my parenting toolbox. Good luck.


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Old 05-22-2011, 03:27 PM
 
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Oh mama, I wish I knew the answer! DD is also 2.5 and just will not listen to Dh or me. Its so frustrating and we find ourselves yelling a tad more than we intend to. She runs away whenever we ask her to pick something up. And it seems like almost everything results in a "throw herself to the floor" kind of tantrum. To be honest, I just don't know what to do anymore. We've tried bribing her, taking toys away, taking privledges away (i.e. going swimming, which she really loves), time outs... How do you get a toddler to listen? I know that part of it is just asserting her independence, but this is beyond frustrating `:(

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Old 05-23-2011, 08:04 AM
 
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We were having similar issues with DS1  up until about a month ago. I talked with a friend who is pregnant with her 6th, and she gave me some great advice.

 

#1- have a structured routine to our day. (and we start with breakfast and then OUTSIDE time)

#2- be VERY consistent with discipline. If she doesn't listen, EVERY time there needs to be a consequence. whether it is pulling her out of the situation and talking with her, or timeout, or taking away a toy, whatever you decide your consequence to be. we do timeouts here, I know everyone doesn't agree with them, but I NEEDED DS1 to start listening to me, because like your DD he is a run-away-er and when I also have a baby to take care of it can be VERY dangerous for him to be running off.

 

It took 3-5 days of this and he started listening SO much better. I had a different kid. The first few days he was in timeout A LOT, but by the 5th day, he was only needing timeout maybe 1-2 times a day. We always explain why he is in timeout (and he is very verbal and very smart, so he definitely understands) and talk about it.

 

I didn't want to be one of those people who "want obedient children" but at this age, for their safety, I had to have him know he needs to listen to me.


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Old 05-23-2011, 09:40 PM
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Routine helps with DD (2.5), as do frequent updates on what comes next.  Like "First we will eat our breakfast, and then we'll get dressed, and then we'll go in the car," repeated several times during the course of the morning.  If I keep emphasizing the order of business, she is much more agreeable to following instructions.

 

I agree that 2.5 seems a little young to be expected to follow instructions in an organized activity.

 

 

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Old 05-24-2011, 06:47 AM
 
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oh yes we do the frequent updates too... "we will go inside in a few minutes and have lunch, then quiet rest time.."


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