At least I think this is normal two year old behavior. We're struggling in several areas but in general she LOVES to push boundaries and laugh while doing so. When I am firm, she smiles and often continues her behavior. It is so maddening and it's hard not to take it personally. I remember when I was little and I wanted nothing more than to please my mommy (and my mom remembers me that way, too). So I feel so hurt when she does this to me over and over throughout the day. It's like every time I turn a corner I am met with resistance and it's exhausting. And then out of the blue she'll charm the pants off me and use very good manners at mealtime (Mommy you're good at cooking, I love this! and "May I please be excused?") and will brush her teeth, wash her hands nicely, etc. But currently it feels like more often than not, it takes an act of God for me to get her to comply (get dressed, put on shoes, brush teeth, change diaper, walk out the door, walk in the door, sit down, stand up...even when I am doing something fun like playing with slime on the floor and I say, "Come over and check out this ooey gooey cool stuff! Wanna play with me?!!" she runs in the other room and yells, "I'm running the other way, ha ha ha ha!" Clearly she is very purposely doing the opposite of what I want. I know she wants to sit down and have my attention and I know she wants to play with ooey gooey stuff. But, really? She'd sacrifice that just to assert some power and run the other way? Is this just terrible two's?
But here is the situation I came here with tonight...
She desperately wants to go pick up the milk with her daddy at the health food store once a week. (Our raw milk is delivered there). She loves the people there and really enjoys her special time with daddy and takes pride in carrying out the heavy gallon of milk all by herself. So we mentioned that it was time to get dressed so she could go with him and she ran away and hid under the table. We try to gently coax her out. Then, we just give her some time. Then dh and I casually talked about how fun the errand would be while within earshot of her. And then it's ultimatum time...because honestly, I needed a little break and I needed her to go with him so I could get to some basic chores that went undone all day. So I say, "You can walk to your room to get dressed or mommy will carry you. Do you want to walk?" She chooses to walk. Okay good. Then once placed on the changing table for a diaper change and stuff, she starts arching her back and rolling over (and laughing hysterically) as my husband is asking her to stop. She's kicking her legs and doing a pretend cry thing - just acting like a banshee. Everytime he gets a leg in the pant leg and starts on the other leg, the first leg comes out and he starts all over again. Then she starts crying for real and I say, "We're going to get dressed but if you keep screaming at daddy and kicking him, then you'll have to have some time in your crib." She carries on and I place her in her crib and walk out as she screams and cries. **she's had no sleeping issues and loves her crib, even chooses to lounge in there for an hour after she wakes in the morning. But she hates her crib during times like this. If you read to the end you might understand why I'm avoiding a big girl bed.**
I come in about 2 minutes later, bright and sunny. "Hi darlin'. Okay, it's time to get dressed. You ready to get going?" "Yes, mommy. I'm standing up. I'm ready!" So I go to get her and she plops down to where I can't reach her. I ask her to stand up and she does. As soon as I move my body towards her, she plops down again and laughs. My back is killing me and I don't even think I have the strength to pick her 36 lb body up while she's being that resisitant. I say, "Looks like you're not ready yet. I'll come back later to check and see if you're ready then." She screams and cries again.
Meanwhile, the damn store is gonna close and I am getting so angry because I have GOT to get some things done and we are out of milk! In times like these I've tried to just stop everything and hold her and talk to her and be super gentle. It doesn't make a difference and at some point I feel like no matter our appeoach, if we say it's time to get going...it's time to get going. I go back in and she stands up and lets me take her out. We get on the changing table to put her pants on and she starts to roll over again and laugh. When I place her back she starts flicking her legs (and not purposely, but is kicking me). I say, "Darn, you're still not ready to get dressed. Back in the crib you go." She's screaming bloody murder in the crib again. Daddy happens down the hallway past her room and she immediately stops screaming to say, "Hi Daddy." which indicated to me that she was not in fact dying despite sounding like it.
So the last time we get her out, she gets dressed, still pretty wiggly, but manageable and more what you'd expect from a 2yr old. DH reports that she was sweet and polite in the car. She loved going into the store and greeted everyone, she easily got into the car seat at the end. She burst into the front door saying, "Look mommy, I brought you some milk. I'll put it in the fridge for you!!" Clearly, she enjoyed the outing and needed to get out of the house. But, WHY oh why does she make it so difficult when she knows she loves going? Many of our outings start this way no matter how much prep we give her, no matter how much choice we offer, no matter how calm, fun or loving we are and no matter how fun the outing is going to be.
She's also the type of child who would just bolt from me in a store. Once when my mom was supposed to be holding her hand while I was helping my other dd, she just turned the other way and got back into the elevator we'd just exited. In a hospital...all alone on an elevator at age 2! Often she flops her arms to purposely get in my way while I'm trying to buckle her car seat belt. I know she's two and I'm an extremely patient person and I have tons of experience with children and even a degree in early childhood development! I should know what to do! She's so loving and so clever and sweet. But she is driving me CRAZY. And I don't know how to handle her boundary pushing or her downright defiant (and dangerous when in public) behavior. Any of you wise mommies have some advice?
Edited to add..I think I was afraid to ask when I first typed this, but...is my child just badly behaved? And (gulp) have I just been a dopey parent and somehow let her turn into this? Or does this sound kinda, sorta normal to you other moms?
She might be ready for a little more independence. The first thing I noticed here is that you're still using a changing table for diapers and, more importantly, to get her dressed. I think at her age she might be ready to start helping out with getting dressed more. Can you do her pants standing up so she just steps into them? Or is she able to sit down and put her legs in her pants by herself? (My 23 month old can do both of these things.) She may enjoy going to get the milk with Daddy because it's such a big girl thing to do. Maybe she needs a few new "big girl" responsibilities at home.
One other thing that helps in our house is to never repeat myself, or give chances. If I say something and she doesn't respond right away, I immediately go over to her and take her hand to lead her where she needs to go. I give her lots of choices, but if she refuses to choose, I choose. Maybe I'm just not very patient :)
Hmm...yes, she does LOVE big girl stuff. The times I've tried to change her diaper on the floor (at home or elsewhere) she is a total pill about being still and it becomes the most laborious thing in the world as I end up physically pinning her to the floor to get the diaper on her. So basically...I'm scared to try. If no diaper change is required, we usually do get dressed standing up and I've definitely encouraged her and given her the freedom to try getting dressed a little on her own - a pant leg here, a sleeve there. She just gets really silly and goofy and says things like "do the pants go on my head? do the pants go on my elbow? Mommy I need a cushion to sit on since I have a bear bottom." ...and she just goes on with silly antics like that. Ya know like then she can't get dressed because she's thirsty or something. She even asks me to get her coat out when watching her Montessori video of the kids doing the coat flip where kids learn to put it on themselves. She walks all around the coat, nervously and excitedly and if I say ANYthing like, "Wanna give it a try?" she just runs away into another room and then bounces back to laugh and then runs away again. Gawd, she sounds so hyper doesn't she? *sigh* Definitely high energy.
But maybe I can work on my language and couch it a little differently to make it a big girl thing? I'll try that tomorrow morning.
And I think you're right about the giving chances. I think the way you do it is effective with children but somehow with my own baby, in the back of my mind I think, "But, maybe she didn't understand what I meant." Ha! I know, I know...
Oooh, I can totally sympathize. DS (24 mo) is like this sometimes--especially around food. He'll refuse to eat (running away, laughing, playing, refusing to sit down) until we're literally putting the leftovers in the fridge, at which point he decides he's ready to eat. I've chalked it up to a burgeoning independence but it's maddening sometimes.
In your situation, I would have given my kid two or three chances to agree to get dressed & ready, and then I would have sent DH to the store alone (not sure if this was feasible in your case). I certainly wouldn't have the stamina that you have to tolerate those antics! I think I'm just a less patient person. My approach tends to be to let DS decide--as much as possible--and to work around that while allowing natural consequences. So if he decides not to eat dinner, that's fine, but then that's it until breakfast. No midnight snacks. If he doesn't want to get dressed and go out, that's fine, one of us will go without him. (Note that this is not always feasible, and we missed church on Sunday because we could NOT get him to cooperate.) If your daughter loves going to the store, then missing out on it when she doesn't cooperate might be the key to getting her to change her behavior. Right now she knows she can act up because you will have the patience for it and then eventually let her go to the store no matter what she does beforehand.
Often I'll phrase things as a two-part statement. For example, if we're going to the store that gives out free balloons and he is not cooperating, I might say, "Do you want a balloon?" He usually says yes. "Then we need to get dressed." I guess it helps to eliminate the middle steps and be direct that getting a balloon requires getting dressed. Sometimes I have to say this two or three times. But asking it as an if/then statement--reminding him of the end goal and then saying we have to get dressed (or whatever) to reach that goal--works more often than I would expect it to. But it's not 100%.
I also have a set of things (mostly safety-related) that are non-negotiable, like holding hands in parking lots or crowded places. Often I'll hold his wrist so that if he tries to bolt it's easier for me to hold tight. But we also practice frequently on our street or at the park, noting that the presence of cars or roads means we have to hold hands, no negotiating. If he refuses we stop and go home or I pick him up. These are frequently unpleasant for him because he likes his freedom, and so far they're enough of a disincentive to bolting that he's only done it infrequently.
I guess I don't have good advice, just a couple of things that have worked for us. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!
I am dealing with the exact same problems, it sounds like. It's driving me crazy, though last night I lost my cool and feel pretty bad about it. It's hard to get upset myself. Last night we made there we consequences, like if you want to read books before bed, you have to come over here and put on your night clothes (things like this have begun to take like 30 minutes and it's impossible to get her to bed at a decent hour, which needs to happen because she wakes up at 6am no matter what). Anyway, she dragged it out again and then had a full on melt down when there was no book time before bed. I feel bad about this, but not sure what else to do. I have to fight the temptation to grab her and just shove her Pjs on her.
Oooh, it is SO nice to hear that some other moms can relate. I've been feeling so alone and embarrassed. We've definitely tried the "If you want __________, you have to do _______." And I've told my husband to just go to the store without her before because of this silliness. Though she gets excited about the errand all day long...she doesn't seem to care when he leaves. (Even though I know she loves going). And, like I said earlier, it's partly about me. I want her to go because I am desperate for a break to eat, pee, laundry, change clothes, etc. She has been so high needs from the day she was born that I have still never really caught up and these little breaks are all I have!
In stores I hold her wrist and tell her if she tries to pull away from me or run that I'll have to hold her...the problem is that sometimes I'm holding her sister or I physically can't hold her writhing body. She's in 4T clothing and in the 80th percentile for height and weight. She's big and strong. I'm thinking about creating fake errands to take her out and just wait for misbehavior and then leave...but honestly I am exhausted with the logistics of getting baby and toddler in and out of the car. It's sounds lazy, but I loathe car seats. All of our stores are 20 minutes away so when I really am out there to get something, I tend to avoid just leaving when she acts up because I really need the stuff I trekked all the way out there for. But, maybe if I set up a fake errand during which we can just leave that will help. I'll have to ponder the risk/benefit ratio for a bit.
I've also been thinking about inviting her to take her own little shopping cart to "help" me. Although, I'm hesitant to up the fun-factor all the time just to get her to comply with daily stuff because where does it end? Would it simply make things more fun and help her develop independence or would I set myself up to have to cater to her desire for everything to serve as entertainment for her? Part of me just pictures it ending up with me trying to push baby stroller, carry kicking and screaming 2yr AND her little shopping cart all out of the store when it all falls apart. Admittedly, I'm probably more terrified than I should be.
Tattooed Hand, we've had to threaten no book before bed, too, which breaks my heart. It's such a snuggly sweet time...possibly my FAVORITE time of the day with her. I did it twice and she cried for a few seconds and then fell asleep fast...clearly she couldn't hold it together for the book anyway and was particularly tired. But, I know what you mean about wanting to just grab her and yank the clothes on. I was all about natural consequences until I had my own kids...like, I'd say get the diaper on quick and just put her to bed with no clothes if she's unwilling to get them on...but then who has to wake up when she's cold and crying in the middle of the night? ME!
That example you gave sounds like my DD all the time. All the time. I also wonder if she is just badly behaved. I also kind of assumed that's how all toddlers are. We do gentle parenting, no rewards/punishments, etc. I think her behavior normal for her developmental stage, and I try to be patient when we are home. Wwe can't go to restaurants, and her behavior can be really embarrassing in public. She is very independent at home, gets her own snacks, puts on her clothes, gets out and cleans up her toys, gets in/out of her car seat, to the point where I feel like that may be part of her problem. She just cannot do something unless she is self-motivated, which in theory I think will make her a strong self-motivated person, but it's such a difficult trait to deal with in a toddler.
DD was a super high needs/spirited baby. What about your DD?
Yep, my dd was also a super difficult baby. Drained the life out of me. I love her dearly, but she was so difficult and I felt so guilty thinking that because I had so many friends who couldn't have children and would have given their left arm for a difficult, precious baby ya know? I always hoped that wasn't an indication to what we were in for as she grew up. But like you said, in some ways these qualities will serve her well someday.
Sounds like normal two-year-old behavior to me (pushing the boundaries and laughing while doing so--yep, that's the two's. I call it the "monkeys" because when my two-year-old does this, it reminds me so much of a little monkey being naughty). Try not to take it personally because it's definitely about THEM. Anything that interrupts a toddler's agenda (getting dressed, putting on shoes, brushing teeth, changing diapers, transitions, etc.) will usually be met, at least initially with running away. It's hard not to be irritated when YOU need them to cooperate due to time constraints, etc.
If you have the time and patience, and would prefer THEY choose to cooperate, sometimes a little reverse psychology does the trick (I guess we don't need to go outside and play if you can't put your shoes on). Sometimes a little humor (I usually defuse my son with humor during squirmy diaper changes (making him laugh often distracts him from squirming and flailing around) or when he's running away from the bathroom when it's bathtime, I will do an exaggerated deliberately silly chase sequence and ham it up real good). If it's a more urgent and time sensitive situation, I talk him through it, "Now we're doing to put on our coats and get in the car," but he doesn't get a choice in the matter. (Incidentally, this also works really well for easing transitions in school settings with kids who have a lot of trouble with transitions).
Mine isn't a crier, so I can't help you there, but I'm guessing if it's gotten that bad, it might be a good idea to pause and take a brief time out. (With my students in a school setting, I remove them from the situation that they are having trouble with, remove the audience (go out in the hall) give them a minute to calm down and pull it together, and once they've recovered, we go back to whatever it was they were trying to avoid doing. The important thing is that they NEVER get out of doing it). It sounds like you're already doing a variation of that.
"I'm an extremely patient person and I have tons of experience with children and even a degree in early childhood development! I should know what to do! She's so loving and so clever and sweet. But she is driving me CRAZY."
One thing I've discovered on my own parenting journey is that being a teacher and being a parent are definitely NOT the same. It's totally different when it's your kid. Kids behave differently for their parents (than they do for others), and the way you react to their behavior is different. You take things way more personally, even when intellectually, you know you shouldn't. And defiance is harder to accept as a parent than it is as a teacher. (Teachers expect defiance at least some of the time, but when it comes from your own child, it seems way more personal).
Your situation sounds totally normal. Hang in there, she won't be two forever! (Consider this a warm-up round for adolescence)
Sageowl, those are all things I know and needed to hear. You sound like me in my calm and professional state (as opposed to my spazzy-sleep-deprived-mom state). It sounds like you are the type of teacher I could totally respect and relate to. You're so right about teachers expecting a level of defiance and it being harder to accept when it's your own child. I used to be stellar with "behavior problems" when teaching elementary school and was purposely given those types of kids because I could turn them around and provide a smooth and successful school year for them. It is so odd to me to feel like I can't even handle a 2 yr old. But, you're right, students are just different than your own kid.
I think the most helpful thing that just really struck a chord with me was "she won't be two forever." It was both a relief but also sad to read that. While feeling my way through this, that was a good reminder to embrace this little monkey. I do adore her. *sigh*
I've had some sucess the last few days with asking her if she wants to do something herself and being there to help and explain how to do it and if it's too hard, she just tells me to do it for her. With non-negotiable or time sensitive things I have asked her once and then told her that at the end of the count to three I will come over and do it for her (or come collect her) and that's been working. It's hard. Some days there is more cooperation than others. It doesn't help that her top two molars it turns out are coming in and some days she is tired and super cranky. And yes, she was super high needs from the minute she was born.