Help! spent 1 1/2 hours trying to get 2 yr-old dressed this morning - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 09-14-2011, 02:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Mamas,

 

Like other Mamas on this forum, I find myself questioning if what I'm going through is what the majority of Mamas to 2-year-olds go through or if my ds is particularly "spirited."  Today, we had the entire morning together so we spent time making pancakes, taking a shower, listening to music--we had a blast.  Then, time to get dressed.  He has wanted to go to the library for 2 days so that was the plan.  Getting diaper on and dressed has been a challenge for awhile, but generally one of the tools I've accumulated over the last couple years works.  But today he was particularly adamant in his refusal.  I tried giving him choices (eg) do you want to put it on yourself or should Mama do it? do you want to put your shirt or your diaper on first?  I tried making the diaper talk to him like a puppet.  I tried giving him some time to play, since we were in no rush, and coming back to it.  Still no luck.  I tried counting (recently has been working very well) (eg) "ds, I'm going to count to 3 and if you haven't started putting your diaper on I'm going to help you put it on"  The problem with this is when it doesn't work (he just looked at me and made no movements) because then what?  the only option if he doesn't want to do it is force it on him.  So I learned my lesson on that one- it was a dead end.  So, on we went.  Eventually, I told him that if he wants to go to the library, we need to wear a diaper and clothes.  "why?" he says.  That's the newest question he's been asking.  So I explained why, that at home we can go with no clothes, but at the library we are expected to wear them.  See, Mama's wearing her clothes!  No luck.  So we don't get to go to the library. ( I even considered whether they would let him in without clothes!  IS it neccessary?!)

 

The difficulty for me in the whole ordeal is 1) I get so frustrated and know it would feel so much better if we could just leave the house, get out, have some fun but we can't get out the door!  I guess the frustration and feeling of being contained to the negative energy we've created in the house is difficult. and 2) at what point am I enabling him to kick and scream and he will get his way?

 

Also, any other creative ideas to work with these situations, which come in many forms at this age, I would be grateful for.

 

 

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#2 of 25 Old 09-14-2011, 05:41 PM
 
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I have used a token system specifically for this. He would get a token for each piece of clothing and then a "prize"... Depending on the situation he could get a prize then or at the end of the day. If needed, you could use a a piece of paper with 5 circles and then after he puts a token in each circle, he gets prize... redface.gif

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#3 of 25 Old 09-14-2011, 05:43 PM
 
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TBH, while I would certainly be v. willing to try lots of creative measures to make getting dressed go smoothly and without a fight, I would not be willing to let my 2yos unwillingness to get dressed completely rule the day.  I have 2 kids so if one was refusing to get dressed to go out it wouldn't be fair to the other.  And it wouldn't be fair to me!  After a generous amount of time negotiating, explaining, turning it into a game I admit that I would force my child to get dressed.  I guess for me getting dressed (so that we can go out and do the things necessary to our day - not just if we're staying at home) is non-negotiable, like brushing teeth, getting a poopy diaper changed, etc.  I do everything I can come up with to make those tasks amenable to my kiddo, but ultimately it just has to get done.

 

Some ideas I've used in the past:

 

- be super silly.  Pretend his clothes are my clothes and try getting them on.  Put his sock on his head and call it his hat.  Etc.  Basically, get my kiddo laughing and in a good mood and then try to sneak the clothes on.

 

- put on a v. short tv show.  We DO NOT watch tv here, but we used to, and I would sometimes use it to distract dd while I quickly got her dressed.  While (as previously mentioned) we don't watch tv any more, I would be ok with using it for v. quick periods of time if I still had a toddler and we were having serious getting dressed problems.

 

- another distraction idea (along the lines of the tv show): give ds a cell phone, portable phone, iphone, whatever usually-out-of-bounds adult gadget would completely capture his attention while I quickly get the clothes on him.

 

- snack during dressing time.  "look ds: a COOKIE!"  munch munch munch (mommy whips clothes on).

 

- getting dressed chart.  Sit down with ds one day.  Talk about all the different things we need to put on to go outside.  Make a chart drawing them in order.  Let ds help (colour the pics, decorate with stickers, etc).  When it's actually time to get dressed let ds take the lead in *telling you* what needs to be done (by following the pics in the chart). 

 

- start the whole process v. matter-of-factly.  Don't start off by giving choices.  Sometimes a quick to-the-point "time to get dressed" followed by pulling on of diaper, etc can work a lot better than "ds... are you ready to get dressed now?  What would you like: the blue shirt or the red".  It depends on the kiddo and their mood, but it's worth a try.

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#4 of 25 Old 09-14-2011, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for the ideas and support!  And just knowing other caring, loving Moms "force" the issue sometimes feels like a relief to me- thank you.

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#5 of 25 Old 09-14-2011, 08:48 PM
 
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Man, I'd be stumped. I tried all those tricks that you did, and they do work with my DS. We'll see if they work with DD!


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#6 of 25 Old 09-15-2011, 01:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by livelovefly View Post

 I tried counting (recently has been working very well) (eg) "ds, I'm going to count to 3 and if you haven't started putting your diaper on I'm going to help you put it on"  The problem with this is when it doesn't work (he just looked at me and made no movements) because then what?  the only option if he doesn't want to do it is force it on him.  So I learned my lesson on that one- it was a dead end.  

 


The thing with the counting idea is that you actually have to follow through.  If he doesn't start putting his nappy on then you *do* help him put it on.  Otherwise he quickly learns that you don't really mean what you say.

 

You have used lots of great techniques for encouraging co-operation and pianojazzgirl has given you even more ideas, and it's wonderful to use these.  Quite often, they will work, or alleviate the struggles somewhat.

 

But you sound like you're afraid of your kid's reactions to things he doesn't like.  I'd like to reassure you that it's okay to do things he doesn't like, when you know that it's better for him.

 

E.g. - you wouldn't let him go in the car without being in his carseat, even if he hates it, right? Because you know that that's just not safe, so no matter what, if you have to go in the car, then he has to go in the car seat.  It's fine to empathise with him - Yes, DS is MAD.  DS hates the car seat. - and then give your message - But we have to buckle up in the car.

 

You wouldn't let him run around all day in a poopy nappy, just because he doesn't like to get changed, would you? You'd try some tricks to get his co-operation, sure, but in the end you'd pin him down and get the job done, because you know that the alternative is worse in the long run for him.  He doesn't get that.

 

You wouldn't let him play with your hot coffee, or eat sweets all day long, or watch 7 hours straight of cartoons or, or... These are all issues where you know better than he does and it's okay for you to assert your authority in these areas.  He might not be happy about it, but you know that the alternative is worse.

 

Getting out of the house, getting fresh air and going to activities are all things that kids need on a regular basis too.  Enforcing your decision to go out does not make you a bad mom - it makes you a good mom who's willing to put up with the hassle of a kid's tantrum in order to make sure that he gets what he needs.  He doesn't have to be happy about everything that happens, and it's not your job to make him happy all the time - it's your job to keep him safe and healthy.

 

(I know what I'm talking about because I have a very spirited kid, who hates transitions and hates clothes.  If it were up to her we'd never leave the house at all.  But I figured out that it was more important for both of us to get out than to avoid tantrums and so I pushed it.  She still doesn't like getting dressed or leaving to go places, but she always has fun when we're out and she knows now that I'm serious when I say we need to get ready to go. Doesn't prevent all the battles, but at least I haven't spent the last 2 years cooped up inside the house because I couldn't get her dressed!!)

 

 

 


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#7 of 25 Old 09-15-2011, 06:42 AM
 
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I am also willing to "force" the issue on things that have to be done.  It's hard to decide that you MUST go to the library (as opposed to real non-negotiables like getting to school, or getting a sibling to school, or an appointment, etc.) - but yes, it's okay to decide that.  If one of my boys is not getting dressed, I have many times just sat them in my lap and done it for them.  Not angrily... just getting down to business.  And I've been known to go ahead and get him in the car undressed (but with diaper/underwear) and put clothes on at the point that we have to.  If it's cold out, it's easier to quickly learn that it's actually more comfortable to be dressed... maybe this particular issue will resolve itself as fall comes....

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Thanks so much for the ideas and support!  And just knowing other caring, loving Moms "force" the issue sometimes feels like a relief to me- thank you.



 

 

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#8 of 25 Old 09-15-2011, 06:49 AM
 
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Toddlers are walking babies. Just like it isn't really practical to let your 6-month-old decide whether he wants to get dressed, it isn't really practical to let your 2-year-old decide. They just aren't completely rational at that point. I'd give him a chance to just do it, but at some point I'd say, "OK, it's really time to get dressed now" and just dress him.
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#9 of 25 Old 09-15-2011, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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AutumnAir-

Thanks for your insight.  You're right, there is definitely a part of me that reacts very strongly and viscerally (aka- very bad feeling for me) to ds crying and screaming, even knowing his reaction is normal for his age and worthwhile in the end (eg) we get out the door).  I've been working with that feeling within myself since he was a newborn by trying to be aware of it and not acting from it.  It's very useful to be reminded of it here because that was, in hindsight, potentially the major issue yesterday--not that he was responding so strongly but that I was not comfortable with his strong response! and it was going to take me being very comfortable, clear and strong in my response to get him to respond!  And I just wasn't there yesterday.  Oh, the learning they bring us!

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#10 of 25 Old 09-15-2011, 12:55 PM
 
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Some great responses here for you.

 

For some reason changing clothes is something ds just really dislikes doing. I have found what works best for us is a pretty no-nonsense, consistent approach. I always give him warning we will be getting dressed (10 minutes, 5 minutes, 2 minutes) & then we get dressed. I don't make it an option to not get dressed for the day (because I found this was leading to more refusals on the days we needed to go somewhere & needed to get dressed) so we get dressed every. single. day. even if are spending the day at home. Once the appointed time comes I will give him options or make it into a game for about 3 minutes - after that if he is uncooperative I sit him on my lap or the bed & dress him. Sounds heartless at times but I think 2 minutes of fussing is better than an hour of negotiating & whatnot. I do tell him I understand he doesn't want to but that getting dressed is part of the day, we'll do it as quick as can & then we get to (insert fun thing here).


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#11 of 25 Old 09-19-2011, 09:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by livelovefly View Post

The difficulty for me in the whole ordeal is 1) I get so frustrated and know it would feel so much better if we could just leave the house, get out, have some fun but we can't get out the door!  I guess the frustration and feeling of being contained to the negative energy we've created in the house is difficult. and 2) at what point am I enabling him to kick and scream and he will get his way?


IMO, the negative energy that you're talking about that this kind of situation can create is very real and something to be avoided at all costs. Getting your LO dressed just isn't worth the possibility of a build-up of frustration and resentment in you. Especially when you've otherwise had a great morning, and you want to continue to have a good day. I wouldn't let getting my toddler dressed take 1 and 1/2 hours. If I were you, as soon as it starts looking like this is going to be a battle, I'd just force the diaper and clothes on him and get the both of you out of the house and on the way to your next activity. It's just not worth it.

 


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#12 of 25 Old 09-19-2011, 10:02 AM
 
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IMO, the negative energy that you're talking about that this kind of situation can create is very real and something to be avoided at all costs. Getting your LO dressed just isn't worth the possibility of a build-up of frustration and resentment in you. Especially when you've otherwise had a great morning, and you want to continue to have a good day. I wouldn't let getting my toddler dressed take 1 and 1/2 hours. If I were you, as soon as it starts looking like this is going to be a battle, I'd just force the diaper and clothes on him and get the both of you out of the house and on the way to your next activity. It's just not worth it.

 

 

Seriously.  Get pull ups, so that putting them on isn't as hard (or if you do cloth, find a way to make it fast and easy and as painless as possible), and then just put his clothes on him.  My 2.5yo NEVER cooperates with getting dressed - ever.  So...I grab clothes, and sneak up behind him, and put his shirt over his head.  Then, I ask him to put his hands through the sleeves, which he usually does, and then I put his pants in front of him and ask him to put his legs through.  If he refuses, I do it for him. 

 

Reading the lengths people go to in order to get their toddlers to get dressed is pretty mind boggling to me.  I guess it just never would have occurred to me to let ds dictate how long it takes to get out of the house.

 

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#13 of 25 Old 09-19-2011, 10:39 AM
 
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Seriously.  Get pull ups, so that putting them on isn't as hard (or if you do cloth, find a way to make it fast and easy and as painless as possible), and then just put his clothes on him.  My 2.5yo NEVER cooperates with getting dressed - ever.  So...I grab clothes, and sneak up behind him, and put his shirt over his head.  Then, I ask him to put his hands through the sleeves, which he usually does, and then I put his pants in front of him and ask him to put his legs through.  If he refuses, I do it for him. 

 

Reading the lengths people go to in order to get their toddlers to get dressed is pretty mind boggling to me.  I guess it just never would have occurred to me to let ds dictate how long it takes to get out of the house.

 


I agree with this. I just choose not to let a child dictate things like this.  Initially I may ask them to help get their clothes on, but if they make it clear that they aren't going to help, I do it for them.  It's lovely to think of everything being cooperative, but that's just not reality with toddlers/preschoolers as they are finding out about their own power in the world.  I never voice things in terms of 'do you want to..' for non-negotiables. Getting clothes on to go out is a non-negotiable, so I might say, "Time to get dressed, please step into your pants."  If they don't, I put them on the child, even if that means they are angry and frustrated. 

 

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#14 of 25 Old 09-19-2011, 11:40 AM
 
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My kid is like a bear with a sore head if he doesn't get out of the house, and his sleep gets thrown off, too. So if my choice is between grumpy all day, and grumpy for five minutes because I had to wrassle his clothes onto him, I go with option B. He generally picks right back up again as soon as we are out of the door. 

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#15 of 25 Old 09-19-2011, 01:55 PM
 
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Seriously, it has NEVER yet occured to me to think if my toddler "likes" getting dressed. Since my kids were newborns they always fussed and made irritated sounds when i was changing their diapers, pulling shirts on their heads, etc. Since these events happened several times a day, what's there to think about? Grab 'em, dress 'em and move on. I usually end with a kiss and a pat on their bum :) It's life. They can't think if they want to have an outing or not at this age. But if you know that they enjoy outings or if you just want to get out (you count too :) there's no point letting them know that getting dressed is debatable. I generally don't say much at all during, or just blab on about the outing we're going on "going bye-bye, to the park". They get over it as soon as it's done.


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#16 of 25 Old 09-19-2011, 02:20 PM
 
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My DD responds really well to hearing, "Look, Daddy wears clothes to go out and mommy does.  So does [name several people/older kids that DD likes.  Everyone wears clothes.  You wear clothes too."  This seems to do the trick for a lot of things.  I think just knowing  "this is what people do" is helpful for her.

 

Is there any chance your son is ready to stop using diapers/potty learn/train/whatever?  It seems like the resistance was about his diaper? 

 

Also... this looks funny... but I sometimes offer DD the option of putting the diaper on OVER her pants. 

 

That said, I too would try to get it over with quick too if I sensed a battle coming on. Like other posters have said, the more negative energy that gets built up over it, the more of an ongoing struggle it can be.  Sometimes "just doing it" can be gentler than trying to change a kid's mind/feelings about something, you know?


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#17 of 25 Old 09-19-2011, 02:57 PM
 
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When we have somewhere we have to be, like now now, I have just dressed DS for him up until about two months ago... he turned 6 in March.

 

I do not think it is something worth arguing about.

 

I started giving him choices in what he wanted to wear at about 3, not sooner and that was only between two things.  DD seems more fussed about it, but she is only 19 months and she has no control over when or how fast we get dressed.

 

I'm just saying...that seems a little too much control and to be expecting too much comprehension from your child, in terms of time limits and understanding boundaries, etc.  IME.

 

As he gets older you can do felt patches and dress the felt doll one piece at a time and then dress the child with the corresponding piece of clothing?  That seems like something that might have worked with my DS.

 

When it is not somewhere we have to be or if I am staying and DH or Grandpa and Grandma are going we just give DS a limit...get the clothes on in ten minutes, nine, eight, seven and so on and when he reaches ten the party leaving walks out the door with or without him depending on the state of dress.  It only took him three times of being left behind from a fun activity to get the drift that sometimes it would be his responsibility...but he was about 5 before he really got this and had the fine motor skills to comply.

 


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#18 of 25 Old 09-19-2011, 03:13 PM
 
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This is the very reason why I stopped letting my kids run around without clothes at home. My oldest child used to fight getting dressed when she was 2, so we stopped letting her run around w/o clothes.   I never had a problem with my younger 2 because they were used to just always wearing clothes, having quick clothing changes, getting dressed right after bath, etc.  It's makes getting out the door and going someplace so much easier!

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#19 of 25 Old 09-20-2011, 07:34 AM
 
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Getting dressed is stressful...it's a bit of a vicious circle ( a knot of tension as my friend and author of "Playful Parenting" Larry Cohen would say)  and it appears to me that as much as I can relax around my child even as he fusses I notice it goes that much easier.  I think the time awareness - this is going to happen in 10/5/3 minutes is good (as long as you stick by it) I've been too many times telling my child we are going to do something in 5mins  when the phone rings, a friend pops by, husband wants another conversation and I don't hold myself or them to it.

 

My guess if you are committed to him getting dressed, and it is important for you that he gets dressed, and you are able to hold him in his distress at getting dressed it will all be a lot smoother.

 

I wonder if the going outdoors without clothes would enable him to experience why clothes are a good thing.  I've done that with my children around coats.

 

Giving him a choice - blue shirt or red shirt may work and for some kids it is the worst thing because they get confused and unable to choose.

 

Playing a game is a great idea.  Have two dolls play it out (but at a time when getting dressed is not an issue).    Play one doll  doesn't want to get dressed and the other one offers to help.  See what solutions he can offer - swap dolls with him.  Let him be the one who helps. 

 

I am at the stage of getting dressed with my four year old where if I bribe him he can get dressed all by himself but most mornings it's "mummy I need help" and I get frustrated because "I know" he can do it by himself.  I'm working on staying peaceful and calm and joyful - that's what my goal as a parent is so on a learning curve to undo the belief "He needs to get dressed by himself".


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#20 of 25 Old 09-20-2011, 10:39 AM
 
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We follow Continuum Concept type theories in most of our parenting choices. Basically, we give our toddler information on what exactly is expected and normal for human beings. "We wear clothes. We must put on pants before going out into the cold." Then we do it. Together. Sometimes we sing the Hokey Pokey "You put your right foot in, you put your left foot in, then you shake it all about." It's never been a struggle. We don't do any rewards systems, coercion, persuasion, or punishment. We just talk with him in a sweet albeit matter-of-fact way. We don't give him choices of whether to wear the blue or the red...or what to wear...or whether to wear clothes. We just take charge and *gently* show him what grown-ups do. And we try not to be permissive - Okay, fine...you are too upset so I'll just let you have what you want. That's just as questionable as forcing, in my opinion.

 

One thing that's helped us GREATLY is not being child-centered i our rearing. Read the articles here for more info: http://continuum-concept.org/reading.html

 

Apparently, avoiding child-centered rearing is what Jean Liedloff (author of Continuum Concept) claimed prevents the Terrible Twos....I'm all for trying that! ;o)

 

It's also never crossed my mind that it should be so difficult to dress a toddler. But I totally feel for those of you who have this struggle. <3

 

Also, we don't have diapering struggles because we do Elimination Communication. So my 13 month DS (who has been toddling since 9 months) wears tiny underwear and is pretty much potty independent. I definitely suggest undies/trainers for an alternative to Pull-ups (the disposables just aren't environmentally-friendly) and they speed the learning about pee and poo by encouraging cause-and-effect. For example, children in a small town in Mexico where my friend grew up were put in undies at 6 months and were pretty immediately dry-by-day.


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#21 of 25 Old 09-20-2011, 01:57 PM
 
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What a great discussion! We also struggle off and on with getting our 2 year old dressed. The majority of the time I just do it anyway, despite protests. Sometimes I will give him another option which seems to work. He doesn't like clothes, diapers, training paints or underwear that are at all scratchy or uncomfortable, and will keep complaining and pulling them off until he succeeds. But as long as the clothes work for him, he is usually over it quickly.

Our current issue is the opposite. He gets very attached to whatever shirt he is wearing and doesn't want it to come off. To the point of screaming, scratching, trying to bite and physicallly doing all he can to hold the shirt on. Not his normal behavior at all, it kind of baffles me. I let him wear a pajamas shirt for 3 days straight last week because it hadn't gotten dirty and he freaked out every time I tried to take it off. But since then have been trying to be more consistent with "I'm sorry, it has to come off because it's wet or dirty or..."

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#22 of 25 Old 09-25-2011, 09:06 AM
 
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I try to be playful and give DD choices (she's going to be 2 in December) when appropriate, but I work full time outside the home so there is no option to take 90 minutes to get dressed. Sometimes I have to do a diaper change/get her ready even when she REALLY doesn't want it to happen. That's the way it goes sometimes.

 

 

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#23 of 25 Old 09-25-2011, 12:06 PM
 
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AndreaOlson, we have also found the "hokey pokey" song very useful in getting our toddler dressed. :) Or putting on a diaper. It distracts her and she likes the music enough that she forgets to fuss about the indignity of having her arms put through the holes of a shirt....or the dreaded 2 seconds when the onesie/top/dress has to go over her head...or the boredom of being still and not flipping over for 5 seconds while I try to get the diaper on her lol.


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#24 of 25 Old 10-07-2011, 11:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reezley View Post  If one of my boys is not getting dressed, I have many times just sat them in my lap and done it for them.  Not angrily... just getting down to business.


For everyone who is saying "just dress the kid"... so do all of you have the type of child who will just accept this?  I had been relying heavily on "Count to three and then I will help you do it/do it for you" but at this point I am really no longer physically able to wrestle my large, strong, tantruming 2 y/o into her clothing (btw I am 9 mo pregnant right now).  The last time I managed it she just ripped everything off the second I had her dressed.

 

(Right now my system is to pretend I'm going to leave the house without her unless she gets ready right away- it only works if we are the only two at home though, otherwise she is like fine I will hang out with Daddy.)

 

I mean, OK maybe you can still physically force them into their clothing for a period of time but how do you force them to keep it on?

 


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#25 of 25 Old 10-07-2011, 12:10 PM
 
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My 2-year-old is really easy going and does just let me dress her if it comes to that, and she doesn't take her clothes off. The joys of an easy child.

The older one was not easy going at all and did rip her clothes off at any time. I think I had some default fancy dresses that I'd put her in when she didn't want to get dressed because even when she didn't really want to get dressed, she'd usually put up with a fancy dress and sparkly shoes.
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