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#1 of 14 Old 10-25-2012, 06:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I haven't spent a lot of time with 2 year olds except my daughter so i'm not sure what behavior is in the range of typical. My Daughter is starting to cut her final set of molars and also is in the process of dumping her nap (naps about once a week but acts like she needs more) so i am contending with a tired and in pain kiddo here. But lately things just seem to be getting worse with her and i realize this morning that i am starting to actually dread the day because i know it is just another day full of power struggles that leave me feeling lost and drained and feeling like i have miserably failed somewhere. I need advice.

 

Our biggest issue is teeth brushing. It has been an issue since the beginning but we have always found ways to get the job done, be it tickle torture, teddy brushing her teeth, letting her watch a video while we did it and so on. Now that she is getting older nothing seems to work anymore. I even mention teeth brushing and she runs to the other side of the apartment and shuts herself in our bedroom. The funny part is she will then start crying if i don't come in to get her as if she is playing a game with me or something. For the last week or so we have been using a consequence that if she doesn't let us brush her teeth for 20 seconds she cant watch a youtube video (nursery rhymes) It was kind of working but we had to battle with her a bit about it first in the form of am argument before she realized that she would have to open her mouth or the video really and truly wasn't coming. Then today i got the idea that maybe a reward would work better then a consequence so i made a sticker chart (is that even GD? prly a bad idea i know) and i think she got it after i explained but then she refused to let us brush and had a melt down about still wanting the sticker and went to bed with no sticker/or video/dirty teeth. I feel terrible and have no idea where to go with this. What do i even do now?

 

She also refuses to wash her hands when asked (i have to make it a game where one of her toys needs a shower with the kitchen sink sprayer), runs away when it is bath time, frequently refuses diaper changes, refuses to get dressed and changes her mind constantly about things in regards to clothes. IE. we get her all dressed and she starts throwing a fit about how she wants a dress not pants even though she picked the pants. I also know she is capable of dressing herself but she will never do it unless it is dress up clothes that aren't practical for wearing in 50 degree weather. I also feel like she should be doing more things such as taking her own coat and shoes off when we come in the door but i still do it for her. She is VERY smart and speaking full sentences for a long time now so it isn't as if she doesn't understand my requests. She just doesn't want to do ANYTHING that she thinks mommy wants her to do.

 

Also we are not potty training even though all of her peers we know her age are or already have. We have given up on it 4 times in the last year. It goes ok at first and then after a few days she refuses to sit when prompted. We started out with chocolate chip rewards (terrible advice from our pedi) and we even tried going without a diaper for a MONTH 2 months ago and she still had constant accidents so i got frustrated (i was so stressed i was in tears when i gave up) and now she is back in diapers full time. I think she is maybe emotionally not very mature for her age and just isn't ready yet?...but i have no idea how to pick it up again when she is in this stage. How long will this stage last or is it not a stage and just that i am doing something horribly wrong? How on earth will i ever potty train her when she flat out refuses to sit when i request for her to sit?

 

THANK you so much in advance if you even read all of this let alone if you have advice for me <3

 

-Kelly

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#2 of 14 Old 10-25-2012, 08:01 AM
 
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Our daughter (3.5 yrs) had aspects of this (she was/is very independant so she's been dressing herself and out of dipes for a while).  I found that if I asked her to do something she'd refuse, but if the choice was hers she'd comply so we now say things that put her in the position to decide/choose like "would you be more comfortable if went to the bathroom" or "would you like to sit in this chair or this one to eat dinner" (without telling her its time to eat dinner...that's the non-verbalized given!).

 

Having us assist her was (is) akin to torture too so again, we let her decide if she wants to do it herself or have us help her: "you can wash your hands by yourself with the soap, or I can help you".  If there was still resistance to something non-negotable (like hand washing or putting on boots to go outside) I would give her the option to do it herself or with my help, and the remind her "its your decision". 

 

Teeth brushing comes and goes for being a challenge for us too.  We have several books about going to a dentist appnt, and the only thing that will work every time is pretending we're the dentist and she has an appnt (i.e. calling her in, having her reclined on a bunch of pillows, asking what she ate that day, and then brushing her teeth, and giving her a pretend balloon at the end).  It super annoying and drags a 5 minute activity into 15 minutes, but at least her teeth are clean.

 

Good luck....its so frustrating, but I guess everyone needs to feel like they're in control of something.

 

ETA: rewards have never worked, and we very quickly decided to not bargain with her because it gave her to control, but not in a way that we wanted if that makes sense....she could refuse the reward, but she still had to brush her teeth so it made the whole system a failure because we had to employ something else.


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#3 of 14 Old 10-26-2012, 06:34 AM
 
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Have you tried reverse psychology? My dd is into these kind of games as well, so when I want her to brush her teeth, I tell her holding my brush and her brush: "I'm going to brush my teeth but you're NOT allowed to. You can't come to the bathroom with me." And of course, she goes: "NO! I want to brush my teeth". Me: "NO! Go away!" And we go back and forth like this until I put some toothpaste on her brush and by the end of our conversation she has her teeth brushed.

 

It doesn't always work, but it's worth a try.
 


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#4 of 14 Old 10-26-2012, 09:11 AM
 
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The book I lived by at this age was Playful Parenting by Larry Cohen.

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#5 of 14 Old 10-30-2012, 11:11 AM
 
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Oh, Kelly -- it sounds like you have a sweet, spunky little girl to share a life with. joy.gif  

 

When I read your post, I can't help but notice that the concept of rewards is brought up a few times - in areas where you're having problems. Of course you tried rewards in these areas because you were looking for a gentle solution to a problem but my guess is that you wouldn't be posting here if they were working? I really like Alfie Kohn, who wrote a book called "Unconditional Parenting" that addresses some of the issues you're describing. I also notice that the three things you're struggling with are very personal issues: teeth brushing, hand washing, and potty learning. I wonder if imposing rewards on those things isn't contributing to your DC missing the message that these things are intended for her own health and comfort. 

 

In light of that, I think I would do away with rewards. Give very simplified explanations about why we do these things and then focus on helping your child be autonomous. Do you have a stool for her to brush her teeth? Perhaps a special place for her brush, paste and cup so she can feel in charge. Maybe even one of those cute timers for her to set herself. I'd set her up and tell her to go brush her teeth - with the fullest confidence you can possibly muster. Your positive expectations can be a game changer. It's hard to imagine at first (I balked at this suggestion when I first heard it) but it works - better than any "method" I've ever tried. It's surprising how much some ways in which we parent gives a subtle message to our kids that we don't expect them to cooperate. Charts, rewards, begging, playing to coerce, praise, and etc. Those have their place but sparingly, imo. 


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#6 of 14 Old 10-30-2012, 11:40 AM
 
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I agree with crayfishgirl. Please know its just an age. A horrible age. Don't take it personally.  I have a 2 yr old and 3.5 yr old and everyday is a power struggle with something. Like crayfishgirl I give my older son choices. He needs to be in control.  And most of the time he chooses the "right" option. And alot of times I just don't fight him on certain things because he is so stubborn and I pick and choose my battles.

 

One way we get him to do things is to say "No I'm gonna brush my teeth first, I'm gonna win!" then run into the bathroom. Or who can finish all their peas first. And alot of times he's overtired and crabby and will throw a fit. Also be consistent. Let her throw a fit. As long as she's not hurting herself she may need to just get it out. Be there, tell her you understand she's upset but she still needs to brush her teeth. And wait it out.

 

Good luck mama, we've all been there.  


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#7 of 14 Old 10-31-2012, 12:55 PM
 
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There is a HUGE difference between a reward and a bribe and too often people confuse them and THAT is why rewards don't work as they are intended to.  A reward is something, anything, positive and motivating to that individual - a sticker, a cookie, a toy, a hug, outside time, reading a book, etc.  Rewards are only give for actions that you do not request of them, ie they put toys away on their own or help a sibling/friend - reward.  If you have to ask for something, you should NEVER offer up a goodie because here is what happens - for a while that goodie is nice, but then it looses its appeal.  So you up the anty a bit, move to something more enticing, more exciting, more expensive.  The child then learns to ignore your request until you give them what they want.  The purpose of a reward system is to allow you to reward desirable behaviors that occur unpromted and thus teaching the child that these things get attention and are worth repeating.  Undesirable behaviors can be ignored and thus go unrewarded and will extinguish.  There is nothing at all wrong with rewarding your child with a sticker chart for brushing her teeth or washing her hands BUT - you can't harp about the stickers and beg and plead her to wash her hands otherwise she will lose the lesson.  Is hand washing REALLY that important to get into battles over?  Sure teeth brushing is a good habit, but the more you get into arguements the less fun it is for her.  My 12mo LOVES brushing her teeth bc we do it all together as a family and while she too is independant she's also being raised on a reward system (currently just praise and hugs are rewarding to her) and loves to do things that make us happy.  Not all kids are ready to potty train at the same time.  Unless you are sending her to a daycare or school that requires her to be out of diapers by a certain age, don't worrry about it.  Let her tell you she's ready and chances are if she has enough play dates with kids who are potty trained she's going to ask about it bc peer pressure is a huge influence. 

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#8 of 14 Old 10-31-2012, 01:38 PM
 
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The purpose of a reward system is to allow you to reward desirable behaviors that occur unpromted and thus teaching the child that these things get attention and are worth repeating.

I tend to agree with your distinction between a bribe and an award - I definitely think the "if - then" scenario isn't a good one. Your description of a reward, however, is something that I wonder how it will continue to work as the child grows older. How will these rewards be interpreted? How will they not come to be expected? Will good behavior be motivated by receiving parental attention? Will children come to feel our pleasure in them is conditional? I agree that children *tend* to want to do things that pleases us and that's certainly helpful but we ultimately want kids to do things because they have a strong internal understanding on why they are a good thing to do.

 

That said, I think some of these things to have a place. Even bribery in some circumstances. Bribery and rewards, used sparingly, can be a great tool for when all else fails. love.gif


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#9 of 14 Old 11-01-2012, 03:05 PM
 
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Well with any reward system variable response is key.  Varying the type, the intensity, the amount, and sometimes not at all.   It's akin to gambling on a slot machine - you don't always 'win' but they give you back just enough to make you keep playing.  And on occassion - a jackpot.  A super reward that totally unexpected.  It doesn't make you work only bc of a reward since it's variable.  The best employers are those who don't punish bad behaviors but ocassionaly make a big deal about good ones.  You keep working bc it feels good to know you 'might' be acknowledged for it and in kids it does build a sense of self accomplishment.  It's human nature to want that pat on the back, some just need it more than others. If a reward is given every time there will be issues if they suddenly disappear!  And yes, there is a time and place for bribes, who hasn't?! ;-) 

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#10 of 14 Old 11-01-2012, 05:26 PM
 
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Well with any reward system variable response is key.  Varying the type, the intensity, the amount, and sometimes not at all.  

Ah, yes. I do remember reading about student/employee incentive plans that are supposed to work well when they are random/variable. It would be interesting to apply that research to parenting/discipline. I'm not aware of any studies that do that -- link to if you have them. I'd love to read them. 

 

I think that maybe what you describe as a reward is what I would call a "logical consequence" of good behavior. Certainly good behavior is more often met with pleasant reactions from parents. I don't tend to think of this as a reward system but perhaps it's essentially the same thing. 

 

Good discussion! 

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#11 of 14 Old 11-01-2012, 06:39 PM
 
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Re:  the potty training, here's what finally worked for both my bright, not-motivated-by-rewards kids:  I didn't *ask* if they had to go potty, or ask if they wanted to try, or ask if they would sit for me...or even tell them they had to sit for me.  I basically reminded them, a few times an hour in the beginning (and dragged a little potty seat with us from room to room), "Remember, WHEN you have to go potty, THIS is where it goes."  (and point to/walk them over to the seat).  You know, and they know, that they're going to have to pee eventually.  By not doing the ask (which they can just say "no" to)/force to sit thing (which makes it a power struggle), it really is giving them control over it....and by not mincing words and just being flat out, WHEN you need to do it, put it HERE, it's pretty straightforward.  My kids always respond to straightforward better than anything else.  

 

It sounds like a subtle difference, but IME, with bright kids it really can be all about how you word things, whether something is smooth or a struggle.  And FWIW, neither of them trained before they were 3 (well, my son was 2 weeks before he turned 3, my daughter was about 3 and a couple months).  And my girl was more difficult than my boy.  

 

Also:  re:  dressing, coats/shoes, my kids were easily 5 before they stopped "needing" me.  It wasn't about them being "babies" or *unable* to do it themselves, it was about us navigating them growing up in so many ways and not needing me, and this being one way we could connect regularly.  

 

My daughter was, and still is, a kid who can change clothes 5 times a day depending on her mood at the moment.  We basically have a "rule" that if it's been on for less than 4 hours and doesn't have any stains on it, it goes back in the drawer and not the hamper.  And I had to give up any hope of her coordinating or matching when we went out - it just wasn't worth the struggle.  lol.

 

Parenting bright, opinionated kids can be a real challenge.  Keep on keepin' on! 


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#12 of 14 Old 11-02-2012, 04:12 PM
 
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Ah, yes. I do remember reading about student/employee incentive plans that are supposed to work well when they are random/variable. It would be interesting to apply that research to parenting/discipline. I'm not aware of any studies that do that -- link to if you have them. I'd love to read them. 

 

I think that maybe what you describe as a reward is what I would call a "logical consequence" of good behavior. Certainly good behavior is more often met with pleasant reactions from parents. I don't tend to think of this as a reward system but perhaps it's essentially the same thing. 

 

Good discussion! 

I wish I had links - but anything I have would be dog related!  I apply what I use as a dog trainer bc it's what I know and behavior is behavior, the species makes no difference.  I clicker train dogs, in humans it's refered to as 'tag teaching'.  Now I am curious if I can find any human studies on the matter that don't involve a marker (like a click) to designate the exact moment of the correct behavior since most people are that particular about eh day to day things.  I guess logical consequence and reward are essentially the same thing, and in trainig terms the logical consequence would correspond with the basic, average level reward.  If you do a "graded" system, you use (and vary) higher level rewards to correspond to higher levels of achievement to push the subject to improve or to polish up a sloppy behavior.  :-)

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#13 of 14 Old 11-03-2012, 09:56 AM
 
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I wish I had links - but anything I have would be dog related!  I apply what I use as a dog trainer bc it's what I know and behavior is behavior, the species makes no difference.  I clicker train dogs, in humans it's refered to as 'tag teaching'.  Now I am curious if I can find any human studies on the matter that don't involve a marker (like a click) to designate the exact moment of the correct behavior since most people are that particular about eh day to day things. 

I thought your posts were interesting because you clearly had a knowledge of a discipline method and, yet, it what you were describing was unfamiliar to me from anything I had read in regards to disciplining children. (Which, admittedly, isn't all that much in the grand scheme of things)  I think the idea of applying what you know of dog training to disciplining children could offer some interesting parallels but for me it would stop there. I don't think "behavior is behavior" when considering how to discipline a dog and a child. This is a big off topic on this thread, however, but it would be an interesting thread on its own -- as we have many parents who are dog owners and I imagine many have wondered about this topic. I'm sure it would also be a rather passionate, heated discussion. I'd be interested! 

 

K&B, I wonder how it's going? I have a new favorite child development series by Louise Bates Ames - her books are wonderfully detailed and broken down by age range. I got the 2 year old book used for $4 at a certain big-box-online-store. eyesroll.gif


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#14 of 14 Old 11-03-2012, 10:16 AM
 
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OP your DD sounds exactly like mine, from pickiness about clothing to the teeth brushing. Here is what worked for us for her teeth. We let her have a turn and count to ten, then it's mommy's turn, then her turn etc. she basically just chews on it, but I figure it's better than nothing! Also with clothes I give her two choices, that's it. Otherwise we would literally be an hour getting dressed. Finally with bathroom time, my DD has had some regression since her little brother was born and has been holding in both pee and poop until the last possible second. I now take her at set times and just plunk her down and read a story. I find if I don't say anything we avoid the "I don't have to pee" tantrum and she just goes. Good luck, this toddler thing sure is tricky!
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