My two-year old "won't listen" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 08-18-2007, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My dd is newly two years old and has a personality that some might call "head-strong," "independent," or "spirited." She's very bright and curious and is going through the "I can do everything myself" phase, to the point that if we even *touch* her while she is putting on a shirt, she will take the whole thing off, throw it down, leave the room, come back, pick up the shirt, and the begin the whole difficult, frustrating exercise all over again. I accept that this is her age and her personality and a product of our parenting. Putting on her own clothes is one thing, but often she engages in toddler behavior that makes excessive noise, mess, damage, etc. and this is the problem.

Now, I am not even sure what gentle discipline is; I just started visiting this part of MDC. But I think maybe this is what we have been doing with her. We do not often say "no." We try to redirect her when she is doing something we don't want her to do. We do not yell, spank or do time outs. When she purposely pours her cup of juice on the floor, I let her know that now the juice is gone and she has nothing to drink. I have been satisfied with this way of guiding her. It feels gentle and loving, but dh and I are beginning to part ways.

I think it completely offends his sensibilities to have a child who will not "listen to him." For example, yesterday she discovered the water cooler and kept playing with the knobs, filling up the little grate/catcher thing with water and splashing water on the floor. dh repeatedly kept calling her name to get her attention before she removed the little grate and poured the water on the floor. DD paid zero attention to him. She removed the grate and poured out the water anyway. To me, this is messy and annoying, but I accept that it is typical for a 24 month old and I look her in the eye, tell her I don't like it when she does that, then redirect her to something else. DH feels worried that we are raising a disobedient child who feels no need whatsoever to do what her parents say. He feels that this is both disrespectful and dangerous. He cites the hypothetical of her running out into the street and not coming when we call her name. I feel that she is still a baby enough that it is our job to keep her from being in such a situation in the first place. I feel that it would be expecting too much for a 12 month old to exercise that kind of obedience and control, and likewise it is too much for a 24 month old.

DH and I both grew up in cultures where spanking and heavy-handedness are considered necessary to acheive the ultimate goal of raising well-behaved, non-bratty children. I was rarely hit (maybe twice in my life) but some other children in my extended family were hit much more, I'd say beaten. I also grew up seeing domestic violence, so I am very much about being non-physical with my child. DH was spanked quite a bit when he was a child. When I asked dh whether he wants to spank dd, he replied no, but when she cries for things instead of trying to redirect and placate her with other things, we should just let her cry. He also feels that it will likely be necessary to physically punish our son eventually, because "sometimes that's all boys understand." To me, both of these suggestions are unacceptable.

I feel as though I need to get a handle on this, as our baby will soon be here, and there will be new demands on our family and a period of adjustment for dd. I feel that dh is getting more frustrated and feels that we are giving our lives over to a pint-sized tyrant (even though I am the one nursing 32 weeks into my pregnancy and home with her all day: ) I feel that this is just a challenging and tiring time and that it is hard enough for little girls to maintain their spiritedness and self-esteem as they get older without having it beat out of them (physically or otherwise) by their own parents.

Do any of you have any suggestions as to how I could move dh and I toward a compromise in this? Any reading suggestions or any other kind of suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am so tired, hot and hormonal, and I fight so many little daily battles with dd that I have no energy for these bigger battles with dh.

TIA,
naismama
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#2 of 9 Old 08-18-2007, 03:31 PM
 
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You're right. He's wrong. No really, I think you are right on track. And perhaps so is he. Maybe he just needs to know that ALL 2 year olds are into their own thing. That it is a rare 2 year old who comes every. single. time. And yes, even spanked/punished children dispbey, that's why you have to spank more than once. There are really wonderful resources at the top of this page, books and article that maybe he would be interested in. And if anything, are there other 2 year olds he could be around? My dh was very very similar to yours. Down to the he was raised being spanked and thought it would someday be neccessary. He's not much of a reader, so I would read things and pass on bits of info on to him. And it helped to talk to other dads of toddlers, or preschoolers too. Then he saw that dd was totally normal, and that we were doing the right thing. THings like calling her from across the room are not effective. I had to teach my dh a technique we like to call GOYB (Get Off Your Butt) parenting. Go to the child, get down to her level, touch her and get eye contact before you speak. Then HELP the child follow through. And you are right, it is YOUR (collective your) responsibility to keep your toddlers safe. They have no concept of the street, cars, or being run over. : Someday, she will. HTH
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#3 of 9 Old 08-18-2007, 04:29 PM
 
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Have you seen the book Teach Me To Do It Myself! ? It's great for your daughter's age and her abilities right now. You may want to check into it.
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#4 of 9 Old 08-18-2007, 05:22 PM
 
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As pp said, you're right. He's wrong.

First, spanking kids doesn't make them any more compliant than non-spanked kids. There are studies, you can look them up. The only thing spanking does well is act as an immediate, forceful release of adult frustration. Other than that, spanked kids soon learn to lie and hide what they're doing to avoid punishment. Unintended negative blowback.

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DH feels worried that we are raising a disobedient child who feels no need whatsoever to do what her parents say.
Two is about all the things she can do now that she's walking; it's about exploring boundaries. It's her age, period. That's what two year olds do; they get engaged in something and it's like they're on another planet. In fact, this happens with kids of every age. But it's particularly an issue with two-year olds, who don't have an awareness of the world around them (or the people in it). Hitting her won't improve that awareness! It will make her fearful of exploration, or make her feel you are rejecting her.

Maybe dh just needs a new perspective. She's a budding scientist, and she *needs* to pour; her brain is driving her to do it 1,000 times until it understands the nature of pouring. Encourage the exploration by redirecting it to an appropriate venue. When she is pouring stuff on the floor, tell her that's not where we pour, bring her over to the sink and give her measuring cups and a tub of warm water. Say, "you may pour here".

That tunnel-vision thing is part of childhood, something she will progressively outgrow like crawling. It's NOT a character flaw, or in any way indicative of her future ability to treat others with respect and empathy. That doesn't mean you don't have to tell her "we don't pour on the floor, let's get a cloth and clean it up together" 1,000 times. But interpreting her behavior as though she were a defiant teenager when she's a toddler can only lead to frustration for both of you, and physical punishments will only lead to worse problems.

Honestly, she sounds like a terriffic kid who loves to learn and gets really engaged. Her teachers will think her ability to focus with such intensity is quite an asset.
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#5 of 9 Old 08-18-2007, 07:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by chicagomom View Post

Honestly, she sounds like a terriffic kid who loves to learn and gets really engaged.
She IS a terrific kid!!! So much fun! And dh has said that he doesn't want to spank her, but he wants to just let her cry and scream when she doesn't get her way. I don't think that's the right thing to do either.

I am still concerned about his feelings that we might have to put the spanking option on the table, particularly for a boy. But he would never just spank either of our kids knowing how I feel about it. I would just like us to get on the same page as parents.
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#6 of 9 Old 08-18-2007, 07:15 PM
 
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Well in a sense, I agree with your dh. When things dont go dd's way, she will cry or get upset. Normal. Very normal. I dont try to always 'make her feel better' or placate her with something else. I respect that she is having those big feelings, empathize with her, and when she is ready, help her come up with a solution. I by no means just leave her to cry, though at times, she has wanted to be left alone, and I respect that too (as difficult as it is for me!)
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#7 of 9 Old 08-18-2007, 09:31 PM
 
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I noticed with my son that there was a certain age where I couldn't reason with him and then poof he was able to understand better. This magic # was around 3 yrs for me. With my daughter, she is just turning two this month and she is not able to be reasoned with yet so I am letting it go. I try to redirect her instead.
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#8 of 9 Old 08-18-2007, 11:21 PM
 
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Sounds pretty normal to me. As parents, it's your job to protect her. She's too young to understand why she can't run out in the road, so you make sure you're holding her hand and preventing her from doing so. You don't leave things in her reach that she can't play with. At her age, she should be allowed to explore. Do your best to create a safe environment for that. I have never met a 2 year old who listens so I wouldn't worry too much.

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#9 of 9 Old 08-19-2007, 12:03 AM
 
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I think you are right on track! As for your DH, you'll just have to take more time and patience and convince him, help him see your side and why you are right. When you read a good book, highlight to him the best parts, or bring him here to read our posts. Explain why being respectful, loving and gentle with your child is the right thing to do, and how this IS the way to raise a child who is respectful, loving and gentle with others. (I mean, seriously, I am sure he doesnt really think that the way to raise a respectful, considerate and kind child is to lord over them, coerce them into obedience, and make them obey everything you say?? )

Your DH sounds like he just needs more information to 'get it'.
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