Mothering Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,388 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I saw mamaduck referring to "power-seeking" in the "sassy" thread. It rang a bell for me, because I feel like my DD is doing this ALL the time. I know she's three, but man, is it intense. She says no or insists on an alternative to nearly every request, even those she probably wants to comply with. Virtually nothing in our lives happens in the order or fashion we suggest--which is fine a lot of the time, but I wonder what the root cause is and how we can help this get better, and we're torn between trying to give her more power and feeling like she is OOC and needs more limits.<br><br>
I feel like I sound like I'm a dictator. I swear I'm not. Here's what it's like:<br><br>
(DD brings some plastic animals and a container of cookie cutters to the bath every day.)<br><br>
"DD, please take your clothes off and get ready for bed."<br>
"NO! I want to get my tub animals first."<br>
"Okay, that's fine. Get your tub animals."<br>
"NO! I want to take my clothes off."<br>
"Okay, clothes. Which do you want to do first--pants or shirt?"<br>
"NO! I want to do cookie cutters first instead!"<br><br><br>
She's also recently begun the intentional defiance bit, where we ask her to do something and she gives us a very intentional look meaning "I am not going to comply" and ignores us. Again, I know that's normal, but I feel like 95% of requests are met with either the above "NO" dialogue or the stare-ignore.<br><br>
We give a lot of controlled choices, but her answer is frequently something like "No one!" ("Who should wash your hair tonight?") or "Nothing!" ("What do you want for breakfast--toast or cereal?")<br><br>
It all feels very intense and oppositional, and we are having a tough time. I feel like there is some root "thing" that may need to be addressed, but I don't know how/what.<br><br>
Factors that are probably involved:<br><br>
She's been dealing with mysterious chronic illness that has required many doctor visits, unpleasant tests, and a hospital stay.<br><br>
Dh and I are both now working FT, which is newish, and DH and I are often stressed about time--particularly, getting her to bed in time for her to get enough sleep. These conflicts arise all the time, but are absolutely 100% guaranteed to arise when we're getting ready to leave in the morning or getting her to bed at night.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,419 Posts
If you aren't doing it already, one thing that may be really helpful is to have some set aside imaginative play time where she dictates and directs everything. You sit there and seriously don't do one thing on your own. She decides the direction of play. "what should I do with this doll?", etc. For some kids having that time makes a huge differences. That may be a place for her to work through some of her feelings with the stresses in her life.<br><br>
Several of the examples you gave were daily routine things (getting dressed, etc.) One thing that worked really well for us at that age was having a visual routine chart. You can draw simple line drawings of the parts of the routine and have her help you glue them on to a chart. If she helps figure out the routine, and helps decorate the chart she's got some buy in to using it and gets some feelings of control. It worked well for us to have fun stuff on the routine too - hugs, books, etc. It isn't a rewards based thing, but it can take you out of the middle of it. "What comes next on your chart?" That makes the chart kind of a neutral authority. Also, it will encourage having the routine be very predictable which makes for less conflict.<br><br>
The "when- then" organization of routine "when pjs are on then we can read" or "when bath is done then we have songs" works well with a lot of kids too. If she likes to count she might enjoy counting down tasks too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,222 Posts

<br><br>
I feel like I sound like I'm a dictator. I swear I'm not. Here's what it's like:<br><br>
(DD brings some plastic animals and a container of cookie cutters to the bath every day.)<br><br>
"DD, please take your clothes off and get ready for bed."<br>
"NO! I want to get my tub animals first."<br>
"Okay, that's fine. Get your tub animals."<br>
"NO! I want to take my clothes off."<br>
"Okay, clothes. Which do you want to do first--pants or shirt?"<br>
"NO! I want to do cookie cutters first instead!"<br><br><br>
She's also recently begun the intentional defiance bit, where we ask her to do something and she gives us a very intentional look meaning "I am not going to comply" and ignores us. Again, I know that's normal, but I feel like 95% of requests are met with either the above "NO" dialogue or the stare-ignore.<br><br>
QUOTE]<br><br>
My 31/2 is the same way. It's very frustrating but I feel like she will move out of this phase as she matures. It seems like the last 6 months have been one power-seeking behavior phase after another. It seems like all of my friends 3 year olds have moved through this phase too.<br><br>
Have patience momma. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,596 Posts
I think that the disruptions and changes in your lives are probably enormous from her perspective. For a little one to deal with being sick, being poked and prodded by a lot of doctors, being in the hospital, having both parents working fulltime (as a new thing in her life) -- she has got to feel a little out of control. Combine that with being <i>THREE</i> and having a the temperment that she does, and what you are describing sounds like a really normal behavioral reaction. This is just to say that maybe with with time, and a little effort toward getting things into a predictable routine, she will probably chill out a little.<br><br>
That said -- I think that Roar's advice really address the issue nicely, and would probably help a lot. A poster that displays her routine in pictures, and using the "when, then" phrasing will help her to feel that there is a sense of order and control in life. The dialog you describe sounds like a kid who is going in too many directions all the time -- wanting to take control, but having trouble sorting out how to do it. Its entirely possible that she is craving some structure. Roar's suggestions would provide that.<br><br>
Also -- as often as possible, I would try to phrase things by referencing the routine, rather than as requests or commands. (I know you don't really give commands! But referencing the routine is like a nice safe middle ground between requesting and demanding, kwim?) So instead of "Please take your clothes off and get ready for bed," I would say, <i>"Its jammie time!"</i> and then, <i>"Its time to snuggle in bed!"</i> Its clean up time, Its eating time, Its shoe time, Its bath time, etc. etc. etc. Avoid asking. Avoid demanding.<br><br>
Have you read <i>Sleepless in America</i> by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka? I think it is a really terrific read -- lots of great ideas for reducing the tension around bedtime and wake-up time. I know you are pressed for time -- but its an really and easy read.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,859 Posts
OK, I have NO experience in this area but one thing kind of popped out at me.<br><br>
When it comes to the "choices" thing, 'would you like this or that?', it sounds as though she is letting you know in no uncertain terms that she has moved beyond that.<br><br>
I have read that idea of offering two different, acceptable options as a way to let toddlers have <i>some</i> control (while still going with what you've already chosen) in many places. It is useful for a certain age; it gives the 2-year-old the joy of making a decision-- even if it's only between peas and corn, either of which is fine with the parent.<br><br>
It sounds like your daughter has already figured out that there is no real choice in those kinds of options, that she knows that she's just being given the choice between two parentally-chosen ideas. By saying "No one!" or "Nothing!", she seems to be responding, "You may offer me A or B, but I <b>know</b> that there's a whole range of other choices out there, from C to Z!"<br><br>
Seriously, she sounds too smart for her own good! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"><br><br>
I don't have any idea what you can do about it, but it sounds like you may have lost that tactic already...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,202 Posts
Ok.<br><br>
I think less talk, more action might be where it's at for your little one.<br><br>
If its time for bed, I would start chatting calmly about *whatever* but getting ready. No questions, no demands. Just chatty talk, pjs in hand. I would be friendly and fun and start talking about tonight's story (not asking what it should be).<br><br>
Not asking anything, I would be playful and start running water (or whatever you do to get ready for bed). "I found this lovely book today. I can't wait to show you!". Gently start wiping hands with a washcloth. "What was your best part of today? What yummy thig did you eat today?" Slip shirt over head. Gently without talking, lift shirt over head. Kiss child's belly (or whatever). Make a little joke about how cute she is, how you could eat her up as you carry walk with her where she needs to go.<br><br>
Let her giggle, listen if she tells you about her favorite part of the day, the tastiest thing she ate etc Do not comment on clothing, washing, bed etc.<br><br>
I would stop asking anything, since the asking/telling isnt working. You need to do things completely differently to break the pattern.<br><br>
Ask less, do more chatting, have more fun. Make more (lame) jokes. Think less intensity.<br><br>
She's stuck in a pattern, and she is only 2 years old. She can't change her pattern, but the adults in her life can. We have many, many more years of experience inliving and interacting. Babies don't. It's really up to us to enlarge their worlds and have a ton of patience as they negotiate the new.<br><br>
These patterns sometimes happen without us knowing why...but we can change it around with a little creativty and a dose of fun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,596 Posts
Mara, it is true that the "figure out" about the choice game, and that they recognize when they are backed into a corner and have no real choices. They resent being "played" like that. My solution has been to be very upfront about it. <i>"Okay -- you do need to have a bath tonight, and its not a choice. But you CAN choose WHEN to have a bath -- before or after reading time. And you CAN choose a tub toy if you want to. So do you want to make some of those choices? What do you think?"</i> You gotta be straight with them, you know? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,202 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamaduck</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7901042"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Mara, it is true that the "figure out" about the choice game, and that they recognize when they are backed into a corner and have no real choices. They resent being "played" like that. My solution has been to be very upfront about it. <i>"Okay -- you do need to have a bath tonight, and its not a choice. But you CAN choose WHEN to have a bath -- before or after reading time. And you CAN choose a tub toy if you want to. So do you want to make some of those choices? What do you think?"</i> You gotta be straight with them, you know? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"></div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
Ime, sometimes this is too much to ask of *some* toddlers/young children.<br><br>
It's no that it is wrong/bad. Not at all.<br><br>
Just sometimes, some children, need something different.<br><br>
I think most children would be absolutely fine with this approach, but ime, some more highly sensitive children need a little less talk .<br><br>
I offer my prespective as a parent who has been there with multiple children with very different personalities who each needed something different of us. The OPs little one sounded like one of mine, and I have been hesitant to post.<br><br>
Take what you will from my post, the one of mine who I refer to is super adorable and very kind & patient today. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
It's not a simple thing to parent the challenging.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,596 Posts
I agree with you UU. I liked your suggestion/approach. I do think that what I posted about controlled choices is beyond a 3 yo. -- but I was responding to Mara and going off topic a little. My kids were a bit older than 3 when they started saying, "I choose none of those choices!" But I wanted to acknowlege that yes, Mara is correct -- they do get to the point of outgrowing that tool as it is frequently presented. But choices still work with older and smarter kids, if you are straightfoward.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,388 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thank you SO much for the replies! We had a particularly bad night tonight, so it was a relief to see some responses. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
We do do when-then. That used to work really well, since we intersperse "have to" things with "fun" things before bed. It isn't working as well now--seems like we can wait forever and she just won't move to the next step.<br><br>
Picture chart--maybe? She knows the routine VERY well. Actually, one of our issues is that she's very rigid about the routine being exactly followed--on her terms, though. She does like structure and routine a lot, so we have definitely built one in to bedtime.<br><br>
I think the idea of playing and having her call the shots is great. Definitely plan to do that.<br><br>
Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think how much her power HAS been taken away from her with all the illness. She takes a ton of medicine every day, some of it gross-tasting. She has had to submit to a lot of unpleasant procedures. There have been needles. Interestingly, she has been really compliant about almost all of this. I guess all the frustration with that could be coming out here...but maybe I am over-psychologizing.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Have you read Sleepless in America by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka? I think it is a really terrific read -- lots of great ideas for reducing the tension around bedtime and wake-up time. I know you are pressed for time -- but its an really and easy read.</td>
</tr></table></div>
No, I haven't, but I like her other books, and will go check that one out.<br><br>
The funny thing is that she never says, "I don't want to go to bed." And once she's in bed, we're good--she doesn't stay awake or come out of her room. But her actions clearly tell us that she is resisting ending the day.<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">Gently start wiping hands with a washcloth. "What was your best part of today? What yummy thig did you eat today?" Slip shirt over head. Gently without talking, lift shirt over head. Kiss child's belly (or whatever). Make a little joke about how cute she is, how you could eat her up as you carry walk with her where she needs to go.</td>
</tr></table></div>
This kind of thing *sometimes* works, if she's in a cheerful/compliant mood. At other times, any effort to slip the shirt over her head will be met with a furious "NO! I want to do it."<br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">"Its jammie time!" and then, "Its time to snuggle in bed!" Its clean up time, Its eating time, Its shoe time, Its bath time, etc. etc. etc. Avoid asking. Avoid demanding.</td>
</tr></table></div>
Now, this is something we have tried, and the thing is, I think it's on the right track (maybe?). And it DOES eventually work. But it takes too long. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> If we do bedtime this way, she dawdles 10-15 minutes before moving on to the next thing, *every* time. If I had more flexiblity with wake-up time, I might try to just do this and wait her out. But I don't. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"> It's so tough, because she is a kid who really needs her sleep.<br><br>
About choices--I have really wondered if our problem is too many choices. Sometimes I sense that she is overwhelmed by having choices. And yet she will fight you fiercely if she expects a choice and doesn't get one. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">: And yes, she definitely gets that sometimes we offer "false" (limited) choices.<br><br>
Reading my response, it sounds like we are all over the map--we are! I feel like we have "tried" everything except for punishment and letting her call the shots (not really practical or desirable). Another tough thing is that she is very close-mouthed about emotions. We've tried to talk to her--are you frustrated, sad, unhappy?--and we get nowhere. She denies that she is upset even when she is crying. I have no idea where this comes from--I don't think we give her the impression that emotions are unacceptable. (And she has some big ones!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,202 Posts
Thank you so much for understanding what I was trying to relate. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/luxlove.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="throb">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
43 Posts
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
970 Posts
<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/notes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="notes">:<br><br>
Our bedtime sounds a lot the same. I also recommend Kurcinka's book. Very user-friendly. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
10,324 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>mamaduck</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/7901042"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Mara, it is true that the "figure out" about the choice game, and that they recognize when they are backed into a corner and have no real choices. They resent being "played" like that. My solution has been to be very upfront about it. <i>"Okay -- you do need to have a bath tonight, and its not a choice. But you CAN choose WHEN to have a bath -- before or after reading time. And you CAN choose a tub toy if you want to. So do you want to make some of those choices? What do you think?"</i> You gotta be straight with them, you know? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"></div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
I just wanted to add here, that I use this type of wording with my 2.5yo (and have for a while now), and he takes to it very well.<br>
I used to not give "choices" per se, because I wanted to give him *real* control (so, instead of asking him "do you want the red washcloth or the blue one", I'd tell him it was bathtime, and let him make choices that he felt the need to make. Even if that choice was "no bath" lol).<br>
There are some things though that he really can't have total control over- like toothbrushing. So I say something similar to what mamaduck said. I let him know that WHAT isn't a choice, but that he can choose where, who, and how.<br>
Anyways, that's just us...<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,419 Posts
Another thing that worked really well with our son at that age was to use a puppet. I wasn't a part of the routine - it was just between him and the puppet. For some reason he was very happy to do what the puppet said when if I'd said the same thing it would have been conflict. It is a way to put the fun into it and focus less on conflict.<br><br>
Oh and the routine chart may help even if she knows the routine very well because it makes it clear it is on paper and it will be done just that way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,329 Posts
Here's something we did with our daughter (about the same age as yours) to help with battles around potty routine (wiping, flushing, washing hands) and toothbrushing. It seemed to me that she was feeling very powerless, so we decided to put her in a position of authority - but not with us - with her stuffed animals. We started having "potty parties" in the bathroom where she could bring in as many stuffies as she wanted, and show THEM how to do each step. Sometimes this involved a mommy being a bear's "voice" and saying things like, "So THEN what do you do?" or "How do you wash your hands?" or "What's that?" It did slow things down to drag in 10 stuffed animals into the bathroom and make them talk every time she had to go. But it worked! She loved getting to be knowledgable and be the authority and it almost completely eliminated conflict about these routine tasks. We did this for several months, and now we usually don't need to.<br><br>
We have also done role-playing around bedtime issues and that has helped too - we say something like, "Let's pretend that I'm the kid and you're the mom and it's time for bed," or we role-play that she gets her way (i.e. "Wow - let's invite all your friends over and stay up all night!) She loves this, and I notice that giving her space to pretend makes the real event much easier. (We have done this around going to the doctor too.) This is straight out of Playful Parenting, by the way.<br><br>
The choice thing has NEVER worked for us. Our daughter is extremely smart, and by age two, if she didn't want to do something and we offered a choice "red shirt or green shirt?" she would say, "NO shirt." It works much better to just move ahead and not negotiate each step of the routine, as some of the previous posters have suggested.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,336 Posts
There have been some wonderful suggestions, so I won't rehash. I wanted to add, though, that something that sprang to mind was that people, as a general rule, when they feel out of control of their lives, begin to overexert control in other areas and when they cannot control a situation, become more anxious. Perhaps she's dealing with anxiety based on the really intense-sounding changes she is going through. I wonder if it may help to equip yourself to talk to a 3 yo about anxiety and start helping her process it with words and pictures, and other therapeutic techniques.<br><br>
Her need for control really just speaks to me, as someone who deals with anxiety, I get that way when I'm scared and feeling out of control in other areas of my life. If I were you, I would probably explore ways to approach her about her emotions, and discern if she is dealing with unaddressed anxiety, and educate myself about about how to allow her to release it.<br><br>
I hope you find some techniques that work soon, and that you enjoy each other in the meantime.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,419 Posts
Does she tell time at all? Does she get that you have more time for reading, songs, etc. if the routine gets done faster? Can she get the distinction between routine stuff and play stuff and if the routine is done faster there is more time for the fun stuff at the end? We are on the same time and we are racing to see how fast we can get to books - will we have time for five books tonight or whatever?
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top