I’ve heard people refer to the “Terrible Twos” ever since I was a kid. I just assumed all kids became obnoxious around the time they hit the 24-month mark and expected it to affect Husband and I once we had a little toddler running around, too. At first I couldn’t figure out what people were talking about – some toddlers are undisciplined brats, others are well-behaved, and mine was mostly the latter, with a few “moments” when she was tired, hungry, or fed up with being dragged all over the place or forced to sit and play quietly in the pew at church. But for a few blissful months I thought we’d somehow escaped that threatening age.
Somehow, though, slowly over the course of a few weeks, they hit. At least, these better be the Terrible Twos because I don’t want it to get any worse!
Recently, Little Miss’ responses to requests from her father and I go one of two ways: Complete belligerence as she ignores us completely, or she simply says, “No.” The smug look on her face while she looks everywhere but at us after we’ve asked her to do something makes me want to scream…but at the same time I almost want to giggle because she’s trying SO hard to ignore us. (Don’t worry, I don’t do either of those things.) The first few times she did it I looked at her incredulously, told her firmly she needs to listen when Mommy tells her to do something and asked her again to complete the task I’d requested of her (something like picking up the toy she’d thrown across the living room or going to get her shoes so we could get ready to go).
Up until now, using a time out worked wonders. She would sit in the chair and pout and sometimes cry, and then after about 20-30 seconds (feels like a lot longer at the time) we’d squat down in front of her and calmly explain why she was in time out, and ask her to, in the future, consider alternate behavior. Now…as soon as I turn my back on her (and sometimes before) she scoots down until her feet are touching the floor and then tries to get up before I notice. When I move to put her back in the time out chair, she squeals and climbs back up, only to start the process again. She makes it a game. In the past, after the first time she got out of the chair, I’d sit in the chair and hold her on my lap for the same amount of time she’d sit in time out. This worked, too, for a while.
Swatting her on the behind does no good because she thinks it’s funny (she’s still in diapers so it doesn’t hurt).
Sending her to her room isn’t punishment because there’s all sorts of toys and stuffed animals in there so she just plays by herself, happily.
Firmly telling her what she did was unacceptable garners grins and more ignoring.
And when she does this in public it opens a whole other can of worms.
I’m at a loss. What do I do? How do I creatively get through to her that ignoring Mommy and Daddy is not okay and that she is expected to be a big girl and obey? How do we come across as both loving parents and authority figures? I think this really is a phase, but…how do we keep it from becoming an issue as she outgrows the “phase” and moves on to continued incorrect behaviour? How do we spend more time enjoying each other’s company as a family and less time chastising, lecturing, disciplining, discussing, and enforcing?
And people tell me 3 and 4 are worse. Sigh…