to wonder whether this is terrible 2's or just personality???(49 Posts)
My daughter is 2 and she is.... erm... very spirited.
Now, I know 2 is a difficult age, and common enough for people to have created the title 'terrible twos' ... but how can anyone tell the difference between what is just a challenging time developmentally, and what is basically just the child's personality.
My daughter is amazing in lots of ways, and I love her dearly, but (oh dear lord!!!) she is testing every boundary possible at the moment. I've read a few books, I've tried several different techniques, but where things have apparently 'worked a dream' with other children, for our daughter it feels like a constant battle.
Neither me or my husband were naughty, both our parents have said we were incredibly placid children. I doubt this is relevant even, but as a result we've never experienced discipline ourselves.... so we're not really sure what to do and maybe we're just a bit shit at it? I know her behaviour is a direct result of our behaviour but I'm at a loss as to what else I can try! Nothing works. I've positive parented the LIFE out of her.... it doesn't stop the naughtiness!!!!
(Can children smell fear??)
Anyway, I'm not really sure why I'm posting this, other than to get it out there. And maybe to hear that your children were
complete fucking nightmares a bit challenging at 2, but they became delightful at 3.... or something like that!!
My first dc was a total nightmare from 2.5 to 3.5 - full on total tantrums pretty much every day. She's the best behaved 5 year old now, a complete goody two shoes, to the point it's annoying
But give us some examples of the sort of behaviour you mean and you will get better advice.
You'll have to give some specific examples of what she does. It's impossible to guess otherwise.
(Can children smell fear??)
Yes. Or rather, they can tell when you expect them to do as you say, and when you are saying no but will give in to a tantrum.
Just from what you've written (it's hard without specific examples) I think she might possibly be picking up on the fact you are doubting your own authority? That might make her feel unsafe.
Have other adults ever had charge of her, and do they report the same as you?
Ok, an example. There are so many and it is so constant that it's hard to know what to start with. But I'll try this.... if I just describe her behaviour that will be easier, rather than including what we do about it.
Getting ready for bed:
At 6pm she has bath (this it always tends to go really well).... followed by drying off, getting dressed and drying hair. Cue lots of fighting against me. Kicking, screaming, running away and, more recently, raspberry blowing/spitting.
She is eventually dressed, then had milk and toast and an episode of twirlywoos. Here the procrastination starts. The flinging of toys around the room, the suggestions that she plays this and that, pushing a chair up to the counter to 'help' with something ... the list here is endless.
We've now started to avoid this whole section of the bedtime routine so she goes immediately from bath, to bed.
Then brushing teeth. A complete refusal to open mouth. Kicks, punches, slaps me around the face. Tried every suggestion I have googled. She has none of it. Mostly now we resort to 2 mins in her cot without her comforter until she calms down and then she lets me brush her teeth easily. Even giggles and enjoys it.
Reading a story is just pointless, she isn't interested, just flings her toys everywhere, tries taking her clothes off etc.
Eventually I get her into her cot where she easily falls asleep for 12-14 solid hours. This is the one pay off.... all her naughtiness is completely wearing her out!!!
So.... is this normal???
We tend to say something like 'Kicking mummy is naughty and it hurts mummy. Don't kick mummy and get dressed nicely. Ok if you kick mummy again you are going to your room' inevitibely she kicks me again 'ok, that's it, 2 minutes in your room'. Off she goes. Cries for 2 mins. Then she's lovely for about 10 minutes. Before we start again!!!
I also totally big up her good behaviour at any opportunity. But she doesn't seem to particularly care about being a good girl. Let's say she lets me dress her easily (which might have happened twice in the last week) I tell her how lovely and easy it was and how proud I am etc etc, and she looks at me as if to say 'whatever'
Even as I write this I can't believe that in one of those parents who clearly needs to go on that TV show with the expert nanny.
Sounds completely normal to me based on my children. Try to see the funny side of it - even though it can be very irritating at times. I find distraction works best at that age rather than discipline. She's still very young
So far, the only other adults are grandparents who say she is a little angel 95% of the time. They think most of her 'naughty' behaviour is quite normal 2yr old stuff and that I'm bring over sensitive.
(She's with grand parents 3 whole days a week while im at work)
2 year old can be SO trying! Seems pretty normal to me, just keep doing what you are doing. This problematic phase will soon be exchanged for another new one
Keep up the discipline as you have described. Just ensure you do it every time and don't leave it too long to take her to her room. For me, it's one warning then action. Keep your routine consistent too. She is learning. She will get there. Be consistent and you will come other the other side. At that age my own dd would throw some spectacular tantrums. She's now so lovely 5 yo. Still 'spirited' but in a more channelled way!
Possibly my biggest concern was when I attended her swimming class. Normally my mum takes her when I'm at work, but I had the opportunity on a day off. Anyway, she was the only child in the class who point blank refused to join in any of the games or singing. (She LOVES singing at home!!). She shouted "NO" at the teacher, blew a very wet spotty raspberry in the teachers face at close range. At which point I took her out of the pool and made her watch the class from the side with a big telling off. The teacher said she's always like that but obviosly my mum didn't tell me. I couldn't believe how RUDE she was!!!
Sounds normal to me too, except my DD was quite well behaved at 2 and I thought we had struck it lucky and escaped the terrible 2's.....haha noooo she has just waited til 3 instead! Your description sounds just like my DD in fact (although she doesn't hit)
Ok, I'm liking those responses! Thank you. I've been feeling so guilty that maybe her behaviour is because I'm doing something wrong, or I'm missing something.... I know with naughty children people immediately look at the parent and say 'what are YOU doing about it' but, seriously, nothing really works except putting her in her room.
I've never resorted to smacking but I did, once, shout really loudly and angrily..... she laughed and spat at me.
I can't even work out where she's learned hitting from....??? I guess it's just lashing out. But she's got a bloody strong kick!!!
Sounds exactly like my 2.5 year old, especially the raspberry and spitting. First thing she did when her dad came in tonight was spit in his face when he said hello.
She's like Jekyl and Hyde can be so funny and loving and the next like Incredible Hulk storming off, tantrumming, swiping refusing to do stuff. I feel your pain.
It's flipping knackering isn't it?!
By bedtime do you think DD is over-tired? Does she nap in the day? Some kids go absolutely bonkers when they're over-tired and go into sort of manic mode - running about from thing to thing, laughing changing to crying within nano-seconds or vice versa, concentration of a gnat, defying all the things that need doing - dressing/teeth are common flashpoints at this age at the best of times.
The positive parenting sounds great. As do the reminders that we don't kick/spit or whatever, each and every time.
instead of sending her to her room have you tried the opposite of positive parenting - just totally blanking her while she is in mini-demon mode? Just keeping your face as calm and as expressionless as possible and pretending to be totally unbothered (very very hard to do). It may help her realise she will get no attention or reaction at all when she is unco-operative. If she's fighting you - can you hold her at arms length so her arms won't reach your body/face?
It isn't unusual behaviour at this age but dear lord it's a nightmare. Are there any patterns to her worst behaviour - hungry/tired/teething etc?
I found rigidly following routine, not asking questions where answer could be 'no'. So instead of "Are you ready for your bath" - "It's bath time now." And getting her to help by asking her to go get a nappy, her pj's etc. Giving her small but easily do-able tasks can sometimes keep their minds off random acts of violence/mayhem.
A few thoughts, which you have probably done already, so apologies if that's the case!
1. Is she getting enough attention from you/ her carers during the day? Procrastinating or naughty behaviour may mean she's getting a reaction from you when she's not getting a reaction elsewhere. You're praising good behaviour, but are you/ carers actively playing with her and giving her undivided attention that isn't related to good/ bad behaviour?
2. Is she getting enough rest/ down time during the day? My DS gets really hyper and wound up at bedtime, and wants to run around like a loon, because he's exhausted (still has a 2.5 hour nap each day and 12 hours sleep at night).
3. When she hits out at you, maybe just try totally, utterly ignoring it. Obviously you want to make sure violence is seen as a negative thing, but at the moment, she's still getting a reaction from you. If you are totally poker faced and disinterested by it, she won't have anything to feed off emotionally (either good or bad) and may calm down. Not even saying 'that hurts mummy' just carry on with dressing her, or even leave the room if you need to. You could say something like 'oh dear, you seem to be getting upset by XX, shall I leave you to calm down?'
4. Do activities during the day, and at bedtime go at her pace, or do you both feel stressed and hurried to get off to bed? Routine is good, but at her pace (or a compromised pace if she really is being slow) might make her feel a little more in control of things.
5. Do you give her opportunities to 'help' with evening routine (like brushing her teeth?) or during the day. Is she feels like she is making a decision about something (like whether she holds toothbrush, squeezes toothpaste, brushes hair or washes face), she may be more involved with the task and have less opportunity to act out.
7. My nursery key worker said they don't use the word 'naughty' until 3/4 years old, as before that, they think it's more about testing boundaries, rather than innately bad behaviour. I try not to call my ds naughty, but point out exactly what he did that wasn't appropriate and go from there. And make sure the consequence is linked to the action. EG 'You threw your toy, that made a mess and could have hurt mummy or broken something. Please don't throw your toys. If you do it again I will take it away from you.' If it's done again, the toy etc is taken away.
I realise you've done lots of reading and have probably come across all these ideas before. You sound like you are doing a great job in explaining situations to her, and why a behaviour isn't productive, and, she sounds like she is tough and resilient. Something I wish I had more of, like you, I was a very placid child! Good luck xx
I find DS is a lot more cooperative if I tell him a bit in advance what we will be doing next, e.g. In 5 mins we will clean your teeth and wash your face. I then let him choose which to do first to make him feel more in control. As teeth are non-negotiable, on the rare occasions he really makes a fuss, I get him in a headlock. I will not let him hit me or anyone else. Worth seeing if you and your parents are presenting a united front on what is and isn't acceptable? Consistency is key.
Sounds completely normal to me too. I have a 5yo and a 2yo. About the swimming, DC1 refused everything in waterbabies in hear terrible twos, to a point where she refused to go into the pool. We gave up and she started again at 4. She now understands why she is learning to swim. She is still strong willed but you can reason with her.
With DC2 I am more relaxed with the swimming. I don't coerce her to do anything in the class anymore. I just let her join in whenever she likes. (With DC1 I was frustrated when she said no and would try to talk her into doing what the class was doing). Now I figure as long as she is enjoying the class and getting in the water, we are getting benefit from the class! DC2 is also very strong willed. Nursery said she is on the more tantrummy side of the terrible twos.
Re; swimming. Do you know why she didn't want to join in? Maybe she is a little scared of the water still, or something about the group puts her off. If she's like it all the time, then I'd try to work out whether it's an activity she really wants to do, or maybe something you could ease back on. I found my ds would get really overwhelmed by some of the classes we went to, and even know, he sometimes only gets through about 15 minutes of a 45 minute class (football skills type thing) before needing a little sit down and watch of the other kids.
I also really try to encourage some deep breathing techniques, which sounds really yoga-ish, but isn't really. If he's crying or getting angry, I put my arms round him (tight if he is wriggly) and say oh dear' and just let him cry for a bit. I keep my breathing really still and calm, and he seems to cam down more quickly when he can feel that I'm not getting flustered by a situation. Once he's stopped full on crying, I ask him if he wants to do some deep breaths. He tries, and then usually potters off to do something else... I think there's a lot to be said for keeping the adrenaline down when they get wound up.
Your daughter sounds identical to my son (Now 7). The time in the room is helping due to an over load in my case. I would approach the demands with a choice, in direct demands etc, bet i can brush my teeth quicker that sort of thing. Classic FM works a treat calming mine. I will say my son has additional needs but they have only become obvious since school age, hes always been slightly different from the others. Sounds like you are doing a fabulous job. Consistency is key. And if shes getting enough sleep then perfect!
It's all perfectly normal :-)
I suppose my only advice would be to stop expecting her to behave like a reasonable human being for some years yet. You'll only get frustrated and disappointed.
My girls are 12, 10 and 2. It's been so much easier this time round having a toddler because I can see (in comparison to her sisters) that she's just a baby. I have very low expectations, and she doesn't fail to meet them.
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