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Two year old 'unsocialised9;?

(24 Posts)
Caththerese1973 Sun 26-Jun-05 09:46:03

I have a two year old daughter (27 months, to be exact)who is awfully clever and sweet and loving. She talks really well and plays nicely with her toys and in general I am sure she is normal. But I feel a bit guilty because in some respects I seem to have failed to socialise her. For example, she will not sit still at a table to eat (she still has to go in a high chair) and seems disinclined to eat with a spoon (although I know she can). She also refuses to eat vegetables unless they come in the little jars for six month old babies. She is also into scratching and pinching me (the other day I smacked her on her hand for the first time ever, out of desperation, and she looked so shocked and upset that I felt sick!). She refuses to sit in her stroller or trolley at the shops (if I force her, there is a huge tantrum) but if I let her walk, she won't hold my hand, but runs around like mad, deliberately bumping into people and laughing uproariously while I look on in embarrassment. She deliberately knocks things off shelves in shops. I try to tell her that this is not appropriate and I know she understands - she is just naughty!
Then there is toilet training. She is definetely adverse. If I ask her, how about we try the toilet, she says, 'I am too little,' or 'I could fall in (!)' Actually she just doesn't seem to mind pooey nappies. She will always tell me if she has done a pooh, but rarely asks to be changed. And when I do change her, she insists on looking at the pooh! Is this normal? Should I let her look at her pooh? I don't want to turn her into a copraphiliac!
And then there is bedtime. She will NOT go to sleep in a bed by herself, except for naps. Recently she has even started refusing to let me tuck her in and tip-toe out: now she wants me to lie in bed with her until she is asleep. With my arms around her. In a very specific position (she calls this 'proper arm').She is just tyrannical about bedtime, to be honest, but if I try to resist her demands, she becomes so distressed that my resolve crumbles and we are back to square one again.
I guess the three main things are the sitting down for meals, bedtime and the toilet training. Her father and I recently separated, and in our current accomodation, there is no dinner table, so we are forced to eat in front of the TV. The circumstances are less than ideal.
Like I said, she is just a lovely child, and very bright, but sometimes I feel a bit ashamed when I see how well disciplined other children of her age seem to be. Any suggestions?

colditz Sun 26-Jun-05 10:04:20

1) The highchair.. not a problem in my eyes. My ds is 26 months and simply does not have tha maturity to sit at the table properly.

2) Holding your hand.... just insist. If she won't put her back in her pushchair. When she does hold your hand, point out what a big girl she is to be walking nicely with mummy.... but don't let her walk without holding your hand or she'll think she can do it all the time. She may understand that it's not appropriate to run about in shops, but I doubt that she cares.

3) The toilet training... it's really too young to be making an issue of it. Let her sit and watch you on the loo, reward with stickers for sitting on the loo, and I wuld leave it at that if I were you. She's not even 2.6 yet is she? That's the age I was advised to start.

Whatever you want a 2 year old to do, you have to insist upon, consistantly. They don't understand subtleties like "Hold my hand now because that man over there looks like he's had too much sauce."

And be prepared for a paddy or two, because this is the way they find their bounderies. They are going to throw one anyway, it might as well be over something you feel is important.

HTH Strange little species, aren't they?

anniebear Sun 26-Jun-05 10:07:42

Has she just been like this since you separated? Do you think It could be a bit to do with that?

If not..........

Reading this , just sounds like you are going to have to be very strong if you want things to change. watch some of Little Angels or Super Nanny etc and get tips on what to do. Is your HV any use? She could give you some strategies to use.

As soon as children know you will give into them they will carry on with these behaviours (all quite normal) as they know they will get their own way in the end.

Its quite normal for her to want to look at her poo!!! One of mine screams when she sees hers!!

As for meal times, if you have to sit in front of the tv...turn it off.

None of it is easy but worth it in the long run.

But, she could just be feeling a little insecure at the moment,especially wanting you to stay with her at bed time

flashingnose Sun 26-Jun-05 10:10:15

Agree with Colditz. Also, reading your post, she's definitely in the driving seat in your house but it should be you and wresting the controls back will not be easy. Don't worry about what other children do, worry about you and your dd. If you're happy with your bedtime routine, that's fine, but if you're not, it's time to get tough (and of course she's not going to like it, but do you want to be doing this every night for the next year or two?). Re the supermarket - can you internet shop for a month or two and then re-enter the supermarket with a firm "this is what will happen" kind of approach?

mandyc66 Sun 26-Jun-05 10:10:44

can I just say...not helpfully...but a) she is a girl!!!! b) she is 2!!!
What a combination!!!!!

flashingnose Sun 26-Jun-05 10:12:18

Just read anniebear's post - agree, I'd be inclined to cut her quite a lot of slack at the moment if you've just separated.

Mama5 Sun 26-Jun-05 10:16:08

My advice to you would be forget isolated things like high chair etc you can work on that later........
I have been there with my kids ( i have four youngest 29 months)and i know how it feels. You feel you are losing CONTROL and you probably are. I frequently say of my youngest at the moment ' we need to rein him in' 'enforce more discipline' let him know that although'yes he is adored' HE IS NOT BOSS ....I AM
Its hard but mine has started saying 'no' and literally'pushing me away' if i offer him say food or a book he does not want and i find that in my tiredness ( distraughtness) i often accept this insted of saying that is not appropriate and this is how i am going to deal with it. In Starbucks the other day he was soooo vile I could not believe it.What i could believe less was that to keep him quiet i bought him a lolly.....See how he will perceive that! Have courage that you can do it and that things like not having the table ( although difficult) should not stop you enforcing rules of behaviour and ensuring that she sticks to them. Just be strong.... She sounds very bright..her speech and understanding sounds fantastic!

mandyc66 Sun 26-Jun-05 10:16:34

try and give her lots of praise for what she does that you like! Sit down to meals together and share your food..its ok. 'can I try one of your carrotts, do you want to try my broccoli?' dont worry about potty training..she will do it when sh is ready!
be patient

Mama5 Sun 26-Jun-05 10:20:19

Re Flashingnose - I just think that 'cutting slack' will not actually help her long term. She needs to know boundaries and how to behave appropriatley. When she goes to nursey/school/preschool it is in her interest that she knows how to behave this will make her and her Mum happy - LONG TERM.
It does not mean loving her any less. On the contrary it should free you up to be able to openly love her more and reward the positive behaviour. You will quickly reap rewards and see that a little tough love can bring a lot of happiness.

Caththerese1973 Sun 26-Jun-05 10:31:16

gee great advice from everyone, and so fast! what a great site!
any SPECIFIC tips on getting her to stay in bed at bedtime? She used to accept it if I said 'Mummy is going to do a few jobs now and I'll be back in soon.' Then I would disappear and she would drop off. But she won't buy this anymore. I have to have her in the bed with me, unfortunately - we are poverty stricken, to be honest, and there is only a portacot apart from my double bed. I think the cot is okay for naps, but it is old and floppy and I would worry about her back if I were putting her in it for all her sleeping.

flashingnose Sun 26-Jun-05 10:33:59

Agree mama5 about the long term, but was just thinking that maybe caththerese shouldn't try and sort out all the issues straight away - one at a time might be kinder in the circumstances .

mandyc66 Sun 26-Jun-05 10:37:34

I think getting to bed is tricky, but if you are going to tackle this first you have to be firm and stick with it. Try to explain its bed time and she must not come down stairs if she wants you to call for you and then you go to her so she gets used to the fact she cant come out of room once she is in bed. This will actually only take a few nights.

flashingnose Sun 26-Jun-05 10:40:34

Is your bedroom separate from your living room or is everything in the same room?

mandyc66 Sun 26-Jun-05 10:41:52

mm if bed in same room it will be tricky.

Caththerese1973 Sun 26-Jun-05 10:45:05

we have one bedroom, separate from living area. so: if she gets out of bed, I should just keep putting her back in and tell her I will come if she calls out? It is hard because you know how they are - she gets so worked up as soon as I leave the room that she just stops listening to what I am saying.

flashingnose Sun 26-Jun-05 10:49:11

You could try gradual withdrawal (!) from the room over a number of nights e.g. two nights sitting on the bed, then two nights sitting by the door until you're back to where you were, if you were happy with that.

Caththerese1973 Sun 26-Jun-05 10:56:48

yeah that might work flashing nose. But I think the 'withdrawal' would have to be even more gradual! I mean, she kicks up a fuss if I even remove my 'proper arm'. So I might have to start with 'lets go to sleep without proper arm' before I could get as far as 'lets go to sleep without mummy in the bed', lol.

flashingnose Sun 26-Jun-05 10:59:08

Well, the alternative would be no-nonsense cold turkey - depends how brave you're feeling . Let's face it, she's not going to be wild about it whatever you do, so being very firm might actually be less painful IYKWIM.

Caththerese1973 Sun 26-Jun-05 11:05:19

well, I could give that a go. because of the recent separation etc I have been very 'soft' lately. She has had a lot to contend with, poor thing...

flashingnose Sun 26-Jun-05 11:10:10

Go with whatever you're comfortable with. Have you read "Toddler Taming" by Christopher Green? I have found his approach very helpful and a quick flick through before saying anything contentious always seems to help me achieve the right "no messing" tone of voice. Godd luck - bad habits are so easy to slip into aren't they? But she was going to bed fine, so it shouldn't actually be too difficult to get her back into good habits .

KiwiKate Sun 26-Jun-05 12:36:56

I think that most of them go through the bedtime phase. Do you have a bedtime routine? Establishing one even a short one could really help, especially if you do something like read a story to her in bed. We talk about all the good things that happened that day, and get DS to tell us what he wants to pray about (trying to encourage him to think about things he is glad about). Also we always end off telling him that he is the most special boy in the world and we are the luckiest parents in the world to have him as our son, and that we love him lots.

Also, it really helped when I showed him the clock (he is 2.2yo) and showed him the number for the hour. He goes to bed really late as we are late risers. So now he knows 9pm is bedtime (and he can recognise the 9). We made a big deal of saying, "let's go check the time". "what time is it? 9 O'clock. What does that mean?" - then he would say "9 o Clock bedtime!" It really helped him to understand that at a certain time it was time for bed. Lots of positive reinforcement, telling him what a big boy he is going to bed so well.

Gradual withdrawal did not work for me. When he started crying when I left the room I eventually told him he could cry if he wanted but I was not coming back. He cried for two nights, and then realised I was serious. Now if he really needs something he calls and tells me what he needs.

I agree with the other comments about tackling one thing at a time. I don't see the high chair thing as a big deal. She'll grow out of it when she is ready (it might be a bit of security for her right now).

As for potty training, this can be tough, and I wouldn't push it at the moment given that she has the seperation to deal with. I bought a great kids book which showed pictures of little kids selecting a potty, and pulling down pants, then sitting on the potty. It was a fun colourful book, and showed that the little kids wear nappies and the bigger kids use the potty, and even bigger kids use the toilet. My DS loved looking at this book. I also got him to sit on the potty just a couple of times a day (usually before bathtime and after afternoon nap). After a while he bagan ASKING for the potty. In the meantime, just let her see you go to the loo. When she is interested do lots of positive rewards (eg stickers or some other small fun things). Sounds to me (when she talks of being too little, and being worried about falling in, that she's just feeling a bit insecure right now and needs some TLC and does not want to face any other big changes).

Reward positive behaviour. She probably needs even more encouragement at the moment, and is probably feeling a bit insecure.

However, the behaviour in the supermarket is really something that I would tackle if I were you. That would be too stressful for me to allow to continue. All kids test the boundaries, and yours is pushing and pushing and not finding any boundary! Kids actually find boundaries comforting (although they usually only admit it in later years), there is some security in knowing that mum cares enough to make sure I do the right thing. Your daughter behaves like she does in the shop because she can.

Explain to your DD that you are now going to have new rules for shopping. If you can, try doing shopping without her (or do the internet shopping), and tell her that you'll take her shopping again when she can behave like a "big girl". We had a problem with DS wanting to run around in the shop at 2y.o (thanks to MIL allowing him to do that). He yelled to get out of the trolley. I explained that if he wanted to go shopping with mummy he had to stay in the trolley (I can't manage the shoping and a buggy and him at the same time, and I will not allow him to run around - it is not fair to other shoppers, and there is always the odd chance of someone abducting him while he disappears around a corner. The risk is tiny but not one I am prepared to take). He threw a fit and wanted to run around. I told him that if he did not behave we would go home and he continued to yell to get out. I told him that he had a choice - he could either stay in the trolley and shop with me, or we could go home (I find giving them choices really empowers them, because then it is their decision). He persisted so, I took my full trolley to the service counter and explained to the (amazing) woman there that my boy was not behaving properly and so I had to take him home until he learned how to behave like a big boy, so could she deal with my full trolley. DS was FURIOUS. I let him yell. When he calmed down on the way home, I explained to him that I will not accept that behaviour in the supermarket, and even if granny thinks it is ok, we do not behave like that with mummy. I explained that he is a great boy and I love him very much, but I was not going to have him yelling at me in the supermarket. I also explained that I would not be taking him shopping again until he could behave like a "big boy". He begged to go back, said he would be good. I took him back on another day, and he is an ABSOLUTE ANGEL in the shops now (he is now 2.2yo). I give him fun things to look at while in the trolley, or ask him to point to things he thinks we need to put in the trolley. If the item is non-breakable, I give it to him, and he throws it in the back. Or I give him an item to look at (like a bag of rice) and tell me what colours are on it, or what he thinks it is, what it is for, how do we cook it etc. (all this makes him feel involved). Of course he gets ratty when he is tired, so I try to avoid taking him shopping when he is tired. But he knows that he needs to behave. He also knows that I will not hesitate to take him home again if he does not behave. Occassionally I do let him get out of the trolley and he would not dream of running around. If he pushes the boudaries I ask him "do you want to go shopping, or do you want to go home. You choose. If you want to shop, you need to (stay in the trolley and with a big smile or hold mummies hand)". Occassionally he says he'd rather go home, and then we do (and try shopping another day). Mostly shopping together has become a pleasure.

frannyf Sun 26-Jun-05 19:28:51

Hi Cath, I'm a bit late to this thread but see you have had loads of advice already. To be honest I would not be overly worried about any of the things you mention, although personally the scratching and pinching I would find upsetting. My son is just the same age as your daughter, and he always eats in a highchair - it's easier and less messy in my opinion. He is nowhere near ready for potty training and is also quite interested in the contents of his nappy (his dad jokes we are raising a second Gillian Mc Keith lol!).

The bedtime thing is a problem if you are not happy staying with her while she falls asleep - but if you don't mind then what's the big deal? They are only little for such a short time and it's a nice time of day to be together, snuggling as she falls asleep. I should imagine this helps her feel secure at a time when one parent is now absent. I don't know of many 10 year olds who want their parents there as they drop off - as with most other things it's just something they grow out of.

I would try to be less hard on yourself and your daughter, and not let these relatively unimportant things bother you - as you say she is smart and nice to be with - enjoy being together and be proud of the lovely little person you have raised - let her grow up at her own pace. Bright 2 year olds want to do things their own way, and it is a shame to always be 'training' or disciplining them - let them be (mischievous, maddening) 2 year olds for a bit longer yet!

Caththerese1973 Mon 27-Jun-05 04:04:30

Thanks for all the great suggestions. Today I gave dd the choice in the shops between holding hand and holding stroller, and she chose to hold the stroller! Yay. She seemed to quite enjoy helping me to push the stroller. Hopefully this will become a little tradition.
I wouldn't mind staying in bed with her until she fell asleep but sometimes it seems to to take so long for her to nod off - until 10.30 or even later (shame, mummy,shame!).I think she would go to sleep more quickly if I wasn't there.
Anyway, cheers ladies!

KiwiKate Mon 27-Jun-05 20:58:26

Good on you Catherese for trying to restore some order to your trips to the store. I'm sure its much more enjoyable for you both! She sounds like a great kid. I'm sure you must be very proud of her (which you no doubt told her). And of course, you can now tell her how great it is to go shopping with her, and that you are really looking forward to it again, because she is such a great shopper!Aren't they just great little "helpers"? Giving them something to "do" makes them really feel useful.

About the bedtime thing, it might help if you tell her that you'd love to go to bed when she does and just stay there, but you have mummy-things that you just HAVE TO do after she is asleep. Why not try showing her an appointed time on the clock (I taught my DS at 2.2 yo to read certain times on the digital clock), when it reaches that time (9pm or whatever time you decide), then you tell her that you are off to do your chores but will be back as soon as you can. If she is awake, get her to tell you what time it is, and make a joke of 9oClock-chore-time-for-mummy, and reassure her that you'll be back as quick as you can. It might be worth a try. That way you can enjoy some special time with her and try and avoid exhaustion. If she still gets terribly distressed, then you can always change your mind and stay longer with her.

About the poo thing - I read somewhere that wanting to look at the poo is a normal step on the way to becoming ready for potty training (so consider it a developmental milestone!). I let DS look at his, and then used it as an opportunity to show him how I dumped it into the loo, and then I let him flush it (made a real game about how it was, and how much fun it was to flush). Also used it as a chance to tell him that when he is a bit bigger he'll do his right into the loo without needing a nappy, and that's what mummy does. He loved the fact that it was a bit yucky, and very soon started asking for his nappy to be taken off after a poo so that we could "flush it" (oh, the traditions you build up!). Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that you should rush potty training. If you push them into it before they are ready, it can become a nightmare. But this is one thing that you can do to make her become more aware of bodily function. But beware. She might hate the idea of seeing it dumped into the loo, so just take your cue from her.

Do keep us posted.

How are your other issues going? Have you told her that the scratching and pinching hurts you? When DS kicked me I told him it hurt and asked him to kiss it better. When I said "that was not a very nice thing to do to mummy, was it?" - he thought about it and then said "No. Not nice". Then I thanked him for kissing it better and suggested a cuddle instead, and pointed out how much nicer that was. We went through the same conversation on about 3 occassions, and then he stopped kicking me. I must confess that this was after going through a few weeks of him kicking/smacking me when he was tired. I also resorted to smacking back at one stage. That did not help, and I realised the absurdity of my actions when I told him one day "We don't smack people in this house, we hug them instead!" (I expected him not to get physical when he was frustrated, but when I was frustrated I did the same thing!). Don't think the pinching is anything personal. Remember, they are struggling to communicate at this age. She sounds like a great kid. Just let her know you don't like it (I honestly don't think my DS had thought about what he was doing until I asked him to "kiss me better") and direct her attention to something positive instead without making a big deal of it.

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