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2-year old rejecting me and behaving beautifully for other people

(16 Posts)
QuercusQuercus Mon 12-Jun-17 09:02:51

This morning I had to dress my 2-year old while she cried, shouted 'no,' and screamed for her daddy. I had to brush her hair while she cried and writhed around like I was torturing her. Then when I brushed her teeth she deliberately spat toothpaste on my trousers. This happens every morning. I know all the tactics for getting her to do this stuff (chat about how 'big girls' get dressed, let her choose her clothes, let her brush my hair at the same time as I brush hers, etc, etc,) but most of the time she just rejects all of it and I end up more or less pinning her down.

She doesn't do this for anyone other than us. Her grandma tells me that she loves to have her hair brushed at their house, and sits in front of the mirror and 'preens' while she does it. She gets dressed quietly. She asks for her bath and her bed. She doesn't hit them or shout. I'm starting to feel angry and upset when I get these perfect reports back, and isolated as well.

At home, when her daddy's here, he is all she wants. She only wants to sit on him, not me. She wants him to read her stories, not me. This morning when I came into the kitchen to see them, she ran up to me shouting 'no, Mummy, stop!' and tried to physically push me back out. Some days she objects to me looking at her or speaking to her.

She's started hitting, to the extent that I don't like to have my face near her. She'll do it out of the blue, like when I'm cuddling or kissing her. Last week she hit me in the head with one of the metal spoons from the kitchen. She hits my husband as well, but more often me. We tell her that hitting hurts people, give her a warning and then time out in one of the bedrooms, but it seems to have absolutely no effect. She's started shouting that she needs a wee as soon as I put her in time out, because she knows that gets a response. I ignore it, but last time she deliberately wet herself after 30 seconds and I had to go in.

I feel like all I do is endlessly cajole her into doing things that should take about 10 seconds and end up taking fifteen minutes of screeching, running away and crying. Just the sheer level of noise is unbearable to me, the fact that the hour between 6:30 and 7:30 is solid screaming, demanding, shouting.

I realise that she sounds like a demon child here, but she's not. That's what I find so heartbreaking. She is a lovely, affectionate, smart girl. I want my relationship with her back. I feel like I don't want to go and pick her up from nursery today.

I kinda know that this is because she's 2 and it'll wear off, and I'm not even really looking for advice. Just a hand hold. I end up feeling like there's a reason she prefers her dad and his parents to me, and part of that is that my family is a fucking mess and his is loving and stable, so I fear that I'm somehow not really built for this and maybe they're just better at parenting than me.

FATEdestiny Mon 12-Jun-17 23:33:09

I'm sorry you are feeling so crappy.

Bear with me as I go 0ff on a tangent...

My dog is like this. Youngster (17 months) and bloody strong willed. My dog basically only responds to food treats. Lovely, obedient and placid dog whenever there is a good treat on offer with every request

The dog will park herself by the front door and stubornly refuse to move, unless I throw treats a few feet away from here when she will gladly and happily move.

She'll hoard my toddlers toys in her basket and refuse to let go... unless a food treat is on offer when suddenly she's fully compliant.

She will have hold of something and no amount of cajoling will get her to let go... until I shake the treat jar.

The comparison I am rather crudely trying to make here, is that my young dog responds best to bribes. She is a bogger (my dog) to train, will not do ask she's asked... just by being asked. Oh no, only if she knows there is something in it for her, immediate rewards.

Puppies and toddlers are quite similar, in my experience. So how about trying, instead of all the forcing and threats and time outs... try instant reward bribery instead.

AKA a massive run of Haribo on the mantle.

Here's a Haribo. You get it when your trousers/top/coat is on.
Here's another Haribo. You get it when your hair is done.
Here is a Haribo for when your shoes are on.

The hitting I would largely ignore, aside from reitterating that hitting is bad and we don't hit.

Likewise the parental preference. It's not unusual and ususlky flip flops.

Mainlywingingit Mon 12-Jun-17 23:51:46

I personally wouldn't do the bribery.
A) teeth! A constant stream of sugar WILL be damaging as supposed to one or two sweet things a day
B) You will end up longer term with NO cooperation unless there is a prize / reward. They should not be rewarded for doing things that is a normal expectation. I.e. Putting their coat on or eating their meal. I think that will cause problems right up until teenage years.
C) you will be perceived as weak if you do bribery and they will soon be in control again
D) it sends the message that they are not capable of good behaviour without a bribe and will create bad behaviour just to get the haribo.
E) it teaches them that the activity must be meaningless as you have to pay me to do it.

The occasional bribe obviously happens but i think acts a bad idea as a strategy.

OP I have a 2.5 year old all I can do is sympathise. It's hard. And what you are saying is emotionally hard on you but it's probably a phase.

If she sees that bothers you she may well be doing it more. I would try for the next few months act breezy " sure , let's get daddy" ,
Avoid letting her see it bothers you, pretend you didn't see it. Or even better don't acknowledge it.

I have a willful one - but I just battle through getting the Coat on while empathising with him but being firm the coat goes on. Or let him go without if the tantrum is so bad until I re suggest it later and he is a bit cold so the natural consequence has occurred.

Try not to let her see it bothers you. Call a friend for support and tears but push through consistently the next few months.

If it's any consolation, she sees you actually as so loving and safe that she is secure enough to do this.

Good luck - I'm in it with you as are lots of mum's of toddlers out there!

QuercusQuercus Tue 13-Jun-17 08:30:35

Thank you for replying, Fate, though I have to say I agree with mainly. I don't think sweets are the answer. My daughter is a great eater and doesn't have sweets at all at the moment. I'd actually rather put up with being hit in the face for another six months than introduce sugar to the equation. I do bribe occasionally, but as you've said mainly, it rapidly becomes 'I won't do this unless you give me my treat', and you're stuck with it.

mainly, I really appreciate your sympathy. It is good to know I'm not the only one (sorry!)

She is incredibly wilful, which I think is connected to the fact that she's very socially switched-on and has very good language, so she understands what you want and can resist you at an age where she's not really capable of reasoning. I know her character will be an asset to her in the future, so I'm very happy she's smart and aware. But the mind games are driving me nuts.

This morning we decided to give her more time around the morning routine, because her grandparents said that they 'suggest' to her to do thing and then she says 'no' but does them 5 minutes later. She used the time to run around naked for 20 minutes refusing to get dressed, throwing her clothes choices into the dirty laundry, arsing around shoving her flannel in my husband's shaving water, tipping toys in the bath and shouting to get in the shower. Then she cried for Daddy to get her dressed, and I put my foot down (calmly) and said I'd do it, because she'd not left him alone all morning and he was getting understandably cheesed off. Cue crying and shouting for Daddy. Same with hair and shoes. angry

Roll on 3

Intransige Tue 13-Jun-17 08:44:49

Ah toddlers. You have all my sympathy! We have a threenager at the moment but the toddler days are fresh in my mind.

I agree with you on the bribery. It doesn't work long term, and it sets them up to have a terrible relationship with food (food as reward, food as an emotional manipulation tool etc).

Not taking it personally is hugely important. I know you know that and I know how hard it is, but we find that cheerfully saying "ok then" when they only want the other parent is crucial otherwise they learn that it's a tool of control (besides, you get some time to yourself so it's not actually a bad thing grin).

At that age we found time outs did more harm than good because DD didn't link the sanction to the misdemeanour very effectively. They work better now DD is older, used very sparingly (generally only for hitting). Even in full blown tantrum mode at two we used the approach of "we'll just be in the next room if you need us" rather than enforced isolation.

What we found worked better with DD when she was a toddler was "it's ok if you don't want to brush teeth/go to bed/whatever right now, but we're not doing anything else". Then sit in front of the door to the room and ignore her until she got bored and capitulated.

We never physically restrain her unless as an absolute last resort (e.g. for safety reasons) because I think learning bodily autonomy and having the right to say no about things done to your body (e.g. hair brushing) is critically important especially for girls. Also it doesn't work as it just makes her more cross, and DD is very very strong willed so making a confrontation doesn't get us anywhere. We took the approach of "you don't have to join every argument they invite you to" instead - distract, pause, divert, make things into a game etc.

Good luck. It's a bloody tiring age! I've heard people say that it's the reason a 3 year age gap between kids is rare - people with two year olds seldom think "this is great, let's have another one"!

liquidrevolution Tue 13-Jun-17 08:52:27

We do marbles an idea I got off another poster. If the marble jar is full, DD gets a treat. A day out usually. currently trying to get her jar full before next weeks holiday wink

I find DD is like this. Angelic to everyone else but me. I have spent 8 months rarely her out or doing anything on my day off work because of this. However the last weekend we had four days of just each others company and I took her to the supermarket, she was good, to the circus, she was good, swimming, she was good.

She's 3 soon so I am hoping we have turned a corner.

LoveB Tue 13-Jun-17 08:57:04

I don't have a lot to offer here but just to say that she sounds like I was as a child - but it continued until around the age of 7. I was horrible to my mum and I don't even really know why, but I was obsessed with my dad. Perhaps it's down to the fact that she was always the one nagging at me and I spent most of my time with her, whereas all I ever did with dad was have fun.

My only suggestion would be to try to ensure you let her know how much you love her all of the time. I always felt so loved by dad, but maybe mum didn't show it obviously enough.

Anyway, me and my mum are now the very best of friends and we had a fantastic relationship from me being the age of 7 onwards. So hopefully this will be the same for you (but earlier than 7!!). I'm sure you're doing a really fantastic job x

QuercusQuercus Tue 13-Jun-17 08:57:09

I'm totally with you on the bodily autonomy intransige. I hate doing stuff 'to' her while she's crying. I always try soft routes first: 'you can choose whether you have a ponytail or a bun!', 'which hairclip would you like?' 'you can do it yourself after mummy's got the tangles out!' 'why not brush mummy's hair at the same time?' Sometimes this works. 70% not. Those days I just have to do it because we'd never leave the sodding house. Not doing it isn't an option because she scrubs her head into the pillow at night and ends up with a Russel Brand-style upstanding mat on the back of her head. Which is a treat to brush out hmm

I will be more relaxed about the parental preference. I think you're right that it becomes a tool to get a reaction. It's often hard because she bugs the hell out of her father after a while and I want to give him some time off. But then again, her gets to go to work all day and drink cups of tea in peace, so maybe he can hack it for an hour or two a day wink

QuercusQuercus Tue 13-Jun-17 09:01:48

Daddy is definitely the fun one, Love. We have our moments together, often things like being in the garden, cooking, eating - and she's great when we're out. It's home that's the issue. Particularly those pinch points of morning prep, afternoon nap and bathtime. When we have to get her to do stuff. If she can choose what she wants then it's all roses.

liquid I will remember the marbles! She's not quite there yet with understanding the future and delayed rewards, but that's a good one for later.

Mulch Tue 13-Jun-17 09:18:24

Fatedestiny what kind of dog?

Cutesbabasmummy Tue 13-Jun-17 10:11:56

My ds is almost 2.5 and like this! He screamed blue murder with temper this morning when I was taking his pjs and nappy off. Then screamed blue murder with Daddy dressing him. I try to stay calm and tell him we don't shout like that at mummy and daddy. He ends up being dressed anyway so we win at the end of the day! He doesn't understand consequences so there's no point in threatening him at this point and in the morning before work I don't have time to mess around. I'm hoping it gets better!!

liquidrevolution Tue 13-Jun-17 10:14:05

I started marbles when she was 18 months so I would suggest you give it a go now.

Waddlelikeapenguin Tue 13-Jun-17 10:27:19

I'm on my third 2 year old & they are hard work but utterly amazing.
I think the thing that would help you moat is to change how you think about it. She's not playing mind games & she's not spitting on your trousers to inconvenience you. Toddlers do the same annoying things over & over to check if the same thing happens. Spitting her toothpaste out is an experiment (we spit our toothpaste into the sink then we can wash it away with the water etc) & she is confident mummy will always be there for her so she doesnt have to behave for you.

I am on the bodily autonomy side of the argument so we look for tooth monsters & brush them to make them fluffy confusedhmm

When my kids are pushing my buttons i cuddle them more, better connection/fake it until you make it etc

Mainlywingingit Tue 13-Jun-17 10:44:44

OP it sounds like from what you are saying that she associates daddy with fun and mummy with rules.

I would speak to DP and ask this to be swapped around a bit as you want to be fun mum For a bit while he deals with changing for bed/ teeth brushing etc - if not possible during the week then def at the weekends.

TieGrr Tue 13-Jun-17 14:06:20

Could you try making a game out of some things? Like, when getting her dressed, putting her trousers on your head and admiring your new hat, kind of thing. Anything that will distract her and get her giggling.

Chattycat78 Tue 13-Jun-17 20:40:15

OP I could have written this myself. My 2.5 year old DS is EXACTLY like this. I'm really struggling with him. So many parts of your post ring true. He seems to hate me and often starts the day with 'no mummy". He hits and kicks me all the time- last week he bashed me with his scooter (out of the blue) and I still have a massive bruise. He spends all day asking for daddy, who is the "fun" one. I'm the spoil sport because I can't do exactly what he wants because we also have a 1 year old I also have to look after, which restricts where I can go with the toddler when I'm on my own with them both. He's also much better behaved for others, and I feel sad and angry too, like ive lost my relationship with himsad.

Everything is also a battle- won't put shoes on, coat on, get in the buggy- it's sooo wearing. He WILL do those things for other people though....

I've realised I need to get some one on one time with him so he starts to see me as "fun" too, and so that we can rebuild our relationship.

It's so tough. You're not alone!

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