I can now tell you that the “terrible twos” are not a myth. They are real, and they are spectacular.
Disagreeableness? Tantrums? Blatant disobedience? The Cutlet is doing it all!
Does she love the word “no?” Absolutely! Does she argue with us anytime we ask her to do something? You bet! Does she throw tantrums when she doesn’t get her way? Yes she does!
Her misbehavior isn’t just limited to stubbornness and tantrums. She’s apparently got a bit of a devious side too.
Last Saturday, I needed to get some shopping done. I loaded the Cutlet into the car, and just as I was pulling out of our development, she announces, “I have to go potty.”
I was tempted to either ignore her or tell her to just go in her diaper. But potty training has been a bit of a struggle, so I need to be responsive when she recognizes and communicates the need to go.
I promptly turned the car around, took her back into the house and led her to the potty. Once we’re in the bathroom, she refused to sit on the toilet.
I ask, “Don’t you need to use the potty?” She tells me that she does not. I then ask why she told me she needed to use the potty just a minute earlier. She answers, “I didn’t want to ride in car.”
Holy crap. I could not believe what I just heard. I felt a little like Ron Burgundy:
I realized that despite the cleverness, I had to let her know it was unacceptable to lie to me. I gave her a stern lecture which I hope made an impact on her.
I’m just a bit worried. If she’s already become manipulative at age two, what will the future bring?
Aside from the deviousness, the biggest problems we’ve faced have come at nap time and bedtime.
A couple of weeks ago, the Cutlet decided that going to sleep simply wasn’t her thing.
Obviously, it is unreasonable to expect that a child will always want to go right to bed. We used to deal with this problem by just shutting the door to her room. Eventually she would lay down and go to sleep without any further prompting.
One drawback to children getting older is that they begin to develop new skills which you might not want them to have quite yet; Such as turning doorknobs and opening doors.
Now that she has mastered this skill, she can – and does – leave her room any time she wants.
Here is what our bedtime routine has become:
- Change the Cutlet into her pajamas and brush her teeth.
- Have her attempt to use the potty.
- Read her a couple of books.
- Sing her a song, tuck her in, give her a goodnight kiss, and leave the room.
- Wait as she emerges from her room seconds later.
- Force her to return to her bed.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 several times until her parents are completely exasperated.
We’ve tried several different ways to get her to stay in bed. None have proven successful:
- We try being nice and sweetly ask her to get back into bed. When she asks if we’ll tuck her in again, we tell her that we will if she promises to stay in bed. We then learn that our child is a BIG FAT LIAR.
- We have tried putting her in timeout if she comes out of her room. This backfired as we soon realized that she actually preferred going to timeout over going to bed.
- We’ve threatened to take away her toys and stuffed animals. It upsets her when we finally do take them away, but not enough to get her to listen to us.
- We’ve told her that she won’t be able to watch TV or play dress up the following day. This usually has minimal effect because in the mind of a toddler, it’s like, “Tomorrow? Who cares about tomorrow? I want to stay up now!”
- We’ve tried to reason with her and explain that she needs to go to sleep so that she isn’t tired in the morning. I’ve found that using sound logic is equally as ineffective on toddlers as it is on sabermetrics fans.
- We’ve stapled her to her sheets so that she can’t get up. (Note: We didn’t actually do this, but don’t think that the idea hasn’t crossed my mind)
- Finally, either Mrs. Cutter or I (and often both of us) lose our temper and have to raise our voices. We know that part of what she’s doing is trying to get a reaction from us, so the yelling is probably counter effective. But sometimes, a person runs out of patience.
We know that she’s partially testing us. We also know that she seems to be winning. If anyone has any ideas, we’re open to hearing them.
I shouldn’t sound so negative. Looking past the issues at bedtime and the bouts of “toddleritis,” the Cutlet is doing quite well.
She started at her new preschool this week, and so far she seems to be thriving. The Cutlet is generally a shy child, so we were worried that she might have some trouble adjusting to a new school, teachers, and classmates. But she has been happy when we drop her off, (or at least as happy as she gets in the morning) and her teachers have reported that she has been eagerly playing and interacting with the others.
It might help that her teachers seem to be very nice. I know I’ve certainly enjoyed talking with them.
Maybe she’s thriving because she’s in a more structured environment. Maybe she’s just better behaved when she isn’t around her parents. Or maybe it’s difficult for her parents to see just how much she is maturing.
Sigh…our little girl is growing up. Which is great and all, but seriously kid, GO TO SLEEP!