When did every day activities with a two year old toddler become a full body work out for all those involved and a tag team sport? My wee one seems to have woken up on her 2 nd birthday with a sense of entitlement and determination. Everything is now physical and mental warfare. You want her to get dressed not only does she run the other way at the mere suggestion but once you have captured her or in her case cornered her, the fight she puts up in physically getting clothes on her and her physically ripping them off is impressive . Envision if you will trying to get an octopus into the string bag. When she puts her mind to it, legs are removed from pants faster than you can get the other one in . Kicking & screaming ensues with a t shirt and shoes ! She has to do it herself and won't accept any help. Although to give her credit she has figured out ( thank god ) that if you borrow a shoulder or lean on the wall, wellies go on faster. She chooses her own clothes when she has the mind to , which I find helps with control factor each morning. I figure I don't care what she wears , if it helps limit the time it takes to get dressed. But most of the time she doesn't care either hence the battle to get out of pj's and yes there are days that I give up and she wears all or some of them all day ... with the wellies !
The fight or flight mentality has linked itself to just about every activity in my wee womans life. Nappy change turns in to hog tying her up and changing her on the floor where I can hold her still , with my thighs , for a sec to wipe her and we have mastered the stand up change. One handed I might add. Its like wrestle mania three. She is getting close to potty training and knickers ... it cant come quick enough.
Bed time and nap time is now running laps of the house to catching her, then grappling with wriggling body parts to the bottom of the stairs which she insists of climbing herself, holding way too many stuffed toys that I’m afraid I won't be able to find her actual body if she falls and Ill end up catching a teddy rather than a toddler.
Home time , from anywhere be it the beach , park , shopping you name it. You need to allow a good 15 mins for negotiation talks to get them to walk in the right direction, followed by a vice like grip on their wrist as they won't actually hold hands. I have given up on a pushchair. My one won't entertain the idea any more. She either develops abs of steel and won't bend in the middle like an ironing board if I'm trying to get her straps on . Or turns to liquid and slithers out of the chair and you cant contain her.
Bath time , ha , gone are the days of gentle swooshing in a steamy bathroom. Fluffy towels and bonding massage with a sleepy warm baby. More water on the floor than in the bath Slippery toddler whizzing around the house naked refusing ironically to put back on the pyjamas previously manhandled off her earlier in the day. Then I have had to resort to holding my kid down. Restraining her hands just to get the toothbrush in to start the process. She realises shes beat and will do it herself and ALL of her stuffed toys as a delaying tactic. Eventually! I’ve have tried the copying game, I do my teeth but no she knows she has the power. Both of us are worn out when she gets to bed.
But I get it , not only have I seen it all before and know it will pass. But I understand the phycological patterns behind this phase. They are becoming independent. They are learning , we are encouraging them to do things for themselves so we should not stunt that growth in confidence and complain about its success. We ourselves need to adapt and find wells of patience to these situations. Raising a strong independent brave child is the goal. One who knows their mind and believes in themselves. I know raising a daughter I want her to ask questions, push boundaries and be confident.
Does it get any better, not for a while as they learn more language and you end up in few verbal battle of wills too. Is there an answer. Yes, give them outlets and verbal cues to know what you expect of them. Safe zones to do what they want, like run crazy through the park or tip all the toys out and or empty her drawers looking for that one cat t shirt ! Then I have found a count down to what you expect. Like we are going in ten swings. Or count to 20 and its time to get dressed , etc. At home I have a timer that we put on together , I say when it goes off , we are leaving...... , finished doing what ever it is ... tidying up the carnage of the past half hour. I tell her after this cartoon it is going off , etc. This direction I have found works really well. There are tears and the a fore mentioned laps of the house but as the days go by she has gotten used to the new boundaries and is happy that she can flex her control muscles but knows the score in the end.
I have found it liberating when you have the time and space to just do what they want. Be it don't get dressed.... (hence the pj day (s)). Wander where they want to go . Stay at the park for that wee bit longer. Have a yes day , it is where unbeknownst to them you say yes to everything they ask. Play building blocks for hours. Read the same book over and over. Run around with no knickers/pants or nappy on, suggest this is just them , each to their own and do it on a sunny day outside. ( its very good starter for potty training )
For the stepping stones our kids will be making in the next year. They are going to be hitting some really big mile stones in their young life from 2 yrs to 3 yrs. Like transitioning to using the toilet, sleeping in her own bed, learning to scooter or ride a bike , etc. I am going to need her to have a bit of control over her destiny. She needs to have the conviction to think she can do it herself and in a way that is comfortable to her. We both need to offer some trust to each other that I will let her do it and she will feel safe in working it out herself.
Right now they are little dictators but it's only as they are finding their place in the family, exploring the world and learning to adapt and fit in as well. I would get a bit pushy and bossy and bolshy too ( I was, my parents assure me ) if I was constantly being told what to do and manhandled in to situations not of my choosing. I find if you have the patience and time on some situations to meet them half way it's a good thing or steer them in to what ever it is while they think it was their idea at least feel like they are in agreement with your suggestion. Then the work out isn't so bad.... Ding ding