August 30, 2010

The age of NO!

          So my DD is a toddler (20 months old today). And she is currently in the "everything is mine you can't have it" stage. I know it is normal. I've read about it. All my friends tell me their kids went or are going through it. But man, I hate it so much! I can't stand watching my child go up to another, grab a toy forcefully, make the other child cry and either show no empathy at all or actually appear to take pleasure in it.
          Last week a girlfriend came over with her nine month-old daughter. DD was thrilled to have a baby in the house. (She is also in the stage where she loves babies.) Until the baby started to play with her things. Then, she morphed into Evil Toddler. Anything the baby touched, she immediately had to have. My friend was quite amused by the whole thing. She is a child development specialist and PhD, and told me DD is doing exactly what she is "supposed" to at her age. I still don't like it.
          Even though the behavior is normal, I don't believe you can start teaching your children values too early. So I always tell my daughter, calmly and firmly, that she has to give the item back that she has forcibly taken from someone. I explain that the other child was playing with it, and she can play with something else. Of course, I find that most of the time the other child just goes ahead and hands my daughter the item in question at that point. Which does not help.
          I make my daughter wait her turn. Even when she doing so is causing her to have a meltdown. In her class at the baby gym, there is a time when they get to play on the swings. DD LOVES swings. But there are only four swings about about 13 children, so everyone has to take a turn. And that pretty much guarantees DD will have a meltdown. She has to wait her turn and then when it is over, I take her out of the swing kicking and screaming so another child can enjoy it.
          Of course, she is not the only one who has meltdowns. All her peers do. At any given class at the baby gym at least two kids are losing it. They grab. They steal stuff from one another. They push each other out of the way to get to things. It is a case study of typical toddler behavior.
          Speaking of which, as of yesterday we have also apparently entered the stage where the answer to every question is "NO!" DD doesn't say it; she shakes her head back and forth emphatically. For example, yesterday morning she refused every single food item I offered for breakfast. I went through the pantry and the fridge and got the head shake for all of it.
          This is a kid who loves to eat. And eats pretty much everything. Never refuses food. She started to turn down everything I offered for lunch, too, until she realized she was actually quite hungry and decided to give up the fight. But I can tell there will be many more to come.
          She is supposed to assert her independence, of course. Explore the boundaries. This is a natural and healthy stage of development. As a mom, I find it both exciting and terrifying. Satisfying and heartbreaking. My once tiny, dependent baby girl is rapidly becoming her own little person. All is right with the world. But it can feel so wrong.
          Thankfully, DD still has the ability to be very sweet. She loves to give hugs. To everyone. Mommy. Daddy. Other kids. Complete strangers (this part makes me uneasy). We call her the Hug Monkey. She even hugs characters in the books we read. She holds the page up to her face and squeezes the book. It's adorable.
          She recently started giving kisses on the lips. She loves when we do a family hug. My husband and I get on either side of her and squeeze. We kiss, because that always makes her giggle. And her laugh? Honestly, there is no better sound in the universe. It is the Greatest Laugh Ever. Then she gives each of us a kiss on the lips. And that cuteness is helping me get through this period.
          But man, there are moments! Parents, how do you handle this stage? Are you embarrassed when your child behaves like a little cave person, even though you know it is normal? Or can you just shrug it off? And give it to me straight - how long is this going to last? (I have been hearing from a lot of parents lately that the age of four is horrific.) Is it all downhill from here? On second thought, maybe you should just lie to me...


  1. Your DD is doing precisely what she should be doing--learning that she is an independent entity. And you're doing precisely what you should be doing--civilizing her, so she can be that entity without alienating other people. Eventually you will both achieve balance. :)

    When hubs and I hugged our kiddos between us, we called it a "baby sandwich." They loved it.

    As for how long this stage lasts...well, it varies. But three tends to be a very cooperative age, as I recall.

  2. Obviously I can't give you any advice since DD just turned one, but I can look to you for guidance when I'm the one going through this! Hope it passes quickly!

  3. My son will be two next week. He loves the word "No" very much. When he says no, I say ok and stop asking him to do whatever it is. This works! Because the "no" is just for attention and to envoke an exciting response from you and get the attention they seek. If it backfires on them (and you don't react) they get bored with the "no"!

    Oh, and at 4 yrs old, my twins were great! They were, of course, potty trained, had better reasoning skills, no trantrums (though they fought with each other), and enjoyed older activities that I could do with them!

    Hang in there! There only little for a short time!

  4. uh, stay home for the next 6 mos? Seriously, though, my 2nd son is 18 mos. & starting this stuff. It's bringing back memories I'd repressed from the 1st time. It's all normal, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. Hang in there!

  5. It's so normal, although not fun. I learned not to ask yes or no questions, be consistent, and give fair warning for transitions. For example, do you want a banana or an apple instead of do you want a banana. I heard a theory that seems to be holding up for my two oldest: 6 months of bad behavior, 6 months of good behavior until they're 5. It has to do with learning and mastering developmental skills. Hang in there, it will get better. And I'm quite enjoying 4 actually.

  6. @ Linda - You are so right! And I will civilize her! LOL Actually we were at the baby gym today, and DD did really well waiting her turn. It was great! I made sure I gave her lots of praise.

    @ Mungee's Ma - I probably scare you all the time with my posts, seeing what you have to look forward to! LOL

    @ The Mommy Mambo - I'm already trying that and it does seem to be helping. Thanks! And I just happen to have several friends who have really been struggling with their 4 year olds lately. I'm not sure what it is. I always thought that was a good age...

    @ Abby - Exactly! You know it's normal. And you know it won't last forever. But it is still challenging! Good luck w/yours!

    @ Jessica Anne - What a fantastic suggestion! That is brilliant, and I shall begin first thing tomorrow w/that approach. As far as the 6 months on/off thing is concerned, that's pretty interesting, too. Several months ago DD was a monster and we were freaking out. Then she was an angel and it was as if that time never happened. She's not quite a monster now, but seems to be swinging back that way. Might be something to your theory!

  7. When mine would throw a fit as this age, I would pick them up and leave. Kicking and screaming children go home where they can't embarrass mommy! They quickly learned and the tantrum throwing stopped.

    As for the "no" and head shaking, now is the time to not ask yes or no questions. Give her a choice, does she want mac and cheese or ravioli? If you get a head shake, remind her that these are her only two choices and if she shakes her head put off eating for a while if you can.

    As for the sharing, you are already doing EXACTLY what I did and it will work, eventually!

    Hang in there, this stage is my least favorite! Just be consistent and enjoy the cuteness!

  8. Just as the advice here, be consistent. My daughter, now 16 has always been called my wonderful work in progress.
    It's our job to give them the tools to be a great adult, kids don't come with a hand book, seriously I have wished for one for 16 years.

    16 years ago I worried my child would be dressed as a goth, drinking alcohol and doing other teenage things that we never did (!).

    But it works!

    There are times when you feel your ethics, morals and consistency aren't working and then, voila, you have a break through, no matter how small, make sure you celebrate each one!

    You will always be going through a 'stage', besides ripping your hair out and giving yourself a mommy time out, remember we have all been there or are on our way, and no one is perfect!

  9. sounds like she's right on track, haha! my poppy girl is 16.5 months so not all that far behind. and she too definitely tests boundaries/gets upset about not getting her way. my personal policy is to stay calm and SHOW her an example of what to do or what not to do - exactly as you say: i make her wait her turn, i take away toys she "steals" from other kids, etc. but i don't yell and i don't spank. i just physically mover her away from the area/item that's upsetting her, talk in a calm voice, and give her something new to focus on. i think being consistent is really key - kids learn by our example so it's important to set a good one, and it sounds like you're being very proactive about that! great job, mama!

    i don't have any advice for what stage is hardest since i'm a first time mom & poppy is younger than dd. but i hope you guys power through all the challenges of toddlerhood and have a ton of fun along the way! great post, lady. cheers!


  10. @ Mike's Crazy Wife - Oh yes, I have carried DD out of a store kicking and screaming, with everyone looking at me. LOL Right of passage for moms I think.

    @ blueeyedadri - Consistency is key! It's being consistent that can be the challenge. Thanks for the advice!

    @ Emily - Thanks for visiting my blog! I do not yell or spank either. I think staying calm is very important. And there are still plenty of fun moments. Thank goodness! ')

  11. The best advice I can give is to be consistent, which it sounds like you are already doing. I also try to give choices between two things (waffles or oatmeal, clean up trains or cars, etc.). Two of my favorite parenting books for this age range are Happiest Toddler on the Block and Love & Logic for Early Childhood. Lots of GREAT suggestions for positive parenting techniques that will leave you both feeling like winners.

  12. @ Stacey - I love Dr. Karp! Seriously, the man is a genius! I have that book, but I read it months ago. Need to pull it off the shelf and dust it off...

  13. My son will be 19 months and mastered no about 2 months ago. Anything you ask is no. Even when he means yes. The tantrums started and from what people tell me, will go on until 5. I cringe when he has one in public...

  14. I feel for you, it is a hard stage to see your little one being such a selfish little person, however, it is a process that they grow out of...hopefully. I had an experience just last week when my 2 and a half year old had broken into my poster printer
    that was hooked up to the computer and took the ink cartridges out, she was covered in them but wouldn't give them back.


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