Darling Daughter II has undergone something of a transformation.
The terrible twos have hit with a vengeance. She has developed some very strong opinions about things, but it’s the irrationality of it all, which is so confusing. Let me give you an example. The other day, she had a bloody great big splinter in her hand. This thing was huge. She calmly alerted us to it when we tried to put her mittens on, and then she waited patiently and without fuss, as I dug it out with a pair of tweezers. Contrast that to a few days before, where her father and I underwent 25 minutes of solid screaming because she refused to put a banana peel in the bin. She has no aversion to banana peels of which we are aware, nor the food bin. She just decided that she didn’t want to do it, and no amount of cajoling or threatening would persuade her. Eventually, she knocked it in by accident, after I plonked the bin right next to her, put the banana half over the lip, and she flailed about trying to avoid it.
This is one example of many, that just make no sense, but when she digs her heels in she won’t be persuaded otherwise. Annoying as it is, I kinda admire her grit. In 25 minutes she has shown more determination than I ever have!
I reckon that one of three things has happened.
First, and worse case scenario, is that following her febrile convulsion (blog post on that horror to follow), she was denied oxygen to her brain, is now fundamentally damaged and we have to find ways to adapt to future learning difficulties, challenging behaviours and personality not in keeping with the laid back child we have come to know thus far.
Second, and much more likely, is that she has simply come late to the terrible twos and is making up for lost time. Everyone knows about the terrible twos, everyone. They are so named for a reason. Toddlers ARE irrational. It is their prerogative. They have to test the boundaries to learn where they are. They have to push against what is socially acceptable to gain a proper understanding of how relationships work. I get that, I do, it was just such a sudden turnaround, it seemed to come from nowhere, and that’s what it makes so hard to get my head round.
Third, and probable, and linked in to point two, now that I think about it, is that I am making an unfair comparison against darling daughter I. She who is now a teenager was a very sensitive toddler. We used a variation of the naughty step, whereby when having a moment she would be sent out of the room, allowed to have her outburst, and then allowed back in as soon as it was over. Eventually the threat of ‘going out’ was normally enough to quell the brewing tantrum. This carried on, fairly successfully, until she was old enough to verbalise whatever was underlying and we could take it from there.
I was keen to try this technique with DDII because I genuinely believe it is a good idea. The child can have its emotional reaction, nothing is denied, but on the understanding that the quicker its over, the quicker life can carry on. I don’t like pandering but equally, I’m loathe to set up a scenario where I make threats I can’t see through. This seemed to be something of a happy medium.
Except that DDII is not at all on board with it. The threat of going out does nothing. Actually being made to go out does nothing. She is entirely non-plussed and she will get over her tantrum when she is good and ready. It may be a few minutes, it may be a good few more…
In an ideal world, you can discipline and teach your toddler in a calm manner, whilst maintaining your dignity and your cool. In the real world, events conspire against you and whilst I don’t believe for a second that a two-year-old can manipulative, I do think they know when to pick their moments.
But given that my current method is entirely ineffectual, I’m going to have to try something else. I’m currently exploring killing her with kindness and trying to get her to verbalise her upset, rather than scream about. It has worked the last couple of days, but that may well be just because it’s a change of tack that has made the toddler deeply suspicious. I dunno. It might work, it might not. I might just have to accept that for a little while, she’s going to be an irrational, sweaty, screamy mess. I’m confident that she’ll come out of it, eventually! They all do. Mostly….