Thursday, September 27, 2012

Herding cats

The terrible twos have hit with a vengeance.  I thought we'd somehow sidestepped them by teaching Charlotte to sign.  She's such a great talker anyhow that she could say pretty much anything she's thinking or feeling by now.  I read in a few different places that the root of the terrible twos was frustration on the part of the child who isn't able to communicate, but that's not what's going on here.  Nope, we have full-fledged defiance.  A daily battle of wills.  A constant testing of limits.  And it's really really hard.

I'm slowly learning to pick my battles.  If Charlotte does something I'd rather she not do, I should redirect her away from whatever it is.  If I come right out and tell her NOT to do something, that's exactly what she then does, over and over, with giggles and grins the whole time.  Yesterday, it was swatting at her sister while we were all brushing our teeth (picture Charlotte standing on the counter, me behind her holding Maggie in one hand and my own toothbrush in the other.  It's that or I don't get to brush my teeth until after lunch.).  I explained that she was scaring Maggie and might hurt her; that we don't hit people; that she would not want anyone swatting at her.  It didn't matter what I said, Charlotte just kept swinging her arms at Maggie.  It was too late to just redirect her attention, and I didn't want her to think her actions were acceptable.  But what in the world can I do at that point?

Compounding the challenge is the fact that I have Maggie to contend with too, so I can't just drop everything and devote my full attention to Charlotte.  Besides, I don't want Charlotte to misbehave as a way to GET my full attention.  I try to devote at least 30 minutes each day just to Charlotte, one-on-one without computers or phones or a baby sister stealing any of my focus.  It's not that I ignore her the rest of the day, but my attention is perpetually split between the two kids, the house that always needs cleaning, bills that I need to pay, meals to prepare, etc.

Is this terrible twos, or sibling jealousy?  How do I discipline a 2 1/2 year old?  I think it's time I started attending the "Parenting Toddlers" support group.  If I learn anything earth-shattering, I'll share it with you.  Until then, I just need a sympathetic ear (or eye, in this case) to listen and nod in understanding.  Eventually, Charlotte won't be 2 any more.  And until then, I need to remember that her "terrible-ness" fills less than 2 hours out of the whole day.  She's still a complete joy the rest of the time.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Oh sweetie, I hear you and am nodding. My situation is simpler with only one, but my one is nearly TWO and the behavior you talk about is familiar.

I hear you, I get it.