Temerity Jane
21. 11. 2013

There will come a day when Penelope’s issues are too Penelope-specific and sensitive to be talked about on the Internet, and probably by that day, I’ll just be beaming my thoughts directly into your heads to be downloaded in batches once a week or so or whatever. I hope so. That would be great. But right now is not that time, and her issues, which are actually my issues, because Penny Badger don’t give a shit, are so standardly two-and-a-half year old that I’m just going to throw a whole bunch of them out here right now in hopes that those of you that have made it through to two-and-three-quarters and beyond can point me in the right direction on some of this stuff because we are just FLAILING trying to settle on some kind of sensical methods.


1. I think I mentioned this the other day, but whenever Phil and I talk to each other, she yells, “STOP STOP!” until attention is focused back on her. This also happens during the day when it’s just me and her, and she’ll yell, “MAMA, TURN ROUND. LOOKA ME. TALKA ME.” This is especially unpleasant if I’m working, because she’ll try to force her hands under mine on the keyboard and has erased some stuff before.

What I’m trying: So far, I’ve been trying the same thing that I do when she tries to do something and within half a second, screams, “I CAN’T DO IT!” and runs away having a shrieking tantrum. I said to her over and over, every day, “Do you need help? I can help you. Do you think it would be easier to ask Mama or Daddy for help instead of getting upset and throwing a fit?” And after seriously weeks upon weeks of that, one day, OUT OF NOWHERE, the heavens opened up and Penelope walked over to me and said, “Mama, I need help, can you please open my room?” Just the day before, she would have walked to her room, seen that the door monkey was on, and come screaming down the hall, “MY WOOM IS WOCKED!” and thrown herself on the ground crying. It’s still hit or miss on if she’s going to choose the screaming or the asking for help (mostly depending on how tired she is), but when she picks asking over tantrums, we praise her and throw treats into the air and give out high fives like they’re coming back into to and then going right back out of style.

So, with the interrupting, I tell walk her through the proper way to ask for attention several times a day. I tell her that when she has something to say, she should say, “Excuse me, please,” and wait until we have a moment to talk to her. I’ve told her that when people are talking to each other, she needs to wait for her turn. I’ve told her that when one conversation is finished, she can have our full attention for her conversation. I’ve told her it’s not good manners to interrupt, especially if you just want to show off that cool trick with your butt again.

I don’t know if it’s that she can’t put together that “excuse me” can be used for both rude noises and interruptions, or that it’s not sinking in at all, or that she just doesn’t want to do it properly, but this is not working. I know that she’s two, I know that this could be a phase, I know all of that, but as her parent, I still have a sort of responsibility to teach her not to be a total social knob. So, what’s the best way to handle this? Is there a way to keep a two year old from constantly demanding that all the focus be on her? Is there a way to phrase the concept that if you let us know that you have something to say, we will get to you as soon as we finish what we’re saying in a way that she’ll understand? Or should we just keep talking over her right now? Is that the most effective course of action at the moment? Because it is getting LOUD IN HERE.


2. TIME OUTS. We’ve been doing time outs pretty successfully for a long while now. She does something wrong, she gets a warning. She keeps doing it, she goes to time out. Up until recently, she only stayed in her room (since we have a floor bed, her room is zero fun – there are no toys, games, etc) for a couple of minutes, until she was ready to apologize. She understands apologizing pretty well – she even puts on a faux gentle voice and strokes my arm. It’s kind of creepy. Most times, the threat of time out was enough of a warning to get her to stop doing whatever she was doing. Time outs are used for only a couple of things in this house – safety issues and not listening. Which is to say, constantly. But it was working really well.

Recently, though, it’s not going so great. She’ll be doing something she knows she’s not supposed to do, or that she was just warned to stop doing, or that she was specifically instructed not to do, and she will keep doing it right through warnings, right through an adult marching over to her, right up until she is grabbed up and hauled away to time out. Then, once she is in the air and being carried off down the hall, she starts saying, “I WANT TO SAY SORRY! I WANT TO SAY SORRY!” As soon as she is in her bedroom, she presses her face up against the crack the door monkey leaves and yells, “I WEADY TO POWOGIZE!” So she’s figured out that she can do whatever she wants for as long as she wants or until she gets caught, because all she has to do is apologize as soon as she’s thrown into time out, and it’s back to burninating the countryside.

A couple of weeks ago, she BIT me. She hasn’t bitten me in I don’t know how long. She never had a real biting phase. But she BIT ME SO HARD, and I saw red because it hurt. I picked her up and I put her in her room and the whole while, she’s yelling apologies. This was at the end of a ridiculous day of behavior from her and Phil was already on his way home, so I just left her in there while I cleaned up the play room. She kept yelling at me about how she wanted to help clean, and I kept yelling back, “YOU BIT ME!” I may have been holding a slight grudge. After everything was picked up and I was looking at less physical evidence of her bent for destruction, I went to collect her from her room and I asked, “Are you ready to apologize?” She came over to me, stroked me arm, and said in her fake soft voice, “I sowwy I hit you, Mama,” then ran past me down the hall. SHE BIT ME. NOT HIT ME. I reminded her 87 times, yet still, mechanical apology, escape.

So now how do we work time outs? She’s got time outs set in her head that she sits there til someone comes to get her, then says what have becomes apparently meaningless words and runs off. Should we set timers instead? Do we still require an apology? Do we need to reexplain apologies? What do you do for discipline for 2/2.5 year olds? Is there something other than time out that’s more effective for different types of things? Like breaking known house rules, ones WE KNOW SHE KNOWS (being rough/mean with the dogs, coloring on not paper, going out the back door) vs stuff like not listening?


Threw all these THROW pillows outside on the patio, parents made me bring them back.
When it’s MY kingdom, I’ll tell you what.

3. LASTLY. What are the best toddler underpants? I got a couple of packs of Hanes or whatever they were at Target, but after going through the dryer, the elastic got a little snug at the waist so they’re hard for her to get up and down. Maybe ones with a wider band of elastic at the top rather than a thinner one? I’m totally going to put underpants in her stocking. I mean, Santa is. Because that kid bit me and stuff like that doesn’t going unnoticed.

27 responses to “It was noticed and it deserves underpants.”

  1. Bekki says:

    I trained my kids (twins, now 5), to be quiet when I’m holding up 1 finger. It’s useful in situations like yours. We practiced as a game (using, um, food as a bribe), starting with just 15 seconds or so, and then working up to a few minutes. They “got it” around 3.5, so you may have time to wait. We also use that for if you have food in your mouth, and someone asks you a question. It’s kind of a sign that says “I hear you and I cannot speak with you right now)

    Although, they, of course, sometimes are not so good at remembering the rules and then I practice benign neglect by simply walking away and ignoring them. I may say something like “you are being rude, and I will not speak to you right now” and then doing everything in my power to ignore them.

    april Reply:

    We do this same thing with the one finger, especially during dinner when everyone is trying to talk. Also my husband likes to glare and say “mommy and daddy are trying to have a conversation. Can we please have a conversation?” and they look guiltily down at their plates until we resume talking and they decide to try to interrupt again. Finger. It does work.

    We do a lot of timeouts here, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. We have three spots depending on the kid who’s in trouble, and if they both are (next to the front door, in the hallway, and on a chair in their bedroom). If it’s a tantrum offense it goes to the bedroom so we don’t have to listen.

  2. Jen says:

    I can’t help you at ALL with the discipline. I do not have a firm grasp on it myself. Most days I just yell like a deranged monkey. So that’s a nice mental picture, huh?

    For the underpants, try little boys. I feel like they are a bit…sturdier? I know they have a thicker band of elastic. Kate (even though she is adamantly against potty training) likes to wear Chase’s old underpants (that he never wore because he was also late to train. they don’t share underpants. that would be weird.)

  3. Alicia says:

    I bought carter brand underwear from Marshall’s and the elastic is thicker and they seem to go through the was a lot better than the dora or sophia ones that are thin and have that thin elastic band.

  4. Swistle says:

    Elizabeth is particular about underwear, and her favorites are the briefs from The Children’s Place that have covered waistbands. Like these: http://tinyurl.com/lr2av36

    Swistle Reply:

    Well, I see that link worked NOT AT ALL, despite all my careful searching and copying and pasting and Tiny-URLing. FINE. FINE. The ones I was linking to are in the Little Girls clearance section (which is what the link goes to) and they’re called “Heart Briefs 3-pack.”

    I also feel Penelope needs the rainbow pajamas in that section.

  5. Matti says:

    Yeah, we went through PACKS of underwear that just kept getting smaller and smaller in the wash. My favorite are the ones w/ a bigger elastic band. Target used to carry some Circo ones that were nice, but I can’t find them anymore. Walmart actually had some character ones that have stayed nice and loose for years. From kid 1 who barely wore them to kid 2 who wore them early b/c she trained early.

    It’s a ragey thing b/c little kids actually DON’T care. They don’t really FEEL sorry until they are older. So, you go through the motions and one day hope they are less psychopathy. However, we abandoned time outs in most cases for exactly the reasons you described. They figured out the “rules” and began using them against us. So, we went to different consequences for different things. Rough with the cats? They had to do a nice thing for the cats. Wrote on something not paper? They had to clean it up as best they could. Definitely lose their drawing implements for awhile. If something was hard to find a direct consequence for, we would chalk it up to “making the house not a nice place to be,” so now they had to do something to make the house a nicer place to be. Like pick up 10 things. Sometimes we do these consequences in addition to time out because sometimes time out is more for me. Or I need time to come up with a consequence that makes sense. At first they kind of sucked at the consequences, but they got better surprisingly quickly. Sometimes the 3 year old flat out refuses to perform said consequence…and then what do you do? Let me know if you come up with something good. Sometimes she puts herself in the bedroom, sometimes we yell, sometimes we talk about it. They totally have to SAY sorry too, but actions speak louder, blah, blah, blah.

    I have not help with the conversation interrupter. My 5 year old is still terrible about this. Even her little sister calls her “Lydia Rup-tup” for “interrupt.”

  6. Big_Neffy says:

    I am pretty sure I’m going to be returning to your comments every half hour to see suggestions re: time outs!

    Ava is a little older than Penelope (she’ll be 3 in January) and she does the same automatic apology (complete with arm stroking) & like P has figured out she can do what she wants as long as she apologizes after. So now what I do is she’s warned, if she continues, she’s sent to her room & can come out as soon as she’s calm & ready to apologize. If she does the same thing again (WHICH SHE DOES) then she’s immediately carted off to her room & can’t come out until the timer goes off (I know there’s a general minute per year rule…but TWO MINUTES? NO!) in five minutes. It seems to do the trick. I find time outs in solitary versus gen-pop are better because (this is about to sound HORRIBLE) she can’t see me. And she really does NOT like to not see me (I’m not a monster!).

    She also does a similar “interrupting” thing, but only when Matt & I are hugging (and I like a LONG hug after a shit day). She wedges herself in between us and shoves at his legs saying “MY MAMA!!!!!!!!” It’s…not sweet. And I haven’t figured out how to fix that one, so I’m no help.

  7. Sunshine says:

    You are doing exactly what you should be doing. She is so smart and testing all your boundaries…she wants to find that line and toe it. 2.5 (and three, if we’re being honest) is SO hard because they know and understand SO much but yet…they are still SO little. And everything, to them, still revolves around them. Maybe adding consequences? (taking away of toys/things she loves…though my daughter would just respond with “I never liked that toy anyway” and now she has to write sentences about good behavior — she is 6.5). Keep being consistent and keep following through. And don’t feel bad about leaving her in time out; sometimes you (and by you, I mean me) can benefit from the break as much as they do.

    Leigh Reply:

    My daughter did that too–no matter what I took away, she “didn’t want that anyway.” It gets better, I promise. Hang in there until she’s four, and you will be amazed at her delightfulness.

  8. Allysa says:

    Keep going with the timeouts and try to stay super consistent, I personally wouldn’t worry about whether or not she apologizes. The other side of all this is that you could try to really focus on when she is doing what she is supposed to (or something close to that) and just heap her with praise.

  9. Auntie G says:

    I have only boy children and only one has graduated to underpants so far, but my experience has been that Old Navy underpants hold up pretty well and do not shrink like Target ones do.

    I think all the discipline things you are doing are right on – it’s just that kids AREN’T empathetic yet, and they ARE just learning rote things to say instead of really grasping consequences, and that’s totally developmentally appropriate. It doesn’t do much to help PARENTAL rage and frustration and exhaustion. My younger son seems to be just about as…intense as Penny, so I FEEL you here. I can see realy signs of progress in his older brother, so I am drinking as much as is feasible/socially acceptable, and trusting that this will get better as the younger boy gets older.

  10. cindy w says:

    I think you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and eventually it’ll sink in. Two year-olds are all social knobs, and the ones with good parents (like you & Phil) eventually outgrow it & become normal functioning members of society.

    Want to feel like a superior parent? When Lucy does something bad, and I tell her that it was bad and she needs to stop doing it/say sorry/go to time-out/whatever, she laughs hysterically and NEVER EVER says sorry. According to daycare, she apologizes appropriately when necessary there, so she’s not a complete sociopath, she only acts like this WITH ME, which let me tell you, makes me feel like a stellar mom.

    Also, she won’t stop biting my boyfriend. It’s not vicious, she adores him, she just gets so happy to see him, runs to give him a hug, and then chomps on him like an over-excited puppy. If he picks her up when she comes running to him, she bites him on the shoulder, and it’s not that bad. But if he doesn’t catch her in time, she runs up and bites him on the thigh, because that’s where her mouth is in relation to his height. And even then, if he’s in jeans, it’s not so bad. But his work khakis aren’t very thick, and she’s left teeth marks on his leg. And last week she got his balls. I’m not even joking with you. He couldn’t breathe for a solid few minutes there.

    So, see? You are a FANTASTIC parent compared to the tiny demon toddler I’m raising.

    Natalie Reply:

    Sorry but this made me LOL.

  11. yasmara says:

    I love Hanna Andersson unders. They are expensive, but I’ve had good luck buying them on eBay. YMMV for buying underwear on eBay, but I wash them on hot (they don’t shrink) and they last forever – they also seem to miraculously last through multiple sizes. My son is still wearing some he’s had since he was potty trained (he’s 7 in 2 weeks), but maybe he just has a tiny butt that stays the same size??? Oh, and they are actually hand-me-downs from his older brother, so someone has been wearing them for 6 years straight & they are still going strong!

  12. Kelly! Have you tried the thing where if she wants to talk, she comes and grabs your hand, and squeezes it? You squeeze it back and she knows you know she needs to tell you something, but you can wrap up your thoughts/sentences, and then ask her what she needs. This has worked really well with my kids, and is totally easy enough to teach/show a 3yo. (My 2yo doesn’t get it, but my 4yo usually does and my 6yo regularly does.) I mean, at first it will have to be an instant-reward thing, of course, where she gets the attention as soon as she grabs your hand, but over time you can stretch it out and she will get better at waiting, knowing you know she has something burning (haaaa) to say.

    Okay I know you get a million comments and I don’t know that I have anything more helpful than anyone else to say (def not about time out or underwear) but the hand-holding thing had been a super useful trick in my house, so I thought I would mention it since no one else has yet. It’s not foolproof, OBVS, but if it makes my kids squeeze my hand instead of yelling, even HALF the time, it’s a system we like. :)

    Susie Reply:

    I want to do this! I love this idea! But… but.. I don’t get how to help it sink in? I mean, my kid is just 2, so it’s likely premature, but in a few months: do you TELL them that’s what they should do? And show them when YOU have something you want to say? Or…?

    (I feel dumb.)

    Veronica Reply:

    We just started this as well with my three-year-old and she picked up on it really quickly and it has been working well. We “practiced” it a few times and praised the shit out of her when she did it, then if she forgets we just remind her and she’s usually good for a few days. Good luck. The interrupting is INFURIATING, I know.

  13. cakeburnette says:

    Shelby ONLY wore the (sadly, fairly expensive) Gymboree undies. The elastic (back then; she’s 15 now) was not exposed, and she didn’t like the feel of elastic on her skin. The good news was that I was on their customer mailing list and got tons of coupons and advance notice on their sales (which are very good). I would just stock up the next sizes whenever they went on sale/got a good coupon, so it ended up being okay from a money-standpoint. She also potty-trained INSTANTANEOUSLY and only had 2 accidents in her entire life, so it wasn’t such a big deal about the cost, because she wore them until she outgrew them.

    Lest anyone hate me for my instantaneous potty-trained child, her older brother was 7 before he potty-trained completely. And I don’t want to talk about the number of pairs of little-boy undies I had to THROW AWAY because they were HORRIFYINGLY POOPED IN.

    cakeburnette Reply:

    He got whatever came in large-quantity packs and were cheap.

  14. lucydidwhat says:

    First, I’ve recently re-discovered your blog, so hi!

    Second, my boy child is three in January and he hit this stage hard over the summer. Sorry was the magic get out of jail free card. I stopped time outs for all but DANGER behavior and the time out then is different to what I used to do. If he does something dangerous when we’re at home (swinging off the weird exposed banister bit at the top of our stairs was a popular one for a while) he gets put in his room (which is, like Penny’s, boring) and left there until I’m ready to deal with him.

    Depending on how my day’s going that can be five minutes, or, uh, closer to 15. It’s never less than five and I try not to go too long or he forgets why he’s there. Then I go in an ask him if he knows what he did, if he knows why he did it, etc. Then we have a boring safety lecture and then he loses a privilege. I try and relate it to what he’s done. So, swinging from the stair banister = no going upstairs by himself.

    It works with him because he hates to lose his independence and that’s essentially what gets taken away.

    We don’t do sorry in those situations, he has to apologize if he hurts someone else, breaks something, etc. but for the safety things I just don’t want to bring it into the mix at the moment.

    For non-safety stuff I give myself a time out. So, he does something like hit or break something or have a giant ass tantrum and I say, “I love you, but I do not like your behavior right now so I’m going to leave until you feel ready to calm down/be nice/whatever.” Then I go to another room and shut the door. It blows his tiny little mind every time. He’s all like, “Wait, what? You are walking away from my show of how angry/tired/bored/awesome I am? Can you do that?”

  15. Becky says:

    I buy the kids Gap Kids underwear when it’s on sale. Some pairs are going on two years old and are great.

    The book I read on parenting that I like “1 2 3 Magic” recommends that you don’t force kids to apologize after time outs. You do the time out, you let them out, that’s it.

  16. liz says:

    Thanks for this post, you just described my recently turned 3 year-old daughter and I’m anxiously reading the comments and getting some great suggestions!

    She goes to daycare and when she was moved to the 3-year old classroom, she came home and at the dinner table said, “Mama, may I please be excused?”. UM, WHAT? YES! YES you may!!

    As far as undies…we like the “okie dokie” brand from JC Penny, Gymboree (agree to scour the clearance bins), as well as the Carters brand. I was excited and bought her first round of undies at Target, and they all fit weird. Very weird, like they didn’t measure actual toddlers and their cotton has NO stretch in it.

  17. Molly says:

    I read “Loving Our Kids on Purpose” by Danny Silk when my oldest was 2. I was beyond frustrated with the behavior and lack of understanding. Because, you know, he was 2. It’s verrry religious and preachy but it gave me a new and awesome perspective on raising kids. The basic gist is that you have been given your children by God but they are not yours. He is trusting you to raise them into normal and useful adults. The method he uses for discipline is like time out but not called that. When she does something you would normally put her in time out for or is just not listening you say “you are not being fun right now. Go to your room until you’re ready to be fun again.” Then she goes until she’s calmed down. She determines how long the time is. If she comes back but the behavior or attitude haven’t changed you do it again. Changing the words from “you’re in trouble” to “I don’t want to be around you when you’re mean or not fun” flips the punishment. Hope this helps!

  18. peacelovemath says:

    My friend with older toddlers has her girls apologize very specifically. I witnessed it a few times and have tucked it away for use when my kid talks: her kid says “I’m sorry I (whatever)” and she asks why it was wrong (“it hurts and it’s not nice to hurt my sister”), and what should have happened instead. So maybe it’s just time to start helping Pen take her apologies to the next level, since she’s able to understand more now?

  19. Rayne of Terror says:

    Interrupting – hell if I know. Eventually they get it, but for us it took until elementary school. We went through the yelling of STOP TALKING TO MOMMY with both boys. It’s infuriating but it doesn’t last long.

    Time outs- I give a time out until: you are ready to be sweet, you are ready to use your listening ears, you are ready to WHATEVER I need you to be doing/behaving. I found time out of 1 minute per age to be useless. When the child apologizes I force them to look me in the eyes and wait until it I respond before running off. They have to apologize repeatedly until they hit all the marks of a proper apology.

  20. Heather says:

    Best undies? Old Navy for sure!
    And kids always figure out how to weasel their way out of everything…