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.