Toddlers and Choice

I’m hesitant to say that I’ve figured out how to deal with the kinds of meltdowns that have been happening lately, but I think I’ve managed to curb it temporarily.  We’ll have to continue to experiment to see if this is indeed the case.

I’m one of those that started giving my child choices as soon as I saw that she was able to grasp the idea of it.  And it’s worked rather well for a while, and it gave her that sense of independence and control.  However, that has (as I feared it would) backfired to some extent.  It is great when she wants to be decisive about something, and things get done in a timely manner.  It’s not so great when she just wants to say no to everything, throw tantrums and just basically do everything humanly possible to be uncooperative.

And it’s to the point where wrestling matches have happened.  I don’t like it.  I don’t like physically wrestling with a screaming child.  It just makes me so incredibly uncomfortable, I feel like she’s going to hurt herself because I’m attempting to do something.  (Like, change her diaper.)

I’ve tried doing the “wait it out” method, which specifically with diaper changes, only worked a couple times in a matter of a few days.  I don’t have the time to do that kind of thing all the time.  And it wasn’t nearly effective enough to continue trying.  Especially when I needed to leave the house.

I’ve tried reasoning with her.  I’ve tried explaining to her.  I’ve tried bribing her.  Yes, you heard that right.  With things like snacks, which I was going to give her anyway.  From time to time, that worked, but again….not nearly enough.  I’ve tried bringing her to her little training potty.  Nothing seems to be working.

She is relatively good with diaper changes when we’re not at home.  Sometimes she gives us a hard time, but not often when we’re not at home.  She seems to be good for other people changing her diaper.  For reasons I haven’t been able to fathom, she just refuses to do diaper changes at home.

One of the things I had started to do, was ask her if she needed a new diaper.  Of course, every single time, whether she did or not, her answer was no.  I gave her ultimatums to get her to sit down and lay down so I could change her.  This is where I’m starting to realize that finding the times where I should just give her no choice in the matter is going to be very important, and extremely hard.

I’ve removed my verbalization (well, I’m trying to, sometimes I slip up) surrounding when I want to change her diaper the last couple days and it seems to work for the most part.  I lay her down and just start working without ever bringing it up.  It’s been relatively successful the past couple days.

When it comes to clothing or pjs for bedtime, we started giving her room to make choices.  This started when she started wanting to pick out shoes herself when we were leaving the house.  However, sometimes she won’t choose anything when I’m trying to get her dressed to leave the house, or if she doesn’t want to go to bed yet.  Again, lots of verbalization and conversation with her, trying to coach her into choosing something.  Worked great for a while, then it backfired as well.  Again, it was occasionally an issue of having to wrestle her into clothing in order to just get it done and over with, and I just kept feeling like a crappy mom for having to resort to it.

I’ve also started to remove choice in those areas as well when I really need to either get her to bed because it’s getting late, or we need to leave the house.  Again, this seems to be working to some extent, but considering this is directly following some serious meltdowns the other day, I’m hesitant to think that this is going to be a long-term fix.

Even if it is not, at least I’ve managed to have a couple days in a row that have been largely meltdown free.  It’s given me time to uncoil my nerves and throw some ice water on my temper and impatience.


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Wife, student, new first time mother. Crafter and creator. Animal enthusiast. I had a miscarriage in March 2011. But we tried again. March, 2012 was the birth of my first child. Off and on I have been dabbling with small business, trying to get it off the ground since, every so often changing direction.

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