Category Archives: manipulation

“I Need a Time Out”

Ken told my parents the other night that we need a discipline book. They looked at him with a bit of shock registering on their faces. Discipline? For their sweet and perfect grandchild, Nora? Yes, we said. Sometimes lately we have felt at a loss as to what to do with our strong-willed daughter who is, as I type, trying to manipulate her father into more books and more songs and more escapes from the bedroom to delay bedtime just one more time. Yes, our toddler needs some discipline.

A teacher should have this down, you may think. Don’t I discipline all day? No. I don’t. I am not so good at discipline in my classroom either – my theory is just to keep the minds and hands busy so there is no time or need for goofing around. It works well most of the time. And when it doesn’t work I feel like I need discipline lessons for the classroom too.

My parents eventually witnessed some of the small defiances that are making Ken and I feel inadequate in the toddler discipline field. Just as with a class of teenagers, really, there are just times when you really need your child to listen. And sometimes she isn’t cooperating.

So we went to the tried-and-true time-out method. We picked a chair for time-out and started to put her there to sit quietly after she has refused to stop hitting or kicking or throwing things. She sits there pretty well – sometimes asking to get down before we’ve released her, sometimes crying, sometimes just looking at us with the I’m-so-going-to-manipulate-you smile.

Time out has either become a giant success or a giant failure, I’m honestly not sure. Now, when Nora hits or kicks or throws and we tell her firmly to stop, she says, “I need a time out,” or “I want a time out.” She walks to the chair and sits there until we tell her to move.

Does she do this because she knows that she has done something wrong? Or does she do this because it’s pretty fun to sit in the time out chair and get attention when it’s all over? I don’t know. And I guess it doesn’t really matter if it’s working to make her stop the behavior.

But we do still need a book.

What good toddler discipline books have helped you?

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Filed under manipulation, routine with toddler

Back Seat Driver

Nora’s in a mom-only phase. Before I was a parent I thought these phases were cute, especially if you were the favored parent. But, really, they aren’t cute so much as emotionally and physically draining. These are the parts of being two that aren’t all that endearing – throwing a fit in the middle of the grocery store just because your father tried to hold you, or insisting that you sit on mom’s lap all through dinner just because you can, thus preventing her from having a hot dinner, or insisting that mom is the only one with talent enough to put on the velcro shoes you’ve chosen to wear that morning. I am waiting for a daddy only phase. I’m sure it will come, and my feelings will probably be hurt. But right now, in the throes of the mommy-only days, I feel like I need a little space.

So we went to the park. And on the way there she screamed at me to go because the light was green and I was sitting still waiting to turn. She’s old enough to know what the colors mean, but too young to see the speeding cars preventing me from going in her chosen direction. But, nonetheless, in this clingy phase, I am finding back seat driving a welcome respite from screaming for my attention. She honestly thinks she knows where we’re going and when I should stop and go. She’s my two-year-old back seat driver.

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Filed under manipulation, me time, routine with toddler

My Two Year Old Is A Mean Girl

Nora really is full of sugar and spice and everything nice. That is, most of the time. This weekend (probably due to her new-found ability to say pretty much whatever she wants and the crankiness induced by still-yet-to-be-seen two year molars) her sugary self took a hiatus and her mean girl side emerged full force.

Nora isn’t exactly Miss Friendly when it comes to her classmates. I know she likes her “friends”; she talks about them at home and tells us of their many adventures, but when it comes to warming up to them in person, she’s not so into that. Each morning we arrive at daycare and a few of the toddlers yell, “Nora!” when she enters the room. They run over to her when I put her down, smiling and offering toys. She stands there, thumb in mouth, finger twirling her hair, head slightly cocked to one side. “Who me?” she seems to say, and walks away without even acknowledging them. It’s sometimes embarrassing if one of the other parents is there to witness her obvious snubbing.

So, from these morning encounters, I knew there was a mean girl somewhere inside her. At a daycare friend’s birthday party on Saturday, a father told me, after finding out that I’m a teacher, that he could see Nora as a teacher too. He commented that she likes to organize and show others how to do things. I think this was his nice way of saying that Nora can be bossy. Later, when Ken was trying to put her down for a nap and that wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, she snapped, “I want a new daddy!” Today when I was trying to put her down for a nap and, again, it wasn’t her idea of fun, she said, “Where’s my daddy? I love him.” When I asked if she loved me too she said no. Her mean streak even extended to her grandparents. When my mom suggested it was time for her and my dad to leave, Nora started saying goodbye and announcing their departure. It would have been rude if she wasn’t two. And, then, just to make sure we didn’t mistake her for her usual sweet and cuddly self, she announced to Papa on his way out, as she leaned in to kiss him, “Papa, you’re pink.” Which he is – a typical fair skinned former redhead. She did make sure, however, to not be all mean girl. She donned her sympathetic voice and told Papa, “You’ll be all better later.”

I guess I need to brace myself now for the teen years.

My favorite Mean Girls Quote:

Oh, I love seeing teachers outside of school. It’s like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs.

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Filed under drama queen, manipulation, naptime, refusing to nap in crib

The Sleep Monster



I read frequently about my friends’ woes with their sleeping, or non-sleeping babies. They post updates about lack of sleep on facebook, and on their blogs, they detail their sleep woes in private notes and simple conversations. Even though we know that we aren’t alone in the battle to get our babies to sleep, it still throws us for a loop and causes us to judge ourselves as parents when our babies won’t sleep the way we want them to.

A change for the worse in Nora’s sleep pattern sometimes makes me feel like I am doing something wrong as her parent. I judge my parenting skills by her ability to sleep 11 straight hours. And I know this is ridiculous. Her sleep says nothing about my ability to teach her the important things in life. It says nothing about her future moral self, work ethic or intelligence (at least I don’t think it does). But every time she has a slip in her sleep, part of me feels like I’m failing at something. I don’t judge other parents’ ability by their babies sleep. I don’t think, “Oh, her baby is waking up too much, what a bad parent.” I don’t think, “She is such a better mother than me since her baby sleeps well.” I chalk it all up to luck. Why can’t I do that with Nora too? Why does it feel like a failure for myself when I judge it as luck in everyone else?

This past week Nora’s good sleep habits fell by the wayside. She was sick and I was rocking her to bed so she wouldn’t cough herself into a vomiting fit. So then, of course, she wanted me to rock her every night. And it started taking 40 minutes to put her to sleep. We tried to “retrain” her to sleep on her own. She just pulled the usual Nora vomit trick. Ken and I decided that cleaning up vomit was less pleasant then losing some of our evening time together for the time being, so I rocked on.

When I was away Friday evening, Ken got her to sleep with no rocking. When we were both out Saturday, my mom got her to sleep with no rocking. A pattern emerged. She likes to manipulate her mother. Probably because I’m pretty easy to manipulate.

So Ken is in there putting her to sleep. I put on her pjs and brushed her hair and then I left. And she cried a bit, but Ken gets her quiet and reads her story and sings her song. He says she shakes her head yes when he asks her if she wants to go to bed. And then she goes, no crying (maybe a little) and no vomit. I miss her bedtime. I miss rocking her a little as she dazes out. I miss putting her in her crib and seeing her stick her thumb peacefully in her mouth. I sit on the couch feeling a bit like a failure. But I know I’ll be back in there soon enough, since nothing in the sleep department seems to last too long – good or bad.

I’ll see her at 5:30 am. When she wakes up too early. And until I am a bit more caffeinated, I’ll sit in the rocker, feeling like I’ve done something wrong to deserve such an early awakening. But when I go out into the living room with her, I’ll log onto facebook and read about someone else who has to be up that early too. And we can all suffer together with the help of the Internet.

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Filed under manipulation, sleep, vomit