I have a confession to make. I have been letting my 2-year-old get away with murder. Why? For the same reason I believe we all do it: it’s way easier. For people who aren’t parents, I know it seems ludicrous that I’d cave in to a toddler. Theoretically I, a grown woman, should have no problem controlling my 25-lb. peanut. But on those days when everything feels like a battle, that theory goes out the window. The fact is though, that being a good parent, doing what’s good for my child, often means doing what’s hard for me. I have to admit I’ve been taking the easy road far too often.
The single biggest thing I’ve had to tackle is my daughter’s compulsion to refuse just about anything. I had, of course, heard from other parents that often a toddler’s favorite word is “No!” As with so many aspects of parenting though, hearing about it, expecting it even, did nothing to prepare me for the reality. I don’t think there is anything that can prepare a parent for the level of stress and frustration that comes from hearing “No!” over and over and over again. I think law enforcement could start using 2-year-olds to wear suspects down. The sure-fire release valve for that stress is to give in.
“Fine! You can have marshmallows for breakfast! Fine! We can spend 20 minutes getting out of the car so you can keep trying to do your buckle! Fine! I’ll clean up all your toys – again!” But as is the case with nearly any quick fix, it’s no time at all before you’re back where you started. I was ready for a real change. With my husband’s support, I have said goodbye to Miss Nice Mommy.
I have taken the bold step of simply refusing to accept “No!” as a response from my daughter when she’s being asked to do something. It’s only been a week since my momentous shift – a week filled with lots of tears and tantrums and timeouts – for me and my daughter. Tonight, though, when clean up only took five minutes, not the 20 it did a week ago, I knew I was finally on the right track.
And I know my daughter’s counting on me to keep us on track – tears and all.