The Sky is Blue - No It's Not: How to Handle A Negative Toddler
?Hold my hand while we cross the street - No! Let me strap you into that car seat - No! You need to eat your vegetables before you can have cake - No! The sky is blue - No it's not! You are cute - No, I'm not! I love the color blue - No, you don't! I love pizza - No, you don't!
If this sounds familiar, you are no doubt in the midst of terrible 2's or terrifying 3's in raising a toddler. The days are terribly stressful as you watch your sweet little baby who needed your guidance every step of the way begin to exert his or her will power and personality. It's very difficult for parents to cope during these times. We hear all about the terrible 2's, but for many parents the 3-year old toddler years are much more devastating. Why? Because, your child develops enough to be able to stand their ground in their defiance. While you may be able to physically pick up a 2 year old and put them where they need to be, screaming and kicking if need be; it becomes increasingly difficult to do this with your growing 3 year old especially when they have developed the wet noodle or wiggle out of your hand tricks. Some may even brace their hands and feet against a door frame so you cannot budge them to move them to where they need to be.
What are some things that parents can do to nurture these argumentative, negative toddlers into well-adjusted children and adults? For starters, know that every task you attempt with toddler in tow will probably take 3 times as long to get it done. Do not plan on running in and out of a store to pick up a loaf of bread, for instance. Instead, plan on extra time for a toddler who refuses to stay with you, refuses to get out of or into car or cart, or both, a toddler who will throw a screaming fit the moment you get ready to put your attention on the cashier. Expect delays, and expect arguments. Be happy when things actually do go smoothly, but don't anticipate them to go that way.
Take a huge deep breath. If you have to, once your child is securely fastened into their car seat, just wait outside the car for a moment until you can calm down enough to face the impending arguments once again. You say no, they'll say yes. You say yes, they'll say no. So, why not use this to your advantage. Get the conversation going & switch gears till they are agreeing to what you need them to agree with. While, this might be tempting; it might not be the best solution every time because ultimately you don't want to develop a sense of defiance and deceit in your child.
Link up with other parents who are in similar circumstance who can encourage you and you them. You can both laugh at the stress as you spur each other on in parenting.
Only give your child choices when you are ready for the negative option. Don't allow a 2 and 3 year old child to make decisions about everything. It is good to offer them choices to develop their sense of confidence and decision making skills. But, not about everything. Only give them a choice when you are prepared to carry through with the worst option. while it is more peaceful to give into their every negative demand, most parents know that this is not the goal, and don't allow them to plan your day. You don't want to raise a spoiled child even though this time in their life is very challenging, and peace-loving parents will do anything to quiet down the commotion of an obstinate child.
Try to use the word yes in your language as much as possible. It's possible, though maybe not likely, that your child will pick up on your optimism. At very least it might cheer you up.
Keep a level head and know that most children get through this as simply a stage. While, some stages are cute and lovable, this one is not. Still, if you stand your ground on things that involve your child's safety & lay back on the arguments that are simply a matter of choice, you will make it through these negative toddler years in one piece and not stressed out. Keep your mind set on the end of the tunnel, though granted it is extremely difficult to focus on the fact that this child will get through this negativity when you're in the middle of an argument about whether the sky is still blue, why they no longer like the color yellow or what veggies to eat today.