time for battle?

Melody is fourteen months today. As we enter the toddler stage, things are both fun and difficult. Several months ago I found myself beginning to say the infamous "no." Since then the frequency of uses had continually increased. I'm fairly certain we haven't reached the peak of the crescendo yet. Each day Melody's coordination improves. She's not just walking now; she's cruising. It's so odd when I'm in the kitchen and all of the sudden she walks around the corner to join me. I feel like I have a teenager! She's also learning how to climb. A few days ago she braved the coffee table. Once on it, she acted like king of the mountain; so proud of herself.

I am struggling as we embark on these toddler activities. I have always heard poeple say, "Choose your battles." I assumed they were cautioning against fighting every single battle with their child. When Melody does something new that I'm not sure about (like the coffee table), I find myself sighing and thinking, "I don't want to fight any battles at all!"

I don't think the reason for my apathy is laziness. I simply don't know HOW to fight a battle. We decided to make the trash can our battle. It is right on her level and she likes to pick things out of it. I have tried repeatedly saying no. She looks at me and does it again. Her face is not showing defiance though. I've tried flicking her hand. She cried, but again, there was no connection. I know people think I'm being too lenient, but I truly don't believe she understands yet. I think it would be easier if she were defiant. Then I would feel okay about being more harsh. As it is, I distract her instead. Now she has started standing by the trashcan and singing, "no no no no no." It's pretty funny. I guess something is starting to click in that little head of hers.

For the first time I feel at a loss about how to be a mom. Caring for her in the first 12 months came easily. I knew what to do and felt comfortable doing it. Now I feel unsure of myself. I'm sure Melody picks up on this insecurity. Could that be why she already obeys Grammy more than me?

I've heard moms say they didn't like the baby stage because they just aren't into babies. Others say the same about toddlers. This logic is strange to me. I am prepared for certain stages to be harder than others, but I want to stay positive while in the midst of each one. Things got really hard (physically) when I was pregnant, but the hardship didn't lessen my joy toward the baby. I want that type attitude to continue as my kid(s) grow and change. At this point, I'm struggling to maintain the joy and ease. I find myself questioning our mother/daughter relationship. (Already!) A couple weeks ago my mom came for a visit. Less than ten minutes after her arrival I was in tears as I explained the trash can drama.

I not only want to learn good techniques in discipline and child rearing; I also want to learn how to keep my joy in the midst of the hard days. Does anyone have stories, book referrals, or suggestions that might help me right now?


Laurel said...

I could have totally written this blog - many times over. Some days I completely echo your feelings and feel so helpless. On those days I pine for the baby days when things were so straight forward - keep them happy. But like you, I want the joy throughout ALL of parenthood and I think that's what God has planned for us.

Other days, like yesterday and today, I feel much more positive and see all the positive things in Benji.

We still have limbo so I have no great advice for you. One thing, besides choose your battles, is also to limit the number of battles possible. For example, if possible, put your trash can under the sink. Some might view this as taking the easy road. And I guess it is. But we have found that Benji will always find something to push us on, so we just try to limit the possiblities at home so he's very familiar those few no's. And when we visit someone else's house, we have plenty of other chances to work on no's for other things.

Also, I do have one book recommendation - "The discipline book" by Dr. Sears. He's anti-spanking but there is still a lot of other advice that I think is good - more of a philosophy.

Rose said...

I can so relate to this post. I find 14 months harder than the infant stage where she could not move unless i moved her. She loves to clean out cupboards, grab stuff off of dressers, the counter, ETC. And changing her diaper... what a challenge as she always tries to escape and thinks it is a big joke.

Sheryll said...

When mine was 14 months it was Christmas. I used the one-finger thing. He would grab an ornament, I would show him how to touch it with one finger and I laughed. Pretty soon he did it also, and laughed, it was a fun game. It worked so well that when we would see Christmas trees elsewhere he would automatically touch the ornaments with one finger.

I agree that at fourteen months he wasn't connecting the no to what I was telling him, no defiance, just curiosity to see if I would say no everytime he touched whatever it was. But now there is more understanding and some defiance. I tried the hand-flicking also, I've decided to save it for dangerous things, like when we had an electrical plug where he kept wanting to grab it. The rest of the time if he won't stop (and is definitely being defiant!) and redirecting won't work, I physically move him away- what works right now is to sit him down. Like if he is standing next to the birdcage hitting it, I say no, try to redirect him to something else, if he continues then I go over and force him to sit down. He cries and it breaks my heart, but he gets it and it's not a fun game anymore so he finds something else he wants to do.

I'm with Laurel that we limit the "no's" at home.

bekah said...

Thank you all so much! Your wisdom and experience is what I need. Also, you help me know I'm not alone.

Kelli said...

So, I don't have kids or even babies yet. But I did buy the Supernanny book and have been reading it. When watching her TV show, I was just so impressed with her ability to structure family dynamics and maintain confidence in the midst of chaos.

Anyway, reading the toddler section, she does say that 2 year olds aren't able to connect the punishment with the bad behavior. She talks about the "distraction" method and also the involvment method - finding something your toddler can help you do. Once your toddler begins to understand consequences she advises the time out method - making the amount of time equivalent to the childs age.

She also talks about pulling tempations out of the picture - like the trashcan. So, this is all information folks have already given but I thought I'd share that I'd heard these tips from another source too. :)