Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Rules are Subject to Change Without Notice

We have been in the "independent stage" for a while now (it makes us feel better to think of problem behaviors as "stages" because stages end, don't they?). The early rules for the "independent stage" were relatively simple.

1. Any time Mommy and Daddy try to help in any way (getting into the car, getting clothes on, getting on and off of chairs), then the two year old must say the magic sentence, "Noooo! I do it!"

2. It is important to use the magic sentence any time help is offered, even if it is something the two year old is physically incapable of doing.

For example, today Jackson went to daycare in his PJ top because he couldn't get it off and we certainly were not allowed to help.

3. If Mommy and Daddy help even the teeny tiniest bit, then the two year old must start the entire process over again.

For example, if Jackson has been struggling to get his pants on and and Daddy straightens out the leg of the pants to make it easier to finish, then the pants must come off entirely and the process has to start all over. I keep telling myself that persistence and independence are GOOD qualities (I repeat this to myself 20 times a day and it really isn't helping). Anyway, in the last two days we seem to have discovered a new rule for the"independent stage."

4. The two year old is obligated to say the complete opposite of whatever Mommy and Daddy say, just to make sure it's clear that he is a separate being with his own thoughts. The rule is that he MUST say the opposite, no matter what.

If we say, "Jackson do you need to pee pee?" We hear, "Noooo! No pee pee! Play!"

If we say, "Jackson, do you want to play?" We hear, "Noooo!! I pee pee! I M&M!"

Sometimes following these rules can create an endless logic loop. For example, if we say, "Jackson would you like to make a smoothie?" We hear, "Noooo! No smoothie! Oatmeal!" This is what's known as a trick response: if we start to get out the oatmeal, he will immediately demand a smoothie. If we then go to the blender, he will immediately demand the oatmeal, and so forth.

Following these toddler rules can be challenging even for kids sometimes. The other night Jackson pooped on the potty (!) and we told him that we were very proud and that we would go get ice cream to celebrate. He immediately burst into tears and said, "No ice cream! I want play bus!" All I can say is that it was a very sad evening in our house when bedtime arrived shortly thereafter and he realized that he was, in fact, not going to get ice cream.

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