2 Year old controlling parents

(49 Posts)
SnowDaze Wed 24-Jul-13 12:38:48

Does anyone have any tips on how to handle a toddler who is trying to control which parent tends to them?
We have a DC who is a mostly pretty well behaved. Usual toddler tantrums etc but is responding very well to the star chart and is for the most part pretty even tempered.
However in the past 6 months is swinging wildly between either myself or DH as favorite. Once a favorite has been selected then DC will not allow the other parent to feed, dress, change, settle etc them. DC can get extremely irate if the non-favorite tries to get involved. This will go on for a couple of weeks before the favorite switches and it is the other parent who is 'allowed' to do everything.
We know its all about control, when only one parent is there DC is no problem at all. We are trying not to give into this but if there are any tips or pointers we'd really appreciate it. Or is this just another one of those wonderful 'phases'?

Snowgirl1 Wed 24-Jul-13 14:30:58

Oh, I'm going to have to watch this thread. 18 month old DD wakes up in the night so one of us goes in to her and will get pushed away as she wants the other one! She's done it at bathtime and bedtime as well - she's pushed me away and cries for Daddy and I can see this progressing to dressing and other things too.

capecath Wed 24-Jul-13 15:09:05

I would try to discourage this by getting whoever is the favourite to support the other, eg. if daddy is favourite, say "mommy's going to dress you now" and daddy could stay right there in the room but just let mommy do it.

Thurlow Wed 24-Jul-13 15:18:29

18mo occasionally does this, she spends a lot of time with just one of us due to our work shifts, so she can get quite clingy and demanding of the parent she has spent the most time with recently. At the moment we just ignore it. If she wants me and DP is going to do bath time, I just firmly say "no, go with Daddy for your bath" and leave them to it, just as I would if she didn't get wound up. It's not a fun phase, though. The other day she pushed me off DP when I was giving him a hug!

exoticfruits Wed 24-Jul-13 15:24:21

I would just say 'sorry- tough, it's daddy today' and go out and have a walk around the block - or vice versa.
If you don't go out out then just don't play the game. Don't have rewards etc, keep emotion out of it, keep arguments out of it.
Sound totally bored and do the broken record- 'sorry, mummy is doing it'- don't alter the wording, don't explain or justify or give a way into argue. If they persist just look vaguely bemused and say ' I thought I just said- mummy is doing it' If they go into tantrum mode walk off and leave them to it- carry on with the broken record approach when they run out of steam- and say mildly' that was a silly waste of time- I said Mummy was doing it'. Keep a calm, even, bored tone at all times.
It is control and they will play one off against the other if they can. Both take the same approach.

SnowDaze Wed 24-Jul-13 16:27:55

Thanks for the responses.
It seems the general consensus is not to give in and to work together.
We have been pretty good at that, to the point where if I was planning to dress her and she kicks up a huge preemptive fuss looking for me to dress her confused I stop in my tracks and my DH does it instead.
We just haven't been seeing any improvement and if anything it has gotten more and more severe.
She can be quite rude, shouting 'Go away' and we always make her apologise to the person she shouts at, could this be the 'reward'? Should we just ignore?
You are right it's not a fun phase though I wasn't complaining when she only wanted DH whenever she woke up in the night smile

exoticfruits Wed 24-Jul-13 22:14:05

I wouldn't make a big thing of it- go for 'this is how it is happening- it is all too tedious for words'. I would just go out and have a walk while the weather is nice and leave them to it.

sleepcrisis Thu 25-Jul-13 20:17:48

We are going through this at the moment and although I am trying not to let DS see it, I am getting quite upset! It is an element of his development that I really dislike and he is such a kind, sweet natured boy in all other ways.

In our house it is me that has to do everything for him - 'mummy do it' for bedtime, getting him up in the morning, lifting into his high chair, fixing toys etc etc. Daddy is fine for playing games with but anything else its mummy mummy mummy. Daddy is being very forgiving and ignoring of it and we have persevered with bedtimes a few times but more often that not I think, well if I'm in the house at bed time well why deny him that?' But I hate it as a long term prospect.

When GPs are around its me he doesn't want aroumd - 'mummy go upstairs' etc etc. I think with them its that he doesn't want me to come along and spoil their fun by whisking him off for a nappy change or whatever. But it is very controlling and I really don't like the idea that he is learning that he has the power to upset people emotionally.

I'd love to hear stories of other people having this problem and overcoming it! or some reading about why they do this would be good. Or is it just another phase?

I think the general consensus is ignore and persevere with the other parent doing the bedtime etc and ignore/ride out tantrums til they get over it?

exoticfruits Thu 25-Jul-13 21:45:16

You are the adults- he is a small child- the worst he can do is throw a major tantrum - let him - once he he finds it doesn't get anywhere he will stop, although some take longer than others. Personally I would go out for the evening on a regular basis so that you can't do it anyway. All you have to do is say 'sorry, mummy is busy' or 'sorry mummy is going out' - daddy is doing it. Keep calm- sound bored and matter of fact.

exoticfruits Thu 25-Jul-13 21:46:28

It is just a phase but if he finds he has power he will use it and it will be more than a phase.

LittleBlackDress Thu 25-Jul-13 21:48:50

Great advice from exoticfruits.

Our DD did this. We just didn't give in and she eventually realised that who does what is not up to her to decide.

exoticfruits Thu 25-Jul-13 21:55:24

The body language is all important- that is why you need to seem calm, bored and unmoved. They feel much more secure with the adult in charge. It is pretty scary being that little and having the power to upset your parents. You probably won't like the next phase as they get older - it then becomes 'I hate you mummy, I only love daddy' or vice versa etc. It is meaningless and again you need the calm, unbothered approach with 'that's OK, I have enough love for two' or similar.
They don't do it consciously but DCs are very astute and home in on body language.

RubyrooUK Thu 25-Jul-13 22:09:46

We have had this from time to time too but probably don't take as hard a line on it as other people who don't engage. blush

We mainly use distraction. We are pretty relaxed about it so he can't get any satisfying reaction. So sometimes if he wants his dad to make him breakfast, that's fine. His dad can make him breakfast.

If DH can't do it for some reason, I just say breezily "oh you want daddy, well, he is coming but let's go ahead...oh did you want toast or did I hear you say Cheerios?". I basically avoid having a fight about it, move things on and he forgets almost immediately.

If he wants me to put him to bed and the baby also needs me, DH might say "oh I will start you off and mummy can come up later" and he forgets again after a bit. If I go in the night and he wants/expects it to be DH, I say "ok, daddy can come, that's no problem but how about we have a little cuddle first...?"

Generally I find he makes a fuss when there is a departure from his routine (he ideally likes DH to do breakfast and get him up; he likes me to put him to bed) but distraction and being relentless cheerful despite frustration gets us through.

Most of the time. grin

SwishSwoshSwoosh Thu 25-Jul-13 22:15:40

We always just went with it unless there was a good reason, obviously if one was going out or in the bath it was tough but if we were both there why does it matter? They grew out of it well before school age.

I think sometimes they want to see a particular person.

SwishSwoshSwoosh Thu 25-Jul-13 22:21:11

I wouldn't make a young child apologise for saying go away, I would just acknowledge their feelings tbh. They are not really being rude just speaking the truth. Again, mine just grew out of that through repeated modelling etc.

Also star chart at two is a bit much. Star charts full stop are rubbish really.

exoticfruits Thu 25-Jul-13 22:28:46

You don't want star charts - I also can't see the point of making them apologise- they are not really sorry- they are honest.
Either total boredom - or, if it works- the distraction is a great idea.

exoticfruits Thu 25-Jul-13 22:30:44

Apologising is fine with 'I'm sorry, I know you really wanted Daddy but he has to ........... but when you are ready for bed he will...........'

We used to alternate each night/morning for child related jobs and found that worked quite well. We were able to say "daddy did it yesterday it's mummy's turn today" or vice versa and just repeated it calmly, leaving plenty of time for the job in hand!

hardboiledpossum Thu 25-Jul-13 22:44:34

We ask ds who he wants to put him to bed or get him dressed or whatever else it is. He only gets one choice and has to stick to it.

SnowDaze Thu 25-Jul-13 23:50:56

Hmm lots of great advice here. Thanks so much to everyone.

The star chart was to try to reduce instances of slapping and biting. I have to say it has worked wonders. She is so proud of her star every day and fingers crossed since she earned her first star there hasn't been a single instance. But we haven't used it for this control problem as its not bad behaviour as such.

It sounds like we just keep doing what we have been doing, not bow to it and wait for her to grow out of it.

Thanks to everyone for all your help. Especially to exoticfruits.

exoticfruits Fri 26-Jul-13 07:00:33

A star chart is fine for slapping and biting. You were sensible in not using it for the control issue- it would tell him that it was an issue and you want to make it matter of fact and boring.
I can see that asking him who he wants to do it might work but it does rather cast him as the 'little emperor' and you his willing servants ready at his command! It also assumes that you both have nothing else to do.

SwishSwoshSwoosh Fri 26-Jul-13 09:18:54

Disagree with exotic about star charts being fine for biting etc.

Star charts are rubbish full stop.

Giving children choices doesn't make them 'little emperors' either, how Victorian!

cory Fri 26-Jul-13 09:56:33

I think star charts work very well with some children. Didn't work with dd because she doesn't have the right personality. But then things that worked with dd might not work with another child.

Imo while giving choices isn't wrong per se, it isn't always convenient for the rest of the family. The way I see it, the child (or each child if you have several) is one member of a unit where each member has to have their needs met. Sometimes that allows for the luxury of choices for everyone. Sometimes it doesn't. And often the choices have to be formulated in such a way as to preclude choice in other directions (darling, do you want daddy to put the blue dress on you or the pink; mummy's busy at the moment).

SwishSwoshSwoosh Fri 26-Jul-13 10:32:12

I agree choices can only be given where they don't inconvenience, as I said upthread, but I think where a choice could be made and parents refuse to give it because they worry about making an emperor, that is just silly.

We are a busy family like another, the kids know they get choices sometimes but other times it can't happen. Having a blanket 'no choice' policy seems odd to me.

SnowDaze Fri 26-Jul-13 10:54:27

See I didn't read that as a blanket no choice policy.....more one child cannot dictate everything.

I've seen this happen in my DSIS family where DC4 runs their house and everyone in it. They allow her to dictate everything just for 'peace'. It has had a really negative impact on DSIS relationship with her DH as they are constantly pitted against each other, and on the other DC who basically have to follow DC4s every command.

I agree there is a happy medium between total dictatorship and blanket no choice.

Straps on car seat .....not up for discussion, giving the dog a hair cut....no way, which clothes you want to wear....whatever you like (within reason).

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