Dear Miss Faith,
On your advice I’ve been using imagery when my 2yo daughter says no, and for the most part it’s been very effective. But suddenly in the last week the no’s have increased dramatically. No to drying off, no to handing me a bucket, no to me changing the sheets, no to eating, no to me playing with her, no to brushing her teeth, no to washing hands, etc, etc. These are only most of the no’s since yesterday. I think imagery is fantastic but if you are using it too often does that mean we have a bigger problem? It’s exhausting to have to use it 3 times in15 minutes. I know it’s important to keep consistent boundaries and I believe I do but I’m sure all mothers think they do too.
Hang in there! If you’ve eliminated all of the usual suspects (she’s not getting sick, she’s not getting molars, Dad isn’t gone on a month-long trip, and you haven’t started remodeling the kitchen), then it may just be that she’s going through a healthy and necessary phase of individuation developmental growth spurt. Being two is hard! Her development is telling her to be separate from you, and yet her inner spirit still longs for connection. It’s no fun. Not for her, and not for you. But it doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong.
Good for you for working on being consistent with your boundaries. Do your best to stay connected, and to keep those boundaries firm in ways that are as enjoyable as possible. It won’t stay this way forever, or even for a long time. My guess is 6-8 weeks, max, if this is really out of character for her. Then the ‘no’s’ will start calming down, and she’ll start settling back into your rhythm, and suddenly you’ll notice her imaginative play REALLY taking off in a whole new way, or she’ll spontaneously potty train herself, or she’ll have grown an inch and a half.
Make sure you get some time off during this intense time. Is she in a play group? During this phase of strong testing at home, children will often do really great and be the ‘star pupil’ in a play program. (Not fair, I know, but it’s the way it often is.) Or do childcare swaps with another mom if finances are tight. Or just get together twice a week with another mom and her child, to break up the dynamic a bit. Being able to trade off and not having to be ‘on’ all the time makes the time when you ARE having to use imagery every five minutes much more bearable. Because this is a really important time, where she’s learning (learning in her body, with her whole being) that what you say, goes. It can go in a fun way, or it can go in a tantrum-y way, or it can go in a mommy’s-fed-up-and-now-she’s-losing-it way, but it goes. This is not to say that you don’t take her opinion into account, and you’re allowed to change your mind when you see how strongly she feels about something, but it’s YOU deciding, still.
Stay connected, stay consistent, and take care of yourself. And if one or all of those is impossible, then be compassionate with yourself, ask for help from others, and have a “Take Care of Mommy Day” (see this post
Warmly, ~Miss Faith