Responding Wisely When Your 2-3Yr. Old Resists Your Parenting W/ 'Shush', 'No'?

Updated on July 19, 2009
S.C. asks from Austin, TX
7 answers

Okay, so here's the deal. My daughter is 2 1/2 y.o. She is mostly a well mannered child. There has been some natural change to some of that as she moves from being a 2yr old to a 3yr old. When she doesn't want to stop or to change what she's doing as per our request, she tells us "Shhhh". At this point, I tell her not to tell me to 'Shush' and that if she continues I will swat her on the behind. I let it go on a few times before I tell her that ( a grace period, if you will, so that it has a chance to sink in). I will then swat her if she continues, at which point she does stop, and sometimes cries. I must mention here that I do not 'hit' my child. It is very easy not to get the complete picture from what I have written above, but let me say that my course of action is to talk with her about events, and why we are doing what we are and why we need to do this and that, etc. We rarely 'swat' her on the bum. That only takes place about 3 percent of the time, and it is a pat on the butt, not a 'hit'.
I am wondering if it is advisable to allow her to tell me to 'shush'? I don't want this to grow out of proportion. Perhaps responding to it directly only gives fuel to the fire? Ignore it perhaps? Has anyone out there that has at least two kids tried it the one way with one child, then adopted a different approach with the other w/ differing results?
I have a cousin who has a daughter that she raised--I think her daughter is 11 now--under the belief that any kind of physical discipline is 'bad'. She had been sep. from the father for many years and they are just now back together. In the interviening years the child has manipulated her mother up, down, and sideways. The mother is also fairly head strong and determined, seemingly a good mom. This child is very ill mannered and even taunts other adults to the point of dislike as well as bullying her peers. Granted there are no doubt many variables at wrk here. Seeing this, I am hesitant to let 'defiance' get out of control--if that is the word that should really be used for a 2 1/2 yr. old. Nonetheless, I know these patterns strart early, hence my concern.

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answers from Austin on

I've been a teacher for young children for 4 years now, at local Montessori programs.
I've repeatedly seen certain compliant children begin a new phase off resisting outside directives. It is part of their individuation process.

What to do?
Practice much patience. Look inward to see if the requests are essential. Sit down and engage with the child in her activity a while, and then when you are connected, do the transition/task together. Offer choices and connected consequences.

Parenting has been the greatest growth opportunity for me as well.
A Dad-written blog I enjoy is The Daily Groove - nice and insightful.

But please don't swat. It teaches her fear. Her processes are to be respected, children's work is important to them, and happens at a different pace than ours.
She will respect you as you teach her thru example to learn new ways to communicate your needs.

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answers from Austin on

One thing that helps me is to avoid a power struggle by giving them a "choice" in the first place. (Would you like to climb into bed by yourself, or would you like me to pick you up and put you in bed? Would you like to wash your hands in the kitchen or the bathroom? Would you like to eat your lunch with a fork or a spoon?...) I find that this often gets them to respond better than a direct request. Good luck!

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answers from Austin on

My daughter is 3 1/2. We just went through a similar stage of defiance and pushing the limits. What I noticed around age 2 1/2 to 3 was that, whatever behavior I had exhibited when I was frustrated or disciplining her was the same behavior she exhibited when trying to solve her disagreements among playmates. This really is the time when they are trying to understand social situations and playmate interaction.

My daughter has rarely been spanked... Hence, in her rudimentary social problem solving skills, she did not exhibit hitting when the problem escalated. I do raise my voice... I tell her what to do... In turn, she has now learned to raise her voice when angry and she gets bossy when irritated. (We both are working on that...)

I actually not trying to advocate spanking vs. no spanking... I merely wanted to mention what I witnessed when my daughter was the same age as yours. You inadvertently are teaching her to resolve problems by hitting after verbal requests are ignored. At this age (2-4) I really don't think children understand the difference between spanking as discipline and hitting a friend when angry. If you do choose to discipline with spanking, I think it is only effective with an older child; young children simply do not grasp the difference and they will mirror your progression in problem solving techniques.

One thing that helped us survive this 2 1/2 phase was for me to let her win some of the 'negotiations'. Ultimately, I want to raise her to be a confident, assertive woman and started talking to her in terms of compromise and cooperation.

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answers from Austin on

Ha, aren't kids great?

First of all you do not need to hit her to get her attention. Instead consider that children are just like us, they like to know what the plan is. They can not just stop cause you tell them to. They need time to prepare. Since they cannot tell time or read your mind, give them the information. "In 5 minutes I need you to start putting away your toys so you can get ready for a bath." You may need to tell her "you now only have 2 minutes to finish putting away your dress up clothes."

"We will be leaving this party in 10 minutes so go and tell the party girl you are leaving in 10 minutes."

Then each time she follows your instructions, tell her how proud of her you are. "Thank you for putting away your toys." "I like the way you got your diaper bag so we can get in the car."

When she "shh's you, tell her, "you do not shh mommy". Then give her the instructions again. If she still does not do as you have instructed, tell her "listen to my words". Or "look at me, listen to my words" "You have 5 minutes to pick up your toys."

I also remind parents that as long as you get a child riled up with active play, tickling, running... it will take twice as long to calm them down, so take that into consideration with your schedule and requests.

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answers from Austin on

I laughed myself silly reading the title, "young child resisting parental directives". "Sun came up again today" is just about as abnormal. The kid is so normal and your reaction is that of the parent who worries about having authority. Those of us with it, know we have it. Swats are totally unnecessary.
When she shushes you, you can laugh and say, "nope- my turn", you can give her 'the look', you can say, "you don't want daddy to say.........(whatever you are saying that she doesn't want to do). You are in charge. You are still bigger. You can pick her up and put her where you want her. My little just 2 yr old grand tries that with me, but she knows who is in charge. Sometimes, I let her get away with not doing what I want. She didn't wear her birthday dress at her party for example, however, she does not scream in the library nor eat in the living room. Exert your authority by choosing your battles.
Do not teach her that, "MIGHT makes RIGHT" that is truly a recipe for disaster. Try the book 1-2-3 magic.
Good luck, she is testing you and sometimes she can win.
Try for natural consequences. When she screams in the library, I pick her up and take her outside and tell her, " you can scream here, not in there" "Scream now". She, of course, doesn't want to scream outside as that doesn't annoy me so we go back in and I have only to ask, "do you want to leave?" and all screaming is over.
Good luck.

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answers from Austin on

heehee i have a 2 year old grand daughter and a 4 year old grand son , the little darling (2 yr ) dose the exact same thing here she is strong willed and stuborn like her mom i think it is a faze or should i say a way of testing boundrys . and a way of getting ur attion i know in our case at that age they want and need 100% attion. lol we have found that when the swats on the bum fail to get her attion. we just turn around and pretend to not notice her boy dose that change her attitude . good luck and have fun when your getting run ragged say to your self we making memories , oh u might try distracting her when she starts saying shush,good luck to you and your family ,
i couldent do what i do with the grand kids with out grand paps help either .



answers from Austin on

Please check out a site: This gives ideas for the kind of situation you are talking about, but also you might find interesting the following link to an article by Debbie Pearl that is archived on their website. I just went to the website to make sure it was still there and came across an article I thought would help me with my own children's disobedient/bad attitude and it was pretty convicting. Food for thought:
Just so you know these folks are ok with corporal punishment, but have a unique perspective on child training.

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