Have Patience? With A Precocious Toddler?

Okay, mothers, I need some help here…

They call them “The Terrible Two’s.”  When I was single, I laughed when I heard the term spoken among mothers.  When I became a mother, people would often say, “Just wait until the Terrible Two’s!” at which I would reply, “No, they’re not terrible, just challenging.”  I didn’t want to claim something for my own daughter that hadn’t manifested and might not ever manifest…Ha! 

In the past ten days, my daughter has exhibited traits of those “Terrible Two’s.”  For example, she has acquired this habit of throwing her hand out while giving me “sassy” commands and responses, such as “No!” and “No!” and “No!”  I first tried reasoning with her when she sassed me like that, saying, “That’s not nice.  Don’t do that.”  After the first five or six times when that didn’t work, I put her in “time out.”  She screamed and railed for the 2-3 minutes I’d stuck her there.  I then knelt down in front of her, explained the “That’s not nice” bit, gave her a hug, and told her I loved her.  After putting her in time out for two times (that day) and sending her to bed early, I thought to myself, “This ‘time out’ strategy isn’t working right now.”  How exhausting!

The next day, I decided that I would show her how disrespectful it is when she exhibits sassy behavior by lightly smacking her hand (with the follow up hug, “I love you” and explanation of why I put her in time out).  Now, mind you, I don’t have anything else to compare her to, but it seems she uses remarkable reasoning skills (you say, “yeah, right”).  But after I smacked her hand, she said, “Don’t hit me!” (which is the response that I tell her to give when a kid at the daycare gets aggressive with her).  I felt pretty terribly about it, but I said to myself,

“I’ve got to ensure she knows where her boundaries lie.  She will not run all over me today, thinking she can do it tomorrow, eventually becoming a disrespectful child that adults look at and shake their heads wondering what type of parent lets their child run amuck.”  

Nevertheless, the sass and smack continued.  I felt like we were in a contest of wills.  And as I look at it now, we were in a contest of wills.  Nevertheless, I do not believe my daughter was intentionally trying to push my buttons.  I really do believe she is figuring out how her world works, and she uses all of what’s in her brain to try to do it.  If she listened to how I told her to respond to other children who are mean to her, naturally she will use what she learned from her parents to respond to others who she perceives are being mean to her, even if it’s her mother.

Needless to say, I am a little drained by this.  I continually pray for patience and guidance on how to deal with this situation and others, like bedtime and potty training.   

But there is a bright side that transcends the terrible.  My daughter is a happy girl (my husband and I believe she is that way because he made me laugh daily while I was on 12 weeks hospital bedrest during my pregnancy) and she absolutely cracks me up.  Yesterday, while she was on the potty, we had a discussion about mothers and daughters.  The conversation went like this…

Me:  You are my daughter, and I’m your mommy.
A.:  No, you’re my daughter!
Me:  No, I’m Bamma’s daughter (she called my mother “Bamma” because she couldn’t say grandma at the time) and you’re my daughter.
A.:  No, you’re my daughter!
Me:  You’re too young to have a daughter, sweetie.
A.:  I’m two years old! (As she formed her two fingers into the “V” that symbolized “2”)
Me:  (Display of utter hilarity – I busted out laughing!)

Yes, the “Terrible Two’s” are in business.  And I am somewhat challenged.  But the sheer joy of a little girl who could correctly enunciate the words “incapacitated” and “constipated” (which she used in context – the word “constipated,” that is) when she had just turned two years old far surpasses her attempts at discovering the boundaries of her world through the language of “sass.”

Those mothers who have gone through this with their toddlers, any suggestions?