Harper is still far off from the "Terrible Twos" phase that everyone claims toddlers go through. However, she's been giving us all a taste of what that's going to be like for the past few weeks. I know she's got it rough. She's able to comprehend what's being said to her far better than she can communicate which often leads to frustration and anger. Sometimes this frustrated anger is expressed through tears or grunts of exasperation, but there are other times when she gets overly emotional and hits someone (or something, including the poor dogs). For the most part, we redirect her. We tell her it's wrong to hit and try to distract her with something else. But sometimes she likes to get her point across and lashes out again. So we've been trying Time Out. At first it was very effective. One minute sitting in an area that is completely removed from distractions was enough to get the point across that we aren't going to tolerate hitting. After the minute is up, we go to her tell her the offense that is unacceptable and ask her if she would like to say she's sorry. 98% of the time this works. Lately, though, "no" has become her favorite word (wait, haven't I been saying this for the past few months???). For example, after her minute was up in Time Out the other day the situation went like this:
Me: Harper, you know Momma doesn't like it when you hit. Can you tell Momma you're sorry?
Me: You aren't sorry for hitting Momma?
Me: Hmm, okay. Well, do you want to stay in Time Out until you're sorry?
Harper: (very excitedly) YES!
So I left her sitting in Time Out and went back to whatever it was I was doing before. She was devastated so I didn't let her sit there much longer before going back and repeating what I had asked her before. This time she jumped up and put her arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder. We're trying to get her to see that we don't hit her when we're upset or angry and when we do do something that hurts someone else or we do something that they don't like, we apologize and make them feel better. It seems to be working somewhat. She understands that being sorry means giving a hug or a kiss. Time Out isn't enough to get her to stop hitting or throwing things, etc. but she does think twice about doing the action (either while doing it or right after you can see it in her face or she immediately hugs you). Sometimes I feel that Time Out is ineffective and is just making her feel bad about herself. Sometimes I feel that it is just teaching her the wrong thing - do something bad to someone/something, hug them/make it right, everything's okay but really nothing's changed - and we're not getting the right point across to her. But I'm at a loss for what to do differently. I do get on her level and talk with her, but I know that she's only 17 months old and cannot comprehend everything I say. We really try to not spank as I feel hitting equals more hitting (at least that's how it is with Harper). I don't like yelling because it scares her and sends the opposite message. So until I can figure out another way of handling these types of situations, we're sicking with Time Out. I know things will getting better as she learns how to express herself more through words. I also know none of us is perfect and there will always be outbursts. My hope is that we're teaching her the right way and that there will be more outbursts of love and happiness rather than anger. This parenting thing is not without it's challenges. But when those little arms go around my neck I feel like melting into a sappy puddle right on the floor.