Saturday, April 16, 2011

How much contrary is normal?

Ok. I need some reassurance here. How much contrariness is normal for 25 months of age? My firstborn never really went through a huge "No!" and temper tantrum stage, so this is pretty new to me.

Ava seems to refuse to cooperate as her default response lately. Time to get dressed? Nope. It's a struggle. Time to eat something that isn't bread or fruit? Nope, absolute refusal. Time to go outside. Nope, she wants to stay in. Time to play? Nope, she'd rather watch television. These things I can mostly deal with. Mostly.

It's the next level of contrariness that really gets to me. If she accidentally bumps her brother and I ask her to say sorry she absolutely refuses. She runs away from us pouting and whining and would rather spend an incredibly long amount of time in time-out than just say "Sorry." If she's having trouble with something and you attempt to help, she'll throw down the offending item and refuse to play with it any more rather than accept assistance. If she wanted to go first and has to go second she will refuse to continue to participate in the activity. If asked to share something, or give back something she has taken she simply refuses.

And then there's her absolute refusal to let her Daddy do anything for her. If she wants milk I have to get it. If she wants down from her booster seat she'd rather stay in than let her father help her. If she has to go to the bathroom she'd rather wait an hour than let Daddy help. We were walking together tonight and she wouldn't even hold his hand. I do believe it's starting to hurt his feelings. And it isn't that she doesn't like him. She loves seeing him come home. She loves to tickle and wrestle with him. I think it is just another way for her to insist on getting her way rather than ours.

Someone please tell me that this is within normal limits for the age. And if it is normal, how long does this last? And could you possibly share some strategies for dealing with it?


  1. Hi there! I just found this blog in a search for information for my son's apparent speech disorder (which from what I can tell seems to be apraxia).

    He also went through a phase (not too long ago, at 2.5) in which he refused to let his Daddy do anything, which then progressed to not wanting to spend time with him, give affection, and even acting afraid of him. My devoted, involved, loving husband was heartbroken.

    Using a combination of making my son wait if he wanted me to do something, refusing to do small things occasionally unless his father could do them, a pro-daddy praise campaign, Daddy-only dates, rearranging duties so that his Father had new importance and obvious competence and making sure that I didn't step in too often in their interactions, he's now exceptionally affectionate toward his father again.

    I know that this can be tough. I hear that it is common, but it is still rough on both parents. Good luck!

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful response! I've tried making Ava wait until she's willing to let her Daddy help. She will literally go a couple of hours without going to the bathroom if I try to insist she let her Daddy help her. She'd rather not drink the milk at all than let her Daddy get it. I suppose we could just go on an all out campaign similar to yours, but I guess we just haven't gotten frustrated enough yet to be willing to fight the battle. I keep hoping the Mama stage will just pass on its own. Congratulations on your success though. :-)

    Good luck with your apraxia information search. Let me know if I can do anything for you.

  3. I realize this post is a few weeks old, but if you are still having difficulty with Ava's stubborness, I have a suggestion. Children go through a normal developmental process between the ages of 2 and 3 when they try to control the behavior of the people around them. Children with typical speech will use language to do this, "No mommy, I want the blue cup." after you have handed them a perfectly fine red cup. Children are learning that they can make choices, and impact other's behavior. It's the POWER of communication. Children with apraxia have the same desire to control other's behavior, because this is a cognitive milestone. However, they don't have the expressive language ability to play it out. Stubborness and obstinancy are the result instead. To mitigate these frustrating instances (or days!), structure all requests and directions as choices. If Daddy is going to help with the potty, say, "Do you want to use the big potty or the little potty?" Mealtimes, "Are you going to eat your green beans with a fork or a spoon?" "Do you want Daddy to put your milk in the dora cup or sponge bob?" Making choices and feeling 'in control' is very important at this age, and children with limited language get very frustrated. Let me know if this helps. Oh - and btw, I'm an SLP who has provided early intervention for 7 years, and have worked a lot with children with Apraxia.

    1. These are great suggestions! Thank you so much for taking the time to post them. Thankfully, Ava's speech and language has improved past this point now (a year later) but hopefully any other parents who are currently struggling with these issues will find your suggestions to be useful.


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