A few months ago, I wrote how Peanut was driving me crazy with her willful ways. I chalked it up to being a phase.
She has improved so much recently but I have to admit something. I've improved too.
I wasn't reacting to her willfulness correctly. It's hard for me to admit that I was wrong but I was. I was impatient. I wasn't treating her properly for her age. I was trying to control everything too much for no good reason.
I came to the realization that if I had someone telling me exactly what to do all day long, I'd be pretty pissed off too. Not to mention the fact that her life had been completely disrupted by a new sister. A new sister that she loves dearly but still disrupted nonetheless.
So, while she's learning, so am I.
I've learned that she needs choices. I am careful about the choices that I give her but she gets to pick. Instead of telling her she has to brush her teeth, I ask her does she want to do it or does she want momma to do it. Instead of giving her breakfast, I ask her if she wants an English muffin or cereal. When I am at home to tuck her in at night, she gets to say if the fan in her room should be on (never) the blinds up or down (always down) and the door shut or closed (always closed). I know the answers but I still want her to feel like she gets a say in the situation.
She also needs independence. I've adjusted our morning schedules to give her extra time to get dressed on her own, to buckle herself into the car, to shut all the car doors when we go to the babysitter's house. She gets to pour her own cereal, milk and get her own spoon (all with a guiding hand from momma). If she wants a yogurt, she can get it out of the fridge. She feels more in control and I don't have to do everything for her.
I've enlisted her help with Gizmo. If the baby wakes up early from her nap and I am still getting ready for work, I send Peanut in to entertain her. Most mornings, I find both of them playing in Gizmo's crib, surrounded by toys Peanut chucked in there before she climbed in herself. There is nothing better than seeing both of their smiling faces looking up at me and having Peanut say, "Momma, when I was a baby, I used to sleep in here."
I've also learned to be firm with her without raising my voice. If I give her a choice of two things and she starts whining, I simply tell her those are her options. If she ramps it up, I tell her she can stop crying or go to her room for some quiet time. She always has options, whether she likes them or not. She at least gets to pick.
Our mornings together are easier. We laugh more now. Neither of us is so frustrated to the point of tears four out of five days.
We still have problems. We both have been known to throw an unnecessary fit given the situation. But we are working on it.
I am working on it.