Fia’s Angry Words (Does She Think We Yell at Her?)

I was in my office this afternoon and Fia came in “to play.” Usually that entails trying to type on my computer, or getting out markers, pulling a Post-It note, and attempting to color on it. You can imagine where that leads: to bright purple all over my desk. I told her I was working and needed a few minutes of quiet if she could find something to do.

She wandered over to this statue thing of a woman and began talking to it. I was thrilled to see her play on her own. She doesn’t do it much and it was so cute. At first.

“Hi baby,” she said. “You need a nap.” She pretended to cover it/her with an imaginary blanket.

“You need a pacifier. I will get you one,” and so on. I was just sitting there smiling, thoroughly enjoying the moment. But then, her tone turned and I must say I was a bit shocked. She began screaming and really railing on the non-baby statue:

“Stop standing up in your crib!” she screamed.

“I am going to shut the door!!!”

“You get a time out!”

“I’m going to zip up the crib tent!”

I got up and went to her. “Fia, you don’t need to shout like that. Why are you doing that?” “Because the baby was bad,” she said. Huh? What?

Okay, what she shouted are all things we say–not shout– to get her to go to sleep. It’s a song and dance like many parents experience. But we never ever yell. Neither does Cleo. I’m around all the time and I hear how it goes.

We are firm, but never mean. I’ll say in a totally regular voice, “Fia, lie down. Fia, I said lie down.” She’ll look at me and grin. Sometimes I get down on her at face level, grin with her, touch noses, and we both laugh. It’s kind of our little “thing.” Then I say, “Okay honey, I’m going to have to take your pacifier away if you don’t go to sleep.” I usually gesture as if I’m about to pull it, then she concedes, lies down and I tickle her forehead.

Sometimes she’ll be standing in her crib and won’t lie down and I walk towards the door, like I’m leaving. “No mama! Tickle my forehead!”

“Then lie down,” I say, sternly. She does and I tickle.

We get about 3 sleep encores a night like this before she really goes down. I’m really never even frustrated by it. I figure this is just par for the course.

Also, in terms of time outs, I’m not just saying this because I’m her mom: Really, she’s only had about 3-5 of them in her life. I’m not a lax parent. She’s just a really good kid. She follows rules, likes order and routine, and is just an affectionate, goofy, fun-loving girl. She doesn’t misbehave much. Rarely tantrums. Something like the nighttime routine described above would never warrant a time out. She has to do something really wrong to get one. And she just doesn’t.

So what is up with her imitating us in such an angry way? It broke my heart to hear her shout like that. Is this a normal toddler thing or does she think we really yell? What is her perception of us? Of herself? That she’s a bad girl? Or am I overthinking all this? Please parents, help me on this one. I don’t want to lose sleep over it. It’s weighing on me.

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  1. by Caitlyn

    On November 14, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    You’re over thinking. It sounds like you handle things very well the few times she doesn’t listen on the first try (I envy your patience with the bedtime dance). When I was a toddler, my mom came into the backyard to find me holding my baby doll by the ankles as swinging her head first into a brick wall. After she raced over to stop me (HORRIFIED), she asked why I was doing that and I told her, “She was being bad.” My parents have never spanked me in my entire life, much less been outwardly aggressive toward me, physically or otherwise. I’m sorry you got so rattled but maybe remind Fia that yelling at “her baby” won’t help her listen and that she should see if being calm but serious works.

  2. by Kim

    On November 16, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    SHe may not realize she`s yelling. My two year old just doesn`t understand the concept of volume yet, something we saw in 2 and 3 year olds at day care a lot. You may just need to teach her about the inside voice.

    And when you succeed? Let me know how, because my son is keeping the tylonol company in business.

  3. by Karen

    On November 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I agree with Kim. Maybe Fia doesn’t realize she is yelling. Lots of toddlers (and even into elementary with some kids) have a hard time with inside/outside voices. They understand if you tell them but when they get into play, they just don’t realize that they are being so loud until a grown up brings it to their attention.

  4. by Lin

    On November 19, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    My just turned 3 year old mimicked my sister in laws voice saying, “lay down, it’s time to nap now”. He’s yelling it and using a mean voice and I know in her daycare she just uses a stern voice, it seems very normal. Don’t beat yourself up.

  5. by littleduckies

    On November 27, 2012 at 4:06 am

    I don’t think she realizes she’s yelling. When I get mad at the phone company because there’s a broken cable, I raise my voice a drop. My son imitates me by screaming in a voice so loud that he wouldn’t need a mike in an auditorium with 200 people (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration). Kids just don’t realize how loud their voices are, that’s all.

    Why her doll was bad – I don’t know. Something she picked up at preschool or a friend’s house?

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  18. [...] wrote awhile back at how I observed her putting dolls in time out and wondered if that was normal. Maybe this is just the second level of that type of exploration. I [...]