Hey there! I too am the mom of a soon to be two year old. End of January. I think part of it is just their age. Toddlers are almost preprogrammed to challenge us I think..lol. My son is also not aggressive or mean and is generally a super sweet and well behaved kid. I so know what you mean about the selective hearing. All I can tell you is that I find consistency and what I now refer to as key words - "danger" works well when he is doing something potentially dangerous. I just continually remind him when he is doing something he shouldn't be. We don't yell or spank either. If I tell him something is going to happen, I make sure it does. Ie: throw that toy again and mommy will take it away. He throws it again, I take it. All very calmly.
Part of it too I think is just having realistic expectations of them. They are only 2, and no matter how bright they are, they just aren't going to listen all the time. So I use the "don't sweat the small stuff" standard. If it's not a big deal I kind of just let it go. The things I focus on are things that could hurt him or others,or things that just aren't kind. I also work on good manners such as please and thank you. Other then that, I figure one thing at a time.
You are correct, she does understand. Mine does too. He has on many occasions looked me right in the eye, smiled, and done something I have just asked him not too. It's just what they do. So again, I stay very calm, calm tone of voice, and do what I said I would...take the toy or whatever the case may be. It takes time, but it works. And when I really want his attention, I actually find that lowering my voice works really well. Almost a whisper. Sounds weird, but it does work. Good luck to you. It's a super fun age, but I agree, it can be challenging.
Its most def an amazing age :)...have you tried time outs yet?? I was thinking of attempting that tactic after she turns two...but Im afraid I wont do it right as silly as that sounds...lol.
for the past month ive been trying the stare down tactic. where when my child acts up or has a tantrum and have a very assertive voice and say "no" and make direct eye contact and hold your glare so they know and it seems to be to be working.
Lol...how do you keep a straight face?!?! I have attempted that...but the looks her little face makes...and the way her little eyebrows wrinkle...I am no more good...lol. Its too darn cute no matter how frustrated i'm getting. UGH...lol. Its so TRICKY!!
Yeah, we've tried time outs. Not very successful yet I'm afraid, but we are getting there. They say it's a minute per year of age, so we only do them for a minute and a half or so. And I hear you on laughing. They are so funny...and you can just see those wheels turning...."hmmm, she said no, but I wonder what will happen if I actually DO it?" lol. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times we have been at the dinner table and he is getting ready to throw his food or something. My husband and I tell him no, to either leave it on his tray or put it in his mouth. He gets that look on his face and it's so hard not to burst out laughing. Of course, if we do, he does what he is threatening...loves an audience. lol.
It is hard isn't it. Honestly, when we have those frustrating moments, I tell myself that it's his job to challenge me. All part of learning those boundaries and proper behavior. Just stay calm and stay consistent. She'll get there.
My oldest son was always very easy to redirect and distract and threw very few tantrums (which didn't really start until he was 3 anyway - they say it's the "terrible twos", but three can be so much worse!) Anyway, so today he is 5, and I can count on one hand how many time outs we've had to give him....EVER. His younger brother, 23 months old, is a totally different story. Much like your daughter, and what adgal described experiencing with her little guy. He speaks really well, understands everything...is too smart for his own good much of the time, lol. He also does the look-at-you-and-smile-and-then-do-what-he-has-been-asked-not-to-do thing!
He isn't violent or mean by nature....but does push and try to hit when his temper flares. His daycare asked what they should do about this when it happens, to which we repiled DISCIPLINE HIM (more specifically....reidrect and time out).
We have met with success with time outs. The key (I believe) is to completely remove them from the location and situation and, if possible, put them in a place that won't be "interesting" to them (ie. a bedroom full of toys) so it will seem like a punishment. Just make sure that they are safe and can't hurt themselves or others if they are, at that point, in full tantrum mode. As adgal said, being consistent is also important - follow through on what you have said you will do if the behaviour continues, and all caregivers should be reacting to the same situation in a similar manner, too.
Good luck! I know it's hard to live though, especially since I'm doing it right now along with you, but so many other parents have gone through it before us - and survived - and I'm confident that we will too :D