The Childcare Expert Answers:
Boy can I relate to this one! I have had children in my home daycare "family" that have been with me since birth and once they realized they were independent little people that could get a reaction out of the people around them simply by laughing out loud or screaming like crazy, they had found control! They turned fickle about food, clothes, which parent they preferred, their toys, not to mention whether or not they liked coming to my house for daycare.
The people they generally show this terrific attitude toward are the ones they know will love them anyway -- the cat, mom, dad, sister and their beloved daycare provider. Lucky us! They also tend to give one of these new responses at a time when it would be most embarrassing, such as at the grocery store, church, daycare drop-off and in the front yard. I even have a friend who's two-year old boy was verbal and precocious enough that when eating at a restaurant one time, he began to scream "Mommy, don't hit me" and cover his face, simply to embarrass his mother enough that he wouldn't have to eat his vegetables!
Amazingly, this is so common that there's a name for the phase, I prefer to call it the "terrific two's," as opposed to the "terrible two's" which just gives it a pessimistic tilt. We need to realize that children are learning about the world around them in everything they do, see, smell, hear, feel and taste. They are learning about cause and effect. They are learning what is OK and what isn't.
Any time you have a child in daycare, you should be alert for signs of some sort of abuse; such as unaccounted for bumps or bruises, a flinching reaction when the child is approached, awareness of her own or others genitalia at an early age. If such signs ever occur, immediately consider there is a strong possibility that something is wrong. Take action. A child that is only two cannot tell you what is going on. They simply do not have the understanding or the verbal skills necessary. But do not let the question linger.
If you do not see such signs, rest easier knowing that your beautiful daughter is becoming an individual and guide her lovingly but firmly in the direction you hope for her. And don't forget everyone else with a child of her age is going through the same thing. Share with other parents and the support will help you smile and find your way through it. We truly would worry about a child who didn't assert herself.
Best of luck!