I am struggling to discipline my son and thought I would ask the thoughtful and creative mamas here for some suggestions.
DS is almost 3 and has entered the full-fledged tantrum stage. He has hit me a number of times and actually bit me a few days ago when I took a ball away from him (it belonged to someone else who was leaving the park). I am worried that he will start hitting and biting other kids soon. The confusing part for me is that he has a language disorder so I'm not sure how to help him. His receptive language is way behind so he has the emotions of a 2-3 year old but the language comprehension of a much younger child.
For the most part we work to make sure he controls his environment. The tantrums are happening when there is something we can't bend on (touching a hot plate, jumping off the counter, standing on an unstable chair, etc). What is happening right now is I give him one clear verbal warning (i.e. "sit down please") and if he doesn't I have been picking him up and sitting him down in the chair or putting him on the ground. He is then flipping out - screaming, arching, kicking, etc. I've been trying to be close and calm and let him know I'm there. I've also been providing some very simple words ("you are angry"). After a minute or two he was calming down and then coming to me for hugs and reassurance.
This worked for a while but now he is sometimes lashing out at me, running up to me and trying to bite or hit me. I'm at a loss how to handle this. Should I restrain him? I've never held him down in any way before and that seems wrong to me but perhaps not? I've also tried removing myself but he chases after me, wildly swinging at me and I'm worried he will hurt himself running after me. I don't feel like I can talk to him or reason with him when he's in the middle of these.
I would love to hear any ideas. Am I doing anything wrong here?
Been there done that my friend. I will tell you... it does get easier. The challenge with a child with language delays is that the older they get, the more frustrated they get. Terrible twos? Not in my house. It was the 3's that really threw us for a loop. I found the following helpful...
Sign language! It gives your child an outlet to express their needs and wants. I love the signing times videos. You may be able to get them from your local library and they run them on PBS sometimes.
Change the way you are addressing issues. If his receptive language is at issue, he may not be processing what you are telling him correctly which will lead to a lot of challenges. Phrasing things in a positive light has been incredibly helpful (but hard has hell to do in the heat of the moment so it takes a lot of practice). My son flipped out on his aid because she told him "D, don't hammer on the table when your friend's hand is there". Plastic hammer - hit his friend. All he heard was "D, don't hammer" and he shut down. I told her if she had said "D, when you hammer, please make sure there are no hands in the way", it would have been a different situation.
Accept the fact that he's going to pitch fits. It's normal. The language delay may have delayed the timing of the tantrums (most kids do it at 2 but it seems like speech delayed kids go into their 3's). My husband figured, if you can't beat him..... join him. He'd throw himself down on the floor and join in. My son would start laughing, my husband would laugh and that would be end of it. I started doing it too including in the lobby of my office building one day. He was in a fit, flipped out threw himself on the floor so I joined him. It was fun until I heard "pardon me" and looked up to see my CEO stepping over the two of us! Yikes! He got a kick out of it but boy was I embarrassed!
The most important thing for you to do when your child is tantruming is to breath.
Thank you SpottedFoxx! I think mostly it is just nice to know we aren't alone dealing with this mix of issues and that it does get better. I see in your sig that your son has apraxia? That is the dx we also just got (verbal only, plus mixed expressive receptive language disorder) just as DS is entering what I agree seems like the "terrible twos" but at almost 3. I've realized just today (after an event I will just call poopapalooza and never speak of again) that he is really mostly trying desperately to assert more control over his world as he realizes he can't communicate as well as he wants.
I think you're right that I need to remember to breathe. I'm as stubborn as DS and sometimes I forget to let it go, laugh and remember that it will get better in time.
Yes, he also has apraxia of speech. You may want to look at his diet. Many children with developmental delays have food dye sensitivities. I found that removing them has helped with my son's over the top behaviors. Also, keep in mind that your son's brain is still very plastic - get him as much speech therapy as you can afford/tolerate. My son has been doing speech therapy 3-4x a week since he was 3.5 years old and it has made a world of difference.
Also, if you use time outs, there is no reason your son should be the only one in the house that gets time outs. In our house, Mommy gets them (well, I give them to myself) too. While I don't do it often (because I don't want to kill the shock value), there are times when things just get so ridiculously crazy that I'll just announce "that's it, Mommy needs a time out" and sit on the time out step. My son will usually come over, pat my head and say "I see you 5 minutes" (that's his time limit). Then he'll come back after a while and ask me if I'm ready to come out of time out. It's cute but definitely defuses a bad situation and shows him I'm human too.