I'll try to be brief. I have a 4yr old DS and 10 mnth old DD. Ds has recently started hitting, scratching, kicking, biting, etc Targets are (in descending order) usually me, DD, DH, or other friends. This isn't all out violence. It's more that he is doing something he's not supposed to, or in the case of DD, doing it just enough to make her cry - at which point he runs away laughing. But it's not fun and games either.
There are plenty of reasons for him to be having a tough time: newly mobile baby, traveling for 5 wks (while fun, definitely caused some stress all around), house guest for 3 wks. My question is what do I DO to make it through this stage?
I'm feelng like I:
- can't have friends over (because he starts to hit, poke, grab them)
- can't trust him on playdates (ok, so mostly I can, but I get embarrassed about this sort of misbehavior, and it's just less fun)
- have trouble connecting with him when he's upset because he tries to kick me (while screaming that he wants to be in my lap)
- can't ever put DD down, and she really wants to crawl around and play with DS
I'm not sure if this is really a discipline question or a parenting question, but I'll start here. Thanks so much for any insights!
PS I do try to get 15 min of 1-1 time in per day. I mostly succeed. I don't see a big change in DS's behavior, but it does remind me how much I really do like being with that little person!
awwww, that sounds like it requires a lot of patience and understanding, something that can be hard to find when you are going through something like that.
i don't have super terrific suggestions that will make things go away quickly, but i think that being patient, redirecting behaviour and noticing the behaviour you do want could be helpful. this stage won't last forever and i hope you find some concrete ideas you can use that will make a noticeable difference.
Midwifery student , Mama to my 4 amazing kids.
Hi, you replied to my thread, and I've been going through something similar. It often seems like my DD is fine, and then, out of the blue, starts some of the same sort of behavior you're talking about. I try to get the one-on-one time in also, but I really think DD would be happy only if sucked into me one on one 24-7.
I've had some really good luck with "surprise" re-direction lately. Coming up with something so out-of the blue that it stops her in her tracks. For instance, she got that "look" in her eyes today that tells me she is getting wound up. She does this ear-piercing shriek (which now my lil guy has picked up) and picked up her hand to hit me. I gave her a high-five, and said, "thank you, how'd you know I wanted a high-five?" It threw her completely off, and she stopped.
Tonight at bedtime, she started arching her back and shrieking (we have a family bed, and DS was asleep). I started telling a story. She stopped immediately.
I guess, for us, a lot of it has to do with my response being silly rather than angry, and that defusing things. My anger (or even stern-ness)seems to fuel her fire, and put her over the top into temper-tantrum or aggression mode.
My DD knows she shouldn't behave in that way. When she's not in the middle of it, she can explain clearly why it's not a good idea, and what she could do differently. But then, that flies out the window. I know she also feels very badly about how she behaves when she's in that state, and I really don't want that. So, I try to focus on prevention, rather than reaction. For her, having a newly mobile baby around has been HARD. I don't know if anything I just wrote will be helpful to you, but I'm there with you, FWIW.
Thanks for posting :) Yeah, it sounds like we're right in the same place. I need to think up some good surprise re-directions. Once he was running up and hitting/grabbing me at the table while I was trying to nurse, and I pretended not to see him coming, then turned around with a big BOO! Made him jump, and we both cracked up. But I haven't pulled anything off like that for a while.
I'm totally with you on the child's desire for 1-1 24/7 and the sensitivity to any sternness/anger/frustration on my end. So hard to control!
I have to go, but thanks for chiming in. It helps to know that it's not just that I'm doing something wrong.
I'm in the same place too! My 4 y.o. DS is so completely draining these days. We recently moved, he's been in swim lessons (which is WAY outside his comfort zone) and he has ongoing jealousy about his 18 month old brother. The move has recently reignited a lot of aggressive behavior and straight up defiance. He'll shoot us with his fingers, call us names, refuse to cooperate in anyway. It is so hard to be patient because I am super sleep deprived. I give him A LOT of one on one time. He gets more attention from me than his younger brother--- but this doesn't seem to help.
I definitely notice the same as you---that if I react in a playful manner it really helps. If I am frustrated and freak out it makes his reactions 10 times worse. I get worried sometimes that I'm letting him get away with too much and I have to keep reminding myself that my ultimate goal is not 'obedience' but to help him become a loving, respectful human being. ...but some days I would just like a TINY BIt of Obedience ! LOL.
Blackbird- good to hear! We're in a better place, too. What worked for you? For us, I think it is totally about my reaction. Particularly when I'm overtired, I can get stuck in this, I'm the parent, you're the kid, you should listen type of place, based, of course, on my own childhood. I have to redirect myself into a different place, because that doesn't work for my DD AT ALL. So, I've been telling myself, I'm molding, not forcing; assisting, not telling; guiding, not dictating. If I can stay in that place,it helps me with my reactions to her. I think we got where we were because I was SOOO exhausted, It's hard to maintain that when every little thing is a discussion and a negotiation. It's easier to see it as her being a difficult child, but I think she just needs a different skillset from me than my other kids did/do.....she's helping me to grow- lol.
Colleentara- hugs. I hope you find what helps and works for your family soon, because I know how hard this is. It's exhausting and draining. I've definitely felt like you do, that DD gets so much more of my attention than her younger brother. As I said above, what has turned things around for us has been maintaining the playfulness, or, at minimum, the robot-ness of my reactions. Oh, you want to throw your shoe at your brother instead of putting it on. I guess I'll just have to hold him (and give him attention) so I can keep him safe from flying shoes. You decide if you want to put your shoes on so we can go to the playground and play on the monkey bars, or if you want to keep throwing your shoes and stay here. Let me know when you have decided. All in a ho-hum, I'm so bored tone of voice. I wish I could say I was doing that perfectly, every time.....But, when I do it, it does defuse things completely. Sometimes she'll cry, but then I can talk to her about her emotions. When I react by being frustrated (because we've been trying to leave for said playground for an hour, and, seriously, we're not going for my sake) it's almost as though she becomes possessed and gets sooo angry and aggressive. I don't know if any of this applies to you, of course, but I hope you find something somewhere that helps. I know what you mean about letting them get away with too much, but I think that when their behavior gets so crazy, they can start to feel differently about themselves, and not in a good way, if that makes sense. The book "Raising the Spirited Child" was a big help to me, also.
Thanks Sundaya-- I have been meaning to check out that book.
Playfulness works SO well here too.... and I KNOW this...but still... sometimes I react strongly and with emotion. My reactions are due to exhaustion too. I'm trying to heal adrenal fatigue and sometimes it feels nearly impossible for me to patient...and then I feel horrible about myself.
I hear what you're saying about how they begin to feel badly about themselves with crazy behavior-- of course I don't want that. ugh. today was a tough one.
Huh, what worked for me was just getting through it. By that I mean that there wasn't any one thing (or many things) that I did that made him stop. We're all noticing what helps: patience, being centered, playfulness ... but I guess we all just go through rough spots and you can't make that go away. What I learned was that this stage didn't mean that I was parenting wrong (a change to more punishment-oriented traditional discipline techniques totally did not help in the least bit and just made all of our lives miserable), and it didn't mean that my DS was becoming or is a horrible nasty kid. Live through it, take care of yourself, be gentle. Remember all the great things you love about your kid.
So to go back to my original post, if I were to reply to myself, I would say that it's ok to see less people for a while if controlling his behavior during visits and playdates is stressing me out (emphasis here on taking care of ME). I would remind myself that this is a stage and will come to an end/change even if it doesn't seem like it right now. Bear with the need for constant supervision/carrying DD constantly - to some extent they should be constantly supervised, but also see above: this is just a stage. And I would say, yes, keep doing the 1-1 time. Have fun together and remember that you like each other.
I'll come back and read this thread again in a couple months when I'm in the next rough spot :)
colleentara - I totally hear you on the obedience. In some of my less-than-stellar moments I've been heard to say "can't you just say 'yes' to ANYTHING I say or ask you to do ?!!"