I'm at wits end with my 2 3/4 year old DS. He's got quite a big personality, and this personality is difficult for all of us to live with! He's LOOOOOUUUUD! He likes to scream, top of his lungs, at the table, daily, though I remind him each time that it's an outdoor activity and to please stop because it hurts everyone's ears. WHen I say these things, he pretends to shoot me. The shooting creates spitting at the table too.
Basically, every single day, I am reminding him about how to behave properly: spitting, shooting, screaming, dumping, unrolling toilet paper, hitting the dog, kicking the dog, whacking the kitten, hitting older sister, making mud pits with the hose, tantrums about random things, tantrums about consequences to his actions that he's been warned about, and on and on and on. It is all driving me CRAAAZY!! I want to create appropriate boundaries. He's hard for his preschool teacher to deal with too, and is rude and physical with his peers, as well.
I'm wondering if this all sounds par for the course for a child his age? I really can't figure out how to help him behave more consistently without all these destructive behaviors??! My DD was SO compliant, and was so very teachable about things. For DS, it doesn't matter how I present the discipline, he will likely do the same thing again minutes later. I don't know how time out's figure in the Gentle Discipline forum, but this is where we eventually go, about which he gets sad, but there doesn't appear to be any other way for him to get that we are serious when we ask him to do something or not do something, especially if it's something dangerous or potentially injurious, either to himself or others.
Any suggestions about how I should handle this? Am I expecting too much, too soon, for my son to be able to respond to simple requests about his behavior and to follow them? Do I need to expect him to behave like this for several more years? Is his behavior normal, or is it beyond the normal level of lack of self control and aggression? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Amanda, DW to Drew, mom to Ella, 7, Gardner, 2, homesteading on the edge of the continent on the Lost Coast.
California Homesteading, http://eastmillcreek.blogspot.com
GD with hurting others involves super close supervision & lots of guidance on what TO do instead. Time out may be OK if it's an issue of needing to get back in control of emotions, but they need to know what to do instead of hurting.
Tantrums are normal. They go away if they don't work to get them what they want.
It's totally GD to take away things that they don't use correctly.
lovin DH since 1/04, SAHM to 3 boys 10/04, 11/08, 11/10 one girlie (1/07), and one 13 wk (10/13) just your average :ha ng multigenerational living family!!
My ds can be...difficult...if he isnt thoroughly spent. He needs space to not be corrected in a gentile society, and to think and move freely. He needs hard sensory stimulation (think physical like football or wrestling). He spent the whole afternoon today in the woods, not being told what to do by anybody, and was quite a nice guy through dinner and the rest of the evening.
The balance here is to give him a lot.of that time, but yet not to create bad habits. So, I send ds to the woods to spend.himself, but never in response to an attitude on his part, nor as an excuse for how is acting. If we have an issue, we deal with it, and then I work in some.hard physical activity. (Maybe I need to rearrange all.the books on the bookshelf, maybe I need bags of dirt moved, or the trash taken out. Maybe I send him for a run. He's almost 7 now, btw. Maybe i tickle him and wrestle until he can hardly breathe. Something.).
You have to address the attitude first because it will drift into the physical activity that will free him from.frustration. Once you fix that, you can address the need. Understand that I'm not talking about being taken to the park. That's fun and enjoyable, but he is still controlled there. He needs hard work and freedom.
And, after a while, you will get used to the warning signs and fix the need before he escalates.
You are not expecting too much, you are just, for the most part, using methods that don't work and that are, in some cases, even counter-producive. Either of Alan Kazdin's books teach positive parenting methods that work, Parenting the Defiant Child or Everyday Parenting Toolkit.
Here are some links that summarize effective methods:
I've seen 2 year olds with terrible impulse control and I do think they are a different challenge from a kid who is pretty compliant. Thinking about these kids I sort of feel like maybe these are the ones who need some more room for unpleasant behavior and then some more firm boundaries for behavior that can not be accommodated.
The screaming, for instance. I think I would stretch my tolerance for screaming outside (if you are in a park or the woods or something). Asking him to move away from where people are relaxing is a good plan -- but maybe allow for that outlet. But THEN draw some very strict lines about screaming at the dinner table. How..?? Ha! I know. If you have a two parent household, have one parent get up with him when he screams. I would not lecture - a simple, "We speak quietly at the table" - and then sit somewhere totally boring with him until he is quiet. When you get back to the table be sure to make it pleasant so the contrast to being away from the table and with the table is noticeable.
My inclination would be to do this with one parent if you can. I feel like the time-out, especially at family dinner time is a pretty cruddy way to go. It would feel a little like creating a black-sheep type dynamic.
I would do the same with the other things you're describing. Find some thing that you can welcome/allow/make space for. Then draw up energy to be very physically active and present for the ones you are not going to allow.