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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Ladies,<br><br>
We have a very challenging almost 3 yo son. He has been even more spirited and challenging since the birth of his brother 4 months ago. It seems like we've been floundering on the discipline front.<br><br>
For instance, this morning, DH brings both kids downstairs while I sleep in for another 20 minutes. DH walks to the kitchen and hears DS doing something. DS had pulled on the cord to the electric candles we have in the windows behind our couch and smashed a bulb. DH asks DS to come close to him b/c there is glass everywhere and that he needs to clean it up. DS literally walks right over and smashes another one. DH almost has a stroke. I come downstairs and bring the kids upstairs while DH cleans up.<br><br>
I try to talk to DS. I tell him that daddy was concerned for his safety. I say, maybe he should stay in his room for a while and think about why he's choosing not to listen to mommy and daddy. And maybe he can help us come up with a better way for us to talk with each other.<br><br>
Was this "right"?<br><br>
Also, he's been very destructive with his toys and books lately. I now take things away immediately when he's been rough with them. And I remind him that he needs to be gentle with his things.<br><br>
Is this "right"?<br><br>
Does it ever <i>feel</i> right? I don't know. Nothing feels good with the way we're dealing with discipline lately. DS just doesn't listen. Maybe that's it's his age. Maybe we expect too much. But in spite of all that, how do you ever know if you're doing the right thing?<br><br>
I want to use some kind of technique that works every time, that makes us all feel okay. But maybe discipline just never feels good? I don't know.<br><br>
This has turned into a ramble. But if you have any insight, please pass it along. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked">:
 

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Hi,<br><br>
Boy can I relate, my dd is just 3 and she is a handful.... we just took a parenting course with Gordon Neufeld, it was more like a child psychology course, and it was absolutely amazing. I would recommend you get the book "Hold on to your Kids" by Gordon Neufeld.<br><br>
He talked alot about discipline, and how often it just doesn't work. He talks alot about Attachment and how this is the key to raising healthy kids. You never want to use your attachment against them when you are disciplining. ie never do time outs, never say "i'm leaving" when you are frustrated because your child isn't coming with you, etc...<br><br>
So it sounds like what you did is right, apart from the part where you said that he'd have to go into his room to think about it.<br><br>
My guess is that he's feeling uneasy about the new baby and needs reassurance that you love him, I would try showering him with lots of love, and maybe doing some special things for him, perhaps he feels like all the attention is going to the baby. His acting out is a cry for attention.<br><br>
I think with the destructiveness with the toys, he's acting out his frustration, most likely he's feeling sad but can't express it. Instead of being able to cry about it he's becoming agressive. Perhaps if you sit him down and ask him how he feels about the new baby, and if it makes him sad, if he feels left out sometimes etc...if you can get him to cry about what makes him sad, his agressiveness should disappear.<br><br>
Neufeld talks alot about coming to tears about the things that don't work, and that it's so important for kids be able to be sad about things, otherwise it turns to agression.<br><br>
Anyway! if you can get the book it's absolutely amazing. i've been doing the things he suggests for the past 6 months, and it's amazing, you don't have to discipline anymore in the traditional way, you get way more connected to your child and it's just amazing, it works!
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"><br>
Well, raising a challenging, spirited child is just hard sometimes. I think you're right that a lot of his behavior probably has to do with the birth of the new baby. I never thought about it with regard to my own kids until recently, but kids probably actually <i>grieve</i> the loss of an exclusive relationship with their parents when their siblings are born. It's an enormous change.<br><br>
I agree with Dominique that the key is attachment, connecting with your son. I have a stormy relationship with my 5 year old dd. She's spirited and challenging and life with her was sooooo easy before her brother was born. After my son was born and we moved 6 months later, all heck broke loose and suddenly I was the parent of a demon and I was not enjoying it at all. That was nearly 3 years ago and I still struggle with her often-it seems I've never really gotten back on track with her, never repaired the connection fully. I didn't help her adjust to having a sibling as well as I should have, was so busy with buying the house, packing, and then unpacking that I didn't take the time to nurture my relationship with her in the ways I should have, and I did not properly help her grieve the loss of the only home she knew. I didn't make sure she still felt solidly attached and loved, I didn't make sure she understood her own feelings and that those feelings were okay. I know now that it all comes down to repairing, reinforcing, maintaining attachment. You can try every discipline trick under the sun, but nothing will really "work" if the child isn't feeling the attachment (btdt, speaking from experience and still trying to fix it-and feeling like a failure. Though we do have some good times, times when we're connecting and all goes well and even correcting her behavior works out nicely so I have hope for us yet).<br><br>
In the moments when he's being destructive, I think saying something like "we don't break 'x' " or "we use our toys gently" or whatever is good, but then you maybe need to address the feelings behind the actions. "When you break 'x' (or do 'y') I think you must be feeling angry (or scared or lonely or whatever)" or something like that-again, not an expert, still trying to figure it out myself. Let him know how much you love him, that you understand that it's hard to become a big brother and share mom and dad, that it's okay for him to love the baby and want the baby to go away and it's normal to feel two ways about the baby. Let him know that you know he wishes the baby didn't take up so much of your time, ask him what he'd like to do with you while you nurse the baby or whatever. Make sure you get some one on one time. Above all, let him feel sad and angry openly and support him while he does. It's hard to hear your child say they wish they didn't have the new baby, that they don't like the new baby, but it's important to let them say it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
sledge & dominiuque-<br><br>
I am in the middle of chrismas chaos (and joy!), but I have no time to reply. I've breifly read your responses and I will get back on here SOON.<br><br>
Hope you're enjoying your holiday season. I am so grateful to MDC.
 

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3 can be a tough age....all the independence and detachment that's being strived for by babe is so exciting and scary for her/him.<br><br>
In our house we had a pretty rocky six months when my DS turned 3; we were totally unprepared for the challenges of this new stage. My friends had talked about three and what their babes were gong through, but I very smugly thought "not going to happen here." Up until three my son was relatively easy. I've learned a lot in the past year, and will have to keep learning to keep in step with him.<br><br>
The main thing that worked for us is discovering the idea of equilibrium and disequilibrium and how a child's behaviour changes during periods of disequilibrium. It also helped to come to know my child isn't being defiant in the adult sense of the word. At three there still isn't very much self control. When we went to our GP's to ask for help with our son and discipline (we have a very cool GP who totally supports us) we brought up our trouble with the laundry. For the six months leading up to our visit I would, after folding the laundry, have it in a basket at the foot of the stair or on the dryer until I had a chnace to take it upstairs and put it away. This was a pretty daily thing. And each time I would remind my son that we don't touch the laundry in the basket...it's clean. And he'd agree and I'd follow up with asking him what I just said and he's answer that we don't touch the laundry...he understood right? The minute my back was tunred he would knock over the laundry, or pull it down, and throw it around. ARGH! Surely there was some kind of impulse control problem? Right? My GP laughed and asked which one of us wasn't learning? He couldn't believe this had gone on for about six months and I, the adult, hadn't changed the way I do things. He re-inforced DS wasn't being defiant in a traditional sense, and yes he did have an <i>age appropriate</i> lack of impulse control. And that's when I also had a moment when I relaized at this age it's much easier for me to tailor my activities to my son's behaviour than vice versa. They do, as they grow, come into impulse control.<br><br>
We haven't had an addition to the family since having my son so I think I should leave that to the mamas who have BTDT. My son, however, is just coming out of a pretty active destructive phase: books, toys, all of them his. We would remind him about being gentle with things, that we don't like to have books torn etc. And if anything he really liked was broken we wouldn't replace it. My only advice is put anything away you don't want hurt...we took all his books and when it was story time we would take down the tub and have him pick one or two and then they'd all go away again. He's 4 1/2 nw and it's slowed down considerably. I know it's not with us permanently.<br><br>
Going from a babe in arms to an independent little being looking for more independence is such a shock for us parents. But they're not aliens or monsters, just explorers and discoverers, which can be so hard to remember when they're on their second glass candle. This is one of the times that attachment and GD get easily tested, and I've found that if I take a moment to breathe and remind myself just how little my child is I'm able to deal and even have fun with what's happened and how to clean it up.<br><br>
Some of the mamas mentioned staying attached and connected and I can't second, third or fourth this enough. Discipline went from being a huge struggle to being much easier when I decided that everything else I was trying to do would have to be dropped as much as it could (some things couldn't) and my son and connection would take front seat. I know that when I foregt this or let it slide my son becomes harder to parent. But I also know that he's already becoming great at independent play so I'm not creating a child who needs me or attention all the ime, in case that becomes a worry for you. My son is definitely happier and requires less discipline when we're connected and for now that makes my life easier, his life easier so we're going with it. They do grow up and out of most of this.<br><br>
Hope something in this helps,<br><br>
Nicole.
 

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I want to second the poster above who talked about getting behind the emotion that is causing the behavior and helping your child identify how they are feeling. Some good kids books are "when I feel Angry" and "The Way I Feel". Helping you son use his words instead of acting out will be helpful.<br><br>
Last night (Xmas day) my son was acting horrible. He is 4.6 and has a language delay. Finally I said in response to his ranting about a toy that was broken, "Do you feel angry?" And he said, No! and I said, Do you feel sad and he responded no! and finally I said, well, how do you feel? And he said with clenched fists, "i feel frustrated!!!!!"
 

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Time outs and grounding are not good parenting tools. They do not teach good behavior. Actually time outs and grounding work better for mothers. If you are feeling stressed, take a time out. If things are not going well, stay home.<br><br>
It is probably not possible to explain much to a 3 year old about behavior. Simple statements are about as much as a 3 or 4 year old can be expected to understand. Say what you expect once and if the child doesn't cooperate, change the situation. Moving your 3 year old away from the dangerous glass was good, lecturing and a time-out was not appropriate. Actually people of all ages don't appreciate lecturing and it can harm relationships.<br><br>
I highly recommend any books by Elizabeth Crary. They are very easy to read and the methods she suggests can be put to use easily. Without Spanking and Spoiling is the book that most affected my mothering. My oldest is 25 and was a toddler when I bought it. She has more recent books that are also good. Her books are not so much theory as practical suggestions and skills building.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I had a big reply post written this morning and it was deleted. Grr....<br><br>
Anyway, thank you all for your responses.<br><br>
Dominique-Thank you for the book recc. Is that the exact title of the book? It sounds really great. I actually have rarely used the "do-you-wanna-think-about-it-in-your-bedroom" tantic. The door has never been closed. We've tried mini-timeouts. And they don't work (actually, I've tried them a handful of times where we BOTH go to the steps together to have "thinking" time about whatever just happened). Still didn't work. I agree wholeheartedly that sadness unexpressed turns to anger. But I generally think that most 3 year olds have a hard time with sad. It's not a "physical" emotion, so to speak. Like, when DS is angry he can pound his fists. When he's happy he can jump around, etc. I DO try to have some quiet talking time after we read stories in bed every night when I ask him how he feels. Sometimes, with prompting, I can get him to say he's sad. But that's about it. Or if I narrate a bit, and say, "Are you feeling sad?" he'll say "uh-huh". I'm an AP mama and I've done everything in my power since birth to be connected to and STAY connected to my son. It's just so sad to me that I just physically CAN'T be the same mom to him as I was 4 1/2 mos ago. I am trying so, so, hard.<br><br>
sledg-Thank you for the hugs. I really need them right now. I appreciate you sharing your story about your relationship with your DD. I have tried really, really hard over the past 4 months, but like I mentioned before, I just can't physically be the same mom as before. I try to have free arms whenever the baby is sleeping. We read whenever I have a minute (it's his favorite thing in the world). We bake, we go to his favorite bookstore. We play trains. But it still doesn't seem like enough. I don't know if it will ever be enough. I don't want him to have this little kernal of anger inside that won't go away.<br><br>
Nichole-Yes, yes, it all helps! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> You are so right about changing YOUR behavior when you realize that his isn't. I call these my "duh" moments. Like, if he keeps wanting to play with the cord to the computer I can MOVE the computer! (please don't be offended with the "duh" comment-I meant this only about myself!). You have lots of wise words even if you haven't had an addition to the family.<br><br>
Forever-Thanks. I actually just borrowed the Elizabeth Crary book you mentioned. But I have to say that I don't think what I did was lecturing. I asked him WHY. Is that not a good idea? I know he probably can't tell me, but if he was angry or sad or mad, then i wanted him to tell me. Maybe I'm not sure what lecturiung really is? I do realize that I have a tendency to overanalyze and sometimes overtalk. So, perhaps I should pay attention to this.<br><br>
That's it for me now, gtg. Hope I can get more wise words here.
 

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Nichole-Yes, yes, it all helps! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> You are so right about changing YOUR behavior when you realize that his isn't. I call these my "duh" moments. Like, if he keeps wanting to play with the cord to the computer I can MOVE the computer! (please don't be offended with the "duh" comment-I meant this only about myself!). You have lots of wise words even if you haven't had an addition to the family.</div>
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lol, Bearsmama, my life is full of "duh" moments and they keep coming. These days it's all about trying to stay ahead of them.<br><br>
Hope things are going well with you,<br>
Nicole.
 

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It sure sounds like ou are going through a tough time right now! Hang in there! I agree with what the mamas above said, just want to add that I think I might try to redirect his behavior a bit. I have things like pounding bock toys, paper and crayons, pillows for punching, ect, in our house. One of my children in particular has to get his feelings out physically. So when he would deliberately smash something I would help get him set up with something. My 10yo ds now will say, Oh, I'm upset right now, so I'm going to go visit my punching bag then maybeI'll e ready to talk. I also helped them with feeling words at 3, I mean, just gentle stuff, like after a cuddle while dh has baby, you might say something like- I wonder if sometimes you have 2 feelings about the aby, sometimes you're really happy about her and sometimes you aren't. That's pretty normal feelings for a big brother to have." Only if it feels right to your "mommy radar" These are just my thoughts- if they don't sit well, that's ok, too. Parenting is hard- there is no formula and I just try to make sure what I do is moving towards love. All the best to you and your family! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2">
 

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I have tried really, really hard over the past 4 months, but like I mentioned before, <b>I just can't physically be the same mom as before.</b> I try to have free arms whenever the baby is sleeping. We read whenever I have a minute (it's his favorite thing in the world). We bake, we go to his favorite bookstore. We play trains. But it still doesn't seem like enough. I don't know if it will ever be enough. I don't want him to have this little kernal of anger inside that won't go away.</div>
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Maybe it's not about being the same mom you were before. That's not possible anyway, because now your family is different. I'm finding that it's about finding a new way to be the mom my kids need, and that is not always easy. We have to find new ways of connecting-because they keep changing, because now we have 3 kids, because I keep changing.<br><br>
I've been thinking about this a lot with regard to my own kids, and looking at the big picture I see that they all seem happier and behave better when 1) I'm taking care of myself and not stressing so much about what kind of mother I am and 2) when I just go about the business of life and include them as much as possible rather than trying to get everything done so they can each have as much exclusive time with mom as they want. Yes, special time is important and we do that periodically, but we can also connect deeply while cooking together, doing chores, diapering and feeding baby, etc. We have playtime every day, but it's not usually "G is alone with mom right now" or "C is alone with mom right now" time. It's everyone playing together. It's lots of hugs or head rubs or hand squeezes while we do our thing. With my oldest dd (the one I have a difficult relationship with) it's not always easy to see what she needs to feel connected, but it's not always about having time in my lap (or whatever other sibling free stuff you can think of)-it's more about feeling okay with who she is, feeling that she fits in the family, that we love her no matter what, that we understand how she feels and are okay with how she feels-and she gets those messages best in some ways that aren't always the first things I think to do. Ugh, it's so hard to describe. I'm not really articulating it well.<br><br>
You know, I think they just have to figure out that they still fit into the family and figure out how (because the whole family has changed) when a new sibling comes. He isn't going to be angry forever. Really. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2">
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks, Nihole <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
Terrarose-I love what you said about "moving toward love". That should be my mantra. I am trying very hard to talk a lot about feelings and to also redirect his behavior as much as possible. The latter is very hard to do all the time. I always refer to this book we read a lot when I was pregnant with #2 about how it's very normal to have mixed feelings about a new baby in the family. I really appreciate your support.<br><br>
And sledg- <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug"> For some reason I can't quote right now, but your words about the two things you've realized lately about your mothering really resonated with me. I absolutely, positively agree that these two things-not worrying too much about what kind of mom I'm being AND just going about the business of my day-helps my big boy seem happier and well-behaved. The worst days is when I'm not doing much, or we don't have any plans, and we're just kind of feeding off each other's moods. It's terrible. Going out somedays is hard, but staying in is always harder. You absolutely articulated yourself beautifully. I totally get it. I think there's part of me that thought since the baby was born that I had to carve out this exclusive time with my older son. And it's just not that way. It's challenging right now, b/c my little one (almost 5 months) is going through an I-never-want-to-be-put-down phase. Even if it's right in front of me on the carpet while I hang out with DS#1. I am looking forward to him sitting up on his own. B/c I think that part of my older's son issues stem from him always seeing me and the baby together. Gtg, my older son is up for some reason. Thank you, thank you, thank you...
 
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