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Rraaarrrrr!!! ...and my instinctive need to *Do* something

690 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  AngelBee
I'll try to keep this short - but so much is whirling in my brain I'm not sure I can be very coherent.

First - I am totally committed to gentle, respectful parenting. I've read many books and plan to read more. Most days are pretty good and I like the things I've learned about myself and how to be with children that I've learned from reading and from MDC. My ds is almost 29 months (dd is just 5 months - but probably part of the problem anyway.)

OK - Ever since his sister was born, my ds has really struggled. Night wakings, neediness, whining, acting out, etc. I keep waiting for him to adjust to her presence...but it hasn't happened. Some of his behavior is also probably his age. But I really feel like I'm beginning to fail him in some significant way. Also, he is pushing some of my buttons big time and I'm beginning to stuggle with my methods (for lack of a better word). I keep feeling like I need to be *doing* something...anything...*something* to make this better.

OK - his a nutshell...
-he screams/roars/growls at his sister, me, his dad, other little kids whatever. Its getting worse. It is a really ugly, loud, scary sound.
-he is constantly oppositional. If we say (gently) "oh sweetie, that block could hurt the TV. Why don't you hit the couch (or whatever) with it instead" we don't even have a chance for that all to get out. He is running and throwing it as far away from us as possible. This goes for anything he thinks we might want or that he doesn't want (like a diaper or the babies binky etc.)
-he throws sand, bark chips, dirt etc at other kids at playdates and at me and his sister.
-Spits water and the occasional juice...on the floor, on us, on his sister

There are other clues that something isn't right with his world but I think those are the most dismaying to me. He seems so ...I don't know...different than he used to be. He was a mellow, easy baby but I'm beginning to think I might have a strong-willed, very sensitive boy here. Which is fine...its just my gentle techniques seem to be failing me. Last night, when he roared at his sister to wake her up screaming from a nap for the umpteenth time I nearly lost it. (and yes - I know that the mama bear instincts are making me pretty protective of her.) So - my understanding of gd is that it might take longer to help a child truly understand and internalize the reasons why screaming/hitting/kicking/throwing might not be such a good idea. But how will I know that I'm doing anything helpful here. I keep wanting to *do* something and see/feel results.

Maybe I'm just tired and frustrated. Maybe its just the new sibling. Maybe I just need to relax. Maybe this is all just a vent. But if anyone has anything to say I'd be happy to hear it. BTDT - reassurance - helpful hints.

For the record - I do try to connect with him each day...spend some one on one time with him. But its hard as dd is pretty high needs and never wants to be put down. Sigh.

Either way - thanks for reading.

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Gosh I have not BTDT....yet.

My DS is almost 22 months and I am 7MO pg. I am concerned about his adjustment, as you described your experience.

My main thought is ensuring that DS is spending enough "quality" time alone with each parent & perhaps another special caregiver.

Making sure he has enough freedom to really get OUT that energy and run, run, run during the daytime.

And I am guessing that you already have tried to ask for his "help" with his sister and other household tasks, right? Making him feel special and part of the family in his own unique way.

Are there books on siblings/new baby that you could pick up for him?

On the other side, so many times we hear, "it is a phase"...and it turns out to be true. I hope something shifts inside him, and you are all able to find some peace in the family.

Wish there was more I could offer.
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My dd1 was three when dd2 was born but we definitely have btdt. Hang in there dd2 is a year now and they are starting to become buddies.
about the waking up a napping baby. That is one thing I haven't resolved yet. dd1 still does that and nothing pushes my buttons faster.

Your son is really young still--he will probably outgrow a lot of it. One thing that did help us was talking to dd1 specifically about her emotions ALL THE TIME. Even if there was nothing to "discuss". The books, "my many colored days" and "how are you peeling?" were every day reads for us. The dialouge went something like. "You are having emotions. All emotions are good." We started getting her to talk about every emotion under the sun. We would people watch and imagine what emotion they were having. I kept a running stream of my emotions all day long for her to hear and talk to me about. After a while she started being able to recognize her own emotions. If we could get her to "take one deep breath" and tell us her emotion, she would start talking to us and we could get the situation under control faster. Once she recognized that she was frustraed things really picked up for us. Now she says, "I am frustrated..." and almost never has a tantrum. But she is 3.5.

Sorry for rambling--hang in there!
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I don't have a whole lot of "solutions" for you, but some of the things you wrote really hit home for me.

My DD went through a phase where, if she had something and thought we were going to take it away, she would throw it hard. She broke two of my favorite bowls this way. It was a bit scary because if I saw her with something she shouldn't be playing with, I knew if she got wind that I was going to even suggest she shouldn't have it, she'd hurl it! It actually turned out to work in my favour, because I had to be really nonchalant about it as I approached her AND I had to connect with her first. Sort of what Gordon Neufeld talks about...I'd be like "hey, whatcha doing? that's a pretty neat thing you have there, what is it?" that sort of with her a bit, connect. Then I'd say something like 'you know, I"m concerned this might break/hurt you/whatever..." By that time she was out of defensive mode and I was close enough to prevent it getting thrown. She was about the same age as your son, interestingly enough. She's 35 months now, and hasn't done this in some time, so hopefully you can get past this too.

As for the napping thing, I just make sure DD is with me when DS is napping. Though honestly, she's never tried to intentionally wake him so I'm not as "on guard" with it as perhaps you should be. I do try to use baby nap times as "mum and DD" times, though it's hard to avoid the temptation to get things done around the house instead!

I can just relate to your overall feelings...again at this age DD was going through some stuff. She went through a hitting stage (mostly hitting DH, which didn't help my GD cause, lol) and a screaming phase (though she didn't do this to other people, just me, lol). It is a "transitional age", they say, the "half years". DH felt as you did, that we should be "doing something", or that we'd "created this", even though he's very GD, too. So I think your feelings are normal too. We seem to be out of that phase now.
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A few pages back, another mama posted about rough pirate play, and someone responded with this link (sorry, I don't remember who!)

I think it might help you explore some other possibilities... But what the others said is true - part of a 2yos job is to "feel their power," and that can be scary for all involved!

Hang in there!
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The thing that stood out to me in your post was the long explanation example with the block. I understand not wanting to sound like a dictator to your 2 yo. But young kids tune out long explanations of things. The younger they are, the less they understand.

Also, when I was doing my preschool internship in college, in the class that went along with it, the prof told us one of the biggest 'mistakes' most people make in talking to children is 'asking' them to do things that really are not optional. (It's HARD not to, I STILL catch myself doing it with my preschoolers at work!) Saying things like 'would you?' or 'Why don't you?' gives them the opportunity to say 'no' or 'because I don't want to!' Not what you want.

You could try saying something like, 'Oh, let's move over to the couch!' while taking his hand and helping him get there, and *then* once he's over at the couch banging away happily, tell him that this is where he can bang his blocks because if he does it on the TV, he could break the TV.

(NO, it's not guaranteed to's just an idea.)

What do you do when he throws the block? Just curious.
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Thanks so much for your replies! (And sorry it took me so long to get back. Was away from the computer for several days and my time flies!)

Anyway - would love to respond to each of you as each post made me think of something and was helpful in its own way. :-> But, I never know when I'll be called away again so....

First, last Friday ds had 2 wonderful play sessions with his sister. Yeah - she is only 5 months...but I swallowed my apprehension and let him get close and they hugged and giggled and had a good time for about 20 minutes twice during the day. My gut tells me he needs to feel more a part of her and her life with us. Of course, yesterday and today he has done nothing but throw and scratch at her!! But I still think I'm on the right track. And to respond to CB73....there are good moments too.

I also think that the suggestions to get him more involved and to have more individual playtime with just him are good too. I've tried to do those things but ideals sometime slip when reality hits. Its good to be reminded. I've also been reading 'Playful Parenting' this week and have found it helpful. I guess I just need to keep reading good parenting books because it helps my focus stay more positive.

Yes - his dad and I are pretty wordy by nature (can't you tell? :->) but dang it - that method *used* to work. I liked how you phrased it zaker's mama. I do try to avoid "asking" for things that really aren't requests. Haven't been able to talk my dh into that though. And Piglet...yes - I agree. Good way to prevent the throwing. I'm learning that the hard way. Glad to know its not just my child.

Oh - and I also like the suggestion to talk more about feelings and emotions. We already do that some and he is prone to folding his arms and scowling and saying "I angry!". But talking about all kinds of emotions and mirroring back to him what I see in addition to what I feel and Daddy feels etc. is a good idea.

I've also begun to think that in addition to his adjustment to his sister, ds is also processing some new fears. Suddenly he is afraid of spiders and other bugs, and every time he falls down he seems to worry about going to the doctor. (He had stitches about a month ago and it was traumatic). So - other things are probably at play as well. I just hope I can learn fast enough to keep up.

Thanks again for your thoughts!

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"What do you do when he throws the block? Just curious."

Hmmm - react in the moment? Ummm....

As you can tell, I'm not that quick on my feet. And when I do plan ahead for what to say and do to any given situation, I'm often tongue-tied at the wrong moment.

However, when he throws things (and he has only thrown blocks at his sister once I think. There are other, less heavy items too.). I put my arm up to deflect it and then say something like "Throwing blocks can hurt. We/you can't throw blocks. We'll have to put them away if you want to throw them." I may go on to explain that blocks are heavy and strong and can hurt people. I will often expand from the issue of throwing at his sister to encompass any kind of throwing at people or fragile items. Then, we move on.

As I read this I can already see where I could phrase things differently. We do put away items that he throws or hits with. For a time anyway. And we (I particularly) try to do it calmly and without anger.

Of course, if he succeeds in hitting her or hurting her in other ways. I immediately comfort the baby and at the same time say to him " I don't think E___ liked that. See her face? Hear her cry? That shows us it hurt." (or something like that depending on the situation). I also try to point out her verbal and body cues when she is enjoying something he does. She laughs at his antics a lot and her eyes follow him around the room. Basically, she seems to think he is the coolest, most entertaining thing she has ever seen. And he seems to think she is his own private little experiement. (Hmmm - lets see. If I do this, then what happens.)

Hope that answered your question.

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