Sep 20, 2011

I need a new game plan, 'cuz what I'm doing ain't workin'

Not long after Griffin turned one, our day care provider mentioned that she had never seen a child hit the Terrible Twos so early in life. I laughed about it. Sure, he was an independent kid very early on, but really? The Terrible Twos? Then reality hit. Griffin was perpetually in two states: 1) Mr. Noodle (every limb would go limp and it was virtually impossible to move him) or 2) The Two-by-Four (he would flex his entire body so getting him into a car seat was like a professional wrestling match). Okay, so maybe I am exaggerating a bit. Oh, he did these things, but he was also a sweet, cuddly, loving little boy.

I started taking the approach that we weren't dealing with the Terrible Twos, but the Trying Twos. Perhaps if I changed up the language a bit, it might change my outlook and response to his behavior. It worked. I was able to recognize (most of the time) what triggered these tantrums. We learned that when he was getting tired, he would have a meltdown. Instead of flipping out and yelling at him, I would empathize with him and say something along the lines of, "I know how difficult it can be when you're really tired and can't fall asleep. I get cranky, too." I told myself that it wasn't his fault that he was cranky/tired/hungry and wasn't fully able to express himself verbally. Sometimes the only way he can tell us he's feeling this way is by acting out.

Then people started warning me that the Twos might be bad, but watch out for those Threes. Seriously? I thought we'd made our way through the worst of it. Could it really be worse?

In short, yes. At least for us.

I don't know what to do anymore. Most of the time Griffin is a happy and silly boy who loves to give hugs and shows concern if someone gets hurt or is sad. However, when it gets to bedtime, look out. It's like the devil comes out. He puts up a bit of a struggle for his father, but will eventually go to sleep. For me, it's a battle royale every single night. He throws things. He swats. He kicks. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this because it sounds like I'm raising a complete brat. I have tried just about everything imaginable. Be firm. Don't let him push the boundaries. Stick to your guns. I've tried taking away privileges. I've tried talking in a soothing voice. I've tried getting down to his level and explaining things to him.

So what am I doing wrong? Am I doing anything right? I feel like a parental failure most nights. I go to bed exhausted and tense. I wake up with headaches.

This too shall pass, right? But what do I do in the meantime? How do we deal with this so we don't raise a bratty, bossy, and abusive child?

1 comment:

Jason said...

Angela would sympathize completely. Samantha is much worse with her than she is with me at bedtime--Angela gets hit a lot, and stepped on, and run over with toys, and so on, and so on. Meanwhile, I pretty much "just" get the screaming and the kicking stuff.

Honestly, I think they act out more when they're with the parent they trust more to have their best interests at heart. I don't want to make me (or Patrick!) sound like bad guys, but I feel like Samantha knows that there will come a time when I am done messing around and she will have real consequences (not physical, of course, but still). She knows she can only push me so far.

Of course, there are plenty of times when Angela gives her very real consequences and she's still like this, so maybe I'm grasping for meaning where there isn't any.

Basically, the kids feel comfortable fighting you and Angela, and unfortunately that leads to what you experience.

This didn't help at all, did it?