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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Discipline! Discipline! We need some Discipline in Here!

Sunday last week was an unexpected meltdown on my part, and I feel bad. My hubby, son and I went to visit my parents for dinner (which was excellent) and some quality time. By the end of the evening, around 8 pm, Jake was owly, definitely ready for bed and as he is stubborn he was NOT listening to anyone.

Boy, do I dig that sometimes, Mr. Kitty Cat.
Jake is good at being very single minded when he so desires, it is frustrating and exhausting. It often feels like he's taken the stubbornness of my Husband and myself and concentrated it down into a pint-sized version of us at our very worst stubborn moments.

Children can totally be a mirror of their parents, and often, if you see a trait in your kids you dislike, remember that it is you they are usually mimicking.

Food for thought, huh?

At any rate, Jake wasn't listening, he was being a little turd and frustrating myself and Cliff, and to a lesser extent my parents. After fighting with him to get ready to go, wrestling a new pair of pajama pants on him, shoes, coat, etc etc, I was ready to get the hell out of there, and get his unruly ass into his bed ...And maybe imbibe in a drink myself. (Just kidding, I am such a sissy. I can't even drink anymore if I wanted to.)

Now, I can respect my parents and the fact that they raised me, and have dealt with a 2 year-old before, one who was probably as stubborn as Jake is, maybe even more so, (Yep, I'm referring to me. Hi! How are ya?! LOL! Here's saying he totally comes by it honestly!) and my dad says to me point blank as he's giving me a hug goodbye: "You need to punish him when he doesn't listen to you. He needs to know there are direct consequences for not doing what you say to him." And you know what? I agree with him 100%, I do!

However, a suggestion, criticism, or whichever you want to call it, is still criticism, just varied between constructive and non-constructive (In my opinion, that is.) and how it's received, largely depends on the timing that you deliver it in. To me, in my sensitive and ridiculously emotional state at that point in time, it felt like my dad was saying I was too soft on Jake, (In his defense, he totally wasn't.) when truth be told, I have very little patience anymore with my sons particular brand of bullshit. I am not "too soft" on my son, I just have to pick my battles with him, or I reach MY breaking point.

Mommy puts baby in the corner.
Now, my dad wasn't being harsh, his tone wasn't angry or rude, but my son does face his punishments when he is badly behaved. He gets put nose into the corner with his hands behind his back, and stays there until the notion sinks into his stubborn little brain. There are ways of dealing with Jakes behaviour that work, and ways that absolutely do not, and make him dig his heels in harder and act up even more. I know this kid, pretty much inside and out at this point, as best as I can possibly get to know his little mind and how it works. I'm trying to figure out ways to work with my son rather than have the situation combat the crap out of itself in battlefield Casa De Cupcakes.

I can agree somewhat with spanking as punishment, as it was effective when Jake was younger, as opposed to this point in his life where he either doesn't bat an eyelash or he laughs in my face. Needless to say my little bulldozer doesn't really get a spank anymore on his bum. Lately it seems ineffective with Jake to get his attention, unless he does something horribly bad which is a swat on the ass and a lengthy time out in the corner, (see related picture.) but personally I feel that the corner is what he dislikes more. Being removed from the situation more so than the swat on the butt is FAR more effective. I'm taking away his fun, and not giving him the attention he's requesting by acting like a terror. Point; Match, little boy. Mommy wins. (For now. Ugh.)

 What's more a concern for me is that J doesn't respond to yelling at him unless it scares him from doing something bad that he is fully involved in. Which, I mean honestly, if you were yelled at while engrossed in a task you'd be upset too. Hollering at this kid doesn't really work. I was somewhat at a loss, but I wasn't stumped for long.

This just meant a change in tactics.

I've been trying new methods of correction and consequence for his behaviour, and I find if I focus on working WITH Jake rather than against his desires, which is not saying that I am caving into his needs, but more that I am manipulating his needs to suit my own. (Yes, I AM a tricksy little hobbit.)

By convincing him that he is helping me rather than just getting pissed off that he is taking his own initiatives and getting himself in sticky situations that could have easily been avoided. He's almost three, basically as soon as they start moving around until common sense kicks in around the age of 25 (and that is being generous...) it's pretty much a miracle they don't off themselves accidentally by doing something stupid. 

At that particular point in time I felt it wasn't appropriate to stuff my kid in the corner of their apartment when we were 3 minutes away from putting him in the car, and then putting him to bed as soon as we get home. (rather than letting him dawdle and play for another 20-30 minutes once we did get home, which is what usually would have happened. Instead, I told Jake that I wasn't impressed with his inability to listen to me at his grandparents house and that he was going to bed A.S.A.P. as a result of it.) I don't think that "putting baby in the corner" would achieve much other than complaints from their neighbors with his crying.

Standing there letting him fuck around with the door, which was wide open into the hallway while he yodels his brains out because he's almost three, (and apparently the only setting my almost three year-old has at that particular moment in time is LOUD) isn't helping the situation. Removing him immediately from the scenario as a punishment IS effective.

My son knows my breaking point, and how far he can push me JUST from the tone of my voice. He's not a stupid kid, he's just almost three, and at the height of his terrible twos. I'm not giving him excuses, he just REALLY knows how to try to push my boundaries and when I've had enough. To sum it up, he knew he'd reached my limits and he was VERY complicit once we got home. He even walked to his bed himself, knowing I wasn't screwing around anymore.

Did I need to hear this suggestion at the height of my frustration with my kid acting up because he is tired and needs to go to bed-and I'm trying to get him the hell out of the apartment while "Please, no touching anything and moving it around where it doesn't belong, Jacob."-and to "Please keep your voice down, Jacob!" because my parents live in an apartment building and it's 8pm on a Sunday, we need to be considerate of others? Absolutely not. I broke down into tears, big, pathetic, girly tears, and not because I was sad but because I was completely overwhelmed.

Like seriously, tears, snot, yelling, cursing, everything... While I watched outside of myself in horror going "Stop! Stop! Lindsey, you are embarrassing yourself!" and I was mortified. I was angry and frustrated, and I hate my emotions sometimes. But I am human, and I can definitely be too sensitive to what people are saying to me. I know my faults, I know my weaknesses.

Sure, critique my parenting, or my personality, whatever you damned well please, just please find a time when I am not at my wits end, mortified that my kid is being a little terror, when I am tired and overwhelmed. If this is "caving in to my needs and only my needs, because everyone has an opinion and the right to voice it..." well then sure. Whatever works for you, but I will be frustrated with the lack of empathy I'm receiving, and you know what, you would be too!

I try SO freaking hard to be a good parent and find other methods of dealing with my son and his challenges, There are reasons why I read parenting forums and go to parenting seminars, There are reasons why I'm trying to be an empathetic parent, with actual interest in my child's development, and reasons that I am trying to learn ways to cope with my son and his stubbornness and sometime aggression.

You might not agree with my methods, but please note that I have relatively no problems dealing with my kid in one-on-one situations, and he actually (Okay, USUALLY...) listens to me. It's only when people do stuff that contradicts the methods I have been testing out by continuing the same-old-shit we've already tried and obviously DOESN'T work anymore, that we face real contention from Jake. It's a matter of being a unified front against desires that he has, I say no, Husband says no. I say yes, and husband says no for whatever reason he deems fit, then the answer is no. (And vice versa.) Punishment for certain behaviour is then routine, it's the same thing, until that eventually stops working. Because you damned well know that things are going to change again. I hope this phase lasts a little longer though, to be honest.

Things like a smack on the tush or may have worked when he was younger and didn't have the development that he does now, but they are not working now. It's time to adapt, and change tactics. There are times when it definitely feels like parenting is a Sisyphean task, I keep trying new ways and things keep pushing me down the same ways as before. I guess what doesn't kill me...

Maybe this is war. The thing is, that the "winners" in these series of battles is my son when he grows up with a sense of strong ethics, right and wrong, and myself and my family when we are proud of him for being the man he's grown up to be.

And I will be proud of him. I already am.

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