Parenting is hard and unpredictable. Throw in some pregnancy hormones and sheer exhaustion and parenting become unbearable. And we are struggling with our son right now. HOWEVER. There’s some hope. There’s a lot of good in this house.
When something’s not going right in my life, I’m unable to sit back and let things unfold. For better or worse, I seek answers to my issues, and I like to get to the root of the cause. I needed to vent the other day, and I did, and what followed was – how can I fix this? Sure, I could treat the “symptoms” of B’s behavior, with time-outs and “I’m going to count to 3” and all that stuff that has NEVER worked with him before, not to mention now. But I don’t want to treat the symptoms. I want to get to the cause.
So today I read two articles that were exactly what I needed to read. Too often with parenting issues, there’s a nagging feeling in one’s head about how we should handle the situation as parents, because of what society’s norm is. Or perhaps there’s a nagging feeling – given to you from someone else, a relative, friends. There’s the “typical” way to handle things – and then there’s the way that works for your kid.
This article is really, really good. Because it’s us. We are currently living with an alpha toddler. He’s not an extrovert, as one might assume. In fact, he’s actually quite introverted and extremely sensitive, both physically and emotionally. But he’s an alpha toddler. Sure, it might be somewhat normal for all toddlers to demonstrate some alpha behaviors, especially around 3 years of age. I guess we’re just getting that party started early. But B’s alpha-ness is so frequent. The article talks about attachment, desperation, and vulnerability. B’s around-the-clock need for control is not because he’s being bossy, bratty, or in need of a time out. It’s because there’s a piece missing in his puzzle – he’s not feeling the dependency on us that comes with healthy attachment. His need for control is actually desperation.
I did think it odd that he wanted control over EVERYTHING – things that didn’t even involve him. Things I was saying out loud, like, I’m going to turn the music on, or I’m going to get dressed. He’d argue with me because I made a decision about my own life, not him. The desire for control on his control-o-meter was off the charts. But my new outlook today is that this isn’t something to be mad at. Even more, this is definitely NOT something to grab control back from, because it’s not that easy. There will be times when I need to make a snap parenting decision and B’s just going to have to deal with it. But when I can, I need to work on re-attaching him to me, as I’m the primary person he argues with. I need to make him feel safe, not in the typical way (because we already provide that) but in a different way. In a way that lets him know, if I make a decision and he doesn’t, he’s still safe, things will be okay. If I take control over a situation (calmly, not like a dictator), he needs to feel that he can trust the decisions I’ve made. That takes time, and some major patience from this pregnant mama. I’ll be working on that. The article gives specifics on how to rebuild that trust.
And this article let me know that what I’m experiencing is a taste of what being 3 is like (yippee), but there a few things that we’re doing that, in B’s case, are not working. One being – WAY, WAY too much talking. I’m quite guilty of it, and my husband is as well. We are constantly trying to explain to him – explain why he can’t do something, why it’s not his turn, whatever. He is not in a place right now where he can handle an explanation. He’s too young. It doesn’t make him feel better, and typically he starts arguing right after an explanation. When the fit is thrown, if his body needs to be moved, we need to pick him up without talking. Trying to reason with him is impossible, and we need to stop trying because it makes him more upset.
This article also touched upon the attachment issue – so I think there’s some real merit in this. It’s not that we’re not attached to him, or that he’s not attached to us. He is very attached in that way – but he doesn’t trust a situation in which he can’t control. And that’s something to work on.
These articles helped today. I feel as if I know more now what the root cause of this issue is, and I’m not about to just treat the symptoms of a temper tantrum. It won’t work – it hasn’t been working all along.
There’s a lot of good in this house. B and C are absolute best friends. They insist on playing together at every moment. If one isn’t around, the other one is bored, or, I imagine, missing his/her other half. They play together quite nicely, with roles established by them (though we’ll be working on that…). They have their own silly games, and B will run over to C and say, “C, do you want to play the ____ game?” After they eat, I can clean up and do a few chores, because they play together wonderfully.
How lucky they are to have each other – never, ever asking us to play with them or keep them company (though I wouldn’t mind if they did!). They are each other’s best friend.