November 12, 2012

Temper, temper

I think I've mentioned that when Brex hit the one-year mark, he also hit a key developmental milestone: wanting his own way. I keep thinking of the G.K. Chesterton quote from Orthodoxy, "Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved." It's the idea that we each come out wanting our own way above all others and have to learn that life doesn't work that way.

Well, Brex is learning. I've figured out a few consequences that seem to work very effectively for his current behaviors. For each of these I give him a "When/then" statement as I see the willful moment approaching.

"When you touch that, then..."

"If you keep pulling those out, then..."

1. Move him
When he sits there staring at and scooting closer....and closer...and closer to whatever I've told him not to touch, I just say, "If you touch it, you get moved out of the room." He looks up at me and then back down. Slowly his fat little finger oozes toward the object of desire. As he touches it, I swoop down, grab him and move him out of the room. Not in any mean way, but not in a cuddly way either. He wails and gnashes his eight teeth as I leave him there to go back and finish whatever started the conflict. Then I come out and say, "I'll pick you up when you stop crying." He whimpers up at me with tears in his big brown eyes. Sniffs. Gets quiet. I pick him up and he grins and all is well.

2. Let him go
His other favorite reaction is to arch his back away from me if I say he can't touch something. (Example: we're in a store and he wants to touch the display items. God FORBID he can't touch them. What do you MEAN, 'it's not for you'?! The outrage! The horror! AAAAGGGGHHHH!!)

I have zero tolerance for that kind of tantrum, so I just put him on the floor as he's arching. (I do it gently enough that he doesn't bang his head, but quickly enough that he knows he started the motion) I leave him there to wail and again say, "When you stop crying, I'll pick you up." He usually stops fairly quickly. Yes. I've done this in a store. No, it's not fun. I figure the fits will only get worse, so it's worth it to do now when he can't yet walk away.

3. Walk away
He's just recently started shrieking if he's not getting something he wants (usually me).  I refuse to pick him up and reward the shriek. So I repeat, "When you stop crying, I'll pick you up" and then walk out of the room. The volume increases exponentially of course! When it winds down to a low whimper, I go in and get him. As soon as I pick him up, he grins like none of it ever happened. For some reason that's when I think, "Little punk!"

I figure all of this will have to be adjusted again once he can walk with confidence (since he will get up and run after me). That day is coming soon! Yesterday he had multiple times where he took 10 little robot steps (mostly towards the dog. Must. touch. her. Must. not. get. licked. in. face. Must. stand.)

So, as in most parenting thus far, as soon as we figure out a working system, we are due to enter newly uncharted waters.

For Halloween, I dressed him appropiately as a 'curmudgeon'. The shirt says "This is my costume".


Inkling said...

It's been fun and good to read your posts recently. I've loved the honesty, and many times find myself nodding my head and saying, "She's describing marriage issues like she lives in my house." While it's not nice to know that you have painful wrestlings, it is good to know that we're not alone in struggling to find a balance with so many difference.

I wish I'd thought of the "when you stop crying, I'll pick you up" thing. What a great idea. Wonder if it would work on an almost four year old when he insists on having his way and thinks the world is ending when he doesn't get it.

And Brex's picture? Oh my goodness. That is THE most adorable curmudgeon I've ever seen. =) Sometimes I think God makes tots cute so we can be more patient with them when they are so utterly stubborn and cantankerous. Guess He knew He would have to help us on those occasions when we're ready to put a stamp on their rumps and mail them to the grandparents.

Mizasiwa said...

Stick with it - this can work even when he walks with minor adjustments - iv seen a 'naughty mat' work really well. It is family specific though this only started working at a much later age with our oldest but our daughter it worked much quicker - she always understood cause and affect he didn't also try if u choose' statements (this worked well with our son) ie - if you choose to touch xyz you choose ...appropriate punishment in ur case not to be picked up for example good luck if you stick with whatever method you choose just remember any small waiver will undo all good work and intention.