LYNNABEL's CalorieKing blog

Monday, Jun 2 2008

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I’m feeling very challenged by being Will’s mother right. I don’t want to go into too many specifics for fear of being misunderstood, but I’m just at a loss with him, his behavior, and my reaction to it. I am praying that this stage passes quickly. I haven’t read any particular helpful advice online or in my child development books or from my own past or others experiences. I haven’t found any truly useful ideas for managing the type of behavior Will is exhibiting. I dislike my reactions to his behavior. That is the biggest understatement I’ve made recently.

From my perspective it appears that he understand that his behavior is wrong/inappropriate/etc. and he often times understands the consequences, but it would seem he cannot control the impulse that links the two.

I’ve talked to S about it at some length. S understands, I think, how I’m feeling, but he is only really able to say that I am too hard on myself and to ask him to take over whenever I want to. Of course, that has its problems – Will learns that when Mommy can’t manage a situation, she calls in Daddy. I don’t like what that makes either S or I. However, I would prefer even that to the way I’ve been feeling after our episodes. Will just doesn’t act up the same way for S. As much as this concerns my feminist heart, it may be because S is a man. And Will identifies with S’s authority (due to physical size?) more…I don’t know. I don’t think its because I’m out of the house – Will has always been challenged by the presence of both S and I. His current stage is something new entirely. He is defiant and deliberately so.

Examples: he poured cup after cup of bath water on to the bathroom floor the other night when I was trying to get Ellen to sleep (he has a bath seat that prevents him from any danger of drowning, so I can leave the bathroom for short stints without worrying). He hits my face when I am reprimanding him. He won’t let me change his diaper even when he needs it and his bottom is feeling sore/chapped. He won’t participate in having his teeth brushed. He runs away from me in parking lots, then flails when I have to physically restrain him. He lays ON Ellen. He pulled down his curtains, rods and all. And so on.
In order to prevent the above situations from happening, I have to keep reminding myself he can’t be trusted in situations that I used to be able to trust him in. It seems counterintuitive to me – that you would essentially remove experiences/options/responsibilities/privileges with developmental stages, rather than increasing them…And he needs to be potty trained sometime this summer, I think. The diaper issue gives him too much situational power. Its so hard to remember that I can’t kneel to speak with him when I’m scolding him, or he will hit me. Its hard to remember that I can’t let him walk to or from the car on his own, or he will pull away and run off into danger. Its hard to remember I can’t leave him alone at all. I can't have Ellen accessible to him.

And then there are the activities I need him to participate in that he won’t – diaper changing, and tooth brushing. How do you insist on cooperation? Its so difficult. No amount of positive reinforcement is working nor is punishment via timeouts. So, I end up holding him and forcing the tooth brushing/diaper changing on him. And I HATE that type of physical restraints and interaction. Its just awful.

And he just laughs. Laughs and laughs. As if he gets an adrenalin thrill out of my anger, even when I think I’m not showing how furious I am.

In my secret heart of hearts, I sometimes wonder if is a pathological behavior on either one of our parts, if something is wrong with both of us.

I just SO want Will and Ellen to have good memories of their childhoods. Better than mine. I want so much to do right by them. And yet I find myself frustrated and despairing and wondering why I thought becoming a parent twice in two years was a good idea.

I got to thinking about smugness the other day and how guilty of it I was (and still can be) of it before I started making a conscious effect to combat it. (I’ve figured out over the last several years that this tendency of mine to judgment and smugness is a toxic combination of my personality and the way I was raised…a family very focused on appearances). Anyway, I was thinking that someone like Nichole Ritchie who has lived hard and fast very young is someone you might not expect to rise to the occasion of being a parent, where someone who has had a more stable, staid, fairly innocent life would…I’m not sure that Nichole Ritchie isn’t a much better mother than I am. Just because I had many advantages that you would assume would lead to skillful mothering, doesn’t seem to mean it comes naturally to me. I have to work hard at it. And I’m afraid I often fail. I sometimes think I’m the exception that proves the rule – nurture can only do so much. Sometimes nature is the stronger force.

I had a nightmare this weekend – the kind that is emotionally wrenching versus physically frightening. I dreamt that I was at a gathering of people I used to know and be close to. The degree of distance between myself and those former friends was so apparent in the dream I woke up feeling so shamed. So embarrassed. So mortified. So hurt. It reminded me why I still carry so much emotional baggage from the loss of those friendships.

The above is the depressing reason why I don’t know that I will ever be a person secure in herself. I don’t know that I will ever feel self confident in the way I think an adult woman should feel.

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14 comments so far.


a decade ago

I understand!!!! I am the mom of a 4 year old and a 2 year old. My now-four year old was such a shock to me when he went through that stage. I often wondered where my sweet boy went when he was hitting, defying, and pushing me to my limits. I now know that with consistency and patience, they do "return" to the sweetness. Please have hope, pray for patience, and know you are not alone.




a decade ago

lots of good things to think about here. :love:




a decade ago

Wow, what more can I add to those wonderfully wise people up there? ^^^ I just really hope you understand that you are definitely not alone, either in your anger or in Will's behavior. Trevor is JUST starting to get a little easier in those departments, and he'll be three
( :o ) in 2 weeks. I do have to second the "robot voice". As upset as I get for having to repeat myself, at this age persistence is key. And while I don't relish the idea of carrying a screaming child through a parking lot, I've done it on numerous occasions. Trust me when I say that he will grow out of it, and you just have to be firm and consistent. Unfortunately, the consistency is where I have trouble, simply because some days I have more patience than others. And while I am completely like you in not wanting my boys to grow up thinking that Mommy (and therefore women) are weaker or somehow not as effective as men, Jacob went through a very brief period of hitting me, and Eric had to step in and be the disciplinarian there. I figure the slight chance we're taking at this having a lasting impression on female figures is worth it in order for him to learn that hitting me or anyone else is unacceptable. Hang in there, Lynnie, and please know that we've all been there. You are not a bad mother. :love:

by CBL



a decade ago

Hi! Glad the book is helpful. It's always a dicey thing giving someone parenting advice :). The thing about my not eating much in the morning is that it does work out best for me because I AM an afternoon snacker. No matter what I do or how I try to change, I just am. So using up those morning cals later in the day just seems to be the best for me. So you're right - just go with what works!




a decade ago

Ha!! "Subject to 'em" is a great description. Perfect! .. / .. Probably can't get out of here, but I keep telling my friends that if they head this way I'm way more available. Getting AWAY is just out of the question. We've hit a mutually agreed upon moratorium on non-essential travel for the summer. =) I realize seeing my friends IS essential, but in light of opening a second campus, not everyone thinks so. LMAO. The nerve!!

by REV



a decade ago

Non-parent offerings # 3. Have you tried some one-on-one Mommy/Will time away from S, Ellen and home? Like a play date with just the two of you in a neutral environment. I don’t know what you have available in your area but we have things like a Railroad Park or the Science Center. Not that it helps with the other issues but maybe he needs a little Mommy bonding time again without Daddy to run to or Ellen to distract your attention.




a decade ago

Hope you don't mind me butting in here, but I've got two little ones and I feel your pain. I am also a big proponent of Love and Logic. I've found it very helpful. You've hit the nail on the head when you say that Will is feeding off your anger. As absolutely hard and painful as it may be, you really need to try to switch off your emotions when dealing with reprimands and punishments. Many times the lack of emotion disarms them and is more effective than any amount of scolding. Also, what about giving him choices for how to do the things he wants to do? Say, "Will? Do you want to brush your teeth first or after Mommy?" Or, "Do you want to brush your teeth in the bathroom or in the kitchen?" And as for the parking lot issue, you could say, "Do you want to walk holding my hand, or do you want Mommy to do the walking for you?" Give him two choices that you are ok with him choosing either one. If he tries to throw a third one in there, firmly and calmly repeat your two choices. I try to put on my "robot voice" as I call it when my oldest daughter starts to protest. I just keep repeating myself over and over again and she quickly realizes it's not worth arguing. And if he says, "Hold Mommy's hand" and then breaks away, pick him up quickly and say as lightly as possible, "Oh, it looks like you chose Mommy to do the walking for you!" He's obviously fighting for some control so maybe try giving him a chance to make some decisions and choices of his own. As the Love and Logic books say, the more seemingly unimportant decisions you let them make during the course of the day, the easier it will be for you to take control of the decisions you don't want them to have any control over - the important stuff. And don't be hard on yourself - there is no perfect answer or solution. We are all human, we make mistakes, we learn and we move on. Hang in there!




a decade ago

Oh Lynnie! First off... :kiss: When I met K's youngest, he was just a few months shy of 3 so I have a (limited) knowledge of the toddler situation. He's testing you and his boundaries right now. He wants to see what he can get away with/get out of doing. Our savior was that Blake got attached to me very quickly so if I scolded him he would get very upset. So he'd listen. But that's because I was a weekend play friend to him. I don't think he expected discipline from me. We seem to have more ctruggles with him now at 5 than a few years ago. The age gap between him and his brother is really starting to show and the more Jordan pulls away from him, the more Blake acts out. He's been very sassy and gets physical. It's very frustrating, but I have to remember to be sympathetic to the fact that he's missing his brother's companionship and he's acting out for attention. So maybe Will is exhibiting some behaviors due to Ellen's arrival. In their minds, rotten behavior gets as much (if not more) attention than good behavior. Hang in there, love. It WILL get better. :love:

by AMYC18



a decade ago

Like Courtney, he who has no kids has an opinion (and we all know that opinions are worth natch). // Perhaps I'm old school but a child hitting a parent should NEVER ever be tolerated or ignored or discussed rationally with said child. If I had a child and he/she hit me they would either get a spanking or a week of sitting in the corner staring at the wall. Yes, I know that spanking sends a mixed message regarding violence however he has to know that hurting others can turn around and hurt him. A couple of swats on his Pampers butt will reinforce the message without actually hurting him. So will raising your voice and in a stern manner tell him to get his behind to the corner. I know he's two and a half but that's when kids start to learn the limits of their world. No matter what you do the key is to be strict and more assertive than he is. He's not your equal, he's a two year old. He's not yet to the age where rational reasoning works. Lastly, his acting out may also be a way of getting attention from you now that Ellen is here. At that age any attention is good attention (not that grin you talked about when he knows he's upset you).

by JAY



a decade ago

I have to echo what Tori said.... I wish I had some words of wisdom or past experiences that I could give to you. I'd like to believe that this is Will, being two....and dealing with the emotions of not being the only center of your world since Ellen came along. I can only say that you should continue to be stern, and try not to let him see how much he is getting to you. I agree with you in that don't let S be the only "heavy".... It won't do you any good when you are parenting alone. He's 2 1/2..... would he be able to understand some sort of reward system.... Like stickers/stars for good behavior/tasks on a daily basis??? :love: to you dear..... parenting is soo challenging




a decade ago

Again stepping in as She Who Has No Knowledge of Which She Speaks =D : We are each created as individuals, equally wondrous and hellish as that is. Kids and grownups both. Every parent parents in the way they understand and believe is best ... and every kid 'kids' the way that is most intuitive to them. Neither behaves - parent or child - exactly the same all the time, or forever. All four of you could soon reverse roles, behaviors and patterns. It's the way people work. In the meantime, you keep him safe and healthy no matter the cost and you love him no matter what. One non-mom's opinion, FWIW. :love:

by REV



a decade ago

:kiss: I'm sorry you're struggling right now, Lynn. Toddlers are tough....and they can bring you to your knees in frustration. Have you read the Love and Logic series? It is a fabulous book in MANY ways, but mostly because the parenting style used in Love and Logic is not always the gentle approach. It's not harsh...there is ALOT of love to be given, but the Logic part of the parenting allows for firmness and natural consequences that sometimes might FEEL hard to do, but in time, do work. I've heard good things about the Magic of Early Childhood book in that series but I don't have it yet. Here's a link for you:




a decade ago

Low has many the toddler laid the adult woman. You, my dear, are NOT a failure. He, sweetie, is a two-year-old. Why did you think they called them "terrible." I have to tell you that Dominic was complete cake as a toddler and Lauren was my demon. Dominic pretty much trained himself in the course of a weekend. Lauren was still battling with me well into her 4th year. Dominic was hell on wheels in high school, and we all know how easy Lauren was as a teenager (illicit tanning bed episodes, notwithstanding). What I'm trying to get across is that they'll be able to make you feel like a failure at many a phase in their life. (Notice I didn't limit that to growing up.) You're doing the right thing when it comes to parking lots and reprimands and Ellen. Not sure what to tell you when it comes to the teeth and the diapers. You may want to change his tooth-brushing time to a time of day when he expects something good to happen, then not let it until he brushes his own teeth. He will do a poor job of brushing his own teeth, but he's bright enough to have the general idea of how it goes and his teeth won't really suffer from a less-than-thorough job. Again, not sure what to say about the diaper sitch since he can't very well change his own and I know what you mean about the bad diaper area. Hmmmm.... is there a baby doctor site where you could post a question? Even if you don't get an answer, you'd probably get some commiseration that would put the whole thing in perspective. Hang in there, Sweetie. It DOES get better. And then worse. And then better. :kiss:




a decade ago

:kiss: I wish I had some wise words for you. I'm guilty of smugness at times, too. :$