Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to normality

Nothing happened. My mother must have said nothing as I did not notice any change in my father's mood. That was a good move. We both put that conversation behind and just moved on with the holiday which was calmer. A part from one of the last evenings when Oliver was given chocolate biscuits by a friend of my parents (seriously...) at around 6.30 pm. He was WILD. WILD. I did very well in controlling myself and actually directing him to run up and down the garden while I was "timing" him to burn some energy. Still it was tough. Tough to control him, tough not to loose patience, tough not to shout at him to just please calm down. My parents sort of stayed very quiet as I am sure they could see how many buttons were pushed at once and literally he was unmanageable. But we made it.
We had again a major sleep regression while on holidays which meant that we had to stay with him till he was asleep (could take 45 minutes) and read a number of stories which kept getting interrupted as soon as the end was nearing. Classic tactic which we normally don't indulge but of course, to avoid him screaming the house down and waking Martina (superchampion sleeper since she decided to sleep through the night at 10 months) and Clarissa (much less of a champion) we gave in.
So we are retraining again now that is the second night at home and this evening he was happy after the story was read, for me to sit on the stairs with my laptop dealing with emails but so that he could see me from his bed. He was asleep within 10 minutes. This is major progress. Let's hope it will continue. I would love for him not to be resisting sleep so much, i know he is 95% of the time adorable, but I swear, that 5% will make a saint go to Hell.

This brings me to introduce the education model I would like to follow and the constant battles I fight with myself not to be too much of a general when he pushes my button (and the guilt I feel when I don't manage).
I don't want to slap him (not even on the bum) and I want words to be all that is needed to deal with misbehaviour. Slaps don't make anyone behave any better, they only perpetrate fear and the idea that if someone does something you don't agree with then you slap him. I deeply believe that is wrong. However, it does happen that Oliver gets a slap on his bum, always after warnings which he happily ignores it seems.
Both Mike and I need to motivate eachother in this, obviously we both got slapped when we didn't do what we were told and I still remember it with a feeling of hopelessness as I could never react.
You read everything and its opposite when it come to slaps, so I understand if you feel this is part of a normal education for children (within reason I hope and never to harm a child!), perhaps even just as a quick way to "shock" the child out of a bad behaviour. I just don't want to be that parent.
So I am trying to read various other points of view and articles, and like always I need something that gives me power (even just psychological) to keep calm during classic toddler misbehaviour.
I think the best phrase I have read and that I have used since I read it, is to repeat to yourself that "you are the adult and you can definitely deal with this" "he is a child and does what children do" "his behaviour is not a reflection of you failing as a parent, he is just being a normal 3 and half year old" "it is a phase and it will pass".
Lately we have been dealing with awful behaviour in shops if we don't buy him something, if we don't let him out of the trolley (he inevitably runs away every time we do put him down despite the promises not to do so) etc. I have read and implemented a great strategy that felt like the discovery of hot water but I never thought of it that clearly. It is essential with toddlers to inform them of what is about to happen and to make sure they know the consequences of their behaviour. So it goes like this "we are going shopping now, we have to get what is written on the list. I know you are going to be a good boy, there is no room for misbehaviour in the shop. If it happens that you forget, I will remind you why we are in the shop, but if you forget again and still misbehave I will bring you back to the car and we will not buy anything at all, is this ok? Shall we go?" With Oliver this technique worked like magic. I was worried he was going to misbehave and I wouldn't bring home a single item, but he actually didn't. Since I have used this technique. Magic. I have also read that with smaller children it may be good to have a "magic" piece of paper in the car that you can read to them before doing whatever you have to do and the points are always 3, state what is about to happen, state what you expect the child to do and state what will happen if he does not do what you expect him to do. Keep it short and real (don't make any threats, just state a reasonable consequence for misbehaviour). This works also when we go to the playground and going home was delirious, there was always "one more slide" and "two more minutes". I was getting stressed even at the thought of going to the playground as I knew I would be that mother with that child.
Hopefully as we settle back in our routine of work and creche we will find a healthy equilibrium.
Your thoughts are much appreciated.


  1. You are an amazing momma!! Our bedtime routine takes over an hour to get Matthew to sleep or even stay in his room!! And I totally understand the wanting a toy every time we go to the store!! I am going to try your technique next time!!! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yay for you trying different techniques! Suzy is only 18 months, but she copies our behaviour very "literally". Positive guidance is the only thing that works and keeps everyone happy. So yes, telling her what to do and praising her for it works. (Telling her no will only make her do it while saying no)
    If I remember correctly it did indeed help greatly to give the boys small errands in the shop. For the little one to go get the milk. unbreakable, easy. or maybe, as a reward for good behaviour, let him pick the kind of jam he loves?
    But yes, focus on what to do.
    Like the dog whisperer says , imagine the good situation, live in the here and now and don't let the past bad experiences tense you up.
    For the playground leaving, maybe a drink of juice in the car after leaving in a good way?
    I agree with you that getting physical is only setting the example that when you are bigger you can make the smaller person do what you want. And that is definitely not how you want him interacting with Martina.


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