Happy Friday y’all!
Hope that everybody is doing well. Here at the homestead we’ve seemed to come screeching into our terrible twos. I guess I don’t really want to call it that, since Shannon isn’t a terrible kid. She’s just high energy, willful, and testing the cannibalism waters. The combo makes for an exhausting day. When I get Mike’s text that he’s leaving from work, I usually squeal a little bit knowing that I will soon have reinforcements (and I get to go to the barn soon).
Anyways, we’ve had a hard time trying to figure out the best parenting strategy to handle the outbursts (and violence). I was all gung-ho about positive parenting and reasoning with her, but really… have you tried to reason with an 18 month old who realllllly wants to run around with a screwdriver? Pffft. It usually gets me a slap across the face. She would have an explosion (usually in the form of hitting or biting) and I would try to sit with her and tell her that it hurt Mommy. Ha. Ha. Ha. She thought that she was having a great time playing “chase Shannon all over the house.”
Redirection turned into a game for her. She would do something, say get into the kitchen cabinets, and I would tell her no and bring her into her play room. As soon as I took her away from whatever she was trying to get into, she would immediately try to get back to what I took her away from. It doesn’t matter WHAT I give her, she made a bee-line for the ‘no’ object. It would turn into a physical struggle with then transformed into hitting/biting. Clearly non-effective.
What about spanking? Mike and I agree that we aren’t sure how we feel about teaching that hitting is not okay by hitting doesn’t really make sense. I will admit to popping her on the butt to bring her back to ground zero when she’s doing something dangerous. That’s effective enough to get her attention, but it doesn’t hurt her, but then, of course, we go back to what I mentioned above about her making a bee-line for whatever it was that we disengaged her from.
Finally, we came to time outs. I set up the pack ‘n play in an empty corner of her playroom and I put a stuffed frog in it. Just the one toy. Nothing else. It’s proved to be the most effective of all the thing that we’ve tried (so far). She did a drive by biting the first time, so I put her in it, and I walked away. I did’t say anything to her. She FREAKED. Totally lost her mind. I just sat quietly out of view until she chilled out (so…. 5 minutes, if not less) and started chatting with her frog. Then we resumed our activity. It gave us both a chance to hit the re-set button on the day and take a break from whatever caused her to bite me (it was a drive by… so I’m not sure what the cause was…).
We don’t use it for everything. Mostly the “big” offenses, like hitting and biting Mike and I (or the dogs and cats). Screaming and crying meltdowns we wordlessly walk away from. Usually those are done within 15 seconds and are the ‘easy’ fits to deal with.
We also are trying to make an effort to make the right thing easy for her, and the wrong thing hard. For example, she is OBSESSED with turning the computer on and off. I can’t count how many times she’s turned it off on me when I’ve put it down for a second. So now, instead of just setting it down (possibly where she can reach it) to run and grab her juice or let the dogs in/out, I make sure it goes up high. The less she hears the word ‘No’ the less “moments” that she has (and the less frustrated I feel that nobody is listening to me). It’s a lot like training a green horse…. If I don’t want Willow to half pass across the diagonal, I don’t give her to opportunity to do it. 😉 Makes total sense, right? Parenting and horse training is totally the same thing.
Like the horses, I know that she has to make mistakes so she can learn (there are some boundaries that I don’t think that parents can set) , but I would prefer that she puts her shoes on the wrong feet instead of jumping off the stairs. When it’s age appropriate… jump kid, jump! We don’t dictate everything to her, but we want her to know that when we say ‘no’ we really do mean it.
Mike and I aren’t even close to being perfect parents, and I know that every kid is different, but I wanted to share what’s working for us right now. This stage in the game is proving to be pretty frustrating and exhausting for me, and I know that I’m not the only parent out there feeling this way! It’s okay to admit it, I promise! It doesn’t mean you are failing, it just means that you are tired, a parent to a toddler, and NORMAL. I fairly sure I’m raising this little heathen child that was going to go to Pre-K in a few years and gnaw large chunks out of her peers… or at least poop in the toybox. It’s not going to get any easier when Charley gets here (although I’ve been lying to myself that it will, to keep me kinda sorta sane) but having a set plan to help deal with the not so fun times is going to help.
Also, like with Willow, I’ve seen things get better once she knows that action = consequence. Again, the right thing is easy and the wrong thing is hard (thank you, Warwick Schiller for teaching me this phrase, he’s a western guy, but I’ve used a lot of his techniques with Willow and through that… my child, apparently. Maybe I should write him.)
And when things get really, really bad, I just walk out the door and give my pretty bay stress reliever some smooches. 😉 I even jumped on her bareback last night and THAT was amazing (I’m paying for it today… heh). She’s okay with having the baby around, and Shannon has learned to give her cookies, which Willow thinks is GREAT since Shannon is much happier to dig in the cookie bag than I am. There goes Willow’s weight watchers plan.
Anyways, I just received the “I’m on my way home” text from the Big Boss, so I’m going to put on my comfy pants and prepare to indulge in my favorite book ever before I have to go play with the princess.
Because I’m tired and I deserve it.