Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Parenting rant!

(Goblin is 33 months)
Goblin is being very testy at the moment. Prior to a few weeks ago the sum total of his tantrums would be lying silently on the floor for a while. I could totally live with that. I'd just sit down next to him and wait it out a bit and then offer him a cuddle and redirect his attention. 
As he is nearly three I naively assumed we had missed the extremes of the "terrible twos" (Incidentally I hate that term anyway - labelling an entire year of a child's life as terrible). But unfortunately my smugness at having a reasonably untantrummy child has been put to rest. It was not that my child was more placid, it was simply that he had not yet reached that developmental milestone - Yes folks, when you are despairing that your child is flailing on the floor in the play area while those around him are playing delightfully, you can console yourself that it is probably just that your child has hit that particular milestone before them (not that parenting is a competition right!).

So in the last few weeks Goblin has developed the art of going from 'lovable, cute, beautiful, funny boy' to 'savage ball of fury' in less than ten seconds. And his new outbursts appear to be triggered by pretty much everything that is an interaction between parent and child.
"Goblin would you like a yogurt?"
*Screaming outrage, hitting, biting, lots of no no no*.
"Goblin what is the matter"
"no mummy no" 
*pushing me away while simultaneously trying to gouge out my eyes*.
If I manage to keep my cool, which is getting increasingly difficult, I might attempt 
"or there is toast"
And suddenly a bright beaming smile appears and there is my lovely little man again.
I am left sitting there thinking what the hell was that and what else might I accidentally say today that will trigger a 'rabid tasmanian devil' type response.

Some of you may know that we are trying to practice positive parenting, using redirection, guidance, talking calmly etc. Well let me tell you I haven't been feeling very 'positive' these last few weeks. And I have lost my temper and yelled and screamed a fair amount. And what does that teach Goblin, that when you are frustrated you should yell and scream - good one Monko!
I found myself wondering whether positive parenting is just hippy crap that will lead to a feral child who doesn't respect us. I'm guessing it doesn't matter what discipline method you use, when things start going wrong and your methods don't seem so effective, for what ever reason, you will always question what methods you have chosen. So in the last few weeks I have been seriously considering trying "the naughty step", something we had previously ruled out as not for us. Aha Parenting has a good explanation of why I find it a troubling discipline method. 
Its difficult to stick to your (un-tried and tested) guns when all around you are touting an alternative, supposedly tried and tested method. The naughty step seems to be the magic solution to all parenting woahs. You talk to nearly anyone, especially those without kids, and they will say "what about the naughty step". But it really doesn't sit with the learning style of disciple we want for Goblin.

So for a while now I have been full of insecurity about whether we are using the right parenting and discipline methods. I guess some of my insecurity stems from the fact that Goblin is a bit of a hyper child. He can't really sit still and as such he is never going to win any awards for being "well behaved". Not because he isn't well behaved, but because most people who don't know a child judge a child as "well behaved" if they are unusually compliant and sedate. (broken in spirit?) 
I can get that result by using valium on Goblin but nobody is telling me that is a good idea are they? 

So I just keep reminding myself that parenting isn't just about the hear and now, its about helping to develop a child to be an impressive and happy adult. 
When you think of the impressive adults you know, are the first qualities you get to their ability to sit quiet and still, to say please and thank you and to eat up all their greens? 
If I keep that goal in mind maybe I can retain the conviction that we have chosen the right path for parenting our Goblin. 

Ironically we won't find out until its too late anyway! 



For anyone else having a parenting/discipline wobble here are a couple of great ideas for alternatives to the naughty step/time outs:
Carrots are Orange - 5 Alternatives to Time out 
Positive Parenting: Toddlers and beyond - Calm Down Corner 
Positive Parenting Connection - 11 Alternatives to Time Outs

I'm sharing this at
Tuesday Tots

25 comments:

  1. My daughter was a much calmer and cooperative child and we had very few of those tantrums. My son is a completely different character and I have been the woman whose child screams his head off at the supermarket and nothing will do the trick. Yet we have used the same parenting philosophy for both of them. As much as frustrating that is, I believe in gentle discipline and I like the idea of time-in as opposed to time-out. Those moments,when my son loses his self-control,are the very moments he needs his parent's help.So I would rather seek ways to try to reconnect with him,than putting him on the corner of a room or on the naughty step. Oh and of course,parenting is the easiest job when you don't have a kid yourself ;)

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    1. Yep I really do think you are right, when goblin is freaking out its usually because he is frustrated or tired. Pushing him away is simply illogical

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  2. I empathise! Also using positive parenting here (with my own special twist of shouting, duh). I also let her know when I am annoyed, frustrated and angry and use natural consequences (so say on Sunday she deliberately (or so it seemed) tipped over the mop bucket, threw things around and peed herself, so I put her upstairs - not as a punishment but because we couldn't get the floor cleaned with her around. Explained it all to her (relatively) calmly and brought her down again when floor cleaned. I think it tends to happen when she is tired/grumpy/not getting the attention she needs (but which we would have to be superhuman, and have several clones to give!!)

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    1. yep Goblin is very much the same, the challenging behaviour is either a result of tiredness or often when we are trying to attempt a transition like Pyjamas to day clothes, or trying to get out of the house. I think i just need to slow everything down a bit more.

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  3. Your doing a great job! Parenting is not the easiest job but something that must be done. The threes are a year of independence and discovery!

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  4. Bobo is going through some of the same. He has the same kind of reaction with freaking out about the weirdest things. I think it's just the struggle for independence. I'd say we use positive discipline, too. Lots of talking instead of spanking and isolation. When someone else reprimands him with words, though, he'll sit quietly and seethe.

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  5. My daughter was wonderful at two and I similarly felt we had breezed through that year. Then three came and took its toll. For us, it only lasted a few months before my calm and sweet daughter returned to us. Of course, those "ugly" moments reappear, but they are more the exception than the rule. From what I hear from my friends, most of them had more trouble with three and than age two. Good luck and hang in there!

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    1. Thats very reassuring - I know kids have to grow out of it at some point but its nice to hear it can be as short as a few months

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  6. I love two year olds and think 'terrible twos' is a myth because both my girls were no trouble! MG had a great vocabulary so most of the frustrations of being two were relieved by that; DG was just a far more laid-back child. But three, oh the threenager! DG has turned from a placid, laid-back, easy to look after little girl into a monster who screams, tantrums, whinges, hits and sulks about *everything* (especially about being told off!) MG got whingier and whingier from three onwards until earlier this year as she hit five I was totally reaching the end of the end of the end of my tether and considering whether she might need behavioural help. She's transformed in the last few weeks into a responsible, mature (for 5) and helpful girl (who still whinges, stomps, slams doors etc, but not as often!)

    The naughty step never worked. Any form of time out or telling off didn't work. I have lost my temper, screamed, berated and been a terrible parent on a regular basis (which *definitely* doesn't work!) but I try to be calm and work with my girls where possible because I honestly don't care if they always say please and thank-you etc and what's the point of a 'sorry' that's been forced out, it's not a real sorry! And you know what, the less you whinge at them, the more they say please and thank-you, and offer to help etc. I doubt they'll ever be tidy though :-)

    Mostly, 'other people' comment on how lovely my girls are, so it seems to work. I'm grey haired, exhausted and have in-laws complaining about my parenting ("they need chastising" - nope, they don't...) but MG and DG are fundamentally decent people, just a bit whingey with it!

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    1. I love your term "Threenager" its is soooo appropriate!

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  7. I feel ya dear! 3 years old has been tremendously more trying than 2! Thinking of you!

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  8. I was giggling as I read your post, so true!! My mother runs a Montessori school and has all th answers for these little wild things- my youngest is not yet 2 but has thrown similar tantrums- set off by change of clothing and he has similarly turned into a rabid drooling kicking beast- to the point where 2 (?!) different times our exit from the house has resulted in a 1/2 on diaper no pants no socks or shoes- placing him in the carseat with GREAT restraint, and wrangling hands and arms and legs while tryin to buckle him in, closing car door ( & banshee sound) and wiping excess sweat from face while catching breath and just wondering if I could walk away from the car with any good conscience- of course I get in- opening the car door tithe ear piercing screeches- & once the car starts to drive he calms down- I end up driving like a scared old lady, waiting for the tantrum to be set off by a question or sound- we have a LONG year to go if this is the way it's going to be!!
    My mothers read on the situation :: well he's expressing his independence- you need to give him more time and a choice between 2 things u want him to do-
    These suggestions are very helpful but long and short is tantrums are developmental so you can expect a healthy child to throw them!! My child is " very heathy" ;)

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    1. What great imagery, that made me chuckle

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  9. When I had my first child, fourteen years ago, I hadn't heard of demand feeding, positive parenting, co-sleeping and the like, I simply thought I was acting on instinct and following my personal childhood memories. The downside (though there are many positives) with making a CONCIOUS decision to follow a certain route is that, if you veer from the path at all you can feel like you've "failed" and be too harsh or judgemental of yourself. Go with the flow is the advice I always give if asked.
    People think I'm really chilled out as a parent (I don't like to correct them in that I'm actually just a bit lazy and drink lots of wine after bedtime), but that's because they were never there at bedtimes, bathtimes, potty training, tantrum days etc - parenting IS stressful. You have the responsibility of initially shaping another person's view of the world...like...wow! I think your approach sounds awesome, but don't sweat it if you find yourself having to set some boundaries because, as I learnt with my kids - no matter what your personal approach they eventually have to cope with strict rules or degrees of negativity at school and socially and if they're prepared they take it in their stride.

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    1. You are so right, once you know its a philosophy you know you can do it "wrong".

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  10. I am really curious to read/talk about the kids of parents who already used these principles of discipline and see how they feel about it. Kids who are now teenagers or adults.

    I want to use this method but I am terrified because, like you said, un-tried and true guns tend to be criticized by everyone!

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    1. That is a really good point - I have just put the question out there on my FB blog page to see if there are any Positive Parenting folk with teenagers who can give us a take.

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    3. My three are 14, 9 and 7. We live in a small village in the UK, so you get a lot of feedback on what you and your family are like/have been up to etc whether you want it or not :D I'm really proud of my eldest in that people always comment on how polite and friendly he is, yet what I have noticed since he went up to secondary school, is that he really struggles with stricter authority.

      We always had great reports at primary school, but at secondary obviously the teachers are under pressure to work to a tighter curriculum and have their students achieve certain tasks in a certain time frame so basically the kids are expected to fit a general mould, for want of a better analogy. My eldest has found this hard, as we've raised him to question situations that he doesn't understand or doesn't see the validity of, rather than just tow the line - and that is seen as undesirable behaviour by teachers in this environment. He has been "in trouble" a lot the past year through frustration I think, and I in turn have tried to find a middle ground with him and the school, but its hard because he doesn't fit in their box, and while I think it's important for him to learn to compromise to a degree, I don't want him to conform completely.

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    4. Hmm that is an interesting point/dilema. I really don't think the school system does our kids any favours when it comes to developing an inquiring mind. On the other hand it does teach them that sometimes you need to suck it up and play their game. Finding that compromise at such a young age must be really tough.

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  11. Oh, wow. I feel you've just described my son! He's a kicker and a puncher, which is not so great when you are trying to hold/comfort/talk to them. I'm not sure what to do with him until he has calmed enough to reason, because if I let him flail around, inevitably, his one year old sister wants to be up in his face trying to see what the problem is and gets kicked for her troubles. Yeesh. If you find a magic pill/tip that works wonders for you, let me know. Otherwise, I think it's just finding your composure (or the shreds of it) and working through it until they can reason for themselves without us playing Jiminy Cricket. Sigh.

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    1. Oh Stacia, it must be so much harder with two!

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  12. Loved your honesty and how you say that any way parents choose they may doubt at some point or another! What I love about the positive approach is that at least the journey is mostly pleasant and not filled with artificially created conflict and def. doesn't have the element of purposefully shaming children just because we "know better"... shared your post on the positive parenting facebook page!!

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    1. Yep that is exactly why we are doing it this way - it just feels so silly getting into arguments about things you don;t really care about just because you feel you need to be 'the authority in the house'. Its so much nicer if I can defuse a situation with a joke, rather than screeching. Thanks so much for sharing the post.

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