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Discipline. It's the hardest thing about being a mum...how to do it? What's too much? What's too little?
People always talked about the terrible twos. Two was a breeze. Everything was, until 3.3. Dramatically, at 3 years and 3 months a shift has begun in our home. Getting dressed can be a struggle, getting out the door to do anything - whether it be school, the park, a party, a run to the deli - it can be a full 30 minute discussion. Suddenly, my angel Luca can randomly be this pouty kid who demands his voice be heard.
There's no screaming happening on his end (or mine) but the drama, so much drama! Complete with quiet tears, begging and pleading, and the manipulation can be so intense sometimes I just want to crawl up into a ball. My poor mom has gotten more calls with me asking advice, my pediatrician has talked me down from the ledge, my friends all assured me of the normalcy - but still, how do you handle it?
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I love that Luca is a strong, smart boy with opinions, questions galore and intense emotions. But what that often equals up to is a lot of conversing. "Why do we have to go? Where are we going? How are we getting there? Why do I have to wear a coat? Did you know Jake went to school yesterday and his mom stayed all day? Why don't you do that? Who is going to hug me if I fall? What will happen if I don't leave the house? Why do you do this to me? Dont you love me?" It goes on and on and sometimes, I just want to scream. But I know better and I know I need to keep patience while simply getting him out the door.
Well I talked with a mom friend and she's struggling with the same exact things, but what I discovered is she felt so alone and scared by it, until I opened up to her. Moms can be thoroughly dishonest. That's why I want to be honest here - tell you what I'm going through and what I'm doing to fix it, so you don't feel alone and you can give me your opinions...I hope.
How do you dress a strong, oversized three year old if he doesn't want to get dressed? Well sometimes I tickle him until he no longer can be grumpy. Then smother him with kisses while simultaneously shoving his feet into socks. I'm not kidding. Other times I let him walk out the door wearing nothing. It only takes three seconds until he realizes he needs to get dressed.
How do you stop a crying child who doesn't want to go to school? This is my daily drama. With his nanny and his dad, he's fine. With me, the tears are worthy of a Golden Globe. What I've learned to do is just ignore the pleas and cries and just keep moving like nothing is happening. Other times I tickle until we both are sweating and red faced and ready to pass out. Then I jump on the subway and pray no one notices how both Luca and I have dreadlocks from tickle wrestling on the ground.
How do you get a kid to eat? I don't. If he's hungry, he will eat. There's always food out and I'm always trying, but I'm never forcing. I know my child wont die or get sick from not eating. When his belly needs it, he will eat.
How do you get a child to transition from one thing to another without drama? I have no idea. I need help. I really do. One day he will easily/happily go from the library to swim class, the next he's throwing himself on the ground, not wanting to go. It's insanity. And there's no reasoning with it. No, "but you love swim class!" It just doesn't work...transitioning from one activity to another is a real issue right now. I simply don't know what to do.
How do you stop a child from hitting? So this is a new thing with Luca. According to his pediatrician, this is very common for boys at his age. And it's one of the hardest habits to rid them of. So far I've failed. Miserably. I tried to talk to him about it but seems like he's taking it as a joke. So instead I took away 5 of his cars (one for each time his teacher has told me he's hit a friend at school - which is the only place he ever does anything of this sort). Consequences...we shall see. It's just interesting how he will only do it at school, never on a playdate or at the playground or in any other situation. I wonder...
A few days ago I was so tired from trying to reason with him, I came up with the idea that we needed a secret word (Luca chose "peachum" - a completely contrived word), and if he was crying or whining or doing anything but being happy, if someone said the word peachum, he needed to stop and be happy. So far it's worked, because it makes him laugh and think about his emotions. I'm quite proud of that one.
Also, when he doesn't want to go with his babysitter, or with me when I get home from work, I find an invisible spec of happiness in the apartment and I talk to it. I literally stand looking up at a corner, talking like a lunatic, "hi happiness! how are you? oh really? that's amazing! me too!" and so it goes on. Suddenly he becomes fascinated by my insanity and forgets his own. Who knows how long it will last for. But for now, it's working.
Most of my friends have girls Luca's age, and as much as I would love to think kids are kids, it's not true. Boys and girls are completely different animals. Every boy cries in the morning at school, as the girls walk in with their cute skirts and headbands on, waving au revoir to their mommy's. Torture for me to watch.
So, I'd love opinions and thoughts. It's all a process and I want to know how others do it. I don't ever want to yell at him. It's not my thing, even though perhaps he may respond to it.