By now I’m sure you noticed my frustration with my lovely youngest child. It’s been a challenging week with her, yet again, but things really came to a head yesterday. I accomplished nothing – no gym, barely getting to ballet, no cleaning, no post office, no milk. The only thing that had to be accomplished, a necessary trip to the bank, was a full ten minutes of growling and screaming while kicking me and throwing her shoes from her stroller. I was frustrated, embarrassed, and angry. What made it worse is that I realized that this is how I feel almost every day or every time I have to go anywhere with Addie. That is so sad, that I do not want to go anywhere with my own child. I spent the free moments of the day searching through parenting websites, blogs, pediatric manuals, articles, anything that could give me some insight. I was looking for the answer – what is wrong with my child? Is it me? What am I doing wrong? Does she just hate me? Is it medical? Emotional? WHAT????
After an hour online, I realized a few things: that everything these things were telling me I either already knew or had already tried, and that even if Addie is an extreme case, she is a toddler through and through. I found nothing that could really give me any more insight or new ideas as to how to handle her and approach her behavior. So, I finally succumbed to the material I have been avoiding: parenting books.
I do not know why I have always shied away from parenting books. I guess I had never really needed them with Anya and Lorelei, so I should count myself lucky. I hated the idea of buying a book that would tell me how to parent, when I felt like I could learn enough from my own experience, my mom, family, and friends. But with Addie, I’ve hit a wall. I’m desperate for anything. So I picked up my ipad, browsed the ibook library, and found “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” by Dr. Harvey Karp. I started it last night, hoping for a miracle.
I am only a few sections into the book, and I’m not sure if I’ve been enlightened. But I tried something from the book today, and it sort of worked. It talked about mirroring your conversation. When your child is screaming, ask them why they are upset, then repeat back to them why they are upset. For example, Addie was mad that she could not take a toy from her sister. I asked her why was she screaming, to which she yelled, “Lorelei no.” I translated a little and said, “You’re mad that Lorelei won’t share her toy.” I let her yell for another 15 seconds, then tried to distract her with a similar toy. It worked sometimes but not always today. I also worked on praising her good behavior and highlighting Lorelei’s good behavior loudly enough that Addie could hear.
The most important thing I did today was stay calm. This is something I know I do not do well with Addie. The book talked about how kids will feed off of how you are reacting, and more often than not, the child is trying to gain a reaction from you. In the moment, I lose my patience and end up yelling (yes, I admit – I yell). Today, I did not yell at her (except once in the car because she was standing up in her car seat as I was driving, and that I did because she scared me!). I used time-outs, even though that meant I had to stay with her to keep her on those time-outs. It was a time-consuming, long day, but it was a slightly less frustrating day.
Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. In fact, I’m just trying to make it through each day without losing my mind. Am I positive that I can keep all this up all the time? Not really. Do I even know if this works or if this was a fluke day? Nope. But I do know that today was an interesting change of pace. I learned and am still reading about a different approach, and even if it doesn’t work, at least I tried. All I can keep doing is trying with Addie because let’s face it, she’s mine forever. I’m stuck with her. 🙂 But in all seriousness, I want to find a way to make both hers and my lives easier and more peaceful. If it means I have to take up a little reading and devote some time to understanding an incoherent, fuming, thirty-three pound two year old, then so be it. Wish me luck and I’ll keep you posted on our new approach.