Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's "No Ridiculous Questions" Day!

We have been dealing with some escalating behaviors here lately and by last night I was firmly in a dark, ugly place. The little guys had to go to bed early as a reward for some really awful behavior and I just sat there wondering if things would ever be better.
Besides the normal 4 yr old stuff (which is really hard enough in it's own right) there has been a huge upswing in the constant talking, loud uncontrolled laughing and screaming and spinning, hitting, kicking, peeing in the wrong places, mess making on purpose, breaking of safety rules and the ever-loved non-sense questions. These are things I can deal with pretty routinely. You might catch me doing some deep breathing at times, but I can do it. But....there is one thing that gets under my skin like no other. The out-of-context negative reaction. Let me explain that one.

The child does something small, like turning off a light and you ask them to please turn it back on. The child proceeds to go ape-shit (sorry for the profanity, but hey it fits) they scream and cry, kick and yell that you are never going to feed them again, you are going to throw them in the trash or you are going to make them stay in bed all day. Inside your head you are thinking 'what the heck?' Where did that come from. The answer is that they are putting all of their negative emotions into their reaction and doing their best to push us away. Hey, better to hurt us first than let us hurt them, right? There is no normal parenting technique that works here. If I punish them, I make them right and they only feel more sure that they need to hurt me before I hurt them. In our case, if I ignore them, they will escalate into dangerous behaviors and I just can't let them go there. Reasoning with them? Hah! You cannot reason with someone who has no grasp on reason.

Break in here: Seth is on the kitchen floor screaming and kicking because I will not give him sprite to drink right now. At this point I am ignoring him for a moment. I gave him a glass of water and walked away. This time that worked. He cried for 2 minutes then got up and walked away like nothing ever happened.

I am trying a spray-and-pray approach. I try a variety of things. I joke, I tickle, I hug, I scream along with them, I sing, I do whatever I can think of at the moment. Sometimes it works like a charm and they are able to snap right back, sometimes it ends up in an hour long scream fest that ends with snuggling or a nap. And sometimes.....well sometimes I don't do very well. That leads me back to last night.

Wednesdays are tough days at work. I see 6 patients in 4 hours. I am tired and then have to pick the boys up late from daycare (late for us, about 5:30) The boys were tired and sweaty and hungry so we decided to just swing by our favorite sandwich place and get dinner for them. I placed the order, filled their drink cups and waited for our order. In the few minutes it took to make 3 kid's sandwiches I pulled boys off of the tall stools, stopped Ahren from eating ice out of the slop tray under the drinking fountain, pulled Seth off of the metal bars, etc etc. Our sandwiches came up, I grabbed the three bags and instructed the boys to carry their drinks with two hands. (I said this at least 4 times) Levi and Seth did exactly that, but Ahren insisted on carrying his by the lid with one hand. I knew that he would never make it to the car and his drink would be lost. So I did what any mother would do, I took his drink to carry it for him.

This is where the out-of-context negative reaction hit. He began screaming that I was never going to let him drink anything, he started hitting the chairs and tables (even ones with people at them) and kicking. My hands were full, but I managed to snag him by the arm and drag him to the door as he screamed he hated me. Got him to the van and put down the food and then had to wrestle him into a carseat, all the while another car waiting to pull into the empty spot next to us. (Great, more witnesses to our meltdown) He screamed the whole way home and kicked the seat in front of him.

By the time we walked through the door, I was livid. I took his drink and gave it to his brothers. (Way worse than throwing it out) I sat him at the table and informed him whenever he was done with his sandwich he would be getting a shower and into bed, and I did just that. Oh, wait, there was some threats and yelling on my part. And a bit of lecturing. Not very productive but hey, I was so not in a good place.

So today? I deemed it 'No ridiculous questions' day and I have informed them I will NOT respond to those questions, no matter how many times they ask. Deep breaths, deep breaths.

1 comment:

whtmtnmom said...

Ah...the ridiculous fits out of nowhere. Very familiar with those, and I feel your pain, Wendy. Chloe is queen of the random tantrum around here. It is a constant and exhausting game of stay-one-step-ahead of Chloe and whatever might be going on in her cortisol-overload, little brain. The hardest part is that she tantrums in her sleep. All night long.

Good thing they're all so dang cute, right!?