Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dear Abby: Stating the Bad

Despite this being our big grief month, we still have to carry on and parent our living children, sometimes lacking the correct way to handle the many adventures Benjamin throws at us. Here's my Dear Abby for you all... because kids don't come with handbooks. I'd seriously pay a pretty penny for one tailored just to this toddler.

Recently he has been verbally recounting all of the unfavorable things he does. Sometimes immediately, but mostly days and weeks and months after the fact.

I hit the TV.
I throw Mr. Potato Head on the floor.
I hit Gawbee at IKEA (which he says often and this happened in SEPTEMBER!).
I go pee in Buzz Lightyear underwear (yeah, those didn't work).
I bite Daddy.

Usually we respond with conversational language about the incident and attach feeling to the story so he learns that not only is the action unfavorable, but it hurts our feelings. He does need to know that the action disappoints us and why.

Yes, you did throw the toy on the ground and it made Mommy and Daddy very sad. Was that a good choice to make? If we throw our toys on the ground, that is not respecting our things we are lucky to have and it could break the toy. We would have to throw it in the trash if it breaks.

At this point, he usually agrees and repeats some of what we have said and says things like "bad choice" and "no throw in the trash" and whatnot.

Yet, he still continues to exude this toddler behavior (he is still a toddler and they are irrational, so obviously) and recount these behaviors almost like they are verbal trophies he is giving himself for poor behavior.

Should we be ignoring these statements of negativity he is trying to use? Is he doing this because he is getting a reaction or is it important to continue reacting and talking through his memory again? I know he's only two, but sometimes it feels like he's pulling the reverse psychology on us and almost mocking us. Maybe it isn't that at all and we are just beat down from the same repeat behavior.

Fairly certain at this point that our firstborn would've been much more agreeable.


Laura Jane said... [Reply to comment]

I have weak parenting skills (exhibit a: my child has everything and THEN some.. and she gets away with everything).

But I will say I try to talk to Grace about the things she does badly ("gracie, you can't hit your sister. It isn't nice and she loves you very much") and then try to follow up with nice things like, "mummy likes it when you get piper her cracker/toy/baby doll"), and she will try to do that to make me happy.

I don't know if it will work long term, but this week it seems to be working. lol

Poor buzz lightwear underwear failing you. I am THISCLOSE to buying MonstersInc. knickers for G but they are only available in boy style. I don't think it matters a lot since she doesn't know the difference, but then it makes me nostalgic for the little boy who should be in them already.


Brie said... [Reply to comment]

Let's cage our boys together, mmmkay?

Jill said... [Reply to comment]

"Yes those were not the best choices Benjamin made. What are GOOD things you've done lately?"

I'd encourage him to focus on his GOOD choices and behaviors and not internalize so much the naughty stuff. And if you feel like you must impart your own emotions- use honest ones. Were you actually SAD when he threw the toy on the ground? Or were you more aggaravated/mad/annoyed? Stating that you were "sad" may seem more guilt inducing than you intend. And make sure to follow up wwith reassurances that no matter what his behavior is you love him.

RSmith said... [Reply to comment]

I agree with Jill, try to find the positive. Toddlers can be so difficult to understand, but sometimes we are hard for them to understand too. By giving them positives, dwelling on negative just a short time, they feel more secure. Sometimes they are just to smart for there little bodies. Remember this to shall pass, not necessarily what you want to hear now, but it will. And there is no doubt you love your kids.

B. Wilson @ Windy {City} Wilsons said... [Reply to comment]


Yes, we do actually use "upset" and "angry" and "sad" in the context of our own emotion. I do appreciate the advice though, and will continue to force myself to be more aware when I am speaking to really be honest. And the reassurances of love... sometimes I forget to say those words in the heat of me being angry!

And GREAT idea about asking him to state the good. He will probably never do that, but it will shift the conversation and give him the understanding that I appreciate hearing the positive.

B. Wilson @ Windy {City} Wilsons said... [Reply to comment]


Thanks. I guess with this being a tough time of year for us AND Benjamin being particularly difficult, it's just been hard to communicate with him. I really appreciate the advice.

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

Hang in there. Tough time of year, plus tough age as he figures out life. We try to focus on a positive rhetoric of less than 8 words:
"Hands are for helping. Hold the door." ie, don't shove your sister out the door, hold the door for her and me
"Toys are for playing. Show me how you'd put the eye in Potato." ie, soft balls are for throwing
"Hands on knees, please" ie, don't swat your sister in the car!

A phrase repeated often is, "How would you make it right?" If a spill, wet underwear, shove, or angry scream happens, what would the child do to fix the poor choice? If the first answer isn't a good one, ask for another idea. Because I'm usually too emotionally tired reigning in my upset emotions to explain and then fix it... besides that's the kids' job.

Did he fix his poor choices? Like did he say "Sorry" and hug grandma? Maybe focus on that? You could also say, "We all make poor choices sometimes, even Mama. But part of loving God and loving others is saying 'Sorry' and trying to make it right."

Jill said... [Reply to comment]

I've got seven kids.... teens down to an infant. And you would be amazed at how much of the same strategies I use with toddlers are still applicable with teens. If he can't state the good on his own... you can always do that for him :)

Anne said... [Reply to comment]

Conversation with my (almost) three year old today:

"Gracie, you are being bad- stop acting ugly"

(In deafening tones) "I AM BAD. I AM UGLY ACTING!!"

No arguments there.

Thinking of you and Andrew this month.