Yesterday, I had a “behavior consult” at H’s school to address some issues that we’ve been having at home. The background as to how this came about is totally ridiculous – the school director heard from another employee that I came in to pick up H one day because he was sick right after my gender reveal ultrasound, and I was crying over having another boy…. Yes, that happened, but I don’t think it’s unusual or like intervention causing by any means. So the director offered to sit down and put together an action plan to tackle any behaviors that H is having at home that could be better. He’s really good at school, but is different at home with me. I brought a list of 4 specific items to talk about: hitting/throwing, potty training, pulling back on TV, when H gets MAD. The director told me: 1. if I dedicated 2 weeks to correcting behaviors every single time they happened, I will see a change. and 2. kids want adults to be in charge, they are looking for someone to set very clear boundaries for them.
The biggest item on the list is Hitting – mainly, he’s hitting me a lot and not really anyone else. Like with his hands or with objects. Sometimes he throws things at me – like utensils. I want to take care of this before a baby enters the picture. I think that the reasons for him doing these things vary. He gets mad, frustrated, annoyed, etc. a lot but sometimes he just does it. We were watching Frozen the other day, and there is this one scene where people are battling a huge snow monster (with swords) and immediately he jumped off the couch and ran to find something to hit me with. So I finally figured out where he learned that from – thank you Frozen for all that you have given me… so I took away his sword, and his bat, and his super hard hockey stick, because they all serve the same purpose – to hit mom with (Note: these were all gifts, please no more toys like that! OMG). The advice that I was given here is when he hits me with his hands, I should hold his hands together in front of him firmly so he can’t wiggle away, bend down to his level and say something along the lines of “H, we do not hit in this house.” and continue to hold his hands for about 10 seconds, then slowly turn him away from me and release him and walk away so that I’m dismissing him. He will likely come back at me, so I should do it again, and eventually he will understand that is not acceptable behavior. If after 2 weeks, it’s not progressing, we can look at time-outs in a safe gated area but that’s another discussion because they don’t always work well.
Potty Training is something that I’ve been thinking about just in general – should we push to potty train before the baby arrives or say screw it and wait until after. The director strongly suggested that we wait until the summer. Her reason was that he’s not showing a great interest, he’s Just now starting to show some interest, but also he really lacks the vocabulary to communicate around the potty situation. So we’ll revisit this in June/July when he’s 2 1/2. I don’t mind having two kids in diapers.
H loves TV. I don’t really have a problem with him watching TV because I feel like a majority of the week, he’s at school where there is no TV and he spends all of his time learning and developing. He was sort of into things like Arthur and Curious George for a while, but never like a couch potato. Then he got sick in January and was sick for like 3 weeks so I let him watch TV like no tomorrow because he was a miserable lump on a log and he was happy laying on me and watching his shows. Then he got better… and he still wanted to watch Frozen 4 x a day or Caillou like 4 x a day (Caillou is so fucking annoying btw) so pulling back on it is a challenge. The advice was: hide the remotes, distract with something more fun or interesting or allow a certain amount of time and then when xyz happens (when this show is over, or when you see letters on the screen or when the timer beeps) then we go play with play-doh or whatever.
H is a super emotional kid. He gets super super happy and excited, and he also gets super duper mad and angry. He shows lots of empathy for when mommy gets hurt, he likes to kiss boo boos and hug mom and stuff which is good, but he also knows how to push buttons. When he gets mad he makes a super angry face and points at me and yells “NO MAMA!” and folds his arms or stomps or all three. This usually leads to hitting me. The advice for this: try to distract before it escalates, don’t feed into his anger and if there’s really no reason for his outburst just stay steady and don’t show any signs of annoyance or emotion. Sometimes it’s also Ok to validate his feelings, and I can try talking through why he’s mad and that it’s OK that he’s upset and offer a hug. Currently, I’ve been validating his feelings quite a bit and it usually does work pretty well – but when it doesn’t work, it Really doesn’t work.
Outside of the topics that I brought with me, some other issues/advice that was given: Giving Choices and Giving Warning. Apparently age 2 is a prime age for offering kids choices, especially in situations where they are not keen on being cooperative. They love making decisions. Do you want to brush your teeth with the blue tooth brush or the red tooth brush? etc. This morning, H didn’t want to put his shoes on to go to school so I said, “do you want to put on your blue shoes or your snow boots today?” He immediately ran over and put on his snow boots. I had to change his shoes once we got to school, but it worked enough to get us out the door without tears. We do try to give him choices often, but we could use this to our advantage Far Far more. You can actually see him perk up and get a little giddy at the idea of making a big kid choice. Giving Warning – like before something is going to happen came up too. So every single night, we read a bunch of books. Usually 2 truck books, a George book, and a Caillou book or whatever, but we always end it with the animal book and I always am very clear and state “after the animal book, it’s time to go to sleep” and then we stick with it. So the second part of it is following through. This has worked well for his bedtime routine, but we don’t do too much of it outside of that, and we should use this a lot more – the key is follow through though. I find myself giving warning quite a bit, but often not following through, so we both really need to work on that.
So that was long, and we have a lot to work on, but I’m checking back in on this in 2 weeks… wish me luck.