Thursday, September 11, 2008

i'm rubber, you're glue...

So that phrase from childhood (or PeeWee Herman, if you didn't use it in childhood..I don't think I really did, either) popped into my head yesterday as I was reviewing some recent encounters with Spud. Suffices to say, he has been a bit of a pill lately. For a not quite four year old, the little guy has amazing reasoning capabilities, which (lest you start thinking that's a good thing) makes it only that much more frustrating when he deliberately chooses to be unreasonable. It's difficult to capture in words exactly what he does, but he manages to take every single word of your request (okay, order) and either find a way to question its meaning or just blatantly misinterpret it. And this is of course done in that awful whiny tantrum voice, usually when I am trying to work and not wanting to be interrupted or distracted by whines and tantrums.

Anyways, the past couple of days I have been particularly patient and nonplussed during these encounters, and we seem to be averaging two or three a day. It has been a great example of how they say you need to keep your cool when dealing with children so they don't feed off your emotions. I give Spud sufficient explanation and if he persists with the fuss, I give him the option of removing himself or being removed by me (with a time out to follow). Every time, he manages to get control of himself and goes off after maybe 3-4 minutes, and while they seem like very long minutes, I haven't had to do much besides speak calmly. So, while his negative words and grumpiness may not be sticking on him (which is great), I do feel like it is bouncing off me.

We'll see if my rubberness can hold up. I hope so.

An example of recent encounter:

Spud: "Mom, I want to have some root beer."
Me: "No, not right now, I'm working. Plus, we'll probably have root beer with dinner so you don't need any right now."
Spud, with a whine entering his voice: "But I'm really thirsty for root beer RIGHT NOW!"
Me: "I'm sorry, you can't have any right now."
Spud, now laying on the floor, angrily: "I WANT SOME ROOT BEER!"
Me: "Not right now."

Spud then begins the tantrum, including all the lovely phrases about how he hates me and I'm the worst mother in the world. After a couple of minutes of this, he says, loudly: "I'm NEVER going to share my popsicles with you. You'll come up to me and say,'Can I have a popsicle?*' and I'll say, 'NO!' And I'll never share with you."

Me: "That's okay, I don't really want a popsicle."
Spud: A bit more fussing
Me: "Now I need to get back to work, so you can either leave or I'll take you upstairs to have a time out on your bed."
Spud fusses a bit more and I restate his options. He then heads out of the office saying, "I'm just going to leave and I'm NOT going to have time out on my bed!"

And that was the end of it.

*The funniest part was, this line was said in a completely normal, non-tantrumy voice.


These Four Walls said...

Good for you! I wish I could be more patient with my kids. I have found that since I am working less I also have less patience. Also, for the record, I thought the twos were supposed to be terrible - I am thinking that it is a the threes that are going to do me in :)!

babygonzo said...

You, m'dear, are a rock star.
My little nephew, on the other hand, well, i'm kinda worried about his teen years....with this kind of rationality, it could be scary ;-)

Good thing he's so adorable!

mindy said...

Michelle, the problem is that their reasoning skills are so much improved at age you may have fewer actual tantrums, but more arguments! I guess we can't win! :o)

Thanks, Jenn. I have my good moments. I try to use them as inspiration and comfort for the other times... love you!

Debra said...

The nonplussed thing? Why is that so freaking hard to do? I do find that the encounters at this age make me laugh more than the tantrums ever did, even though they take more brain power to deal with. There is something to only giving short statements of fact in situations like these--just like you did. Keeps the emotions from going haywire in both you and the kid.