Dealing with drama and defiance

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

We are all too familiar with the term 'The Terrible Twos'... in fact, it would seem to many parents (like me!) that the real challenge in parenting starts right about there.

There's always a mixture of dread and fear when any parent, having been duly lavished with horror stories from friends who have been there, done that - sees two candles on the cake. It seems that this age can be the most wonderful, yet at the same time, it also marks a time when the once toddling figure who gives you gummy grins and can only cry when they aren't happy, suddenly morphs into this Chucky-like personality.

BabyMoo is no exception.

How apt that Chucky chose to make his presence felt during the 2nd birthday!
I am not being biased (well... maybe just a little!) when I say that the most wonderful thing about BabyMoo is that he is an intelligent bub.

Can't reach the toy under the bureau?
No problem, grab Mummy's / Daddy's / Grandpa's hand and make sure we get it for him.
Mummy / Daddy / Grandpa / any other adult not within sight?
Grab the toy spade, poke around, and try to get it out.

His mind is constantly working, and he never runs out of wily ideas just to get what he wants. He is a strong willed person, and has a mind of his own. Even from the time when he could make his needs and wants known by either pointing or reaching out in between bouts of screams and frustration, he will always find a way to eventually manage to do so.

The hubs and I, while thankful for this 'resourcefulness' trait in him, are left to deal with the multitude of emotional outbursts, meltdowns and mood swings. We have long come to a realisation that 'hard' methods do not work on him - in fact, it seems that they do nothing but intensify the situation.

Even as a baby, I've always thought of BabyMoo as having an 'old soul', but I used to dismiss it as the over-sensitive Mum in me talking. He looks deep into my eyes, listens, and (acts) like he understands. I don't know how best to explain it, except that when I 'negotiate' with him, he would keep his end of the bargain, as long as I keep mine. I sometimes find it hard to believe, too - when all this have taken place ever since he was still a hapless, screaming, swaddled baby... right up to now.

Deal, or no deal?

When there is conflict or when he doesn't like the way something is going, this will usually end up in a whole drama whereby he will first start weeping (yes! silently, with fat blobs of tears rolling down his cheeks). Then when that doesn't work, he will start the broken CD refrain: 'Want-uh-want-uh-want-*sob*-uh-WANT-WANT-uh...' you get the picture. Then when that doesn't work, despite all our casual reminders thrown his way - he will start a full blown meltdown. Tears, screams, drama, stomping feet. The works.

The best way to deal with a precarious situation is just before it escalates into a full blown one. BabyMoo is a very sensitive soul, and he doesn't react too well to raised voices, nor stern ones. When shouted at (even by other kids, different from when they are at play) his defence mechanisms would instantly come to the fore.  What works is to just have an 'adult conversation' with him, where his Daddy or I will explain to him the situation, using 'cause and effect'. We tell him why he isn't supposed to do something - we don't simply tell him not to (because your Daddy / Mummy says so!!). We explain the resulting effect, should he choose to go ahead with his actions.

We reason with him, and there will be a round of negotiations - with him having to keep his end of the bargain first, so that we can keep ours. We explain that he can't always have his own way all the time, and if he chooses to continue to fight us or ignore us, we will also simply - ignore him too.

At the end of the talk, we usually ask him: 'Deal?'
He will give us a Hi-5 and say: 'DEAL!' if he agrees, and this is most of the time. 

DEAL!
The other times when he turns away to sulk and lick his wounds, we just let him be. In the time taken for the conversation and negotiation, he would have had the time to also calm down sufficiently. He always, always keeps to his part of the deal... maybe because we also make an effort to honour our words. In the same vein, we do not threaten and not carry out the threats. If we tell him that he will be punished in a certain way, he will be, should he choose to defy us. He now knows sufficiently not to carry on the dramatics until the point when we have to issue a threat, because that would mean that he gets nothing in the end. No deal.

NO DEAL.
It's tiring. So emotionally draining, especially since as a Mum, I have to deal with the emotional ups and downs, moods, negotiations, defiance, and drama. All this while I have to put *my* own emotions on the back burner, disregarding the hurt I feel so that I can discipline, and educate. When the husband is around, I gratefully push this chore to him, because sometimes I'm not strong enough not to cave in.

Is 5 the magic number?

I have been told that at the 2's, we rise to the challenge with a 'can-do' spirit, determined to ride the age of revelations, discovery, and independence. When they hit the 3's, we are worn down, and when they turn 4, we are totally drained. Will 5 be an age where they become more reasonable? I'm not sure.

What I do know, however, is that every stage of life brings its own set of challenges. Even as adults, I dare say that we face problems now that we didn't use to when we were younger, and vice versa. The only difference is, perhaps, our parents can't always be there to guide us the way they used to when we were kids.

So I'd like to think that we're doing what we can to help BabyMoo find his footing in life. There will undoubtedly be more tears, drama and defiance along the way. We're just going to have to be there to guide him, and discipline him, when it's very necessary, so that he will know the difference between right and wrong.  While we still can.

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12 comments :

  1. Love this new theme! Well done, Regina! :)

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  2. Nice theme!

    Um, I'm sorry to tell you this, but the attitude only gets richer from here on out. And at 5, they start swearing...
    http://www.nncc.org/child.dev/ages.stages.5y.html

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    1. Hi Jean!

      Thanks :)

      Uhm yah... if it's any consolation - the boy has learnt snippets, no thanks to the horrendous traffic conditions and some drivers in Singapore!

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  3. I personally love this post, hahah~~

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    1. Hi Maddie!

      Thanks for dropping by. :)

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  4. Actually this sounds very familiar. Aly is very similar to BabyMoo in so many ways. I also try to "negotiate" with Aly and actually I find that when I reason with her, it works better than when I scream at her. I took some time to figure this out! Btw, I love the "Deal" picture

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    1. Hi Zee!!

      I suppose we adopt and adapt parenting styles as to what works best for each kid, ya? Their personalities make them individuals.

      Since you are familiar with the Deal / No Deal stuff, I'm sure you can totally relate! :)

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  5. Personally, I do not really subscribe to the "terrible 2s", "tiresome three" stages. This is because mummyhood has brought out the worst "worrywartism" in me. Call it *denial* lol, but I know if I were to tag a label to that or over read Dumpling, there'll be no end to it. To be fair to the kiddos, all will throw tantrums. Dumpling had horrific melt downs which led me to read titles on raising a spirited child. :p (see what I mean!) But I'd like to think that they are growing into their own person and they want to set the limits and yes, they sometimes *blardy* toe the line. I am not sure if 5 is the magic number - will let you know in a few months time. But hey! If it is any consolation, my energy level did not wane even at this "frightful four" stage. :p

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    1. I doubt it will wane lah. C and C are both strong headed... and assertive on top of being sensitive at the same time. Lethal combination!

      Let's hope it will be Fabulous Five, before Sassy Six! ;)

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  6. Been following your blog but first time to comment. :)

    Wish I could tell you that it will get better when they turn 5 but they don't, it just become different.

    With bigger vocabulary backing them, the arguments will turn more vocal.

    You will get by, like all mums eventually do. We just have to change strategy to keep up.

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    1. Hi there!

      Thanks for reading :) Really appreciate it.

      I'm sure it wouldn't, either. Especially when they become more aware of their surroundings and develop their personal traits, while at the same time - push their limits simply because 'they need to'.

      Thanks for the note. I'm sure this is only a stepping stone to the journey ahead!

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