Last year, right before DD turned 3, we went through a very challenging stage of behaviours and discipline where I lost my way for a bit. By Christmas I felt I had it together again, and it’s been fairly smooth sailing since then. But with kids nothing stays the same for long, and it seems we are entering a bit of a rough patch right now.
The Gessel Institute for Child Development says that kids go through phases of “equilibrium” and “disequilibrium” that fall on an approximately six-month cycle. Seems we’re right on schedule for some disequilibrium.
It started last week when DH went away. Whatever I say not to do, DD turns around and does. She has started hitting DS alot, including hurling a large rock at him at the beach today which struck him in the back of the head (thankfully DS was not badly hurt). Now, DD is not that good an aim, and I am pretty sure she did not intend to hit him. But I had just warned them both not to throw their rocks while close to each other, and so of course that is just what she did. She’d been “looking for trouble” all day, and I had been congratulating myself on smoothly and successfully diffusing a number of potential disasters. But by end of day I was losing my patience and mental energy. Catching her spitting and drooling all over DS’s sleeping face was almost the last straw.
Then, after I’d returned home from a brief business meeting, DD was really out of control. She was hitting and kicking her brother, standing on the video game equipment, basically just seeking out things she knew she wasn’t supposed to be doing and doing them. The day culminated in her screaming through our evening go-to-sleep walk. Needless to say nobody went to sleep, but the people on the seawall got a good show.
I know how I need to handle this, discipline-wise. Problem is I seem to be having some serious emotional energy shortages. I need to figure out what I can do to keep myself focussed enough to handle these scenarios properly, and how to get the people around me (namely DH) to help me in a way that is effective. I’ve lost my patience with DD too many times over the last few days, tonight having a particularly nasty experience in that department that I’m too embarrassed to even post about. Suffice it to say that I was not a shining example of Effective Parenting.
Besides mustering up the patience and strength to deal with each incident effectively, I also need to address the underlying issue. Because I wholeheartedly believe that a child who feels right, acts right. And something is just not right with DD. She is desperately trying to connect with me, and the only way she knows how is by causing trouble.
It didn’t take too much investiagive thinking to figure out the problem. DD really needs some one-on-one time with me. I need to start playing with her more, reading to her more, interacting with her more. I’m ashamed to say that when I review the last couple of weeks I’ve spent more time housekeeping than interacting with the kids. And DS has really taken up what’s left of my time as he’s had a mild cold and has been nursing alot. I can’t remember the last time I spent more than five minutes with DD just playing. Today I got that chance: we went to the beach with Mum and she watched DS while DD and I took a walk in the water’s edge and looked at different species of seaweed. I could tell from her joy how much she missed being with me like that. So I need to make a concerted effort to sit down with her and say “wanna play?”. I need to give myself permission to let the house go for a few days.
So that’s the plan.