It’s time to write a mommy update. The last time I actually wrote about motherhood/parenting was a few months ago and with all the recent developments, I thought now would be a good time. Just a reminder: I’m never going to sugar coat my experiences. Here you’re going to get the raw and ugly sides of my motherhood experience, as well as the fabulous and sweet moments.
Like the title of this post suggests, my son O is turning 3 this month and here’s what I have to say about it:
Why? Well, you’ve probably heard about the “terrible two’s”, but how about the “terrifying three’s”? We (my husband and I) were kind of hoping that we would skip all of that and have ourselves an easy going toddler from now until, well, forever? The two’s were actually “ok”. Sure he developed more of an opinion and he’s the pickiest eater ever, but he rarely ever pulled full blown temper tantrums at home or out in public. Nor did he outright refuse to listen to us or dared to unleash his rage onto us. We were finally enjoying the ‘sweet spot’ and thought to ourselves “We’re pretty lucky!” But you can probably guess what happened. Yup, all the rumors we’ve heard about all showed up in our little family.
At around 30 months, O’s little annoyances turned into full fledged ‘pain in the ass’ and somewhat offensive behaviors. He would, and still will, yell at both of us; demand something that he couldn’t have for some reason, and tell people to go away, even grandparents. It’s hard to tell whether this is normal or not (being first time parents), but we can definitely see it becoming a problem if we don’t keep it in check.
Disclaimer: Before you read on, you may start disagreeing with what I’m about to say, which I understand. These are just my own thoughts and opinions.
I won’t deny it’s really frustrating, tiring, worrisome and ‘crazy making’ for all of us around him, but underneath it all, is something to be understood. O is turning 3 and he’s experiencing all these ‘big emotions’ and ‘needs’ for the first time and has no idea what to do with them. I believe we need to respect it and at the same time set boundaries and limits to help him make sense of it all. So much easier to say (or be skeptical of) – A hundred times harder to do, especially when he’s offending everyone who loves him. Maybe this is sort of a plea to everyone around us, to please, be patient and accept our apologies while we navigate this. Maybe it’s also a plea to ourselves.
Last night, my husband and I got into a mini argument about how we should discipline O. We had already gotten ‘warnings’ from our own parents, and we ourselves were seeing the need to do something about O’s behavior, but just didn’t know quite how to go about it. We couldn’t agree on what the best method would be. Here’s how it played out:
We both thought physical and verbal punishment seemed to be the last resort, though the most tempting. We’ve seen it stop negative behavior really quick, which is what most people would want I assume. But in the long run, I read that it isn’t all the effective in teaching real self-discipline and emotional regulation.
So what are the alternatives? None of which we’ve read sounded nearly as effective. We finally settled on discipline by putting him in a ‘naughty corner’. Sort of like a ‘time-out’ , but we would be right there with him. When ever he starts shouting inappropriately at either of us or throwing a tantrum, we would take him to the ‘naughty corner’, sit with him for a period of time until he calms down or agrees to do something differently, and explain to him what he’s done wrong. It sounds really time consuming, and it sort of is. So far we’ve done it 3 times in one day. We’ve had to feel it out, but I can say so far he’s learned how to calm down a lot quicker and has learned to say ‘please’ instead of screaming. Not bad for a few tries. Not a full success story yet, but there’s hope.
Face the “terrifying” with understanding and boundaries
For me, when he starts screaming at my face for something that he wants and we’re somehow not able to give him, I’m very tempted to either scream back at him or do something really rash just to get him to stop. And I have at times. But he still doesn’t stop or he’ll scream even louder. Thats when I know, I have to try something else and even if it doesn’t fix the behavior right away, maybe on some level, as long as we do what we can and stay consistent, it will be ok. We have to trust in the process and in what we can’t see immediately. Therapist training 101!
In summary, it’s a trying time again as a parent. It’s terrifying when you see your baby act in ways that are problematic. But he’s not a baby any more. He’s a growing child and his world (both external and internal) are getting bigger and it’s probably overwhelming. I’m overwhelmed just thinking about potty training, discipline to figure out, and social pressure. But in the end, he’s our child and we are responsible, even if we do things in a way that other people may not agree with or understand. We also need to calm our own fears so that we can help him with his.
I want to end with giving O some credit. We’re still pretty lucky parents. He’s an incredibly bright, inquisitive, sweet and humorous boy in the making, but like all of us, we need a little help with things that are new and even exciting! The future may not be so terrifying if we approached it with courage, compassion and support. Yes, I think it can be extremely bright and wonderful.
Share your disciplining stories! Even if we might disagree, I’d love to hear them!