When my husband walked in from work last night, I jokingly told him he'd arrived just at point of face off between my son and I. That's kind of how it's been this past week or so with my four-year old, with lots of silly little battles, frustration on both sides and I've found it all quite difficult and draining.
I have to laugh at myself when I read the post I wrote last year On taming toddlers, where I said I was glad to see my son (at the age of three) assert himself at home and that it was the best place for it! Little did I know what I had coming back then!
To give a couple of examples, mealtimes have become difficult, where they never were before, with my son simply taking one look and refusing to eat any of his meal. A lot of my simple requests such as, 'please can you tidy that up', are met with a loud, whingy 'no!' and usually accompanied by as screwed up a face as he can muster, sometimes with a tongue sticking out and sometimes with sound effects. I ask again, nicely and maybe in a slightly different way, but there's no change to the outcome. Sometimes, as last night before bed, we get full-on screaming in protest.
As hard as it is, I resist reacting to my son's response and try to remain calm and pleasant. I try not to raise my voice, if anything, to do the opposite and soften it. I try to smile or keep a neutral expression on my face. I persevere and am almost at the point of breaking when I usually, finally get through to him. It's really not easy and sometimes I feel infuriated on the inside and want to shout at him but I know that won't get me what I want and will probably make matters worse.
I've made an extra effort to do nice things with my son, pay him extra attention, give extra cuddles and kisses in an effort to counterract the animosity in the air but to no avail. I recently read a post on Zen Habits about managing the stresses of children, in which we are encouraged to deal with challenging situations with detatchment:
"We don’t get angry at the wind for blowing, and yet the blowing does affect us. Let the actions of your kid be the wind blowing — you just need to find an appropriate response, rather than being stressed that this phenomenon is happening."I like the thinking behind it but boy, is it difficult!
To end on a positive note however, I remind myself to step back and look at the bigger picture. Overall, the challenging behaviour I've found myself faced with more recently is not my son's dominant behaviour. He is most of the time a fun, loving, sweet boy, he's well behaved at nursery and whenever we are out and about. It's easy to get bogged down by the difficult, stressful side to parenting but when we do, it's definitely helpful to think about all the good things too and regain perspective. I find that enables me to better face the challenges and with a lighter, brighter attitude.
What do you do and how do you aim to respond to challenging behaviour with your children? Any of your tips are greatfully received!