Little Guy is becoming more and more challenging. He's not like other kids, at least not the ones I have known. He's really confident and that can cause a ton of problems. He is great at helping out because he loves doing the things he sees everyone else doing. Problem is, he tries doing these things on his own. Dangerous things. Today, for instance, he was outside with my husband. They were fixing something and Little Guy was given a screwdriver and a wooden mallet to use. He was very serious about his job and worked hard. My husband turned around to grab a few more nails and when he turned back, Little Guy was GONE!
He was found heading through the woods behind the house (the grass is 1/2 foot taller than him!) We found out he was on his way to the library. He knows the way and must have figured he was capable of going there on his own. Understandable from his point of view. Why couldn't he go? He knows how to look both ways for cars and all that stuff. When he learned that we weren't going to let him traipse off to the library on his own, he had a tantrum. The only words my husband got out were, "You need to wait for me or Mommy to go to the library," before the tantrum started.
I don't give in to tantrums. I don't punish him when he has them. I merely try hugging him, talking to him quietly, or ignoring him - based on what he seems to need at the time. If he hugs back, it usually means he's tired and needs a nap or a rest time. If I talk quietly and he wants to hear what I have to say, he'll quiet down, too. He understands that, sometimes, we can discuss the disagreement and he might get his way - even partially (like, we can go to the library after we have a snack.) If he's being stubborn or insistent upon getting what he wants NOW without and compromise whatsoever, I have to resort to ignoring him. Every once in a while, I'll say, "I can't understand you when you're whining/crying/yelling." If he starts kicking or throwing things, I simply pick him up and move him to a safer location (the bed is great because he can jump his anger out and hit or throw the pillows all he wants!) For any tantrum, I keep my voice steady and a straight face the whole time.
It's not really working. You see, I thought that after a while, he would see that acting this way would not get him what he wanted. Sometimes the tantrums are out of his control - he's frustrated and just loses it. I get that. But the majority of the time, he's doing it to see what he can got out of it. He'll stop for a minute and, totally calm, say something like, "I want go library - NOW!" All I have to do is say anything but, "OK! Let's go!" and he starts the whole tantrum all over again. These thing last, on average, 20-30 minutes. And he's loud. And he sounds like he's being beaten. I'm waiting for the cops to knock on my door. Seriously.
It's a daily thing, usually we get three or more in a single day. I know how it started - hubby hates it when he cries. He doesn't want his kids to be sad or angry with him. Heck, I've seen his 23 year-old daughter pout and cry at him to get her way! (Ridiculous, I know!) I caught him "making deals" with Little Guy a few weeks ago. "If you help me pick up your cars, we'll have some ice cream! Is it a deal?" Oh. no. he. didn't...
So, I asked Hubby about it. You see, Little Guy's tantrums quadrupled about 6 weeks ago - the same time he started to hang out with Daddy for longer periods of time and on a regular basis. I suspected something might be up, but just wasn't sure what - until I overheard the ice cream thing. Here's what he said to me, "It works for me, so that's what I'm going to do. If I have to bribe him to do things or promise something fun in exchange for what he wants and it keeps him from crying or screaming, I'm doing it."
Anyway, it took until yesterday for my husband to admit his way was making our child become a spoiled brat. Don't get me wrong, he has his good moments, too, but it feels like my entire day consists of nothing but trying to get this kid to learn that he cannot have or do anything he wants. Now my husband thinks that maybe a smack on the butt will show him how to act. I laughed at him! No one is hitting anyone around here. No, wait a minute, Little Guy has been hitting. He hits Hubby, my oldest, and the cat. He likes getting a reaction out of them. He doesn't hit me because I calmly grab his hand, put it down to his side, and tell him that hitting hurts and it makes me angry and sad. End of story. They make a big deal out of it - either by getting angry or lecturing a 2.5 year-old who is ignoring them. As soon as the anger dies down or they stop telling him all of the reasons that hitting is wrong, he does it again. It eventually ends up with Little Guy having a tantrum and either my oldest stomping out of the house or my husband saying that he can't take this anymore and leaving the room. Thanks guys. The cat usually just leaves - he's no idiot. But sometimes, he'll turn around and scratch Little Guy. Good. It always stops him in his tracks. I will usually ask him if he liked it when the kitty scratched him and explain that hitting hurts the kitty just as much. For some reason, he still hits him.
There are more things, but these show the major problems. I don't know what else to do. I talk to him to make sure he understands he's being heard. I explain in short and simple terms why he cannot get his way. I let him get his frustrations out. I try to figure out if he's hungry or tired or not feeling well. I've changed his diet. I'm at the end of my rope. I literally cannot keep this up.
In the morning, before I open my eyes, I swear I can hear the click-click-click of a roller coaster going up that first big hill. By the time I sit up, the roller coaster has taken the plunge. You know how you can't breathe in when the coaster first flies down the hill and those butterflies in your stomach are now in your throat and you can't even get out a good scream? It's fun once or twice on that one day a year that you go to the amusement park. I feel that from the time I sit up in bed until I manage to fall asleep at night. I know it's anxiety. I keep it at bay with an arsenal of teas, homeopathic medicines, and sheer willpower. But I am so afraid that I'm going to go into full panic attack mode and never come out of it. At least not without a lovely 72-hour "observation" stay at the local nut house. That just adds to the anxiety. What will happen to the kids if I end up losing it? Hubby just can't do it (No, I know this. If you've read some of my older posts, you understand why.) What if I lose it and we're at the park or the library? What if I lose it and I never get "it" back??? All of these questions (and more) just add to the anxiety.
I recently realized that I've been through a LOT of bad stuff. More than people could imagine. There is only one other person in the world who knows (most of) my life story and he finds it hard to believe that all this stuff has happened to me. But I've held it together well through everything. I might have cried, been scared, or flipped out for a second, but I kept it together and got by. And now tantrums are going to bring me down??? I don't think it's just that. I think that maybe my mind just needs a little vacation. A week or two of not worrying about everything. The question is: How do I get that? I seriously think that, if I don't get some kind of relief, I'm going to be heading to the funny farm.
(Oh, and I tried a psychologist. He referred me to a psychiatrist who suggested Xanax. I don't want to drug my problems - they need to be fixed the old fashioned way. I took some "chill pills" to get through cancer and death with my first husband and they made me careless about a lot of important things. I never even had a chance to grieve properly because the pills made it 'OK'.)
So, if you don't get anything but the sporadic posts that I've promised to write for a couple of companies, I'll still be around. I just need to chill out some.