Being a mom is a super tough job! Joshua my toddler, who is more expressive nowadays, tests my patience on so many levels. We have arguments everyday and I get soooo tired from all the daily dramas. In a week we would probably complete a drama series for eating, for bathing, for sleeping, for waking, and for playing.
He is a kid and tantrums come along with 2 year olds… However, Joshua is also processing his feelings of jealousy over his sister. I am seeing some regression on some milestones. Like his desire for eating has lessened and he prefers drinking milk in the bottle. He also demands for my full attention and time especially when he sees me nursing Anna.
He has fully articulated his jealousy by saying “I don’t like Anna”, ” I want mommy and Anna go to Ate Kim (Anna’s nanny)”, and one of his worst crying episodes he said, “mommy, I want Joshua patay (dead) so mommy would cry.” I cried with that remark.
I tell him “Anna is your sister, she loves you and Mommy loves you so much. We are a family and this is God’s blessing.” Because Joshua feels jealous, I spend most of my time with him. I only leave him shortly just to feed Anna. Every move I make he calls to check if I am still around. He calls my name almost crying and then he would smile and laugh in relief that I have not left him!
I figured this boy’s love language is time. And I do spend a lot of time with him. We are inseparable. But when he gets his tantrums and he starts screaming and crying because he wants mommy, (even if I am around)… I ask him kindly to stop crying. But his crying escalates further into screams and irritation that soon, I start losing my own patience.
I try not to discipline him about his crying. But I realized that he was using it as a tool to communicate with almost anything. When he dislikes something he would cry. When he wants something he would cry. When he sees me walk out the door he would cry and give an all out tantrum. I try to not get angry, but I must confess seeing a crying face with screams and occasional arm slaps just gets me frustrated and angry. This just went on for a week…
I started to cry out of frustration because nothing worked. Explaining nicely and reassuring Josh by hugs and talks just does not cut it! So I tried yelling and screaming for him to stop. I tried threatening him that if he does not stop, I would leave. None of it worked. 😦 For one week it was this non stop cycle of crying and we end up fighting because Josh would fall into a tantrum even when I am giving him full attention (except during feedings).
I asked friends to pray for me. I cried to the Lord and asked “how can I be a better mom to my son?” I was so discouraged that even when Steve says, “you are doing a good job”, I still feel I am failing.
Then I remembered excerpts from a parenting seminar I attended. It was discussed when a child who deliberately disobeys or disrespects his or her parent they should be disciplined. I must admit, I get lazy to do this because it requires so much to get into a room with a defiant 2 yr old who will not submit to be disciplined.
The bible says:
Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
I knew I had to correct Joshua’s behavior and work on his attitude. I had to teach him that he can’t always cry his way. I also had to reassure him that he must respect his parents because we love him. I disciplined him and took time to explain. Joshua immediately stopped crying. In fact when we got out of the room, his mood changed and started playing.
I learned that I really should exercise discipline when the need arises and teach my son. Otherwise, I will develop a bad habit in his character. It’s almost a week since his last tantrum after the discipline. Joshua has been speaking instead of crying.
How do I know that he understood what we did in the discipline room? He plays with his avenger toys and then he would pretend one would be crying. Later he will have the other toy say – “stop crying… If you don’t stop, you get a spank”.
To learn more about biblical discipline I am suggesting you this link. Read more:
2 thoughts on “ Mommy drama! ”
I like how the story ended. This kind of behavior is simple manipulation, and he only sustained it because at some point, perhaps months ago, he found that it worked. Perhaps when you were busy with Anna or a guest or just too tired, he found that he could target his behavior and get your attention in a way that had not worked before. If it did not produce punishment, he saw a green light to recall that behavior at will.
Kids are explorers at every level: physically, territorially, emotionally, and in relationships. They start looking and feeling their way around their new world within weeks of their arrival. It is natural and desirable. However, as they explore the territory in which they live, their own feelings, and the reactions of people (and animals) they encounter, they process and retain for future use, those expressions that win themselves attention and comfort. This is neither magic nor scientific; it’s just natural.
They are really inventing their personal expressions because we’re not good at teaching a two-month old baby how to express their feelings. However, they might self-learn something that is inappropriate, harmful, or just plain annoying to parents and others around them. If those expressions are not mean-spirited or dangerous or disrespectful, they can usually be altered through gentle persuasion and demonstration of alternatives. But, if they come up with something that is not at all appropriate, and we miss it initially, we approve of it by our absence of proper correction. So, in your conclusion that correction was necessary, even if it was in a form you had hoped to avoid, you demonstrated that the behavior had maxed out and would no longer be acceptable.
One of the best child rearing persons I know, Dr. James Dobson, explains the disciplinary needs of children very nicely. He says, and I agree, that children really desire limits; they want to know the boundaries (geographical and behavioral) that they must stay within to retain your favor. Since in the earliest stages of life they cannot ask us and we find it difficult to explain the boundaries to them, they have no recourse but to explore and test their world until the gate closes or the door slams shut, which then dramatically shows them the boundary. I’d like to hope that the average kid is then satisfied and can operate within those boundaries with only an occasional slip-up which is usually accidental or due to forgetfulness. But, for some children, the excitement of testing boundaries becomes addictive; they enjoy the battle. Those are the ones most in need of firm discipline.
The jealousy angle with Josh, may or may not be at the heart of this situation. He has already exhibited deep affection for Anna, which makes it a little difficult to attribute his drastic mood swings toward her as the problem, especially when she’s still too young to torment him, which is usually the weapon of choice between siblings. The similar drastic mood swings he exhibits to you, from loving to fighting, also suggests there is something else going on. His emotional toolbox is still very small, so instead of pulling out a tool that makes sense, he pulls out the one with Anna’s name or your name on it. I’m more inclined to suspect that he’s just a very active and creative explorer. And, if he has a high IQ, which I suspect from my limited exposure to him, that fuels creativity.
I think what you have discovered, may be a pattern that you will have to count on for keeping his exploring and emotional creativity within acceptable margins until he’s old enough to really engage in discussion. He will probably be looking for chinks in your armor routinely, and he will then find a way to aggravate you in that manner. It’s not as devious as it sounds, but it is common and natural for a high-achiever, which I’m sure he is. So, while a firm hand in discipline is something we’d all prefer to avoid, it is simply more necessary for some than for others. It would be wonderful if we could raise our children with a range of degrees of discipline — the A through Z approach — from soft to firm, and never have to pick up the rod. However, some just enter the world with little appreciation of that ideal, and we find that we are left with only the A or Z approach: love’em to death one moment, and shock’em the next.
Just don’t let him see the chinks in your armor. If you get upset, he wins. Arguing seldom changes anything, whether it’s between spouses, in a court room, with a neighbor, or with your kids. In spontaneous arguments, where two people just suddenly explode with one another, neither wins. In planned arguments, where one person intentionally ambushes another, the one starting the argument usually gets what they wanted, even if the argument appears to end in a draw. Kids can learn to be masters of the ambush. Just pray that you can control yourself until Josh is old enough to benefit from a more conversational approach to his self-will, creativity, and exploring. And, if you give Anna less time because of Joshua’s demands, he wins again. Sometimes just putting in ear plugs and letting them cry is the safest and most effective way to battle with tantrums.
So true Dan! This little smart explorer is just learning lots about me and I’m also learning a lot about him with these episodes. It’s teaching me that there are no easy fixes when it comes to our children. They are small but complex creatures. It’s a fact that children are character molders for parents too!