In fact, this past Saturday can be summed up as one big, fat learning curve when it comes to the behavior of our child. He perplexes me because he is so quick to change between emotions. He will literally be happy one minute, then frustrated to the point of anger the next. What to do with that anger is the big challenge at the moment. He's having difficulty learning how to share and take turns without throwing toys, pulling/pushing, or grabbing. Some part of me gets it because, let's face it, sharing is not a natural human desire. Even we adults want what is ours most of the time. If it weren't for our parents and siblings enforcing these social niceties onto us as youngsters, we might not choose to share either. Heck, I know some adults who still do refuse to share, even if they were taught that they should.
None of that really matters though because we want our child to learn how to share, and to have manners and be a polite young man. Those things are extremely important to us as his parents so we will keep on fighting the good fight until the lesson sinks in. Helping him learn how to effectively express his anger is much harder than they make it sound in the books or in articles I've read online. I've tried showing him how to hit the couch pillows, or to give me a hug instead of throwing toys. Michael has tried teaching him how to give a high five when what he really wants to do is hit. Sometimes it works but usually only after he has already reacted in the negative way that we are trying to avoid. I realize he's young yet and maybe all this needs is more time and more consistency on our part but I will tell you what...this phase of him testing every limit and sometimes outright refusing to cooperate is exhausting. Exhausting & physically painful, too.
On Saturday night, he had already had two time-outs for throwing toys but we were at a house party and there wasn't a good place for me to put him that was away from everyone but not scary for him. The third time he got mad resulted in a fat lip for yours truly. You can see it if you look closely at the photo to to the right. When the piece of wooden train track went zinging into my lip, it was pretty shocking. I got rather mad at the little dude but hopefully I handled the situation at least reasonably well. I made him sit down between my feet for a minute, then I took him to the mirror and showed him my lip. I said, "Look Charlie, you did that when you threw your toy, that really hurt Mommy." At that point he looked a little sheepish & said, "No not a do dat" & looked away. Then I took him to Michael & walked away.
I've been reviewing the evening over and over in my head. It's so, so hard to be that parent...the one whose kid is out of control. There were a lot of kids there & they were all getting tired. Charlie himself, was tired after an afternoon birthday party & this evening house party, but still...there are only so many justifications and excuses that can be made for the kind of behavior he was exhibiting. One fellow mom did make me feel a lot better with the following statement:
"I've had several kids with this type of personality and our job as parents isn't to "squash" it, but to "mold" it. These stubborn, angry kids are the kids who will be our future leaders. It's okay to get angry...we have to teach them that how they react to that anger is what is important."
She at least made me feel like I'm somewhat on the right track with trying to help Charlie learn how to be mad, instead of just spanking or whatever. I know spanking is a controversial topic & it's not one I intent to delve into here but I just don't see how hitting him could possibly convey the strong, positive message we want to send him. For the time being, I guess we'll just keep on keeping on & keep on reminding our little boy of the things we feel are important& the values we want him to embrace.