Monday, November 26, 2012

Little monster

I don't know how it happened.  My first two kids are so calm and well-behaved.  Even baby #4, at a mere three months, has a pretty good routine and doesn't fuss much.  So how did I end up with such a monster for kid #3?

So sweet...sometimes
In his defense, he has his wonderfully sweet side too and at times I just want to cover him in kisses.  But really, he's had the same upbringing and discipline as the others, so why can't I take him out in public without him making a scene?  My oldest is also strong-willed, but she doesn't hold a candle to this one.

Today my "sin" was helping him into the car when I picked him up from preschool.  He was climbing in and I gave him a little boost...and then his world came crashing down.  I didn't have time to deal with his drama there, so I just fastened his seat belt and started driving home.  He screamed the whole way.  He threw his backpack at me while I was driving.  I yelled, that's naughty and you could make me crash the car!  He threw whatever else he could get his hands on.  I pulled over and spanked him.  He didn't care.

Once we were home he refused to leave the car.  Sometimes in this situation I haul him in, kicking and screaming, and dump him in his bed until he calms down.  But I'm sick right now and so tired, so I thought I'd try a more passive approach.  Fine, I told him, I'm going inside and you'll be here all alone.  After a minute, when I could see he wasn't going to join me, I ran out to check on him.  He had climbed into the driver's seat where he was simultaneously releasing the hand break while trying to light a match.  Little monster.

I cut his hair before he even turned three, contrary to the popular Jewish custom.  Hoped and prayed the change would help calm him down a little...and it has.  This is him being calmer now.  I would wish on him that he should have children just the same, but that would be unfair to his wife.  I still love the little booger to pieces and wouldn't trade him for the world...most days.

I'm reminded of a story, told by Rebbitzen Heller, of a mother whose child was playing on the roof and knocked down the solar hot-water tank.  She could have screamed and freaked out, but she kept her cool by asking herself in ten years, is this something he'll have grown out of or is it a serious character flaw?  He'll grow out of it, of course.  There were still consequences for the trouble he caused, but she didn't have to stress about it beyond that.  I'm trying to get to that level...but what can I do in the meantime until he finally does grow out of it?

Do you have a strong-willed child?  How do you deal with differences in your children's temperaments?  What do you do when they throw a twenty-minute fit in public?


  1. My eldest son, G-d bless him. You know all those parenting books that say sit the kid on a "naughty chair", given them time out in the corner, etc? He would throw the chair at me. And the only way I could get him to stay in time out was to hold the door handle on the other side of his door while he repeatedly threw himself at the door and tried his valiant best to kick it whilst screaming bloody murder.

    This is the same child who would rigid with rage during tantrums, and who could only be calmed by being held tightly until it passed. At the height of his tantrum powers he was throwing 5 literal first a day. it could be anything. The blue plate instead of the green on, I stepped the wrong way, we went a different way home, I sang the wrong song... or just because.

    As we both grew a little older I realised that whilst some of his behaviour stemmed from frustration, a new country and language etc, much of it appeared in line with kids suffering from Sensory Integration Disorder. We embarked on a program of treatment for that, which was hard work and ongoing, but which helped matters somewhat.

    The crux for us came some years into elementary school where he started developing anxiety and social issues, and shutting down at school and in company, and suffering from anxiety attacks before school outings and other events that he found particularly challenging or stressful. At the same time he was failing, despite having been one of the brightest and quick babies I ever knew. We had a full psiko-didakti assessment done as well as a few other evaluations, and it turned out he has ADHD (inattentiveness type) and had developed a social phobia from the anxiety he was suffering as a result.

    At this point we had been at our wits' end for years and tried literally everything - and when Ritalin was offered, despite my promises to myself that none of our children would ever be on medication - we took it, tried it, and never looked back. Combined with cognitive behvioural therapy for the social issues he is a different kid.

    Not to say you're going down this path. But if it continues and you know you're having a hard time, play therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy offer very good results for short-term behvioural issues. In addition you could also have an evaluation at hitpatchut hayeled - worth doing as if anything does pop up you get all sorts of therapies and treatments as part of the basket of services offered (therapeutic horse riding, art therapy, music therapy, etc).

    When a child, even a toddler, fails to respond to regular disciplinary techniques, this is generally a red flag for something. Some toddlers seem to stretch the bounds of parental love to the utmost, and are sheer hellions before growing up into surprisingly pleasant young people :-)

    Also, Christopher Green's book: Taming Toddlers.... one of the best books I have ever read :-) I think I have it if you'd like to borrow it.

    1. Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your experience. My husband has ADHD too and it's very possible that this is part of my son's difficulty. I appreciate the advice and would love to borrow that book.