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?
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?