Last week, I lost it with my kid. He was throwing his toys (mostly wooden) down the stairs. He always throws his toys down the stairs (over and over and over again) but this day it really bothered me. I asked him politely to stop. I tried the get-down-to-eye-level and talk with him. Hell, I even tried yelling at him. Nothing worked. He’d go the top of the stairs, heave a toy over his head, stare me right in the eye and toss it. Ugh!
I got really fed up so I put him in his crib and left the room. I thought I was putting him in time-out and I really felt bad about it but what was worse? Time out or physical punishment (that’s how upset I felt). He ended up in time-out twice that day.
I read a lot about child development and I felt badly because I knew that taking away affection (isn’t that what time-outs do?) is bad for kids, especially for adopted kids, but I was at my wit’s end. Since I was out of ideas, I mentioned it to a friend. He said that I shouldn’t worry too much. Putting the kid in his crib wasn’t a huge deal. He said that sometimes the parent needs a time-out. Whaaaat? I didn’t think of it that way but it’s true. We put kids in time-out because WE need a break. Hmmm ….
This article came across my timeline:
They don’t do things to be bad; they do things because those things are age-appropriate, or because they’re still learning, or because they’re not getting some basic need met. Maybe they are hungry or tired; maybe they are overstimulated or overwhelmed; maybe they need a hug. Or maybe they just don’t know how to process whatever emotion they’re feeling.
I know that and usually we do a good job of H.A.L.T. to screaming fits are at a minimum but this just seemed like outright defiance. I am not used to being defied. People listen to me. They do what I ask. When I ask, and whatever I’m asking doesn’t get done it drives me banana sandwich. See what was happening? It wasn’t about what was happening. It was about how it made me feel about my control issues. Aha!
Once I thought it about it that way it was easy to look for a win-win solution. It is developmentally appropriate for him to throw his toys down the stairs (I swear! Lol) and it’s also appropriate for me to feel upset. What was I upset over? It was the noise of the blocks going down the stairs and then feeling like I had to go behind him and clean them up when they shouldn’t have been on teh stairs in the first place. Okay. Where is the compromise?
I took his wooden toys out of his room and left his plush toys (they don’t make noise when he throws them) in the room. I left him throw as much as he likes, but when he’s done HE has to clean them up (he’s 2 – 25 months old to be exact) and put them back in the toy box. He gets to throw and I don’t have to hear the noise. He gets to throw and I don’t have to clean it up. Yay!
When I changed my expectation and his environment we didn’t clash. Isn’t that what’s parenting is all about? Helping your child do what they need to do to grow in a way that’s safe and doesn’t drive you mad. Lol