Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is it Terrible Twos or Crappy Parenting?

So. On Tuesday I was having my super-fun lunch with Mir, which necessitated JR being the one to pick Grasshopper up from school.

When I got home Grasshopper was napping and JR was working. I told him all about my lunch, and then asked about his day. "Well," he said, "it was good up until Grasshopper's teacher told me that he got into some trouble at school today."

I was shocked. Grasshopper NEVER gets in trouble at school. At home, yes. A LOT, truth be told, but at school, nuh-uh.

Apparently Tuesday was different though; he was snatching toys and books from other kids and had knocked his friend Maya down and made her cry. I felt awful. She is one of his best buddies and I couldn't believe that he was being such a bully.

On the one hand, we were really surprised by this because that's not normal Grasshopper behavior. But the thing is that "normal Grasshopper behavior" is changing lately. He is rude, defiant, and in time-out so much that he just laughs and fools around in the time-out chair when we put him there. He is ignoring us, doing the opposite of what we say and constantly telling us "no."

Last night we put him to bed at 6:30 without dinner because he wouldn't eat and we just couldn't take him any more. Nothing was working, not time-out, not having toys taken away, not even the threat of a super-early bedtime. So we put him to bed and then threw the rest of our dinner away because neither of us was hungry any more.

We feel like we are failing.

What happened to our well-behaved little boy? We've been consistent with his consequences for bad behavior. We've been effusive with our compliments for good behavior. He gets plenty of opportunities to socialize, to try new things, to play, to read stories, to go the park. Where are we going wrong?

"It's perfectly normal at this stage of his development." His teacher assured us, when I spoke to her on the phone Tuesday night. "However, he is so much bigger than so many of the kids in the class that someone can get really hurt without him meaning for it to happen. My first priority has to be keeping everyone safe."

I sank a little lower in my seat.

He is a sweet boy, I know that he is. He is my baby and I want to make this situation better for him. I want to figure out what JR and I are doing wrong so that we can change it. I want to make sure that the rest of the world is able to see all of the really wonderful things about him that I see. I don't want to be the mother of a bully.

Most of all, right now, I'm scared to go pick him up from school because I'm not sure what I'll hear about today. And I don't feel any better equipped to help him than I did yesterday.


Mama Goose said...

Not that I have any great advice, but I wanted you to know that I've been in your shoes before, and certainly will be again. A good friend reminds me constantly that everything is a phase.(good and bad!)

What you're experiencing IS perfectly normal and you are doing EXACTLY what you should. Consistency, praise, correction and love are key. He'll grow out of it (and in to something else!) but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with now. Hang in there and please trust that you ARE wonderful parents and you ARE doing a great job with your VERY sweet boy!

MadameQueen said...

Oh, I feel your pain on this one. I'm having problems with my youngest at school too. She is yelling, not wanting to participate. It sounds like you're doing all the right things, though. I think that it IS just a phase that he's going through and he will come out the other side.

Manic Mommy said...

One of the reasons I love my therapist is because she's a mom. It's like talking to an aunt. Her focus is me but she's got plenty of stories to let me know she really gets what I'm going through.

I have EXACTLY the same issues with Gremlin. He's a smart, sweet, funny, affectionate little boy WHO DOESN'T LISTEN. No punishment devised phases him. He just looks at us like 'yeah, what else you got?'

This is where my therapist comes in. She says that some kids just require more attention than others. Which is not to say that he doesn't get plenty, just that he needs more.

tifRN said...

If I don't feel like a failure twice a week I wonder why. Ella listens to no man. And I will never forget the time-lets keep in mind I'm a peds nurse-that she got three head injuries. In three days.

Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

I totally understand this, and I dealt with the same kind of thing with my stepson from about 2-5. It isn't your fault. Some toddlers just can't control themselves because they aren't mature enough, and boys tend to be in this situation even more. They are testing and pushing your buttons because that is what toddlers do. As long as you are consistent in your discipline, give him lots of praise for the good stuff and lots of love, you are doing everything you can as a parent. However, if the behavior and inability to follow directions and listen persists in a few years, you might want to have him observed because it turned out that our son had ADHD and REALLY couldn't control himself. Now he is on meds and does great!

You're doing a great job, don't beat yourself up over it!

Marie said...

Sounds to me like you’re a wonderful parent! I love your blog, btw :)

Out of curiosity, are his timeouts in a chair? In my humble, but somewhat experienced opinion, what might help is to have him face the corner during a timeout so he has nothing to look at and for the timeout to be a little longer. ?

Isn’t Grasshopper’s teacher supposed to be in control when he’s there? How is the teacher handling the situation? Hmmm…

StephLove said...

My son went through a biting phase in day care when he was around 2. It was horrifying, but mercifully brief. The real fun came from 3.5 to 4.5. He was very defiant (at home only) and we were at the end of our rope. No punishments or incentives seemed to work. Then he outgrew it for no reason we could see and was fine for a year or so when he had another rough patch. This time the bad behavior was mostly at school and he was pretty good at home. They definitely go through phases. Hang in there!

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Can I say even though I am new here to your blog, that what you are experiencing is normal. And I understand the fear of wondering what you will hear today at pick-up time. We went through that when our son was 4 and part of year 5 too. It is not easy but it is perfectly normal. It hits kids at different ages, our 2 yr old is approaching it now. There are terrible 2, 3,4 and beyond. But thankfully it usually only happens in one of the years not all of them.
Don't give up hope, it is an age thing. Your guy is normal. Or as normal as any two year old ever is anyway. :)