Thursday, May 18, 2006

Who Are You and What Have You Done With My Child?

People usually warn against spoiling your child. With Ian, it's the other way around. He spoils us. Easy going, flexible, independent, loving, and extremely HAPPY are words people use to describe the little fella. I frequently will find him throughout the day sitting cross-legged by the bookshelf, surrounded by books that he has been looking through. He can easily spend a good 30 minutes there by himself. Then he'll get up, go over to where his cars, trucks, and trains reside and spend another 30 minutes. Tantrums have been few and far between. He's been very loving towards Laurel, his baby sister, and hasn't shown any resentment or jealousy.

Of course with a second birthday rapidly approaching, this had to change sometime. And boy, did it. The other day, Laurel and I were playing on the floor while watching Ian zoom his little blue garbage truck around. Next thing I know, he's standing on the couch rolling the truck along the back pillows. He knows this is not allowed. In fact, we have a no standing on the furniture policy in place. I put him on the floor and firmly stated, "No standing on the couch. Are you allowed to stand on the couch?"

"No-oo-oo," he sang as he shook his head.

The minute I let go of him, he climbed back onto the couch and stood up on it again. I thought a demonstration was needed, so I picked him up, sat him down on the couch next to me, and restated, "No standing on the couch. We sit on the couch. See, look how mama is sitting on the couch."

"Sit on couch," he replied.

"Ian, you need to sit on the couch. If you stand on the couch, you'll need to go to the corner (our time out destination) for two minutes."

I thought he understood, but again, when I got up off the couch, he immediately stood up on it, laughing no less. It had become a game. I took him off the couch, bent over to look him in the eye, and explained he was going to the corner and why. He did his time, and then happily went back to playing with his trucks. Not five minutes passed before I found him standing on top of his train table. We went through the whole process again. Then he was standing on top of a dining room chair. Similar to directions on a shampoo bottle: explanation, demonstration, corner, repeat as necessary.

While trying to play with him, he still acted inappropriately. He was throwing toys and hitting me. Redirecting his play wasn't working.

All of this was happening an hour before dinner. I thought perhaps it was due to being hungry and that it would change once his tummy was full. However, dinner turned out to be a disaster. Ian ate a few bites and then started holding his food up over his head and dropping it onto the floor. It wasn't long before his sippy cup also was tossed to the ground. Soon his fork followed the same flight pattern. Then he picked up his plate and dumped its contents onto the booster chair tray. Before I could get it cleaned up, he raced his hands across the tray, spreading food all over the floor.

Our nightly routine to help ease Ian to sleep didn't go much better. He was extremely squirmy during the stories, and forget about brushing those teeth.

Once we got him to bed, I tried to think of why he acted the way that he did. Was he seeking attention? If so, he definitely got it, and unfortunately not the kind of attention you want to give your child. But I didn't think that was it. I make a point of playing with him throughout the day. Was he not feeling well? That could be it, he's been fighting a cold. Then it dawned on me, was he overly tired? Bingo! He got up earlier than normal that morning, and he refused to take his nap. Now I was really regretting not enforcing that nap. I know better than that. Sleep deprived children become Satan's spawn. Lesson learned, Ian will take his naps. Next step, get on the internet and get out those child development books to find ways to help your child to take his naps.


Peter said...

We have been enforcing the "no standing on the couch" policy for ever and it seems to be a lot like banging your head against the wall.

Mary P. said...

Sounds to me like you handled it perfectly. He'll get it.

As for naps? You can't make a child sleep, but you can make sure they lie down and lie still. You appear to be a natural at this parenting gig: I'm sure you'll get him napping again, no problem.

My one observation: now that you've been through all the steps so carefully today, if he were to stand on any furniture again tomorrow, I wouldn't give any warnings or chat, I'd simply descend, scoop him, and plop him in the corner. "No standing on the furniture." would be the extent of the explanation, neither shocked, nor dismayed, nor angry, just a flat fact. He knows what and why.

When you behave like a robot, he gets no emotional/attention rewards for the behaviour.