A few months ago, I posted about how I was struggling with Wolfie. I felt like I was spending all day, every day dealing with defiant behavior. This was especially irritating since I get the “he’s so good, he’s not even like having a real kid at all!” comments all the time. Yes, Mom, part of why Wolfie is so well-behaved is because we never let rules slide. That is also why I am exhausted and don’t want to hear about how I’m not a real mother.
But, it seems like a few things have changed, and here’s what’s made the difference:
- I have reread books and articles on childhood development so that I have it firmly fixed in my mind that kids can only learn a tiny bit of new information in at a time. So trying to teach Wolfie all 600 things that go into being a good housemate is fine, but I need to understand that he’s only capable of thinking about two or three of them at once. Teach them all, but focus in on one or two key behaviors at a time.
- I have started keeping a running commentary of how I like things done or the results of his behavior, i.e. “It makes me happy when you put your shoes away without anybody reminding you,” and “Look at how nice your room looks because you put away all the blocks. Now we won’t step on any Legos and hurt our feet.” It sounds so cheesy, but Wolfie seems to love the feedback. He has started saying things like, “I am always going to listen,” and “It’s nice when I can find my art supplies.” I used to only talk about what he was doing something wrong, which made it hard for him to get the positive feedback that everybody needs. Now he knows that he can get attention whenever he is doing something well, not just when he makes mistakes.
- He still throws tantrums sometimes, but we’re not fighting. I have really worked on not taking tantrums personally. My issue is that he starts a tantrum and I think he is trying to get at me. According to this article, the same flexibility in his brain that allows for rapid language development is also what makes it hard for him to not spin out of control.
- I spend more time snuggling him at random intervals. I could tell he was starved for affection when I watched Veggie Tales with him one day and let him lay on top of me. Every single day since then, he has asked if we can watch Veggie Tales and cuddle. Yes, it is very cute to have a four-year-old boy label his need for cuddling.