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Friday, May 24, 2013

Learn Something New Every Day

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May 24, 2013

We’ve had some insights into Little Big Boy Man’s personality this past month; which, though not earth shattering, have turned on some proverbial light bulbs.

Lesson Learned #1

We moved in October. No big deal. It was a house our children were familiar with and have actually spent quite a bit of time in. Outside of the normal stresses of moving a household (as well as some self-inflicted ones – read about them here) I thought thing went well. But as time went by Little Big Boy Man became increasingly emotional. It was not uncommon to have him say how much he hated the new house, or how he wanted to go home.

We would try to point out to him all the benefits of moving to our new house and that home is where the people who love you are. Have you ever tried to be logical with an emotional 6 year old? Yeah – don’t bother it doesn’t work. Then one night after a particularly bad emotional outburst my husband sat with our son and talked and listened (mostly listen) and it was finally revealed what was going on. Through tears our son explained that no matter how he arranged his room, he could not get it like it was in our old house. His walls were the wrong color!, the light coming in the window was not the same!, and his blue rug was gone!

That weekend we bought paint and went to work on his room. Little Big Boy Man supervised the whole process. At one point my husband reports that he actually sighed and said “My walls are blue” in a whisper. Things are still not exactly like they were in our old house but we no longer hear how much he hates our new home.

The lesson learned: Our boy’s feelings of safety and well-being are tied to tangible things. He does not handle changes to his world well. Things that are the normal flow of life for most devastate him.

Lesson Learned #2

Just last week we were finishing up our afternoon of school. We were on spelling and had just gotten started when out of the blue Little Big Boy Man throws a world class temper-tantrum. Fists clenched, face red, body writhing, tears flowing. Emphatic statements that started with “You never…”, “You always…”, and my personal favorite “You treat me like a slave…” came spewing from his lips. After 45 minutes of talking and time-outs (for me, not him) things finally calmed down and we were able to complete the assignment.

I had texted my husband to let him know we would be home when he got home because of the fit. (Normally we go to Tae Kwon Do). Over dinner the normal “how was your day?” became “So what happened today?” And just as calmly Little Big Boy Man said “I didn’t want to do spelling.” That’s it! All that drama over 10 little spelling words.

The lesson learned: our son masterfully uses temper-tantrums to avoid doing things he does not wish to do but knows he has to anyway. When this would happen in the past, I would go into worry mode. I would engage him at the level he was at. I would cajole, reason, and often yell back.  Solving nothing and making everything worse. After my light bulb moment, I have found that if I don’t engage him during those times he will usually give up the fit and talk to me instead.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Let the Whining Begin!

April 21, 2013

On the way home from my coffee date and the children’s visit with Grandma the joys began. Hopped up on sugar or just plain rotten is anyone’s guess, but Little Big Boy Man started in on his sisters. On a good day this is no big deal, but this was not a good day apparently because Sweetie Pie #1 starts uttering this sound that is something of a cross between a shrill and a moan. Now whining has to rank near the top of the list (if not the top) of things that irritate me so I was quick to want to put a stop to it. I pulled the van over, got out and opened the passenger doors. Speaking as calmly and firmly as I could I let it be known that if the picking and teasing and whining continued everyone was getting an appointment with the “Board of Education”. I closed the doors, climbed back into my seat, and drove away.

The silence lasted 1 minute, tops. This time I just stopped. Right there in the middle of the road. As fast as I could get the car stopped. I certainly got their attention. And now that I had it I wanted to make sure they understood what was expected from them for the rest of our journey home. After receiving “Yes Ma’am” from them all I drove away. Thankfully there was no traffic behind me.

The peace lasted for 15 minutes. Another 5 minutes and we would have been home. I decided I was not telling them again. I just drove the rest of the way home. Unbuckled my Sweetie Pies and headed inside. Once coats and shoes were off I sat down on the couch and called all three children before me. As we replayed the drive home I knew they knew spankings were coming next. To their credit they took their discipline without complaint or begging (not much anyway).

Peace reigned the rest of the day. I’m finding that if I stay calm while disciplining, the desired results come about more quickly.