Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Year of The Toddler

Thank you all so much for your kind comments. Well here is the 411-- don't read it though, if you don't feel like hearing me complain!

I usually handle stress pretty well, but lately I am feeling like I'm at the breaking point. Some of you know about the issues between my parents, then my parents and my brother, my grandpa, school, etc.... Add to that, we paid $250 for a car part that doesn't work and they are trying to say that we broke it so they don't have to pay. Add to that another $1000 worth of work on that same car and you will see why I've been a little stressed. Plus, I am supposed to be delivering my new little baby right now, which is sad :(

However, I can honestly say that even if it weren't for my other stressors or my job, I would still be worried over what to do about Elon. To be more specific, he has no focus. He isn't interested in toys, books, or even TV. He stomps his feet and snatches things away constantly. He throws himself down on the floor and has tantrums. I have to fight with him for EVERYTHING-- changing his diaper, changing his clothes, even giving him something to drink {he wants the top off so he can play with the ice}. And this is all day. Mrs. Bonnie asked about his molars-- he is almost finished getting his last two and I do think this is contributing to the problem, but even when he isn't cutting teeth, he is just constantly bored. I've tried new toys-- plays with them for 5 minutes, structured activities-- can't get him to sit down and color or sing or read, even sitting there and playing with him-- this works but isn't something I can do all day. If things don't change, I am seriously wondering if something is wrong-- either with me or him.

Of course, I don't have to state how much I love him, how blessed I am to have him, or how I can't imagine life without him-- that's a given. But oh these toddler years!


Marie M said...

I can see what a tuff time your having and I know that a little help would be a good solution!! I would love to take Elon when you have to work! I'm at home now doing computer work, my schedule is more flexible so I can have a toddler around to look after while you are at work! If you want you can try it out a couple of days and see how you feel! I would much much rather I take him a few days a week then see him go to a daycare!! I have already spoken to Jonathan about it!!

Katheryn said...

I can only say this, from my own experience. Consistency is the key. If you want Elon to do things without the fit, you can't allow the fit, even once. It is so hard and draining to be consistent, but if you did it, within 3 day you would truly have a new child. Children love structure as well, a schedule, perhaps there is too much going on for him. We love giving gifts to our children and learned that what they need is our love and discipline. I am not perfect at it, but I can tell when I let things go, that is when I have behavior and character issues. He can too feel your stress and they do feed off of that too. I don't know all that is going on behind the scenes, and I hope I don't sound rude, but he truly is a sweetheart. He needs tough love. I am training Danielle is ways I didn't with the other 3 and it has been a blessing. It has been one of those, "if I had known with the other 3." Please don't be discouraged, parenting isn't easy. On a side note, try and make sure that you are having your quiet times with the Lord first in the morning, that really makes a difference in my day. Sorry for rambling, hope this helps.

New Mom said...

Marie, thanks. I might take you up on that offer once in a while.

Katheryn, I know that I need to be more consisten but if I am, I will be discipling him all day long. He is into EVERYTHING and fights me on EVERYTHING! And I know all parents say this about their children, but I have found that it is more true for some than others. I would be ok with it if Elon actually stayed interested in something for a little while. But he has no focus. Honestly, his theme song is "The Flight of the Bumble Bee." I have been around other boys and I have yet to see one of my friend's toddler's who is Elon's equivalent. I'm pretty sure that part of the problem is his boredom. Especially when we are at my job because all his has are his little toys that he doesn't play with. Today I am at home with him and although he has DESTROYED the house, he is much better behaved and isn't throwing tantrums. He is so good when he is with other children though, he follows them around and just watches them play with toys, occassionally he will pick up a toy. That is why I thought about daycare; at least he would have other kids to play with. BTW, I'm going to try the glue stick trick.

Katheryn said...

You think that you would be disciplining him all day, but trust me after the first day, he will learn and life will be more peaceful. To be honest, boredom he may be experiencing but he does have to learn to deal with that and be content and not create a train wreck through the house for you. If he pulls things off have a "training opportunity" and have him pick it back up, if he doesn't just spank him with a "switch" just enough to get his attention, and if he continues not to obey then you keep on swatting him till he puts it back. Then just keep it up, you will see a difference I promise you that. I have seen a huge difference with Danielle and doing that and saying No, not yelling just being gentle and she responds, Bret is amazed! You aren't beating him, just giving him a swat to get his attention. He will learn fast. Like I said I am not perfect, this is just from my experience. It works. Don't fret, tomorrow you have to take that glue stick with you and no matter where you are he must obey and be content, because what will be fostered is complete lack of respect and imagine that at 8 years old and if you don't get it handled, imagine at 13, 16, or 18. Anyhow, sorry for the long response, do not fear, tomorrow you have a plan, just tell Elon that he must obey mommy, just like you have to obey God, and if he can't listen to mommy's voice how will he listen to God's voice. Let him know that if he doesn't obey he will get a spanking and let the day continue. Good luck. You are a wonderful mom and you are learning like Elon is learning , God is growing you.

Davene said...

I'll pipe up and write a little bit, although let me say first that I don't know your situation firsthand so feel limited in what to say. However, here are a few thoughts...

I have been thinking about you and wondering how you are processing your grief over the miscarriage. I'm glad you mentioned that because it's a real part of your life, and how could that not be affecting things for you right now?

I agree that structure and consistency is the key--which is probably also the most difficult thing to do right now because of the high stress level in your life. But is there some way you can figure out what an acceptable schedule would look like for Elon? Plan it out on paper? Wake up--eat breakfast--have 10 minutes of quiet playtime in the playpen--read 2 stories together--etc. Then enforce that. If he knows that "this is just the way we do things in our family," he will get used to that and not fight you on everything.

There's a reason God made parents bigger than their children...sometimes we literally have to guide their bodies to do what they need to do. :) Whether it be staying in their seat at the table or quietly sitting on your lap while you read a book or whatever, you can train Elon to obey your words and control his body.

This is an issue that I'm working on with David right now: self control. Just because he wants to touch everything he sees doesn't make it right. He needs to learn to control his hands. At night when we kneel by his bed to pray, sometimes I have to literally put my hands gently at his waist to help him learn to control himself and stay on his knees, rather than jumping up on the bed or lounging down on the floor or twirling around the room. We practice self-control, much like we also have soccer practice or choir practice. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I think if you can figure out what you want life to look like, then you can calmly and matter-of-factly expect Elon to comply with that...and I fully believe that he will. I do think you can see results within just a few days, if consistency is used.

Actually, from your other posts, it sounds like things are going better, so maybe you don't even need this advice anymore. Take it or leave it... :)

Another thing that pops in my mind is the book "Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Kevin Leman. A friend of mine has read and applied that with good results, and I've started reading it, too.

I well remember how tired I got with being Josiah's playmate, and I wished for another child for him to play with so that he would be occupied. Of course, that comes with issues, too! But it is a unique stage of parenting when the first child wants that parent to be the buddy when in reality, we have to continue to be the mother.

Oh, one more thing, how much can you involve Elon with what you're doing? Can he throw socks into the washing machine when you're doing laundry? Can he hold a feather duster and "dust" while you're cleaning?

Enough for now...keep us posted on how things are going!

New Mom said...

Hi Davene, thanks for your advice; I'll take it! Too often I allow Elon to twist and twirl and not sit still just because I feel like he *has* to. I guess I need to start training him to sit quietly for a few minutes-- he used to, whenever I read to him, but now even that has changed, he's bouncin' around like a little jumpin' bean! Parenting sure takes effort, doesn't it!

Davene said...

It sure does!!! You can say that again! :)

I got this idea of practicing self-control (in terms of little ones learning to control their bodies) from Renee at A Baker's Dozen. She showed a picture of her Hezekiah, sitting in a chair holding his hands together, practicing how to control himself. I thought, "Aha, that's what I need to do with David!" Sure, David would LIKE to be a jumping bean at inappropriate times, but what he NEEDS is to learn to be self-controlled. Obviously, there are lots of times when he can run and jump and be active--of course! But self-control is such an important lesson, and it is so possible (and essential) to teach it at a young age.

One more thing I was thinking about in reference to your situation... (Can you tell I've been thinking a lot about you recently?) :) Elon needs to learn that he is under your authority. God created that structure, and it is good. The sooner he learns that, the better his little life will be...and the greater his ability to see himself as a creature under God's authority. But you've heard the saying, "Pick your battles." One thing I've realized with my boys is that I need to choose at least one area (and really, it's more than that) in which they must submit to my authority. Not an area like, "Would you like me to play a game with you?" because obviously that's not submission--because they agree with it. No submitting needed. But an area like, "You must sit at your place and eat everything on your plate." Different families use different areas, but we use the food/mealtime one. The point is this: the child may struggle, but eventually will learn to bend his will to his parents' will. He learns that he is under authority. When that basic lesson is learned, it transfers to other areas of life.

I remember at various stages of Josiah's and David's development, I would write out a list of what I was working on with them. For example, when David was younger, these were the issues: he must come when I call (a basic safety issue), and he must respect the boundaries in our house (not going up the steps, etc. when he was crawling and starting to walk). After focusing on those for really what was a short time, he got it...and then we could move on to other issues. The Pearl books influenced me to take down one of our baby gates and instead teach David to obey.

Anyway, I hope my heart is coming through because I don't want to in any way suggest that I've got it all figured out! Far from it!!! We're all learning together, aren't we? And sometimes we just need to vent a little, and then the world looks brighter and our children look better. :)

I hope you're having a peaceful day!

New Mom said...

Thanks Davene. Today I started working on making Elon come whenever I call him. I had been thinking that maybe he was too young to understand that I expected him to obey, but now I know better. Can I just say how embarrassing it is as a nanny that Elon ignores my summoning!!! And he does it the most in front of Andrew's mom! I realize now that he knew I expected him to obey because whenever I get the leather strap out he immediately comes running. Boy, did he have me fooled!

Davene said...

Good for you! You're gonna make it!!! :)

It sounds like you're over the hump and are making good progress. I'm so glad for you!

I think Elon is a very smart little guy--maybe a little too smart for his own good. ;)