Parenting

Kissing! The Cure-All!

This. Kid.
This. Kid.

I kept waiting to write this entry, fearing that writing it would doom us to a fallback phase in Wesley’s behavior. But – I really want to write about it so I’m just going to do it already and accept any consequences that come my way. Blog Karma Be Damned!

Since my last entry about Wes’s awful behavior, things have been MUCH better. He hasn’t hit/kicked/spit on/punched me since then. Not even once. This is a HUGE step as we were in a phase where he was aggressive towards me several times a week.

So, Yay! Progress!

We talk a lot every time he’s frustrated. We talk a lot when he’s angry. We hug a lot when he’s upset. I think I’m learning to recognize the cues and see what he needs easier than before. And he’s trusting that I’ll help him which means he’s not resorting to hitting. All in all? Much better. MUCH MUCH BETTER.

However, he started immediately hitting himself as he stopped hitting me. He would slap himself in the face, or punch himself in the head. This was a new thing and it upset me terribly. I tried several things to try to stop him, everything from physically restraining him to begging him. We talk a lot about that too – but it was still an instinctive thing – a reflex I was having trouble breaking. He just did it when he got frustrated. No preemptive thinking, just an instinctive urge to hit that he was turning upon himself.

Until this week. I finally found something that has broken the reflex. Not entirely, but he definitely is doing it less and he catches himself before-hand and almost immediately his mood changes as he realizes what’s about to happen.

What did I do to break the reflex? I started kissing him.

I told him that every time he hit himself, I was going to kiss him 100 times. So, for a few days I did just that. Okay – not quite 100 times – but I kiss him until he can’t breathe from laughter. Then I say, “99…100!” It would break his cycle of frustration and stop the hitting. And now? I can see it happen, he’ll be frustrated and go to hit himself, and then he’ll remember what’s about to happen. AND HE’LL LAUGH. He’ll preemptively laugh about what MIGHT happen if he hits himself. It breaks his fit of anger and frustration to the point where he stops before he starts, and then he laughs which is a HUGE step. It used to take a good 15 minutes to get him out of that cycle once he started, and now the Giggle Factor settles in almost immediately because he knows he’s about to get tackled with kisses.

I did have to draw the line though when he started hitting himself just for the fun of it so I’d kiss him. I explained this was a technique that I only used when he was really frustrated, but that if he just wanted 100 kisses, he could just ask for it anytime.

So…Yay! You all have helped me so much I thought I’d share a little bit of success to maybe balance things out a bit.

Of course, he’ll start hitting me today just because I wrote this entry about how he had stopped, but at least I got to enjoy it for a little while.

3 thoughts on “Kissing! The Cure-All!”

  1. I am so glad to hear you’ve had some real progress!!!! I think we have all had problems like these in parenting…..frustrations running high on both sides, no clear answer. I found when my son was hitting (age 2) that anticipation was key. Realizing he was about to fall AC tat cliff into emotions he couldn’t handle and then giving him an outlet for tose emotions was the only way. Unfortunately, learning that anticipation and what the cues are varies so much from kid to kid. Yay for you and Wes!

  2. Distraction is my favorite tool! When Declan starts getting frustrated, I distract him by telling him that I need to pee and would he mind if I just went and pee peed in his bed. He tries so hard not to laugh but he can’t help himself. I know that child psychologists and books and professionals will tell us “your child needs his feelings validated and wants to be heard” and that trying to distract them is bad or detrimental… But when they get worked up, half the time they are so distraught that they no longer know why. Especially with some little boys, who may have more trouble finding the right words for what they’re feeling. Once Declan calms down, I think it’s easier to figure out what all the drama was about and examine the situation at that point… But what do I know? My kid is almost four and my first experience navigating these motherhood waters. Wes is your third. You give much better ideas.

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