Parenting, Thing 3

Where We Are At

This was SUPPOSED to publish yesterday. I just assumed no one felt it was worth commenting on. I didn’t realize until I sat down to write this morning that it was still in “draft” mode. So, maybe you get two entries today!

WOAH. I’ve dumped some serious word babble on this here blog this week. Let’s lighten things up and let’s start with the best picture of my kid ever.

His hair is just curly enough to be adorable at this length. Donnie kinda wants to cut it but Wesley likes feeling it “swish” around his face. But – he has basketball camp coming up – so Donnie insisted we find him sweat bands to wear in his hair to keep it out of his face when he plays. That on top of him losing both of his front teeth in the same week and his love of a crossbody bag Donnie brought home from his last business trip (it says “Visual Studio” on it – HA!) and this picture is just all sorts of awesome. It captures so much of his personality and it cracks me up every time I look at it.

If you follow me on Twitter or if we’re real-life Facebook friends, you’ll know that Wesley offered a profound statement yesterday: “Everyone has a butt. Unless you’ve been murdered and the person who murdered you chopped off your butt.”

That kind of stuff is a regular occurrence around here and it’s fantastic.

He has been slowly easing out of the terror phase of the last few years. He definitely handles his anger better, does a lot of deep breathing. He also understands the pain his anger inflicts on others and is much quicker to offer sincere apologies. But really? His anger just seems less. He’s not as quick to be angry as he once was. And when he turns that corner it’s not as hard to get him back. It doesn’t go from one jackass retort to a night of punishments anymore. He’ll deliver the jackass retort, apologize, and then make a joke about naked butts.

I’d love to say “THIS IS WHAT WORKED!” and regale you with some sort of method someone taught us but really? It was a little bit of everything and a whole lot of failures. Some things suggested by some people worked some times but everything failed most of the time. The only thing I can say that helped 100% was that we quit with timeout.

Whenever Wes would do something minor, like make a jackass retort (Yelling, “No!” when I told him to do something.) I would send him to timeout. But – he would refuse to go. So…the small retort turned into hours of fighting, sometimes requiring me to physically carry him to timeout and hold the door closed. He would kick me the whole way there and then destroy his room while I had him in there but I felt like I had to do it because I told him to go to timeout and he didn’t. You HAVE to follow through.

So, I stopped sending him to timeout because the follow through was impossible.

I would just take away his DS, or tell him, “Okay. No TV for the rest of the night/week/lifetime.” I distributed a punishment that required nothing on his part, it was all me. He would still get pissed but it didn’t turn one small smart aleck comment into a night of abuse from him towards me.

The other thing is that I worked on my own anger. Donnie was not as big on this part of the process but since Donnie wasn’t the primary caregiver, his behavior wasn’t as important as mine. I really, REALLY, worked on how I handled when I yelled and how I yelled. I am not perfect by any means, but I tried to show him I was working on it and I reminded him that I was trying to be a good example. “You don’t like it when I yell at you, do you? I don’t like it when you yell at me either.” That’s not a guarantee, but I do think it’s necessary. That was a lot of what we talked to our counselor about – anger management. He talked to him separately and then he talked to me about it.

So…no timeout, manage my own anger, and really try to set aside alone time with just him and I. We have the periodic date night, sometimes at his request, where we just go to dinner together. I think that helps.

But really? I think a lot of it is just he’s older. The older he gets, the more understanding he gets in terms of the scope of his world and the effect of his behavior on those around him. This summer he’s also going to a daycare where they WEAR HIM OUT and that is super important for someone with as much energy as he has. He swims and plays basketball all day and many nights he falls asleep watching TV at 6pm. IT IS LOVELY.

And that’s where we are with Wesley right now. He’s “all boy” which I found to be an annoying phrase before I had Wesley, but now that I have him I realize what people mean by that. He’s wild and insane but also loves a good fart joke and to talk about his butt. He’s still very sweet but also is already showing some of that teenage attitude. The sarcastic/annoyed, “I’m sooooorrrry!” accompanied by an eye roll and arms in the air is the thing I want to strangle him for the most now. THE ATTITUDE. Man, where do they learn that shit from? I’m assuming some hooligan at school because it’s always the hooligans, but I don’t know.

All in all? Better. Much better.

3 thoughts on “Where We Are At”

  1. I just wanted to share with you that I appreciated your openness about your struggles with your son and writing about your decision to go to counseling. I have a daughter who is just a few months younger than your son and the behaviors your described were so familiar to me as we struggled with a lot of the same things. I can’t say that reading about it was the only push, but it was one of them, to seek some help for my daughter and my family.

    We have learned through the counseling experience that we needed to improve our parenting techniques and have been using the Positive Parenting Program. This has given us so much more control and we realized our issues were consistency and follow through. My daughter has also learned about controlling her anger and I can tell she is really processing what she is doing with her counselor. Last night we were doing Legos and normally she would get really mad and frustrated when pieces didn’t fit together easily or came apart as she was building. But she was able to process her anger appropriately and I gave her lots of positive reinforcement. Before, without really realizing it, we were only rewarding her for negative behavior through yelling and those dreaded timeouts. Now we have been making a better effort at praising the positive moments. Controlling my anger and getting at eye level and really explaining why the behavior is a problem has also helped. Before I was much too quick to get to the yelling stage because it felt like my child should just do what I said because I said so. I feel so much more hopeful than I have in a long time that our little dictator is no longer calling all the shots. Lol.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. There still is a stigma out there about needing mental health/counseling services out there, but by sharing your story you really helped me and I would imagine there could be others out there too.

  2. Thanks for the follow up Kim. I was curious whether you had been able to find another therapist or whether there was progress.

    But, really, what I want to know is how to find this elusive daycare where they wear the kids out like that. I’d love to have something like that in my neck of the woods. Sounds lovely!

  3. I’m so happy to hear you’re seeing improvement. Your posts about Wes always echoed the struggles I had with my son, who is about a year younger than him. I, too, think age is one of the biggest factors in my son’s improving behavior. When I look back at past three years and compare his behavior to today, it’s really astounding. There was one point that I wondered what kind of person I was raising, and I was sure I was doing everything wrong. My kid was even kicked out of a pre-k program at one point. And, now? He’s not perfect, but he’s more able to control his emotions. He made it through kindergarten without any major issues, and my husband and I were so incredibly proud . Baby steps… even when they’re not babies.

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