A good scientist keeps careful notes. I do try but often come up short. With my memory as scattered as it has been lately, good notes are invaluable!
So. With that in mind, I would like to record the following things.
This afternoon Mr. Random and I were discussing Wiggles' more recent behavior. Typical toddler stuff - not wanting to share, some hitting, easily frustrated - and how we wanted to address it, and if it even needed to be addressed. We concluded that while his behavior is quite normal, we want to be vigilant and mindful. We want him to be able to explore and have his free spirit, but we're also aware that now is as good a time as any (and possibly better) to start promoting the positive behaviors we'd like to see him adopt. It feels like we need to walk a fine line before allowing healthy exploration of new situations, feelings, and ideas while at the same time encouraging politeness, self-awareness, and self-control.
This all sounds well and good, but how on Earth do you translate that into something meaningful when dealing with a headstrong 22-month-old who thinks hitting you is hilarious and any reaction you give is only fuel for the fire? Or who looks you dead in the eye and does exactly what you just asked him (calmly, politely, firmly) not to do?
Well, I don't know about you, but my answer to everything is to consult Dr. Google. I found a link that listed about 8 ideas for handling toddler behavior without quashing their terribly terrific spirits. Okay, I just looked again at the link - it's 14, not 8. Tells you how good my memory is. In any case, what stood out for me (and how knows, maybe this wasn't even in the list! I'm too lazy to read it again right now) were a few main points.
1. To avoid situations where you use your physical size or strength over them.
I hadn't thought about it this way before. I mean sure, no spanking. There are laws and recent studies and the like that tell you that much. But what about when I physically force him to sit, not stand, on his chair? What about when we physically remove him from a room to deter a behavior he's been warned repeatedly to stop? Those are situations where we're using our physical size over him. And I hadn't thought of it that way before. I'm not really used to being the one who can use size to my advantage. I'm usually smaller than everyone I meet!
So I'm taking that one to heart - it really makes sense to me. I hate being reminded of my own physical limitations.
2. Redirct, redirect, redirect. I knew this one before, but reading the article gave me ideas of how. So when he hits someone, remind him that we don't hit people, but praise him for being strong and encourage him to hit a pillow and show you how well he can hit it.
Hmmm. I worry this could backfire, as he wants to demonstrate his strength on people next time. But I liked the idea when applied to say...climbing on the stove. Tell him he can't climb on the stove, but you're impressed with his climbing and would love to see him climb the couch, for instance.
That one makes more sense to me.
3. Offer choices, but manageable ones. Just give 2 options.
I pretty much knew this, but had been letting things slide and overwhelming him with more options a lot of the time. So, back to limiting options. My own personal note - make sure the options are both something you're okay with! :)
So with those main points in mind, I went to pick up my little fellow from school and we actually had a really good afternoon and evening together (Daddy was working). Something about having those points in mind helped me stay really positive with him all night. And I know it helped. I'm not sure if it helped him or me. :) At this point I think it entirely possible the only difference was my perception of our interactions. If that's true, I'll still take it because I felt genuinely happier being with him.
And he did eat a TON at dinner (when he's been picking at his food for several days now). And said thank you many, many times. There were still some hissy fits - but none were truly royal. And he came willingly to his room for bedtime, and even willingly put his car down on the table when I gave him the choice of putting it there or in his bucket. He wanted to take it to bed, but I told him that wasn't an option, but that he COULD put it in one of those two other places. Where did he want to put it?
So, it worked tonight. And these are my notes to refer back to. We'll see if this continues to help us in our direction of firm, loving guidance.