Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sometimes everybody loses

We've been going through a difficult time at home with Oscar. His behavior has been it's very worst - impulsive, defiant, testing boundaries both here and at school.

It's been...a challenge, to say the least. It can be difficult dealing with a spirited, emotional child when you yourself are a spirited, emotional adult.

I have been working hard though, changing the way I parent, the language I use in my head to describe Oscar's behaviors, trying new strategies to help him recognize when he loses control and to help him regain control. It's hard because when he loses control, it makes me lose control so I have to work extra hard to keep myself in check because if I lose it, he loses it times three.

This has been a mostly good week. Like I said, we are doing things differently, talking to each other differently, listening differently, naming behaviors, developing solutions together. It hasn't been perfect - we are learning and changing together - but it has been better. I feel better and I know Oscar feels better.

Today was a difficult morning. Nelson was home, which is a change in routine and that is always tough on Oscar. When I got in the shower, I asked Nelson to get the boys moving getting dressed. When I got out of the shower, it became clear that Oscar had lost control and that Nelson was handling it poorly.

Now, I don't mean this as a criticism of Nelson. Oscar's behavior can be quite frustrating and infuriating when he's lost control. It can be a real challenge helping him regain control without losing it yourself, and I recognize this. We cannot be perfect parents all the time, and that's okay.

Oscar was running around the upstairs, laughing manically, ignoring Nelson, jumping on beds, throwing things and generally showing no impulse control whatsoever. As I got out of the shower I heard Nelson say, "Just go to your room! I don't even want to be around you right now!"

"No, Nelson, we do NOT speak to him that way," I told him and quickly jumped in to help Oscar regain control.

Oscar was still running, so I grabbed him, looked him in the eye, and said something like, "Oscar, you are misbehaving right now and you know that. I need you to go in your room, get your bunny and smell his paw for a minute so you can calm down." He went into his room, but it took a few more minutes of coaxing to get him to relax and listen. I explained that he needed to get dressed and that then he and I would pick out a book for his book share today.

He got up and starting leaving the room a few times, but I quickly reminded him that he needed to make the choice to calm himself down, and that he knew how to do that, and that I was confident he could. A few moments later, I came into his room and he was dressed and sorting through his books.

Unfortunately, that was only the first battle of the morning. He picked a fight we me again when I was packing his lunch and soliciting his input on what fruit he'd like. He wanted none. We compromised on a fruit leather.  But he was not happy. The words said by Nelson in the morning had a really negative impact.

When we got to school, he refused to get out of the car. I told him his actions would have consequences, and that he would not be allowed to have a fudgesicle after school.

He got out of the car, but ran away from me as we were walking up to school. I had to chase him and hold him by the wrist to get him into the building.

This is where I fell apart, because I was feeling embarrassed by his behavior, and angry because I'd been working so hard all morning and STILL Oscar could not keep it together. He went boneless and I had to physically drag him to his classroom while he laughed at me. I had to put hand sanitizer on his hands and lift him and place him, thrashing and crying, into his classroom. I passed him off to his teacher and left.

It was tough. I felt terrible. All the way back to the car, I kept thinking of all the things I should have done. I should have listened to him - he was telling me he was tired, that he did not want to go to school. I should have responded to him, validated him, reassured him that the day would be good. I should not have chased him or dragged him to his classroom. I should have waited patiently until he was ready to go.

I did so much right this morning, and yet I still managed to get it all wrong. It's definitely worth the effort, I know, but I'm feeling defeated and it's only 10:00 a.m.

Thankfully, I have three more hours to recharge before I pick him up and we try all this again.


Strawberry said...

You know, it's so hard to remember to say the 'right' thing every day, every moment. I know I should be validating Curly more, but sometimes I reach a breaking point and I'm probably too mean to him and say things like Nelson said. But you can't beat yourself up about it. We're all just trying our best.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Thank you for reminding me that I actually have it okay with a child whose biggest tantrum is starting the pity cry when she gets told no about something.(Mine acts out mostly with words, not actions.) I want to validate her concerns and stresses, but I too lose it before I should. You are a stronger woman than I, Ms. Oscarelli. :-)

Diana Onken said...

I'm sorry you had a rough morning. Hopefully, it got better!

P.S. Your description is like most of my days with Olivia. I feel you on how exhausting it is.

Keely said...

Yes. This.

I still lose it regularly. Pick-up time is aften worse for me; I've had a long and exhausting day and Xander is just entering his 'witching hour'. Lots of other parent have watched me stalk out to the car towing my kid by the wrist.

All we can do is our best, right?

Anonymous said...

Oh Jenni. It's a month later I'm sure your pick up was better. It is hard. You're a great mom, and great parents.

New Baby Gifts said...

ahhh, you just described most of our mornings with our boy. I am trying really hard to listen to him as this sometimes prevents a melt down. Other half goes into shout mode, which means he shouts much louder = melt down. I don't have any answers for you other than I know in our house that if I keep calm it seems to end the meltdown more quickly. That and we need to get a grip on his sugar intake.

Susanica said...

My comment was just eaten by Blogger. Bah humbug! -M