SugarHouse Mama

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Terrible Three and One-Thirds

You know what I'm talking about, right? You've all experienced this, right? Your sweet little two year old who is so obedient and cheery suddenly turns about 3 1/3 and it's like waking up to a nightmare.

The fits.

The scowls.

The power struggles.

I spend 3/4 of my day with a child who is either crying or deliberately defying me on some level, 1/4 wondering where my sweet little girl went and who {or what} has taken her place, and about 20 minutes of sheer joy {or rather, what used to be her normal behavior}.

Remember this incident? Great. Occasionally since then, Adjoa was naughty and when presented with her discipline options {no TV show today, or Time-Out} she would always request a "beating". {I want to be perfectly clear, here. By "beating" we are meaning a swat on the behind. Ghana lingo for any discipline of a physical nature is "beating"; they even use that term when one child hits another}

Anyway, she likes it quick and dirty, I suppose, and sometimes I totally understand. It's like ripping off a band aid. Sure it hurts, but doing it quick and getting it over with is better than sitting in a chair quietly for 3 WHOLE MINUTES or forgoing your TV show for the day.

Disciplining a child who spent most of her life with nothing {and who received far harsher punishment I could ever dish out under much more strict rules} is hard. Sometimes I think it's impossible.

I tried taking away toys. She doesn't care. She can play and play for hours without a single toy. When she is in Time-Out she just sits there and sings and sings and doesn't care. She can sit still FOREVER. I thought about taking away school for serious infractions because she loves it so much, but that punishes me too and I don't think that's fair!

Sometimes I think a swat will at least make me feel like she was disciplined. Yeash.

I'm going to try a new thing. {Thanks to input from my mom and my lovely neighbor Amy}

Like pretty much every three year old on the planet, Adjoa loves stickers. So I got a blank job chart and some stickers. She will get to put a sticker on the chart when she makes a good choice. Like obeying mommy when she doesn't want to, or choosing to not throw a fit, etc. I ordered a whole bunch of books from Scholastic - about $3 or $4 each. When she gets to the goal line, she will be able to choose a new story. I'm hoping it works. She loves books and stickers. She really feels good when she does things that make mom and dad happy. Plus, I think it will start to teach her that attitude is a choice.

At least that is my hope. The books should be arriving soon {I'm counting down the days}. I thought it would be important for her to see the books so she knows what she's working towards. Any input there? Do I just get going on it, or is it best for her to actually see the stories, etc.?

Also, I'm wondering if I should have a smaller goal line too - about halfway to the book line, where she can choose a simple prize or a treat.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I'm desperate and open to just about anything.


ColleenaMareena said...

I just read a book called "Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking" by Jerry Wyckoff that I got from the library. The scenarios were a little cheesy, but it helped me a lot by making me see that my 3 1/3 year old is wanting my reaction. Every time I get the least bit angry or flustered at something he does, he wins. But when I'm calm thru the "bad" choices and super excited thru the good ones, he'll work harder for the good ones. I didn't notice the "difference" in him, but in myself, because I wasn't ANGRY any more. I HIGHLY recommend it.

You're not expected to be able to handle this yourself. Keep asking other moms questions, read some books, say a quick prayer every time something happens and you feel like things are crazy. It'll get better. :)


My mantra is "Do whatever it takes."
That is within reason of course. I know how you feel. I've gone through this with Precious. Now my 15 yrear old who was sweet and easy is turning into the emotional, sulky American teenager. Every kid is different and YOU have to live with her tantrums. So I think you should do the short term goal as well, so you can see she is serious. She's totally testing the waters of how far she can go. :) She's going to give you a few gray hairs. Hang in there! The one about the hair? Shaving it will mortify her ( and you ) but will sure teacher her not to cut off her braids anymore. HANG IN there Jess!

kristy said...

The key to being a good parent (no parent is perfect) is to be creative and try something new (and then laugh when it doesn't work). What worked yesterday usually doesn't work at another time. stickers, charts, token boxes, --pick one for a while and stick to it. If in the end it doesn't work out, try another. Get her involved with what ever you choose. AND DEFINITELY PLAN, DEBRIEF, and TAG-TEAM with your spouse. I like the sticker/book idea.

Lois said...

Threaten. Yes, just say Gloria and she will stop...