Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Behavioral Waves

 If there is one thing I've learned about the season of toddler, it's that behavior comes and goes in waves. Being a stay at home hottie allows me to witness and experience every meal, every play moment and every nap. It gives me the opportunity to see every tear, smile and frustration... with pleasure, of course. In this, I catalog everything and in a breath of reflection, I can clearly see patterns that take place over the course of weeks and months.

We are a home of boundaries, consistency (to the best of my ability) and active learning. We communicate quite a bit through words and when words are not working, we use our bodies. Hugs, deep breaths and taking "walks" to another activity are a great way to avoid breakdowns. But even then, sometimes we all need time in the "naughty" chair. Sometimes that "naughty" chair is just the "quiet" chair or sadly, a little thump on the tush... but we all need a break.

Today is a day of breaks... lots of them. I'm sensing kiddo is entering a period of frustrations, emotional angst and independence. He becomes angry and frustrated with SO many things... but the root of it is when things don't go the way Lucas initially intended. Whether it's toys, friends, meals, car rides, or schedule... Lucas has a clear idea of what he wants and how that should go. When they don't go that way, frustration mounts.

Then comes the emotional angst. Breakdowns involve fists, throwing, hitting and crying... and sometimes kicking. It's natural to want to deal with the angst immediately, but I have to remind myself that the kicking wouldn't take place had it not been for the initial frustration. Dealing with the original problem has to come first... otherwise Lucas won't learn how to identify his frustrations as an older child or an adult.

Lastly, Lucas' independence is threatened when he experiences frustration and anger. From the start, he had visualized doing something, on his own. Without the help of a parent. And when I ask him if I can help, the answer is typically a strong and assertive "no." I struggle with wanting to take over and just fix whatever the problem is. When I take a step back, I realize his development increases as he's allowed to work it out on his own. The trick is to figure out a way to ensure independence without poor behavior or poor reactions to disappointment. I'm still working on that one.

So here we are again... entering a time of frustration, angst and independence. Granted, they're here all the time... but some weeks are more difficult than others. These are the days when I drink more coffee, take deeper breaths and attempt to find activities that involve the both of us... like swimming, painting, and running in the park.

How do you identify behavioral cycles in your own children? Do you have a plan of attack or just go with the flow? Every day varies for us and sometimes it's just about survival, a good movie and a delicious snack.


  1. "Timeouts" are king in our house. There are set rules that mean timeouts for Liam if he breaks them. One prime example is hitting. If he hits person or animal, he gets a warning, and then a timeout if it persists. Sometimes we're in the car or at a restaurant, so he's already seated. In these instances I give a warning, then take away something he enjoys. Most recently I had to take my iPod away from him while we were at Red Robin since he was hitting me.

    I ignore tantrums as long as he isn't hurting anyone. He's irrational during a tantrum, so I refuse to give him attention.

  2. Just a comment about the amazing work you are doing with Lucas (and what a great mom you are!). Active parenting is every bit as demanding (or more so) as any job out there, requiring an amazing amount of energy and skill. I am regularly blessed to see what great parents you and Matt are.

    1. Thank you for the encouraging words, Dan. It means so much to know you're thinking about us. Love you.