Monday, June 16, 2008

Is it supposed to be this hard?

Imagine if you had no idea that babies don't sleep through the night when are first born. You figured you give birth and go on with your normal life. Then the baby comes and - shock! - the baby is up several times a night, ready to party. How much harder those nights would be if you had no idea that they were completely normal!

I think I need such a reality check with my 3-year old. Truthfully, he has been very challenging from day 1. And I think I have reached a point where I have lost perspective as to what is typical 3-year old behavior and what is extremely difficult-just my kid-behavior. In other words, it would be a little easier to deal with the constant defiance and meltdowns if I somehow knew that they were normal.

My friend pointed out that 3 is the age of defiance and strong will. And that my son just does every stage a little - more. When other kids had stranger anxiety at 1 year, my kid freaked out at every class and each playdate. When other kids were having one tantrum a day at 2, my kid was having 10-15. And perhaps now, while most kids are defiant some of the time, my child is defiant virtually all of the time.

I think the problem is that I was better at handling the intensity before now. Sometimes I just feel like I've had enough. I just want it to get easier already! And truthfully, a lot of things have gotten easier. It's just that the things that haven't are that much harder.

My husband and I wrack our brains and read every book on the subject to try to find something that works. I think that the piece of this that we have the most trouble with is accepting that being defiant is part of our son's job right now. And he does his job with tremendous gusto and dedication!

He is supposed to be defiant, just like an infant is supposed to be up all night. It's funny how so many of these developmental stages clash so perfectly with the needs of the parents. After the exhausting experience of labor, parents need to sleep! And so, the child is up all night. And after the tantrums of the terrible twos, parents need a break. And so the child becomes even more willful.

For me, one of the major challenges of parenting is to give in to stage my child is in - no matter how difficult - while at the same time helping them learn the skills to move on to the next stage.

I have a long way to go.


Debby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debby said...

Sorry I read my comment and found some mistakes.
Try again.
Talk about meltdowns. I know it, I called a family therapist for help once and when she called me back I was in the middle of a meltdown. I wasn't violent, but she heard my tension and was afraid for my son. I loved him but I could not figure out how to understand him. Now he is 13 and I have learned a lot about understanding. One of the best helpers I found was through a parenting website for dyslexic and ADHD children (my other son is dyslexic). Dr Sam Goldstein and Dr Robert Brooks. They have published several articles on the web that you can read freely - www. and - I read several and found a new perspective. After reading them I bought two books by them, one that I am reading now and another that I read a while back. It really helped me and is called: Raising Resilient Children: Fostering Strength, Hope and Optimism in Your Children. It honestly changed me. The best thing for me was they seemed to understand me, not blame me. Check them out on the web, see if they can help make it easier. Best of luck!

SuperRaizy said...

Allow me to chime in with a more old-fashioned opinion.
No, it is not supposed to be this hard. You are not supposed to "give in" to your child's developmental stage, and it is not his "job" to be defiant right now.
Please stop reading all those parenting books- they are so often ridiculous and ineffective and conflict with each other. Rather, realize that you and your husband are the adults in your home- you make the rules, you enforce them, and you expect your son to follow them. Be firm and consistent, tempered of course with love and a bit of patience- but not too much patience. Overindulging a child's demands and tantrums will just lead to more demands and tantrums. Children will rise to the expectations that are set for them. Make it clear that you expect your son to behave nicely, and he will learn to. Then you can enjoy his toddlerhood instead of suffering through it.
And your son will grow up to be a well adjusted kid, instead of a spoiled one.
Best of luck to you.

Maya said...

I was going to write something similar to your post this week: my darling sweet, smiley happy child has been a monster for two weeks. It makes me wonder if there's something more going on than the second molar breaking through the skin (ear infection? How do you recognize the signs?) She just wants to nurse all day long, and throws tantrums--turns blue in the face and falls to the ground--when I try to dress her or put her in the stroller or make her sit in her high chair, etc. I don't indulge, but I'm seriously starting to lose it. Really. I count the seconds till the babysitter arrives...And that's not how I want to enjoy my baby.
I hope it's just the teeth!