Saturday, 6 June 2009

toddler attacks: where Cubling kicks and punches her cousin...

It's been a few months since Cubling hit her second birthday and we've been patiently waiting for the tantrums to begin. As if to prove us wrong, there were none. Well, let's put it like this, there was nothing that I would describe as a tantrum. As she was a spirited baby (aka high needs baby), and her energy never waivers even when tiredness overtakes her, I always expected her to get massive tantrums. Not so. To be fair, if something doesn't go her way, of course she'll let us know in no uncertain terms, but won't linger over it.

Until this week. We had about 15 minutes of incessant crying when she ran off out of sight just because she wanted to run off. As I retrieved her (against her will), she spotted a play area (for older kids, really not suitable for her) and her non-cooperation now focussed on wanting to play there, and nowhere else thank you very much. She cried all the way back, and all my efforts to ask her to stop crying (with the carrot of a much more exciting swing park) were in vain. We did let her play at that swing park, although maybe I should have stuck to my guns.

Next, at her cousin's house (who is no stranger to tantrums, but in between he's extremely smart, gentle and social) she started taking toys away from him, or overreact when he took a toy off her. Before, she would have cried and called for me to help her. The new bit is that she goes into attack mode. Nevermind that her cousin is 3 months older and physically much stronger than her. She knows he won't do her harm. So it's safe to kick, punch and throw herself on top of him. Fortunately, he takes it all with a giggle, as long as he ends up getting back the toy/book/teddy he had been playing with. Cubling, on the other hand, screams angry tears out of her cute eyes. (Cousin incidentally told his mummy later that her behaviour was "nicht schoen", which I then had to translate for my sil - this boy is picking up German quicker than speedy Gonzalez, and definitely quicker than my own wee girl).

For the first time then, we have to find a way to deal with behaviour which is not acceptable and needs to be channelled. So how to go about it? For now, Time Out has been introduced to the Cartside home. Shame really. I don't like it truth be told. I don't like having to tell my cutiepie off. So far, success has been that after 30 seconds of time out (she stays in the spot! I can't believe my eyes! It's beyond me why children won't just leave the "naughty step") she will calm down and behave appropriately again, and she seems to take the criticism of her behaviour in (only to repeat it two hours later of course). I hope that it'll work to channel her behaviour in the long run. I still need to work on reacting more calmly, because I do get slightly angry seeing her attack other children, especially my favourite nephew. If we want to work on anger management, I have to make sure not to feel angry myself, as it may show.

Come to think of the lead up to her tantrums, the main difference to her previous behaviour is that she's wanting to deal with the situation herself, rather than asking for my help. Similarly, she insists on independence in many situations now. Even her language mirrors this sudden awareness of the self, her personality and her wishes which are different from ours. For instance, one of her new phrases is: "No push me!" She uses it whenever cousin or other child comes closer than she likes (even without pushing) or when I try to encourage her to eat something that contains vegetables. It's hilarious, because she is oh so right. Yes, I'm pushing her. Not physically, but I am. She's sick of it. Wants her meat and bread y'know. Other phrases: "I no want it, milk". So she managed not to drink any milk yesterday. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how she doesn't dry up considering the pitiful quantities of liquid she consumes. Nevermind the issue of calcium which I can bypass by filling her up on yoghurt and cheese. I'm disgressing.

Another sign of her emerging self is that she's pushing the boundaries, by clearly doing something that she knows is a no no. Like trying to eat the sticky numbers at bathtime. Like threatening to throw herself off a banister. Or doing anything that I'd just told her not to while watching my reaction very closely. Crying to get her will and being very able to stop crying instantly if asked to do so in order to get what she wants.

I love this age. You can actually talk to the little ones and they understand. They may not follow what you say, but you know they understand. And more often than not, if all is explained, they do cooperate. If it isn't it demonstrates how they're making sense of this world, how their personality develops. Then there is so much happiness, there are so many hugs, kisses and cuddles which all make up big time for occasional tantrums and the kicking of beloved cousin.

It will be difficult to discipline. I know it's necessary, and boundaries need to be established. That's the hard bit that I don't really like. Cuddles and kisses all day would be so much nicer.


Perfectly Happy Mum said...

Funny we wrote a pretty similar post at the same time ( and I can relate only too well to yours :) Good luck and I have absolutely no clue how to deal with all of this myself, so I won't be of great help I'm afraid... :)

cartside said...

Oh, thankfully I'm not at the being ignored stage yet. I can always see that eye following my every move so as to gauge the next response just perfectly for maximum effect.
Then again, she said "mummy lovely" today. Twice. All is forgiven.



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