I remember back before I had any children of my own...hearing phrases and buzz words like "Threenager", "Terrible Twos" and so on...and I remember harvesting a certain amount of judgement about them.
How ridiculous...those things aren't real...if you put labels like that on your child of course they'll live up to them...you're expecting the worst from them...you're bringing it on yourself...I'll never use those words.
HA! It's so much easier to be a perfect parent before you actually have any children, don't you think?!
I'll admit, the terrible two's didn't hit me like I thought they would...maybe we got off lightly but I braced myself for a year of tantrums that never really materialised. We had our moments of course, but on the whole it wasn't anything to write home about.
Perhaps that's why this threenager stage has hit me like a tonne of bricks...because it came from out of nowhere...Just like that, one day my perfectly calm and pleasant-natured angelic little boy woke up with all of the attitude and hormonal outbursts of a stroppy 13 year old.
Most days I feel like I'm living with a miniature version of Kevin & Perry...stomping his feet when he doesn't get his own way, making this Oscar-worthy exasperated "HARUMPH!" noise whenever I dare ask him to do anything at all...and the SCREAMING...oh dear God the screaming...I'm surprised our windows haven't shattered yet.
And it's hard...really bloody hard....but I have to admit something that I never thought I would....
Everyone else was right all along...Threenagers are REAL.
They are real live little balls of far too many emotions - rage, anger, frustration and feelings just bursting to get out of their little bodies and not knowing how to channel or direct it all properly...and so they explode...multiple times a day...usually in the direction of the poor unsuspecting parent who's standing there wondering what ever happened to that innocent little baby they were holding what feels like just moments ago...who has now been replaced with a Mini-Hulk smashing his way through everything in his path (including your patience, sense of humour and will to live) simply because Topsy & Tim isn't on yet.
This is a new element of mummy-life to me - we'd always had it pretty easy before and never really had the need to look at discipline because Tyne never really did anything to warrant it.
But lately he's testing his boundaries on an hourly basis - he's screaming at the top of his lungs with temper, shouting "NO I WON'T!" whenever he's asked to do anything that isn't exactly what he wants to do, snatching from his brother and refusing to share anything, and - worst of all - he's hitting a lot.
He only ever tries to hit us (never Noah or Sailor, and never any other children) and if he doesn't lash out by hitting us, he throws things or threatens to "destroy" things instead...a few days ago he responded to being told off for throwing something by telling me "I'm going to run out into the road!"
These outbursts are usually in response to seemingly tiny insignificant things - things like his cup being empty (Because why ask for more juice when you can simply launch the cup across the room and scream "I HATE EVERYTHING!" instead?!) , being given a different dinner plate than the one he wanted (but didn't ask for!), us not being able to drop everything and run every single time he suddenly decides he wants to go to the park RIGHT THIS MINUTE at bedtime...but of course, in his little world, these things are huge.
Over the past few weeks, I'll be honest...I've struggled.
I've tried different ways of trying to reason with him and resolve the problems but nothing seems to work right now.
In an ideal world, I'd like to be able to take him out of the situation and talk through with him how he's feeling - that's what all of the gentle parenting experts that I so admire and want to follow tell you to do after all - but with a real life child in the middle of a real life tantrum - in all honesty, it just doesn't always work.
My son doesn't WANT to talk about it - not when its happening and not afterwards when he's calmed down either - and if he won't talk about it, how can we work through it in the way that these experts recommend?
So he's not willing to talk it through calmly...but he's hitting and breaking things deliberately, so do I let him just get away with that behaviour because I understand that he's doing it out of frustration?
I don't think so...I think that, regardless of the fact that I understand and empathise with WHY he's doing it...I still need to demonstrate to him that it's not acceptable to hit people or break things because you're feeling angry.
And so I need to introduce a consequence for those actions - but what?
Smacking is absolutely not an option for us. It's a personal choice each parent needs to make and I am not somebody who would dictate on the rights or wrongs of it to other people, but it's not something I personally want to do.
I've tried taking away toys and things he enjoys like his ipad - it doesn't work, it just makes him cry louder and longer and he's right back to doing the same thing again later on that day.
I've tried the "naughty step" even though I don't really like the idea - it doesn't work. He cries while he's on it, but as soon as he's off he goes right back to doing it again.
I've tried introducing a cushion for him to hit when he feels angry to stop him hitting out at us - it doesn't work. he just thinks its funny but he still doesn't go to it when he's angry.
My latest idea is to try "Time Out" instead - I've put together a time out corner, a calm little space with a beanbag and some books to look through along with some calming toys like a rainmaker and a stress ball - so far it's not having much affect but I'll persevere.
The thing is, it's just so hard to know what to do for the best.
There is so much contradicting advice out there from so many "experts" who have such wildly different approaches to these things - and it's easy to say "Follow your instincts" but what when they're not coming through?!
I don't KNOW what to do for the best.
Often I find myself faced with another tantrum, being hit at again or watching as he throws around something breakable in temper, and I stand there sort of open-mouthed while my inner voice says "Well come on then...react! What are you going to do?! You should know what to do...you're the mum! Handle it!"...but I draw a blank.
And I feel as though Tyne knows this in some way...as though he knows that I'm kind of at a loss of how to respond...as though he can tell that I don't have any real conviction or faith in any of these techniques that I'm trying.
I know it's just a phase and he'll soon grow out of it and be on to the next one, and I'll be right back here probably struggling with how to survive that one too...
But right now, I can't help but worry whether I'm getting it all wrong.
Whether my attempts to find the "right" way to deal with all of this is actually doing more harm than good.
And whether I'm doing the best I can, as I like to try and tell myself after another day of dealing with outburst after outburst - or whether I'm actually just failing massively, and letting him down...because I don't know what the answers are.
All I can hope is that we come out of the other side relatively unscathed - that he doesn't hate me by the end of it all, and that I don't make some colossal mistake that ends up turning him into a mass murderer or something...
It's a lot of responsibility this mummy lark...and I'm really starting to wish I liked the taste of gin more.
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