Behaviour, General Parenting, Uncategorized

How Can I Tell If It’s Just Temperament or Something More?

I’ve started reading “Raising Your Spirited Child” and it’s like someone’s turned on the lights. I can finally see what is right in front of me. My child. I see him from a whole new perspective.

I am also realising that I too could be described as spirited, which explains why I react the way I do to the behaviours he exhibits. Of course, the same characteristics can also be explained by anxiety. There is a lot of “is it this or that?”ing in my self-reflections.

Intense

Spirited children (and adults because, well, children grow up) are particularly intense. They feel things more deeply and react more strongly. A small inconvenience will mildly annoy most people, who will then move on with their lives. A spirited person will feel a seething rage inside and rant/tantrum about it for an hour. Anyone who has experienced a delayed train with me can vouch for this one.

Persistent

Caide and I must absolutely finish whatever we are doing before moving on to the next activity. He must finish his episode/puzzle/tower/jumping etc before he will move on to something else, or he will lose the plot.

So do I.

If I am in the middle of something and a baby cries, the phone rings (not that I plan on answering it anyway) or someone asks me to do something else I can’t cope. I have to finish mopping the floor before I can go to the baby, answer the phone etc. (Unless it is a “serious” cry obviously, I don’t leave my baby in pain/danger etc, but I’ll be thinking about that floor while I cuddle him).

To help myself with this aspect of my persoanlity I break tasks down into smaller chunks. “Clean the bathroom” becomes “clean toilet”, “clean bath”, “clean sink”, “clean tiles”, “clean windowsill”, “clean mirrors”, and “clean potty”. It helps me leave a task unfinished without feeling (too) overwhelmed.

For Caide I give him a warning. “Last episode then it’s lunchtime”, “we’re going to the post office after you finish that puzzle,” etc. Then he knows the current activity is about to end, and what’s going to happen next, ahead of time. It (usually) helps.

Sensitive

Overly sensitive (but not in an SPD sort of way) to sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. I have an Asperger’s diagnosis in part because of this. And Caide has been putting his hands over his ears a lot lately. And has always seemed to get generally overstimulated in busy places.

This sensitivity extends to other people’s moods. Spirited kids often act out more the more stressed their parents get. Caide definitely does this. And I’ve noticed that my mood can change (up or down) when Phil gets home, depending on his mood.

Perceptive.

They notice everything. Everything. “What’s that noise Mummy?” “What noise?”. “Look bird Mummy!” “What bird?” “What’s that Mummy?” “What?” Picks up tiny piece of plastic from between two blades of grass, “This!”

Everything.

It makes decision-making difficult because every possibility, with its pros and cons, is visible all at once. And well, I changed University course 3 times. I can’t even decide what to have for dinner. And we have a meal plan.

Adaptability

This is a big one for me. I am not at all adaptable. I like being at home. If I am anywhere else I want to go home. If something changes my routine I literally want to give up on the entire day. Recently I’ve noticed that a change of routine is probably necessary to prevent the period from 2-5/6pm that is basically a perpetual tantrum. But I haven’t yet made a single change.

It’s hard for me to tell if Caide is adaptable since I never change anything about his environment or routine.

But adaptability includes adapting from awake to asleep, which we both suck at, and asleep to awake, which I definitely suck at, Caide less so.

Regularity

Eating/sleeping/pooping at the same times each day. Nope. I’ve always hated mealtimes. I’m either ravenously hungry by 10am or can completely forget to even have lunch. I can finish dinner and be hungry an hour later. I can have no appetite for dinner and eat 3 bowls of cereal an hour later.

Caide too is difficult at mealtimes. Sometimes he sits and eats and I’m surprised to look up and find he’s finished. Sometimes he just arses about and it’s WW3 to get him to stay at the table, or even in the kitchen. Maybe this is why.

Energy

Ok, here is where me and Caide differ vastly. I am very much on the “can sit for hours at a time and not step foot outside the house for weeks and be fine” side of things and Caide is on the more spirited “does not stop ever and needs regular fresh air and exercise, like a dog” side of things.

He exhausts me.

First Reaction

Spiriteds are either all-or-nothing here. Either jumping right in over-enthusiastically to a new situation, or hanging back, wary, immediately saying no to any hint of a suggestion of doing something new. There’s no “healthy skepticism followed by giving it a go” here.

Caide and I both fall on the wary side of things for this one. My immediate reaction is to say no to any suggestion of doing anything outside my routine or trying something new, even if I want to do it. Caide also does this.

Mood

Generally more serious and analytical, seeing the flaws in things and improvements that could be made. Even if the experience was overall a positive one.

Yup.

Honestly I think we’re just setting each other off. He reacts strongly to something then I react strongly to his strong reaction and before we know it we’re both screaming and/or crying.

I don’t want it to be like this.

I’m hoping this book has the answers.

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Behaviour, General Parenting

Food for Thought

Caide said something that made me think today.

“You being good Mummy. I be good too.”

I’d been thinking how he was actually being quite well behaved today. I thought that maybe we were beginning to reach the end of this naughty phase.

But this made me wonder if there’s something I’m doing that’s setting him off. Something he considers naughty.

I tried to question him about what he meant but he just said “I don’t know” no matter how I phrased it.

I’m definitely going to start paying attention to when he turns I to a wee toerag and look at what my actions have been leading up to it. Maybe I’ll find a correlation.

Maybe it’s not letting him have ice cream for breakfast. Maybe it’s something deeper, some connection he’s been trying to make that I’m brushing off. Maybe he just randomly said it and he genuinely has no idea what he meant.

I’ll let you know if I figure it out.

#day11 #30daychallenge

Behaviour, General Parenting, Uncategorized

Non-Stop Intensity

I cannot parent this child. I’m just not mentally strong enough.

He has had me in tears every day this week. He is just so relentless. He. Does. Not. Stop.

My anxiety is through the roof.

I never know what he’s going to do next. Hell, half the time I’m not even sure what he’s doing right at that moment. Has he run out of the room to go to the potty? Climb the babygate into the kitchen? Wake the babies from their nap?

Is he approaching his baby brother to show/give him a toy or to kick him?

Is he moving his chair to sit on it elsewhere or to reach something he shouldn’t?

I feel like I am constantly living on edge, trying to anticipate his every move in order to limit the damage.

It’s exhausting.

I’m worn out.

I just don’t know how he’s going to react to any given situation. He is not consistent. Something that comforts him one day wont the next. A strategy that makes him listen will only work once. A strategy to get him to co-operate with getting dressed will only work once.

I just can’t figure him out.

I know toddlers are just like this but there just seems to be something more intense about Caide. He is very much all-or-nothing. About everything. All the time.

I am exhausted.

Apparently he is not.

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p.s it took me ages to find a photo for this post because they’re all blurry. He doesn’t stop long enough to take a photo. They are always blurry.

#day9of30 #30daychallenge

Behaviour, General Parenting

Delinquent in Training

I have noticed a correlation between the number of days spent inside and the level of Caide’s naughtiness. Makes sense. Cabin fever. Boredom. Kids are like dogs – they need to be walked every day or they go nuts.

So we went out. Even though I really didn’t want to. There are people out there. But I needed to go to the post office anyway. And I’d reserved books at the library online and was getti g twitchy about having not picked them up yet.

Caide was a nightmare at the post office, including behaviour that prevented an old lady with a walker from sitting down. I was mortified.

But he loves books. He’ll be good at the library right?

Wrong.

Shouting and screaming and climbing the book displays. Rearranging the furniture. Running off. Reminding me why we stopped going to Bookbug.

I just wanted to leave. But if we never go out in public, how will he ever learn how to behave in public? So I persevered.

It was hellish.

The walk home was also awful. We live literally round the corner from the library but it took us 25mins. He was refusing to walk, bum shuffling, “Put jumper back on!”, “Too hot, take jumper off!”. The final straw was when he ran into the road to jump in a puddle, right after I told him not to (yes, I’m going to get reins, despite always hating the very idea of them. Safety first).

I know all of these things are fairly normal behaviour for a 2 year old but I can’t help but feel his behaviour is worse than average. That I’ve done something wrong.

He’s a total delinquent.

#day3of30 #30daypostchallenge