Anger, Whining, Cuddly Purgatory & the Star Chart
First of all, thank you all SO MUCH for the encouragement and cheers on starting my weight loss goal! I really appreciate it, and it means so much knowing I have all of you in my corner rooting for me. I did 36 push-ups last night for the second day of the push-up challenge. Boy, do I feel it today. I knew I would, but it’s nice too. In high school I got really good at doing push-ups, so hopefully some (long dormant) muscle memory is returning.
At the beginning of January, Daniel turned 3 years, 7 months, and I have to say that life with him is never, ever boring. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen some of my tweets. We have good days and bad days, and they seem to alternate. What amazes me is the anger and the rage he displays. He knows what he wants, and he will let you know if his will is thwarted. The anger I can handle. It’s shocking and a bit distressing, but it’s also rare. The whining, though, is driving us up the wall. It is like nails on a chalkboard.
But that’s been our experience with 3. I wrote about how the candles on his cake had barely cooled before the switch flipped, and he became a cross between Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and a 14-year-old girl going through puberty. He teases us with weeks of calm, leading us to believe maybe the stage has passed. Then BAM! Next thing you know he’s sobbing because he can’t have a granola bar for dinner or wear the pajamas he wants despite them being unavailable because they are in the washing machine. The other night he was so exhausted and upset that I swear he was speaking in tongues and I wondered briefly if he were possessed.
Faced with this 3-year-old volcano, we walk a tight rope. The whining raises our hackles, and we attempt to reason with him and use logic, which is ridiculously impossible. Our goal becomes getting Daniel to stop whining while maintaining control of the situation. Appeasement is NOT an option. Of course, later, when you are faced with a sobbing child, you regret every time out and worry you are breaking his spirit and being too “mean” to him.
Over the holidays we instituted a behavior chart. It was initially to help Daniel earn back his train table which had been removed due to some major infractions. It’s working well, mostly. We have 6 “tasks” for him to complete each day; one of them is an easy one so that he always earns one star easily. The others target behaviors and tasks that are challenging for him AND us.
Daniel has started to understand that refusing some of the tasks like changing clothes, brushing teeth and feeding the cats will result in no stars. We have seen definite improvement in those areas. The whining one is a LOT more difficult. He understands, but it hasn’t sunk in yet. That one is probably our biggest challenge. What genius does a 3-year-old possess that allows them to whine at the perfect frequency to rattle your nerves and piss you off in about 4 seconds?
The behavior that causes our blood to boil instantaneously is his refusal to be called by his name. We could really use some advice from more experienced parents on this issue. In the last few months, Daniel has decided that he does not want to be called Daniel but instead wants to be called something else. It’s usually Diesel but could be Kevin, Flynn, Thomas or Cranky.
What usually happens is that when we talk to him about a behavior or comment and then call him Daniel, he becomes upset and demands that we call him by the other name because he is NOT Daniel. This demand is frustrating for us on a few levels. First of all, the tone. Daniel gets SO angry about the name issue, insisting he is NOT Daniel. We don’t respond well because our knee-jerk response is telling him that we named him Daniel and why we love that name. Secondly, he tends to bark this “demand” at us. Grrrrrr. At that point, the last thing I want to do is call him by another name. Finally, Daniel loves the diesel trains on Thomas. My only issue is that the diesels are portrayed as major asshole bullies. WHY does he want to be called a name associated with an asshole bully?
What should we do? Do we accept his request and call him Diesel or Kevin or Flynn or whatever? Do we insist on him being called by his name? Do we work with him on how to request politely that he be called by a nickname? I’ve done some frantic Googling, and I haven’t found much that would. What would you do? Should we just get over it, call him what he wants and work on the other issues?
Daniel has a lot of stuffed animals in his room. We bought many of them for him, but some were gifts as well. They all lived happily on and around his bed until recently. Daniel’s new thing is to throw the “cuddlies” he doesn’t want into his closet. They have been convicted of being nuisances or disruptive according to Daniel. OK.
It was really sad tonight, though. He sent a few more stuffed animals to purgatory. Some of them Jimmy or I had cuddled with as a child, and it was weird seeing them in stuffed animal jail. Some of them we had bought for Daniel, thinking he’d love XYZ stuffed animal but apparently not.
I felt so bad for those stuffed animals! Stuffed in a closet! I kind of want to rescue them and see if we can find them good homes
Three has been very hard. Very hard. I’ve never felt so lousy as a parent before. I think it’s rough because children can do so much at this age but they are also still immature and it catches us off guard.
Feel free to suggest any survival tips you have.