Thursday, September 27, 2007

crime and punishment

September 27, 2007 - Thursday

crime and punishment
Current mood: exhausted

I'm not sure if this has anything to do with me being pregnant- it might, since pregnancy can make one more emotional, more tired and less rational- but I am losing it more and more often with Littleman. I have yelled at him more times than I care to contemplate. Even if it is me however, that's not the only cause. Littleman seems to think it's such a wonderful game to push my buttons and tempt fate over and over and over and OVER again. The biggie for me is being ignored- he just loves to continue doing things that I have JUST told him not to do. Or to take one million years to complete a task that I have asked of him- whether that be picking up the books in his room or simply climbing into his carseat. Now I am a very patient person- or rather, I used to be- but we are talking a CONSTANT barrage of gleeful defiance. I begin to lose my cool, and thus lose my ability to react appropriately without allowing the situation to escalate. It's hard to think of appropriate, effective "punishments" (whatever form they may take) when the straws begin to break the camel's back. Far too often I find myself bellowing in anger and frustration, (precisely the sort of behavior that I am discouraging in Littleman), and using spankings as my retaliation. I am not in control here.

I always felt that if I followed through on what I said I would do, then it would get to the point that any "threat" I have to make is respected as serious- and the boys would likely choose to do what was asked of them rather than to almost certainly have me fulfill my promise. However, almost every time I choose a "threat" and explain to Littleman his choices and the consequences, he seems to want to test this theory YET AGAIN. He grins and dallies and does anything but what I've asked, (or simply continues doing what I've told him to stop), until inevitably I have to follow through with the "punishment". No matter how much he hates the negative consequence, and despite the fact that he knew that's what was going to happen if he made the negative choice, he almost always chooses to test me and force me into following through, rather than simply DOING what I've told him to do.

It's probably a means of getting attention, but he gets much nicer attention from me when he is helpful and cooperative. Why choose an angry, spanking mom instead of one who is relaxed and smiles and gives grateful hugs? I'm really at a bit of a loss here.

It could also be partly his energy level- he simply can't control his physical movement sometimes- but I do try to keep that in mind and work around it when I'm dealing with him. Most of our battles do not stem from this, or at least I don't think they do.

Sigh. Anyway, I'm mostly complaining I guess. I hope it's partly a phase- that he will outgrow this need to test and test and retest what I say. That, even if he is still a bit defiant and always energetic, he will at least understand the simple, immediate consequences of his actions (positive and negative) and more often respond appropriately. Damn, it sure would be nice if he'd HELP me instead of making me pull my hair out. He really could be a big help, if he were interested.

I have our digital camera back, finally. Maybe it's time to make that chore board I thought of awhile back- it would be a nice, visual reminder of positive things that Littleman could do to garner my attention. In additon, I need to come up with a list of effective "punishments" that I can look toward when I need something effective in any given situation. Some things ready in my mind so I don't have to rely on a spanking when my blood is boiling. It's really hard to think of a privilege that I could remove without punishing the rest of us right along with him. And time out seems to have no effect on him whatsoever.

Hmm, Kiki- maybe it's time I revisited that idea you gave me for a card system like you use with Bird??

Well, at the very least typing it out makes it seem a little clearer in my own mind. What works for you?

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