Saturday, November 7, 2009

Raising a Violent Child?

Ok, so, the last couple days, life with Jacob has been a little difficult. I don't know if it's teething or the seemingly constant stream of realtors visiting our house in the evenings, or what, but Jacob has been a challenge. He's been throwing his cup a lot more at dinner, refusing to eat what we're eating after a few bites, getting angry in an instant, and throwing whatever is in his hand....hard. We're a little stumped as to why he's all of a sudden acting out. While he may have had moments like this before, they were few and far between. He just seems a bit irrational these days. I can't help but wonder where the temper came from all of a sudden.

I'll admit that disciplining a one year old is a fine line to walk. They think it's funny when you respond to their wrong-doing, and obviously you don't want to encourage that. When he throws his food or his cup, I tend to raise my voice. And when it happens a lot, sometimes I even give his hand a little slap--not a hard one, but apparently it's hard enough to throw him off. I know they say that hitting only breeds hitting, and maybe they're right. But how else do you communicate to a baby that what they did is wrong when words seemingly mean nothing to them? My hope with the slap is that he'll associate what he did with that hand to the event that happened to the hand immediately after. I'm sure that doesn't work in reality, but I'm stumped. I've tried putting the cup back out of his reach for a while, taking it away completely, ignoring it and leaving it there, and seemingly everything else, to no avail. And lately the throwing has been happening in anger, with bigger, harder objects. I don't know why things are suddenly causing him such angst! If he doesn't get his way he immediately melts down, and will keep crying for a while...even as long as a half hour!

Of course I'm starting to worry that it has something to do with my parenting, or maybe that something is seriously bothering him that we don't know about, maybe even beyond teething. What if he's in some sort of pain and can't tell us? His lip has healed up from his Halloween incident, but the soft tissue underneath, inside his mouth, is still purple. Maybe that's bothering him? What if it's something at daycare? Maybe it's just being at daycare to begin with, that even if he likes it there, he's starting to resent that he doesn't get much quality time with us? I've been trying to put him to bed a little earlier lately to combat the crankiness and the time change, but unfortunately he just seems to wake up earlier, which he never used to do. This morning's 6:45 am wakeup was a far cry from his 9:30 am sleep-ins.

Craig and I are both short on patience during the worst of it. When he throws something we take it away, and that may just lead to another meltdown, worse than whatever caused the original throwing episode. And by the way, there's definitely a difference between throwing something like he throws a ball and throwing something in anger. The angry one gets things taken away. And when he has a meltdown, it is a full body one. He'll cry, throw his body around (he got me pretty good this morning on my upper cheek when he threw his head back while I was trying to put on his sneakers), writhe around, bang his head on the floor (lovely), and be just plain hysterical for a while. Sometimes you can switch his attention and it helps, but often he'll remember 30 seconds later that he was upset about something and start all over again. And his inability to fully communicate makes this that much more difficult. If he could tell us what he wants (beyond food, milk, or his pointing abilities), it would make things much easier. He might still get a "No", but at least we'd know why it's happening.

Yesterday I got a little misty on the way into work because I felt so bad that I couldn't spend the day with him and try to figure out what's going on. As far as I know daycare hasn't noticed anything funny with him, so of course, that makes me wonder if it's me. Is he rebelling against me because I discipline him too much? Or is it just because I'm his mother and that's innate in every kid to test their parents? It's hard, no matter what. And add on to all of this the stress that's bubbling up over the prospect of getting our house ready to go on the market and it's been a rough few days. The idea of tearing apart our house and de-cluttering it is pretty overwhelming. How do you do that when you have too much stuff to begin with (even if you like it and want to keep it) and need to have baby-related items in nearly every room? And the simple thought that once I start it, our lives won't be back to normal for a long time is scary. I hate to think of paring down the Christmas decorations and removing the pictures and knicknacks that remind us how important our family and friends are. And minimizing toys? Ugh. Lots to think about and even more to do.

Happy weekend, everyone. My parents are coming to visit this afternoon, and then we're going to the Amerks game together. Tomorrow we're going to make a quick trip to the zoo (they're having a technology recycling event, so we'll go see animals after we ditch some old electronics) and do some house stuff. We'll see how that goes!

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