Lately Jacob's behavior has gotten downright ridiculous at times. We've sort of come to a conclusion that the majority of the bad behavior happens in spurts. It's almost as if Jacob gets too excited about something and doesn't know how to contain himself...so he hits. Or he screams. In general these bouts begin with a very intense face and a tense body...almost like the energy is bottlenecking there and he gradually lets it out as he grabs, hits, or screams. It sounds a little more bizarre than it actually is, but I don't know quite how else to describe it. Sometimes it's precipitated by anger, sometimes not. I think sometimes when he gets overly happy-excited it can happen, as well. Jacob's an intense kid--as anyone who's seen him play sports will attest. He can be hilariously funny and can be really sweet and quiet sometimes, too, but for the most part he's full of energy and can get very serious about the task at hand. These episodes of his have been difficult and sometimes I worry there's some bigger issue that's causing them. But other than the means through which they happen--the intense face and body language--I don't think they're too far beyond the realm of a normal two year old. Even still, they frustrate me to no end and leave me with a pretty short fuse myself. I can't even express the frustration I felt at the grocery store earlier this week when Jacob started screaming bloody murder, just for fun. Add in some random hitting and I couldn't stand it. It's such a helpless feeling when your child is misbehaving badly and there's nothing you can really do about it...especially in public. You can tell them to quiet down, hold their arms, and yet, it just doesn't work--you both look like a mess.
In the middle of all of this, I'm afraid that I'm going to end up hurting him, if only in self-defense. I've inadvertently clawed him a couple times when he's been hitting me and I grab his arms, and as he gets stronger I can only see things getting more difficult if this keeps up. As I've mentioned before, we do spank, though we try to reserve that for anything related to safety (i.e., running into the street) or for times when he directly disobeys in a particularly infuriating manner. I'm wanting to cut down on that because I think with him (not all kids--it worked for me, and I hated every minute of it) it's worsening some of his hitting issues. The other night Jacob and I were home alone. Craig was working in Toronto for the evening and Jacob was driving me nuts. He was hitting me while I cooked dinner and being generally difficult. And twice I made him do a time out, which we've never done for real before. I sat him on a stool we have in our kitchen and made him sit there for two minutes, as timed by the microwave. If he got up I made him sit back down. When the two minutes were up, we talked about why he had to sit. And after at least one of them, he apologized. I'm not sure if that's something they practice at daycare or what, but apparently he knows the drill. We did it yesterday as well when we had a repeat of difficult behavior during dinner prep. We'll see how it goes, or if it works, but at least it's a way to take him out of the situation and give me a better way to deal with him than constant yelling or more spankings. Redirection is key, and so far this is doing the trick. And in case I have failed to mention it before, disciplining sucks.