The other big issue we've had with Jacob is the same old listening problem. Well, actually, it's more about what's going into his ears and coming out of his mouth. Not only is he not listening, but he's really getting quite the attitude when he speaks. I don't know if he's picking up something from how we talk sometimes (I hope not, but kids catch everything), or if it's all literally coming from daycare--either other kids, or maybe even a little attitude from the teachers. God knows I'd probably have an attitude once in a while if I had to listen to a dozen kids all day.
The problem is that we ask him to do something, and he cops an attitude. He says no, or says something about doing bodily harm to us if we force him to do something, or says something just generally potty-mouth-ish (generally about body parts or bodily functions). We punish him for being disobedient, he gets angrier, and it's a nasty, vicious circle. We're doing our best to be consistent and trying to focus on removing privileges rather than use any physical punishment--though I won't lie, a well-placed spanking sometimes gets the message across. But I don't think it does enough and don't want to set a physical example for him since he already hits and kicks a lot, so making a conscious effort to lay off it seems like a good idea.
So, we take away things. The other morning when Jacob refused to put on his sneakers, I took away a Lego guy in a car that was distracting him. He asked me to get it back the whole way to daycare, the whole way home, and all night. He's asked every day since. He still hasn't gotten it back. He put on another tantrum when we went to the grocery store that same day and he refused to get out of the car. He finally got out when a bee flew in, but not before he lost his stuffed animals for the night. I did compromise a little and let him have a select few for cooperating later on, but 95% of them were taken away. After he got over the initial shock of having them taken out in the middle of yet another tantrum, he did calm down, thoughtfully picked his few, and chilled out. Hmmm. He just isn't really understanding cause and effect, though. No matter how many times we try to tell him that he needs to do "a" in order to do "b" (or not do something in order to do keep a privilege), he still keeps thinking he can have it both ways.
Half the time when he talks, it's either nonsense or nastiness coming out of his mouth. Any request from us is immediately met with a "no". I'm trying to figure out some sort of consistent punishment for that--that for every "no" we get in a day, we keep track and he loses a couple stuffed animals at bedtime for each one. We might have to add into that incidences of potty talk or other unfriendly talk. He often tells me what a nasty mommy I am (because, of course, I'm just trying to get him to follow the rules). Admittedly, though, I have some less than ideal moments as well because his behavior really gets me angry. There just doesn't seem to be a way to get him to obey without physically forcing it, and it's insanely frustrating.
I think what kills me most in these moments of anger is that the sweet, little, perfect baby that I fawned over four years ago has the ability to make me so angry now. It scares me that he's gotten this nasty all of a sudden, and I'm not sure how to fix it and prevent it from getting even worse as he gets older. He's always been such a determined, head-strong kid, and this is no exception. I wish I could end this post with some sort of great solution, but so far there isn't one. We're trying to be consistent and take away privileges, but so far it's not enough. Stay tuned...