Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Parenting Woes

We have been having some very strong willed moments. Wyatt has taking to throwing himself backwards mid air when he thinks something he may not like is going on. Jaxon throws his body backwards on the floor, sometimes forwards, too. His forehead is red or bruised daily from banging his head on the ground. As I mentioned a few days ago, Luke has been under the weather. So no temper here, he just looks at me and gives me a pitiful sad face while crying. For any reason at all, poor guy just feels the world is against him when he is sick. The boys cups are being thrown at meals (again!) food is being thrown on the floor, drinks are slowly spit out of their mouths to their chins and spilling down to their clean clothes.

The good news is that I am realizing a trend. My mom is kind enough to come over and help me out twice a week, most weeks. I think that the two of us have different reactions to their behaviors. An example would be Nana does tasks with the kids while I multitask. I will get lunch ready, and while they eat I clean the kitchen and fold laundry. Nana on the other hand is there for the sole purpose of seeing her little grandbabies and makes sure their trays full of food. This means Nana has time to take their cup when they put it off to the side, or play games with them while they eat, or comfort them if they throw their food. All the above things that Nana responds to, I usually ignore. My usual results are the cups staying on the tray, food usually staying on the tray and quick meals. They realize if they drop the cups, mom is not going to repeatedly give them back, if they are bored and throw food, mom is removing the food from the tray.

Another example...If we are playing in the living room and someone steals a toy and they fight over it, I will get them another toy, play with them and the toy for a while, and move on to another child. Now Nana will consistently put her arms out to cuddle the child- who under normal circumstances would go play with another toy instead- and now that child gets the idea of distress equals attention. So the boys are going about showing the distress in tempers, instead of the being the easy going children they generally are and getting positive attention.

I am blessed to have my mom be such an important part of my kids lives, many people don't have that type of relationship with their parents, or the distance makes it impossible to see each other that often. But the kids are getting mixed signals of how to act in their daily situations. I feel I am trying to teach them a positive reaction to when they have confusion or anger. Nana is trying to comfort them at a grandparents level, which normally would be great. She is a great Nana and the kids get so excited to see her. But being she is a weekly fixture in their lives, I feel they must start getting consistency with reactions to their actions.

THIS is where having 3 babies at once gets difficult. Instead of having a child who gets doted on and bad behaviors ignored, I feel like I have to do what is the most efficient way for the future in terms of not having to teach them things 2 or 3 times because I didn't want to deal with a behavior or felt I have the luxury of waiting for that "stage" to pass. No way. One kid throws a cup or spits out milk, you can bet that the other 2 will be watching and trying it out for themselves. Same goes with hitting, biting and tempers. How do I know the correct reactions to the situations that arise? How do I know that I am not parenting them wrong by doing "efficient parenting". Should I let my kids be the kids who throw their cups and spit out drinks while throwing their meal on the floor? If I lovingly said, "look how far your cup went this time, dear" does it make me a better parent for having the patience to clean it all up later, again and again for the next year? Should I let them cry every time they want, throw a fit when they deem it to be so and just hold my arms out to comfort them? I feel it would just get out of control. After Nana is here for the day, this is what my nights are like. Crying baby after crying baby. I am not joking when I say they rotate who cries next. So instead of being able to play with them, I am trying to subdue the current temper tantrum. Sigh.

The responsibility of this guessing game is so hard at times. In my heart I feel one way. But when I write it out, it seems so cold and detached. But I know it is not at all cold. I have 3 little guys who are such good boys... lovey cuddley, they have the sweetest little giggles you have ever heard. These boys have the security of family who loves them beyond words. I think we will just have to follow our hearts and pray that we will do the right things for them.


JenMom said...

Oh, hang in there!!! I know what you mean...and truly consistency is the key. Can you help your Mom see that? I think your post was a lovely and loving way to explain that she is not doing anything wrong, just DIFFERENTLY than you do and that is confusing your boys (or giving them a loophole).

Michele S said...

This is getting to a tough age for you (and me). 18 months is a defining point in their development. It is tough when you have different caregivers, as we all do things differently. And I totally get being busy and not stopping to address the behavior. We all do that, I think. There's only one of us and soooo many of them.

I wish I had answers for you, but I'm going down the same road now. I have Greg, his mother, and Kindra, my mother's helper, so that four different people! I have noticed as they get older, that they know what to expect from each of us. We are all consistent in our own ways.

Jen3 @ Amazing Trips said...

Hasn't anyone told you that the "terrible twos" really start at one? That was a shocker for me!!

You're doing a great job ... just keep loving them.