So, yesterday we had one of those "moments" again. This time it was because I told Lucas to stop taking his bubble gum out of his mouth and sticking it to his chin. I probably gave him a few too many warnings. I should have just said "stop" and the next time he did it, taken it away like I said I would -- what happened to my follow through? I used to have follow through....I think sometimes I get fearful on the inside that the meltdown is coming so I give 3 warnings instead of 1. Well, that won't be happening anymore....cuz the meltdown still came.
Sometimes I feel like I need to relearn how to parent.
So, in the meltdown yesterday, I did a series of things that I do feel were ultimately effective. I think I need some instruction on this process. But, here it goes. When the 'demon' child shows up. And I mean that in all seriousness....most days, he is really a wonderful little human being to have in the house...happy, helpful, kind, although I would say he does like to have control....but when the switch goes off---the look and demeanor is almost frightening. Snearing, evil craziness. This time it lasted about an hour--usually we are home alone too. That's an interesting piece.
I've gotten smart though. (or you can judge if I'm the world's worst parent)
I look at him flat in the eye and talk calmly to him. I think that drives him batty. No matter how "ugly" he tries to be in my face... I don't launch. I don't scream back. I tell him calmly "I don't like it when you...."(put your fists in my face; or say "I'm not gonna protect you when I'm a police officer"; or point at me up close and in my face; kick me; threaten to spit in my face, etc etc).
Yesterday, as he was using his hands to be mean, I held them. I told him I would continue to hold them for 3 minutes and let him watch the time on the clock. He HATES it when I hold his hands and feet. But, here is my ah ha moment...if the hands are the offending part---the part that is causing him to sin, I get to restrain him. I've done that before but, left the time open ended. That did not end well. Yesterday, he could watch the time go by. As soon as I released him he shook his fist in my face again, and so we started over again. Hmmmmm.....he's a smart kid....so what's gonna happen next?
After round 2, he walked away, with a little snear but no fists at me. YEAH!!!! He got it!!! (still need to work on the snear, but that's for another day)
But, while I was holding the man-who-wants-to-control-the-world, and I held his hands, his feet under my legs, he tried to spit--
Go ahead and judge me here, I'm a believer in soap on the tongue and I've done that ONCE to him. I saw a wad of spit about to launch, I said "soap"....he sucked it back in.
Yesterday after he almost spit but made a good choice not to, he found something else he could control....he threatened to pee ....yes pee on me on his clothes and on the couch while I was holding him. WOW!!! that was brand new. But, think about it. I've got control of everything else he thinks he can control. THAT???well, not much I could do to control that for him...other than to tell him how much laundry he'd be doing if he made that choice. Slave labor? maybe. But, seriously? He made a good choice....he did NOT pee on me. I told him that was a VERY good choice. (can I say "whew"???)
I also reread some pages from "The Connected Child" last night and learned another thing that I need to add to the scene. I need to teach him to reprogram his brain from the beginning. What could he do "next time" so that it doesn't happen again? Literally, the motor skills to "stop" before it becomes what it did.
He did have a revelation in the midst of the drama --that the whole thing started at the table with the gum. He hasn't always been able to identify that before. So next time, I think I will take whatever that scenario is and try to help him reprogram his response. "next time, when momma says do not take your gum out of your mouth....this is what you CAN do.." Cuz in the midst of the drama, he seriously blames it all on me. I...took his gum away and that made him mad. Like there was nothing on his part that caused this whole thing to happen. The cause and effect just does not connect. The only thing he "hears" is that I was mean and took his gum away. So in his little brain this whole thing was uncalled for and was my fault.
I must sound so stupid as I write this. Like "duh"!
But, let me just tell you when you are the parent in the midst of the moment with a child that comes from an unknown backround and you don't want to traumatize them further and you feel like your "normal" discipline routines are not effective, and you have a social worker showing up for a post placement visit in less than a week, and you want to just let your head explode....this is a huge revelation.
offer natural consequences
retrain the brain for the future. (maybe it's more about retraining "MY" brain)
and most of all, don't take it personally---ouch---that's tough!
sorry life here ain't perty all the time. But, really, we've come a looooonnnnngggg way in 5 months.
Yesterday, after it was all over, and both of our blood pressures were back to normal, he did come to me willingly, say he was sorry, hug me and tell me that "when he is a police officer he will protect me". So, we do resolve...
And last night the crazy day ended as it often does, with me laying next to him on his bed, reading a Clifford book, praying with him and then singing lullabyes. He cuddles up to me, wraps his sweet arms around me, sings with me for a few of them and then drifts off to sleep.
THAT is the reward!
Thank you Jesus that we have those moments MORE than we have the other ones.
Thank you for Your Grace--we both need it.
I have so much to learn as I relearn how to parent.
PS and by the way, this really had nothing to do with bubble gum....it was about obedience and defiance....I LOVE bubble gum and I'm the first to say, let's play. So don't think I'm some kind of anti bubble gum nazi. (thank you)