My Stubborn Child (aka I Miss Wine)

17 Sep

This evening after work, Child had an appointment for his Early Childhood Screening. For those unfamiliar, in the school district that I live in, it is required that your child be screened before he/she turns four. The purpose of these screenings is to observe your child’s behavior in order to try to flag any potential problems or special needs the child may have prior to starting kindergarten.

Now, I’m not trying to brag or anything, but my child is smart. I’m not claiming he’s the next Einstein or anything, but he’s verbally advanced for his age, and his comprehension abilities are beyond that of what I’ve witnessed in other children his age. Needless to say, I wasn’t worried about his screening. I knew he could point out a triangle and build a tower of blocks and do whatever else they might ask him to do. No problemo.

I did become a little concerned, however, when in the car on the way to the screening, Child boldly declared, “I won’t do anything they ask me to; I will just say,”NO!” See, I told you that Child could do whatever they may ask of him. I never said he would. Child is incredibly stubborn; if it’s not something he wants to do, he’s beyond resistant. Things need to be his idea for him to participate fully. Going to this screening? Not his idea.

Just as I feared, the screening did not go well. That’s an understatement. It was awful. Not only did Child refuse to participate, he hit me, spit me, kicked the wall, called me and the wonderfully patient ladies trying to conduct the screening “stupid” and refused to get off the floor for a considerable length of time. No amount of quiet conversation, promises of a “special treat” for cooperation or threats of timeouts helped anything. I was trying desperately to control my child, while the ladies were looking at me with sympathetic eyes and asking me things like, “Oh, so he’s like this at home, then?” to which my reply was, “No, he’s really not.” This is true, but I could tell they thought I was lying.

Child is stubborn at home, but not violent. He went through a hitting phase, and a “stupid” phase, but he hasn’t hit me like he did tonight in probably over a year, and even his use of “stupid” is few and far between now. With one exception. The only other time I can think of that he’s behaved so horribly was over the summer when we were having a play date at a friend’s house and I told him we had to go home because he wasn’t sharing. The point being, he’s not like that at home. Sure he puts up a fuss here and there, but not a full on tantrum.

Tonight, Child and I both left the screening (which I now have to reschedule) in tears. I don’t recall ever being so frustrated and so humiliated. I have a wonderful, sweet, smart, and funny little boy. Where he was tonight, I have no idea. It makes me question if I’m doing something wrong. I’m certainly no expert on discipline, but I thought I was doing the best I could. I try to employ the same discipline techniques I use as a teacher. Copious amounts of positive reinforcement. Building of intrinsic motivation. Discussion of making good choices, consequences (timeouts, toys taken away, etc. – never spanking) for making bad ones. So far, at home, it’s worked.

Clearly I need to be doing more. These two tantrums I’ve witnessed seem to stem from him being forced to do something he doesn’t want to do. Obviously this is something that’s never going to be pleasing for him, but it is something he needs to learn how to handle. It’s a scenario that’s going to keep coming up more and more frequently the older he gets. I just have no idea how to teach it. Do I purposefully create scenarios at home where this is the case? Tell him he has to play with Toy A and not Toy B until he’s learned to deal with it emotionally?

Any advice anyone has out there for me would be greatly appreciated, because this pregnant lady has never missed wine so much as she does right now. Tonight my alcohol-removed moscato just isn’t cutting it.

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