ricevermicelli: (Default)
[personal profile] ricevermicelli
Over the past few months I have read and listened as my friends discussed their three year-olds, and felt strangely exempt from the struggles they reported. Their kids were entering into a phase of defiant separation, while Danger Lad! was contented with me. At about the stage when other people's children were embarking on the first rumblings of mutiny, my baby was too busy freaking the hell out to consider it. I thought we had escaped. It was the one sunny side of the whole high-risk pregnancy crap (besides Hotspur), but now it is over.

I still get hugs and kisses. I am still clearly the preferred parent (this is less of a delight than it sounds - that much love does not come cheap). But five times a day, he tells me I am no longer his friend. I am rude (any sentence with the word "no" in it impolite), I interrupt (especially when repeating ignored instructions), there are a dozen new rituals that I flub every day, I have left his friend the invisible kangaroo shut up in the pantry, or in one of the kitchen cupboards. I have allowed his sister to breathe in his direction, one of the cats is on his chair, and that is the wrong pair of underpants. I explain, continually, that I am his mother not his friend, and that invisible kangaroos are a clever bunch who can get themselves out of the cabinets.

At not quite four, my child (I know you're all shocked) is becoming sarcastic. I, in return, grow more extreme in my sarcasm, providing him with an example that will, in time, make his backtalk maximally enraging. This is probably how I got to be so damn socially awkward myself.

DL! would like me to believe that I can return to the complete enjoyment of his affections at any time - I just need to pony up some Batman-themed fruit snacks and put Robin Hood on infinite replay. This is patently ridiculous to me, but he appears to believe it.

Date: 2011-01-30 04:50 am (UTC)
ext_155430: (writing)
From: [identity profile] beah.livejournal.com
At least you can write entertainingly ;)

Date: 2011-01-30 04:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ukelele.livejournal.com
There's a book called "Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy?" It hypothesizes that your three-year-old will spend six months in each state, and you cannot guess which. And they can switch off at any moment.

Invisible kangaroo? Adorable.

Cats not following his whim? Good luck with that, kid.

Date: 2011-01-30 03:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roozle.livejournal.com
DL! would like me to believe that I can return to the complete enjoyment of his affections at any time - I just need to pony up some Batman-themed fruit snacks and put Robin Hood on infinite replay.

If only love were that easy. ;)

Date: 2011-01-30 03:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] woodwardiocom.livejournal.com
This is probably how I got to be so damn socially awkward myself.

You have always seemed to me to sail through social situations with immense poise, dear heart.

Date: 2011-01-30 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zathrus.livejournal.com
D's version of this phase was greatly mitigated by her innate people-pleasing nature. T's version of this phase was indistinguishable from what he's been like the rest of the time. It is thus a great relief to hear that J is a perfectly normal three-year-old. (You know, aside from the refusing-to-talk, getting-over-surgery bits.) I actually have relatively few friends with three-year-olds; I'd somehow missed or forgotten about the normalcy of this phase. Thank you.

And I cannot possibly imagine any child of yours learning sarcasm. Where, after all, would they be exposed to it? ;)

Newt

Date: 2011-01-30 04:28 pm (UTC)
blk: (david)
From: [personal profile] blk
I thought my kids were well on their way to sarcasm-mastery by the time they were in kindergarten. Imagine my shock, now, that my 9-year-old is one of the most gullible people I know, and does not seem to understand sarcasm to save his life. I honestly am dumbfounded as to how this tragedy could have happened.

Date: 2011-01-31 03:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starphire.livejournal.com
When S started talking at me that way (any kind of threat if I didn't give her what she wanted then), I went straight to a strategy that I'd figured out eventually when my older child was that age.

I would quickly make myself busy with something else, while staying close enough to be heard. Going into the next room was about right - as long as it appeared to be for my own reasons, not to put distance between us. That's assuming we were home or someplace comfortable where I could afford to wait for her to calm down on her own. But the whole point of my strategy was to appear completely unfazed by her behavior and deny her the attention she desired at that moment.

Soon it would dawn on her that her threats and demands were being ignored completely, and that would stop in just a few minutes. After another 5-10 minutes of sulking, she'd revert to a completely different attitude (and the demand was usually dropped for good), and we could be on good terms again.

It took some determination on my part, to disengage from arguing while she threw her tantrum. But I found it really helped for me to immerse myself in some fairly mindless and ordinary task, like washing some dishes or sweeping the floor. Other than a few calmly stated and honest comments about how I couldn't understand what she was yelling and that I would not discuss it further until she calmed down, I just didn't respond to her threats and let her decide that it was futile.

This happened about 3 times in the space of a month, and so far it hasn't recurred since - maybe 3 months now? The first time, it took 10-15 minutes to get back to civility. The second and third times, it was more like 5 minutes. I am hopeful that we are really done with that now - at least until she's a teenager. ;-)

Though as with any other method of negative reinforcement, how quickly it takes hold depends a lot on whether the negative behavior has been "rewarded" in the past. Once it's become a habit, tantrums could go on much longer and more repeatedly even with consistent application.

Date: 2011-01-31 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catling.livejournal.com
This is pretty much exactly how I (eventually) dealt with the stormy K phase that ended around New Year's.

It leaves out the woe I went through before figuring out how to handle her increasing opposition, and also leaves out the fact that hating her preschool was a large factor in her bad moods.

But yes. Walking away to occupy myself with some household chore turned out to be exactly the best way to handle her when she went off. The other thing that sometimes works is making fun of her in a playful way. She has a great sense of humor and if I can make her laugh before a situation escalates too far, then it can turn such a scene around, but in the cases where she is too far gone, removing myself to a close by location and becoming very busy with a Very Important Chore(tm) until she calms down does seem to work like a charm.

Date: 2011-01-31 03:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catling.livejournal.com
I'm laughing because I understand, so well, what you are going through. I am glad you manage to report it with your usual sarcastic good humor.

Our kids continue to not generally be in sync. K is currently in a much more mellow, even delightful, place and oh is it a releif, because the phase before this one had me about ready to pull my hair out to the point of baldness and I don't think I'd rock the Sinead O'Connor look so much, do you?

You're not awkward

Date: 2011-01-31 06:43 pm (UTC)
drwex: (Default)
From: [personal profile] drwex
externally, though I definitely understand how it might feel differently inside.

Pygment read me this entry out loud once she stopped laughing herself. We do sympathize, really. We just giggle a lot while sympathizing.
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