Gavin has been home less than 24 hours and has already had a massive tantrum.
I’m watching all three boys while Lizze is at a family function. This is really important to her because she needs to spend time with some of her family while she can.
Anyway, here’s what happened.
Gavin and Emmett were playing with a slinky on the steps.
While they were playing, the slinky was dropped over the side of the steps and tangled up in the cord for the Christmas tree.
Let me just say that I hate the slinky.
However, putting my personal disdain for the slinky aside, I fixed it for them once again. I simply asked how the slinky got tangled in the tree..
I explained that no one was in trouble, I just wanted to show them how to use the slinky so that doesn’t happen again. That was all I said. Part of me was simply curious as to how the heck this got so completely tangled in the tree.
Gavin began dancing around saying he couldn’t remember. I told him to calm down because no one was in trouble. He just escalated and swore that it wasn’t him.
I sent him to his room in order to get him away from his brothers.
I went up to speak with him about what had happened. He claimed that he couldn’t remember who had launched the slinky into the tree. I told him that I don’t understand how he could not remember that? After a few minutes of tripping over his words and freaking out, he admitted to being the responsible party.
He said he lied cause he didn’t want to get in trouble.
I reminded him that he wouldn’t have been in trouble and I had already told him that quite a few times.
He was however, in trouble now because he lied to me. We have to be able to trust him and lying can’t be tolerated. As a result, he lost his choice for what he could have for lunch and instead received the default meal, plain oatmeal.
The tantrum that followed was massive and has disrupted things once again.
On the positive side of things, it was rather short lived. I suppose, I could have not picked this battle but I did. I didn’t make him lie. In fact, I gave him every chance to be honest without getting into trouble.
I don’t miss this at all. 🙁
Rob Gorski Dotdash made a good point. Next time when seeing the action of bad behavior, step back and keep all your questions with the children on a positive note. Use words that warn about their safety with the tree or similar item, but also have them solve the problem with you. When they are successful (and you are too) they will feel good about themselves and encourage ways to handle situations in which they are each responsible for. My son Eddie does irrational or impulsive things without forethought. His Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapists have told me he has a toddler mindset and all parents can do is discipline in a more positive way–have the child try to realize their fault and immediately show them how to fix it. Don’t show disappointment–just simple calm reaction. Gavin cannot control his bad behavior all the time, so he tantrums because he is struggling with self-control. Does Gavin have ABA therapy service? In California, health insurance will be covering our ABA service (taking over from the state funding. I hope Ohio has some respite services for you and Lizze? Both of you deserve this service so much.
I think you are exactly right to describe this as “maybe I shouldn’t have picked that battle”. So it’s great you recognize that.
I have a child rather like Gavin in some ways. And I can see that you fell victim to one of the classic blunders – The most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is “never try to pin responsibility on a child who can’t handle it”. (Princess Bride ref in italics, in case you are wondering)
I struggle with this all the time, but I have found it so much more successful to say “Oh man, I hate it when that happens” (empathy) instead of “who did this?” (challenge) Then they don’t have to lie to you and you don’t have to punish them for lying. It is really really hard, but entirely worth learning to do.
@dotdash agreed. Although, perhaps I worded this wrong. When I asked what happened, I did it more like your suggestion. I was actually more curious how the heck they managed to tangle the slinky up so well.
I should probably fix that. Your right however, wording is very important. 🙂