It’s been almost two hours and I’m still having trouble shaking this funk. I lost it on Hugo this morning, and I feel terrible.
Hugo has only been three for a few weeks and it feels like a whole new world. He is so defiant and seems hell bent on testing us every chance he gets. My usual tactics have become less potent in influencing his behavior.
When dealing with two year old Go’s bad behavior, I found it effective to do one or a combination of the following:
- Count slowly to 3 with a time out implied if we reached 3 (we never did).
- Time outs in his room for a couple of minutes (mentioning a time out usually made them unnecessary).
- Giving him choices and decision making power whenever possible, such as with activities, clothes, etc.
- Listening to him and explaining the reasons why I need him to do something.
- Creating simple consequences if he refused to do what he was asked.
There may be more, that’s all I can think of right now. But it hasn’t been working lately. Before I tell you what I did this morning, I need to preface it with a little background.
I don’t lose my temper very often. In our house, I always encourage patience and peaceful discipline. It’s so rare for me to completely lose it and yell that my son is still reenacting a scene from when he was around 18 months old when I did just that. We had gone grocery shopping alone and I was furiously trying to put all the perishable food away before Hugo could “help” and possibly ruin the food.
The last thing I needed to put away was the eggs, and just as I went to grab them, Hugo took the bag and threw them to the floor. I saw red. I yelled. Ever since that day, Hugo has pretended to make a mess with the eggs and clean them up off the floor. So I guess it made an impression.
Today, I told him we were leaving for school when his cartoon was over, as usual. I started the car, brought the coats and shoes into the living room where he could see them, as usual. I had to threaten to turn off the TV before he allowed me to put his shoes on. This is also not unusual.
But then, he told me he was taking his shoes off, and kicked one of them off. I was incredulous. I counted to three – still defiant. I said he didn’t want to start the day with a time out – no response but an angry grunt. He braced his cup against the tray on his booster seat and refused to let me take it off. He said he was staying home even if I left. I removed the tray and gently lifted him to the floor, still trying to reason with him. Then he pulled his arm out of the coat I was trying to get him into and I snapped.
I don’t remember what I yelled. Something about him not telling me no. He instantly started bawling but I did not calm down. I didn’t carry him to the car as I normally do when it’s very cold. He cried until he was breathlessly coughing and I made him climb into the car seat without help. I finally kissed him when he was strapped in and told him it was OK.
I wasn’t OK though. He tried to chat a little on the ride to school. When we parked, I told him I was sorry I yelled and he asked me why I yelled. I told him it was because he told me no when I said it was time to leave. And that he can’t tell Mommy and Daddy no. Hugo replied, “No!” And I answered, “Then Mommy’s going to get mad.”
We had a warm goodbye and I think he’s going to remember this for longer than I would wish. I’m feeling a little better but wonder how I would have handled it if I had been in a better state of mind. I needed to leave right then. What would you have done?