Friday, August 8, 2008

What am I doing wrong?

Miss E is testing every last ounce of patience I have these days.

She will be four years old in October, and yet we are seeing hissy fits and temper tantrums that would make any two year old proud.

We had turned a major corner in this regard months and months ago and I credited Supernanny with saving our sanity. Alas, my trusty Supernanny techniques are failing me now and I've got no idea what to do now!

Is it her age? Is it that it's summer and she's antsy and bored with just me to entertain her?

She's set to go back to Preschool on August 18th and while one might say 'great - she's going to school, a nice break for me, and some stimulation for her', I have to admit I'm scared! I'm afraid she'll give her teacher a hard time.

Miss E shows no discrimination in terms of where she throws a tantrum and it MORTIFIES me!

Last week I had great chats with her about how to make her feelings known without stomping, whining, crying, screaming or shouting - I had thought we were making progress. We discussed consequences if she behaved poorly or didn't listen to mommy - and last week I followed through with the consequences and she had no tv for a whole day, and no swim class the following day.

This bought us a week's worth of good behaviour and once again I was sure we'd turned a corner and that this regression to tantrumhood was a temporary glitch.

Ach - SO not the case. Yesterday she was the last kid in the pool at swim class for a good 5 minutes - she was huffing because she wasn't 'first' to do whatever task they were working on. In the end the teacher had to physically drag her out of the pool, and once she set her down on the deck she took off, having me run after her like a lunatic to catch her. Of course all the other kids and their moms are watching this spectacle.

It's all I can do to stop myself screaming back at this kid these days.

I feel completely helpless and inadequate.

I rarely see kids acting up as much as Miss E does in public, rarely. And if I do, it's generally a child much younger than she. This leads me to the conclusion that it's me - I'm doing something wrong.

So, mighty internets - tell me PLEASE how to fix this!


Deborah said...

It's TOTALLY the age! Ella went through it a few months ago. I figured whoever had coined the term "terrible twos" was obviously on kid number one and hadn't been there yet. Ella grew out of it, but I did use the ticket system:

Seems to work well.

Life As I Know It said...

You aren't doing anything wrong!
This too shall pass.

What worked for me was completely removing him from the situation if he was having a meltdown. I'd put him in his room or bed and would tell him he could come back when he had a smile on his face.

I still use that line...come back when you have a smile on your face.
Good luck and hang in there!

J at said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. If there's one thing I've learned from parenting, it's that we can not take credit for their best successes, nor can we take the blame for their worst failures. Stick it out, stand firm, and alert her teachers to what's going on. Fore warned is fore armed, as they say.

Iota said...

Hm Maybe tough measures are called for. On occasion, I have had to be really mean to my children, and have felt awful, but it shows them you mean business. You have to do it definitely and fairly. Example: my second son at E's age was being 'challenging', so I discussed with him on several occasions that he would not be able to go bowling with his big brother for his big brother's birthday, unless things changed. I gave him loads of warnings. Eventually, at an appropriate moment, when I was feeling calm and he was misbehaving, I gave him a couple of last warnings, and then said "right, that's it, you can't come to the party". He didn't seem to mind too much (perhaps he's a good actor or perhaps he thought I didn't mean it), but I followed through and it helped (for a while, at least).

How about this? Find something that E really loves and use it. eg say "if you can't behave at the swimming pool, you will have to miss a week". Explain to her that she is old enough to understand, and go through exactly what you expect from here, what is acceptable and unacceptable. Then if she plays up, follow through, and when swimming day comes round the following week, tell her she's not going and remind her why.

You have to be firm with boundaries, and as consistent as you you can. She is trying to find out who is in control, and ultimately she will be a lot more secure if she can find out it is you, and she can relax.

I also agree with LAIKI - removing from the situation if you can is a good strategy.

Does that help? If it doesn't feel right for you and E, then go with your own intuitions. You know your own child, as they say.

Iota said...

BOTHER! Have just re-read the post, and realise that I didn't read it carefully enough first time round, with the result that I have burbled on about a strategy that you have already tried. SORRY.