Monday, November 23, 2009

Yep. My kid has become "THAT" kid!

You know how you go to playgrounds sometimes, and there's always a kid who's just starting trouble left and right? Pushing the other kids in line at the slide. Throwing that stupid beauty bark they have at all the playgrounds at other kids when he thinks nobody's looking. Sticking his tongue out at all the girls. Whispering "You poopy-head!" at the kid in front of him at the monkey bars. Just generally causing mayhem wherever he goes, while his frazzled Mom is constantly putting him in time-out, redirecting, having him apologize to the kids around him every few minutes...You know that kid? And you know that satisfying, sort of self-righteous feeling you get, as you think to yourself, "I'm so glad that's not MY kid. I'm a much better mother than that kid's Mom for sure!" Well, if you find yourself thinking that, you might want to tell yourself to zip it, 'cuz it can still happen to you! How do I know this? Because I'm living it. Oh, yes. Living. It. SIGH.

What happened to my sweet little youngest boy? The boy who lavished all of his family members with hugs and kisses whenever he could? The boy who could hardly stand it when his big brother got hurt, so he'd come over and pat him and pet his head and try to make him laugh? The boy who shared all his toys? He morphed into something...different. He still gives hugs and kisses, but he's just as likely to yell "NO!!!" or "I don't like you!" or "You stinky poo!" (Where that one came from, I'll never know!) and run in the opposite direction. He'll offer comfort to his big brother if he's hurt, but two minutes later, he'll start poking him in the neck. As for sharing toys...Are you kidding me? Not. Gonna. Happen. (Although, I will say that he's the first one to share his treats. Candy, cookies, ice cream, chips...he's really generous that way. Gotta give him some props on that one.)

Then, there's his daycare/preschool situation... I hate picking him up. Truly. Loathe it.

Here's what it sounded like last year when I would pick him up after work:

Me: "How did things go today?"
Teacher (with big smile on her face): "Oh, Foster was so cute today. Wait until you see the art project he did. He even drew a picture for one of his friends. And he did a great job at clean-up time. He was a joy to have in class today."

Here's what it sounds like when I pick him up now:

Me (cringing in readiness of what's to come): "How did things go today?"
Teacher: "Well, Foster had another (pause) challenging day today." (Heavy sigh and shake of the head.) "He poked Suzie in the nose with a flashhlight, and he wouldn't follow directions at the lunch table." (Another heavy sigh.) "Then, he pushed in front of another kid in line, and he wouldn't share the tire swing out at recess. Oh, and he called Steven a "Doo doo head."

Me (pathetically): "Did he do anything well today?"
Teacher: "Hmmmm.....Let me think......Um....Well.....He did paint a nice picture when we made him go over to the art center to be away from the other kids....Hmmmm....Oh, and he was good at story time, too. Well, except when he pushed Thomas out of the way and took his spot. Tsk, tsk."

And, here's the thing... It's not like my hubby and I are ignoring the problem and not doing our absolute best to provide consequences for the choices he makes. Our other son sailed effortlessly through his daycare/preschool days and his teacher thinks he's great, and he had the exact same parents. We're consistent. We give him time-outs and redirection and we practice role playing and problem-solving to teach him how to make different choices. We give him positive reinforcement when he's making good choices -- Sticker charts to earn trips to the dollar store or McDonalds, hugs and kisses and attention for the good stuff, extra stories at bedtime...You name it, we've tried it! We've read books about parenting strong-willed children and talked to our friends and sat up late at night strategizing. We obsessively control everything he sees on TV, so he's not being exposed to anything other than PBS kids and Disney movies. So, come on! What's the deal here?

Bottom line? Nothing is as reinforcing as the reactions he gets from the kids he's bugging, or the other ones standing around watching. Nothing. No punishment. No reward. He pushes buttons, and he gets a big, fat, reaction every single time. And, that makes it fun. He even likes to be the bad guy when he's playing make-believe with his brother or his buddies. I asked him why he likes to be the bad guy instead of the good guy, and he said, "'Cuz bad guys get to do lots of fun stuff!" And, he's only four...

Somebody please, please, please tell me this is just a stage. I'm going to go pour a glass of wine...



  1. Oh man. Here's hoping it's just a stage! Cheers.

  2. About 3 months into preschool, Spencer had one of these stages. He was hitting, pushing, the whole kit and kaboodle. We were mortified and had no idea what to do. We thought about pulling him from school even. The next year we switched teachers and he was like a whole different kid. He's back to his sweet self and come to find out that other parents had complaints about the teacher and she's no longer there now. Here's hoping your phase doesn't last very long!

  3. Thanks for the support, ladies!