… and what has he done with my baby?
Seriously, I thought we had some time to go before we saw some of the behaviour we are seeing with Ayaan these days. And by time, I mean years – not days or months.
To start with, he has become completely allergic to suggestion. The immediate answer to anything is a big, fat NO. Just the fact that we are asking him to do something must immediately put that activity into the undesirable zone. In the past few weeks, he has actually said no to some beloved stuff like going to the swimming pool, a playdate with his best pal and chocolate... just because we asked!
And then there is the rebellious behaviour. He will do stuff that he knows is absolutely off-limits. Like the other day, he showed all signs off wanting to desperately relieve his bladder. But he refused to admit that he wanted/ needed to go and refused my help when I offered to accompany him to the bathroom. Five minutes later, he went to the balcony, pulled down his pants and peed on the floor. As if it was the most normal thing in the world. And just in case you are tempted to label this as an accident, let me inform you that this child has been fully toilet-trained for over six months. And further evidence lies in the fact that he was saying ‘Sorry’ even before the maid (who saw the whole thing in action) could finish telling me about it. He KNEW it was wrong but he did it anyway!
I also thought I was light years away from either the silent treatment or the door-banging but that’s happening in full flow as well. Typical dialogues include:
“Main tumse talking nahin karoonga” (I’m not speaking with you)
“Main apne room mein ja raha hoon. Tum mat aao” (I’m going to my room. You don’t come) – this one is usually accompanied by a slamming door.
“Tum abhi office jao” (You go to office right now)
“Sut up” (Self-explanatory, I think)
I’m trying my best to counteract some of this, with mixed results. We have seen some improvement on the No-phenomenon. I have just started taking him at face value when he refuses to do something. If it is something yummy enough – like chocolates – he is sure to come back to me sooner rather than later, having changed his mind. But mean mother that I am, I don’t allow for it. I politely tell him that the offer went off the table when he said no and now, he’ll have to wait for the next time I ask him. This typically leads to a screaming meltdown but over the past few days, I have found him less eager to say the N-word in response to everything I say.
The bad behaviour is somewhat tougher to deal with and I am finding progress harder to come by. The time-outs no longer work. He no longer goes to his corner on command and has to be dragged there kicking and screaming. And he just sits there and bawls endlessly till we ask him to come out. The discipline tool that works somewhat better is giving his toys a time-out. After an episode of unforgivable behaviour, one of his favourite toys is put up on the cupboard, where he can see it but can’t reach it or play with it. This, and you might see a pattern here, usually results in a screaming meltdown but it soon passes and he is down to negotiating release dates for his incarcerated toys. I find that he is usually somewhat repentant after this punishment, unlike when he is put into a corner, shouted at or spanked. But overall, the bad behaviour still abounds and usually finds new expressions everyday. As I speak (literally – this happened ten minutes ago while I was writing this post), he took the box that holds Jai's screwdriver set and threw in five floors down off the balcony!!! (Thankfully, the husband's messiness came to the rescue and none of the screwdrivers were actually in the box and were floating around in various parts of the house, unable to do damage to the car that the empty box bounced harmlessly off).
On the silent treatment, I usually just go with the programme and stop talking to him. Like this morning, I woke him up for school and was informed that he never wants to talk to me again. So I didn’t talk to him while he drank his milk, or while I brushed his teeth, or when he sat on the pot or when I bathed and dressed him or during breakfast. Somewhere along the way, he cracked and was full of love, hugs and apologies but I strung him along for a bit and then ended the drama with a talk about how I was only doing what he wanted so next time he should be careful what he asks for…
Anyway, I am blundering my way through this, like with most other Ayaan-shaped problems that life throws at me. And hoping that this is just a phase and not an early and extended onset of the teenage years...
So, all you other parents out there, tell me something. Is this normal behaviour for an almost-four-year-old? And what are/ have been your method and disciplining strategies for dealing with such stuff?