You’re Gonna Give The Kid A Complex

February 20, 2009 6:00 am

Graham goes to school two days a week, mostly to give him a break from us and vice versa. Those six glorious hours are much needed around here. Elliot and I spend them bonding without the threat of a beat down since her brother is off site.

We recently started time outs with Graham. We waited until now to do so since we didn’t think it was fair to punish a kid who was acting out because of his ear infections or insomnia. Instead, we tried to distract, remove and replace but it just wasn’t working anymore. When Graham started sleeping again and received a clean bill of health, we began the process of hard core discipline. We’re following the book 1-2-3 Magic for our action plan. The book basically warns parents that half of the kids out there will fall in line and the other half will step it up a notch in the defiance department. Guess which category my little angel falls into? Since starting the book, Graham has been pushing our buttons left and right. This morning, he waited quietly until he got my attention and then said “Mama, no touch” and proceeded to smash on the off-limits stereo receiver. I calmly followed the discipline practice and he soon scored himself a time out. He happily served his punishment in his room while I stewed over his lack of caring.

Since Graham is only two, his school is less like “school” and more like daycare. We’ve recently taken to calling it playcare since we’ve noticed a new trend. As the year has progressed, his teachers have shortened the lesson time and extended the playground time. I’m pretty sure Graham is solely responsible for the change in schedule since keeping him cooped up indoors isn’t an easy feat. Twice in the past month, his teacher has told me that he’s been “challenging”, which I know is teacher talk for “your kid is a little asshole”. I get it, he is challenging, he will examine any situation he’s in and immediatlely search for a breach in security. This could be anything from finding an open door to escape to knocking over the trash can or eating a handful of mulch. He wears me out on most days but deep down, I know it’s just his personality and it’s up to me to challenge him in return. You’ve gotta love a kid with spunk.

Over the past several weeks, the teachers have stopped bringing the kids inside for circle time at the end of the day. Instead, they have us grab their stuff and then pick them up directly from the playground. It’s easier out there since they can just let the kids be and stand by and keep watch. The past four or five times I’ve gotten there to pick up Graham, he’s been running around the playground with a helmet. Not a cool Spiderman Helmet, one of those dorky Styrofoam helmets. The kicker is that he’s the only kid out there wearing one.

I laughed it off at first but then I started wondering why they were suiting my kid up and not doing so to any of the other kids. Was he that much of a daredevil that they had to keep his head protected at all times? Perhaps. Today when I picked him up, I nonchalantely asked his teacher why he had a helmet on. She said it was because he liked to ride the tricycles and they didn’t want him getting hurt. I get that but he’s never been anywhere near the tricycles when I’ve picked him up. Maybe they’ve discovered some secret to keeping my Tasmanian Toddler safe. Maybe they like getting the last laugh at how ridiculous he looks as the only helmet-clad kid running alongside the “normal” kids. All I know is that I’m considering investing in a pair of helmets for my kids to wear at home. Hell, maybe I’ll get myself one too until we get this discipline thing down pat.

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  1. WickedStepMom

    Maybe he puts the helmet on before he goes out so he can ride the tricycles and then doesn’t bother to take it off? Just a thought.

    I hope that the new discipline route works. It will probably be an uphill challenge. He may even try to get out of trouble with a “my ear hurts” statement. Good luck and buckle your seat belt! You are in for a wild ride!

    WickedStepMoms last blog post..Laughter is the Best Medicine

  2. Cat

    I take it the “duct tape” approach didn’t work. Or maybe that’s why nobody’s been knocking down my door to give me children. Huh. Well, best of luck to you! My ex’s nephew was challenging like this – turns out he’s just too smart for all of us πŸ™‚

    Happy Weekend!


  3. Michele

    I’m going to echo Wickedstepmom on this one.

    I found that timeouts only worked when they weren’t in their bedroom for a couple of reasons. 1. too much stuff to play with in their room. and, 2. I didn’t want their rooms to be the bad place. A nice little chair facing the wall and totally ignoring them was pretty powerful. But, all kids are different and you need to do what works for you and Graham. Good luck!

    Micheles last blog post..Speedy Chicken Cacciatore

  4. Ryan

    We have been enjoying this fun with our almost 4 year old for the better part of a year now. I don’t have the ultimate answer, but I have found that making him stand up in the room where everyone else is and facing the wall works great for timeouts. It adds just that little touch of embarrassment to the timeout. When we sent him out of the room he just made it into a camping trip or something. I’ll be darned if my timeouts turn into fun! ;o)

    Ryans last blog post..Ryanomics

  5. Sprite's Keeper

    I’ve heard of that book. I may need to get it myself, just from what I’m hearing, both the goods and the bads.
    I know how he does it though. He weakens you with his cuteness then goes in for the kill!

    Sprite’s Keepers last blog post..Please Step Away From The Sale

  6. cyndi

    OH, GL! I have a couple of books like “how to raise your strong-willed child” and other such titles, if you’re interested. We’ve always done a modified 1-2-3 with some luck. I’ve noticed a major change in response to discipline in the last few months (preschool for the past 6), and I know you’re young enough to survive a couple more years, right?!? He couldn’t have a better mom than you because you know he’ll turn out just great in the end because of the stuff that’s driving you to exhaustion now. The playcare stuff sounds iffy to me…

    cyndis last blog post..The more you laugh The more you fill with glee

  7. bex

    i have a “graham” too. i heard that the more mischievous a child is, the higher his iq is. i cling to that.

  8. Michelle

    I have a very different philosophy of discipline. We use “time out”s as well, but they’re not punitive. We’ve had a lot of success with our strong-willed child that way. If you ever want to try something else, I can send you a link.
    On the one hand, this stage is really frustrating, on the other, it’s completely normal. He’s supposed to test boundaries right now, it’s a developmental milestone (and one that’s distinctly less cute than “smiling for the first time” or “taking his first steps” that’s for sure). Whatever you choose, as long as you’re consistent, he’ll figure it out.
    Good luck!

    Michelles last blog post..Death Threats and Zoomorphism: The Case of Nadya Suleman

  9. Sammanthia

    I wonder if this book will work with Gage. He’s twelve. He’s been *ahem* challenging lately and I need someone to tell me what to do because staring him down and telling him “You talk to me like that again and I’m giving you to charity” isn’t working anymore.

    Sammanthias last blog post..Spin Cycle: Go Big Or Go Home

  10. HeatherPride

    He IS a curly dimpled lunatic, isn’t he!! heehee Logan was a little jerk when he was 2 too. His teachers were pretty good about it, but since I knew what he was like at home, I had a pretty good guess as to how horrible he was at daycare. But he does really well at school now. The teachers often tell me that he cracks them up. So it gets better.

    HeatherPrides last blog post..Photo Essay: Love and Laughter

  11. Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)

    I’m with Wicked StepMom on the reason for the helmet… πŸ™‚

    One of my girlfriend’s sons was just like that at that age…now he’s 6 and while he still tests the boundaries, doesn’t do it as often…and he’s a REALLY smart kid, too! πŸ™‚

    Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)s last blog post..Say it FORWARD – Week 5

  12. K

    My son is going to daycare next year – 6 hours- I don’t even know what to do.

    I’ve had really good luck with “The No Cry Discipline Solutions” book – might be worth a look.

    Ks last blog post..Mean Moms Suck

  13. Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)

    BTW…you were kinda sorta mentioned on my blog today… πŸ˜‰

    Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)s last blog post..Say it FORWARD – Week 5

  14. jen

    please keep the answers and advice comin’ … i think my littlest is moving in that direction.
    wish me luck.
    send wine.

    jens last blog post..peeky-boo.

  15. Becky

    Maybe we should try that book. We are sort of flirting with the idea of time out. I kind of don’t get the theory of it, because we never HAD to do it with our older one. That child was, like, docile. But Hank requires actual parenting.

    And the image of him in a styrofoam helmet is funny–I’m betting he doesn’t mind!

    Beckys last blog post..My Co-Room Mom is Discouraged

  16. Sarah

    That is hilarious!! I went and saw that guy that wrote 123 Magic with a friend a couple of years ago. He was pretty interesting and made it sound way more easy than it actually was since all 4 of mine fall in the “spirited” catagory! : )

    Sarahs last blog post..Give Me the Beach Boys and Free My Soul I Wanna Get Lost In Your Rock and Roll….Come Sing It With Me I Know You Want To..

  17. Peggy

    I wanna hang with Graham! He sounds like an absolute riot!

    Sorry he’s giving you trouble…it’s a stage that will pass. He does sound very smart so he’s, ya know, got that goin’ for him! πŸ™‚

    Peggys last blog post..My Beautiful Boy Turns It Up to Eleven

  18. FoN

    I would get the ‘challenging’ comment about Jake all the time. I prefer ‘spirited’. Yeah….all right he’s just a trouble maker.

    Jess was nuts too but as it turns out all the qualities that made her a major pain in the ass in elementary school suddenly morphed into ‘expressive!’ and ‘enthusiastic’! and ‘great participator!’ when she got to high school. So……in twelve years the teachers will figure out Graham is brilliant.

    Funny about helmet.

    FoNs last blog post..An Assignment!

  19. mrsbear

    Aw, I love the tough guy photo. So how soon after his beefed up defiance stage is he supposed to fall in to line? Then maybe you can waive the school helmets. Graham would totally kick Max’s ass. lol. πŸ™‚

    mrsbears last blog post..The Best Medicine – Spin Cycle

  20. Kia (Good Enough Mama)

    “Teacher talk for ‘your kid is a little asshole.'” LOVES IT!!! Ha!

    Helmits, huh? Wow. I think you need to teach him to say, “Bitch, I’m not wearing that fecking helmit. Back away. Back away now.”

    Kia (Good Enough Mama)s last blog post..Ladybirds Do Apparently Have Penis’. Who knew?

  21. Keely

    That pic is ALL attitude.

    I’m totally going to ride on your coattails for like, the next year. Because X is heading down the, um, “challenging” path, too. Sigh.

    Keelys last blog post..Although I’m dying to know what the REAL story is

  22. Heather

    Well, as soon as this phase is over and you “think” you’ve mastered it….something else will come up.
    But, oh those cheeks…

    Heathers last blog post..Ohhhh…Her Aching Head

  23. blissfully caffeinated

    Aw, how can you get mad at a face that cute? But I feel your pain. I have one like that, too. Always pushing farther and farther. It’s exhausting.

    blissfully caffeinateds last blog post..And also? Faye Dunaway scares me.

  24. Captain Dumbass

    My monkey gave me a black eye last night. Get the helmet.

    Captain Dumbasss last blog post..Throwing In The Towel

  25. Lydia @ On The Verge

    Sorry you are having trouble. 2’s suck but 3 &4 is even worse at my house. I have a 2 right now and she is a pistol. She will do anything just to defy me. I stop her right in her tracks when it doesn’t bother me. Then she finally backs down a little.

    Lydia @ On The Verges last blog post..Follow Me Friday – Week 2

  26. Robin

    Oh yay! The infamous Casey stopped by my blog to say hello! So excited! Doing a happy dance!
    PS- Great picture! Must be hard to resist that face! πŸ™‚

    Robins last blog post..The Handmade’s Tale: Lilac Pop Photography

  27. anymommy

    Aw, I bet he looks cute in a helmet πŸ˜‰ You have a great perspective on his age and his behavior, I sometimes loose sight of those facts. I’ll sit at toddler school longing for my kids to be the ones sitting in the book corner quietly turning pages.

    anymommys last blog post..Golden Child

  28. Jessica

    it’s a life long search. I was 16 once and my folks were still not sure what to do with me.

  29. Jonnny's Mommy

    Wow. Putting a helmet on the kid? That seems a little much doesn’t it? But then again…if it keeps him from getting hurt.

    I have this great feeling that we are going to be treated to some really funny posts based around this little spunky Graham. I thought Jonthan was “bad” but…he’s got nothing on Graham. Not yet anyhow. I’ll be eating my words when he is 3 I’m sure.

    Jonnny’s Mommys last blog post..Cowboy Take Me Away

  30. Julie@Cool Mom Guide

    I can always count on you to make me burst out laughing. Seriously.

    Julie@Cool Mom Guides last blog post..Once Upon A Time (My Oscar Flashback)

  31. Katie

    Ok, that’s really funny! πŸ™‚ I love how you put it, he’s running alongside of the “normal” kids, lol. I say you provide him with an awesome helmet with flame decal so he can rock that bad boy at school.

    Katies last blog post..The best part about growing up is the access to NyQuil

  32. jenni

    if he has to wear a helmet, you should get him a cool one.

    jennis last blog post..My Knights

  33. jenni

    also, he looks just like you, but with curly hair.

    jennis last blog post..My Knights

  34. Laufa

    He might think he is the luckiest kid on playground, because he has one, which possibly could make him a little more dangerous – unless they have told him he has to be very safe with it.

    Laufas last blog post..HASAY Flop

  35. Jenni Jiggety

    Yep…I think you need a helmet!

    Jenni Jiggetys last blog post..300th Post Linky Love Celebration

  36. Linda

    We love 1-2-3 Magic and having been using it since my oldest was 2.

    Hmmmm….the helmet thing seems strange. our school has them too, but wasn’t aware that any of them had to wear helmet.

    Lindas last blog post..10 tips for a dinner/lunch out

  37. Toni

    Good luck!!! And with that face how can you not let him get away with everything!?!?!?

    Tonis last blog post..Wordless Wednesday – Hunter help you

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