Of late there has been some testy business going on around here that I ain’t all that fond off. It’s been making my job as a parent a whole lot less comfortable.
Little Vick has become a “no” loving, brother thumping, defiant, unruly, rough head four year old that generally wants to make my day complicated and exhausting from sun up to sun down. It happens. Four year olds can be known to be fairly disgusting, especially the male species. I’m sure many of you already know this.
Much stress it has caused here in the house of Vick. Most days I want to tear my hair out in a furious rage and/or fall onto the ground and belt out some serious ugly crying. I have not felt so tested in all my parenting times. Pregnancy does not help here. In fact, I’d say I’m fairly aggro and easily infuriated right now which does not help the cause, friends. No siree.
My entire day circulates around policing conflict between my two Vicklets. They’re both strong willed, physical individuals that continually collide. So often I will leave a room they’re in and I will instantly hear the cries of Baby Vick who I find scattered all over the floor, in hysterics with a red welt on his head and one older brother, aka Little Vick looking quietly guilty but insisting he did “nuffin”. Other times he doesn’t try to hide it and he’ll unleash his aggression and frustration at his brother in front of me through the form of growling, pushing, hitting, pinching, slapping… all the ugly behavior. All the ugly behavior that he never used to do but now there are just so many wars. The whole concept of playing together and taking turns of things is completely despicable to Little Vick. It’s an exhausting thing to parent. I have spurts of patience where I guide him through it reasonably but generally I have been at my wits end. His behavior can feel exhausting and relentless.
I knew there were issues swirling at home but when I realised the aggressive tendencies were leaking out into public interactions it was clear it needed to be addressed immediately. When you turn up to take your son home after a play date and you’re informed that there was “an incident’ which ultimately was due to your child biting or pulling hair or pushing someone elses child, or you start to get texts saying my child is upset by your child’s behavior, there is a real problem. On these occasions I feel completely mortified. Worrying about it has been terribly consuming for me because I’m a parent who really cares. I have prided myself in nurturing gentle behavior, compassion and consideration in my children and to Little Vick’s credit he has adopted these qualities (he isn’t all evil) but seemingly there is something else that has crept in and overpowered my nice little guy *crowd lets out a big booooooo*.
Realistically bullies are not born, they’re raised. The whole ‘I must be a terrible parent talk’ has been terribly nagging but I’ve had to put my adult-ness on and put it aside to actually nut out what internal things that might be the cause and to figure out a strategy to overcome it and nurture my little guy through this. It’s not easy to be this honest with yourself but these are some possible contributing factors I’ve summed up:
1. Testosterone. It’s commonly known boys around the age of four get a surge of testosterone into their system and some literally turn bonkers. They know not what to do with themselves except turn hypo crazed and/or thump someone. This is thought to be a stage. I live in hope.
2. The up rise of the little brother. Baby Vick is s very demanding individual. “No” is never a barrier for him. He is fearless and curious and capable so he requires an Everest amount of parenting focus and attention. Attention once spent on his older brother. Although Little Vick is not really the jealous type, he certainly must feel the downgrade in time and attention spent on him. It’s even created an unbalance in power perhaps? Also, Baby Vick need not be four to be a rough, unruly type. At the age of one he is so casually comfortable with pulling hair and biting which often his older brother falls victim to. To date we have found it hard to know how to discipline a one year old for this behavior and I fear that the firm talks we give to Baby Vick (and witnessed by Little Vick) have not been sufficient in promoting a no tolerance environment in our home. If his brother gets away with it, he should too right?
3. Misguided affection. I know that sounds like a far cry but I watched Little Vick interacting with some older boys over the weekend and he LOVED the berserk energy of those guys. The running, pushing, tagging, shoving, knocking energy of them all. He bought right into it of course and fitted in despite being a good 2-3 years younger. Seemingly (and this is new to me being of the female variety), if you like someone you wrestle, push and generally act like an aggressive caveman which works well UNLESS your buddy know not how to speak caveman.
4. This one hurts me a bit to say but perhaps this behavior is a cry for attention. With a Dad who is working ridiculous hours away from home he is getting less one on one Dad time and being stuck with a yelly, impatient preggie of a mum. It must be no fun. I’ve been saying ‘no’ more often because I just can’t deal. I have had less negotiating ability and just less of me to give in general. It’s difficult to teach emotion regulation to your child when you’re having trouble regulating your own outbursts. Little Vick is sensitive enough to change brewing but with a mumma who has already dramatically changed it must be difficult to understand. Likewise there is a lot of rushing about in our family at the moment. Mr Vick and I are juggling work commitments and handing the parenting baton back and forward and only just managing to keep all the balls up in the air. Again, less time for kiddy activities, interaction and attention. Being time poor and fatigued affects kids more than we can imagine. I think we need to seriously look at our lifestyle and the effect it is having our little people.
5. All of the above. I am smart enough to know there is probably no one contributing factor playing out here but perhaps more a combination of a number of things which are all compacting at the same time.
I can tell you this article really has encouraged me. I read it earlier in the week and it has given me some perspective and direction because hooley dooley, I have been dry on the suggestion front. I have done time outs, I have done sticker charts, I have tried taking toys away, I have tried patiently guiding him through frustrating scenarios, I have tried to ignore stuff and there has been improvement at times but still it continues. This article speaks a lot about unbalanced power, discipline vs punishment and encouraging the good rather than focusing on the naughty. Very handy for those of you who find yourself dealing with a shiteful little caveman like me.
I’d really love to hear from you my readers however about what you find effective. You are the experts of course. Lend a girlfriend a hand will ya? How do you treat aggressive tendencies in your children?