It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase.
This was my mantra last week. Along with thank god he isn’t biting. You gotta look for the silver lining, right? Well that’s mine.
I actually wanted to write this post last week in the midst of the madness but I was so busy running interference with a little hair pulling demon that I didn’t get the chance. And I’m glad about that now as last week all I had was strategies and this week, I have results.
Prior to last week we had infrequent occurrences of hair pulling but they were slowly becoming more rampant. Often times the hair pulling was without provocation at all which made it very difficult to understand. He’d just rock on up to some poor unsuspecting person, sometimes from behind, and have a good yank. And not just a yank and walk away but a yank and pull the head down to the ground yank. It was mortifying.
Monkey was also giving it a red hot go at daycare as well as with me so it wasn’t just about me. We were working with daycare to adopt a consistent approach which was this:
1. Say sorry to the poor unsuspecting victim
2. Do a time out (we just put him in a spot away from everyone no matter where we were).
3. Have a chat about it when we were all calm after time out.
Until last week I’d managed to stay relatively calm about it but that was short lived when it started spiraling out of control. Here’s what the week looked like:
Monday – At playgroup Monkey pulled the hair of 4 different kids and some of those kids more than once. Thankfully most of those parents could see I was trying and were understanding. One shot me a filthy and scooped her kid up before I could do the whole sorry/time out routine which I felt terrible about but hey, you can’t please everyone. I was mortified about the number of incidences though and starting to worry about what I could do. Clearly the current approach wasn’t working.
Tuesday – Monkey went to play at a friend’s place for an hour as I had an appointment. It is one of his most favourite people so he barely blinked when I left and there were no incidences while I was gone (yay). When I returned we stayed around for a bit but when I said it was time to go things just got out of control. This was also the day that he woke at 4:15am and wouldn’t resettle so he was tired as anything.
The friend only lives a couple of doors down so I had walked over to pick him up. This meant I had to carry him home kicking and screaming and repeatedly pulling my hair. It was hideous. I completely dropped my bundle. There was yelling and smacking which I’m not proud of. The smacks were only small but I didn’t want to be doing this. I feel strongly that it’s not right.
In the afternoon things kept going nuts (ie my kid went mental). There was so much more yelling and time out. The whole day was a complete write off.
Wednesday – Wednesday is daycare day. We continued to have a battle of wills from wake up time. I continued to yell and we did 3 time outs before even getting to daycare that morning.
I felt strongly that the yelling approach just wasn’t working. I chatted with X-man about it (Monkey’s dad) and he said he would support whatever I felt was the right approach. He doesn’t smack but said that if I felt it was right then I could do it with his support.
I decided that I didn’t want to smack. I felt the anger and aggression was feeding the issue and only making it worse. I also felt that the time outs weren’t really working either. It seemed to me that he wasn’t learning anything from them. It was all about punishment, not learning from mistakes.
I decided to take a positive parenting approach. I got my shit together and decided no more yelling or reacting to bad behaviour. I wanted to teach the right way to touch hair and also find a punishment that wasn’t harsh but felt like a consequence. X-man and I decided that we were going to give one warning after an incident and then to leave if it happened again.
When I picked Monkey up from daycare that day I was very sad as he had had a really bad day and pulled hair all over the joint. I really felt that this was a direct result of the shoddy parenting I was doing (ie yelling).
Thursday – Another daycare day. Before leaving we talked about the nice ways to touch hair. We stroked each other’s hair and said “Gentle”. I asked daycare to do this with him as a reminder if he got in trouble that day.
When I picked Monkey up today they said he was a lot better. There were still some incidences but it was nowhere near as bad. Parenting with love helps.
Friday – Today we had mother’s group in the park. Monkey pulled the hat off a friend’s head and he got in trouble and was told if he did it again we would leave. Now here’s the weird thing. He went on to pull someone else’s hair. I didn’t see it but he came and told me about it. It was like he was testing me to see if I would follow through with this new rule.
So I did. We left. All the way home in the car he said “S hair, hurting” so he knew full well what he had done. I felt so terrible as he pulled so hard that the poor kid cried his eyes out. It was awful.
By this stage I was terrified about our 3 birthday parties over the weekend. I envisaged having to leave each one early as Monkey couldn’t keep his hands to himself. We did lots of work for the rest of the day in talking about not pulling hair or pulling off hats and just keeping our hands to ourselves.
Weekend – Monkey completely astounded me this weekend.
When we arrived at our first party on Saturday I reminded him about being a good boy and he said “No hair, no hat” and shook his head. We had a slight incident as part of a barmy over a truck but that was it. I wasn’t stoked but I didn’t mind it as much. At least I could see there was a reason. After the incident I grabbed him with a hand on each shoulder and explained that we would go home if he did it again. There was not one more incident that day. I was so proud of him I gave him a small present when we got home. He seemed to get it.
On Sunday we went to two parties. We did the same routine before each one: the good boy reminder to which he replied “No hair, no hat” and shook his head. He was a perfect little angel each time. I couldn’t believe it. Going home from the park on Friday seemed to work!!!
Each day after a good performance I make sure I praise him a lot.
Since then we have been back to playgroup on Monday where he didn’t pull hair once. We had a playdate that afternoon and no hair pulling; another playgroup on Tuesday and no hair pulling; and daycare Wednesday and Thursday and no hair pulling. There has bee no more yelling and there is always encouragement before we go somewhere and praise when we return.
I have also made a concerted effort to make sure I am paying full attention to him when he is in my company (so no checking wordpress notifications, email, or facebook).
Things could change any moment, that’s just parenting, but these strategies have worked really well for me so far and I wanted to share them with you in case they work for you to.
Parenting with love works. It works. And I am going to keep trying my hardest to use it to get through to my kid and not explode. I’m not perfect. I will fail. But I am going to try every day to parent that way as I truly believe it has brought me more results than any other method. Good luck!