It's getting official. My sweet little boy is turning into a TERROR.
He hits. He kicks. He throws. He screams. He pulls hair.
Sometimes it's because he doesn't get what he wants (aka, wrong Gabba episode, juice in the wrong colored cup, shirt he wants to wear is dirty - you know, the real tragedies). Other times, it's just because.
To his credit, he will give me a fair warning. I.e., "I'm going to hit you today." or "I'm going to go kick Casey." And then, the simple, yet poignant, declaration of: "I'm going to be a bad boy." Yes, my boy tells it like it is.
I have tried various approaches to dealing with this, none of which have been successful:
Approach #1 - Time Outs
I've read parenting blogs and watched Supernanny, so time outs were my first plan of attack. Every time he hit or acted aggressively, I would calmly put him in his time out chair, explain to him why I was placing him in time out, leave for a few minutes, come back, ask for an apology, and then hug and make up. Simple enough? Nope! For some odd reason, Braden loved these time outs. He would get a huge smile on his face as he would sit on the chair. He liked it so much that he ended up hitting me, just so he could get a time out! How do I know this? Because the little s#@! would say, "Mommy, I'm going to hit you and then I can go in time out." APPROACH #1 FAIL.
Approach #2 - Yell Really Loud
I've never been a huge yeller with my kids. I'm from that school of thought that it will harm their wee little minds and spirits and make them untrusting, miserable adults. But I figure that it is okay to yell on occasion, when you save it for the really important things - the things that you really need to drive home. And wouldn't domestic violence be one of those things? So I tried it for a week or so - when Braden hit me, I would kneel down, get in his face, and very firmly, and loudly, yell: "No hitting!" At first this seemed to do the trick, and Braden would start crying and want a hug and apologize. But with having to yell every 20 minutes or so, after a few days the novelty wore off and the yelling wasn't so scary. It was just how mommy was talking. And then I just became that mom that was yelling all the time, with nothing to show for it. APPROACH #2 FAIL.
Approach #3 - Ignore
He's doing this for attention, right? If I don't reward his behavior with attention, even negative attention, then surely he will stop. Surely! Um, no. Instead, I spent three days sitting around the house getting beat up, kicked, and manhandled whilst I sat there with a pleasant, neutral expression on my face, gritting my teeth, and cursing my son out in my head. APPROACH #3 FAIL.
Approach #4 - Hit Back
No, you do not need to call child services on me. I didn't hit hard. I gently pat - but with enough force to get his attention and let him know that no, you can't hit people, or they will gently pat you back and maybe you won't like it. (And I have to admit, after enduring Approach #3, this Approach was a bit satisfying). Guess what - this actually worked - Braden stopped hitting me! But sadly, he just transferred his aggression to someone who wouldn't hit back - Casey. So if I told Braden - "No, you can't have a cookie until you finish your dinner" he would promptly run over to Casey and smack him on the head. And then I had to revert to Approaches 1 and 2. So, APPROACH #4 FAIL.
And today? Today I have no approach. I'm just spent. We had been having a good day, and then after an errand Braden decided he didn't want to get in his car seat. After some pleading and bribing and threatening, I had to resort to physically putting him in, which he did not like. He proceeded to knock my glasses off of my face, smack my forehead, and pull my hair in all kinds of directions. Some security guard at CVS was watching in horror, and I just kind of waved and smiled through a flailing mess of fists and hair and flying spectacles. "Nothing to worry about here, Sir. All perfectly normal!"
Today, I give up. He wins. I am approach-less.
The other day, as I was leaving a playdate, Braden pulled his antics. Because he didn't want to leave and he wanted to play and oh, you're making me leave, then I will throw my shoes at you and smack your head! As my glasses went flying once again, the other mother jokingly and sympathetically said to me: "Don't these days make you wish you were working and you just had a nanny to deal with them?"
In a word? Yes.
(And by the way, I'm open to any suggestions, as I clearly am not doing something right. But please don't leave me a comment telling me of your darling angel child, who come on, is probably a girl, who has never done such a thing because right now I just don't want to hear it.)