Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Will You Please Stop Saying No To Me?!"

This is the most common phrase coming out of my three and a half year old's mouth, as of late. It is adorable. He is so passionate about being heard and listened to, and clearly frustrated that I am not giving him what he wants, when he wants it. Hand gestures often accompany his expressive face...

From saying no to playing a game online, to saying no to a snack, my child is having trouble accepting that Mommie is keeping something from him: what he understands as something good. He has yet to grasp why I say no. Of course, that's my job as a parent: To explain the why's to him, in order to help him comprehend the bigger picture: what is beyond the actual object that is being kept from him. 

Just yesterday morning, my son asked if he could play a game on the computer. We have two programs downloaded on our computer that don't involve accessing the internet. I said yes, but that it had to be one of those games. I listed his options; he asked for games on PBS. I said that was not an option, and stayed firm. This resulted in him yelling at me, "Will you please stop saying no to me?!"
 Then, he threw himself on the ground, kicking his feet while crying into the carpet. Ah, another tantrum :) Ok, I'm not really smiling...well, I kind of am. How does a parent not find the humor in a tantrum? 

I tend to handle tantrums in two different ways, depending on the surrounding circumstances. If it's derived from his need to get some sleep, I send him to his room, and sometimes cry and whine in his manner, which elicits a good old laugh from him. He is then calmed enough to pretty much pass out by the time I've made it down the stairs. Or, I'll just make him lay his head down on a pillow with his blanket. 

If it's from his need to push boundaries, coupled with his lack of acceptance, as a way of asserting his independence, I'll pick him up and set him somewhere void of stimulation. He stays until he is over himself and willing to accept my terms. I will say, there are moments he is quite apt at negotiating terms, and depending on how well he has articulated himself and his case, I will meet him halfway. Hey, we all need to learn how to negotiate...but this is about when he just won't listen, and there is a clear reason that I am saying no. 

Now, the two main issues I have with him when it comes throwing tantrums are when he doesn't get to play with/how/when he wants (as mentioned above), and when I deprive him of food he feels necessary to his well being... 

He actually said to me the other day, "Mommie, I am going to die if I don't eat. My stomach hurts because I'm hungry..." He possessed a sad look on his face, with a slight whine to his voice as he held his stomach. He can be very theatrical. By the way, he had just eaten a full lunch of spaghetti with fruit and buttered bread an hour and a half prior to this complaint. A part of me is so proud that he understands the need of food - in moderation is where his understanding is deficient. Explaining to a three year old how digestion works, and why he has to wait to eat again, is very taxing. Not to mention explaining that just because you are aware of your tummy does not equate a tummy ache. And, not all tummy aches are derived from hunger. All I can do, is explain the best I can, and the next time he approaches with the same complaint, I reiterate...Having a child requires one to repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

It can be very frustrating to constantly repeat one's self. Again, it comes with the territory of being a parent. And, quite frankly, I appreciate my son's comfort in asking questions in an effort to further his comprehension of his place in this world. 

What I appreciate about my son asking me to stop telling him no? He is expressing his frustration with hearing the word No from Mommie, and seeking understanding in why Mommie said no. He doesn't always accept it, though he doesn't have much of a choice, and eventually does come to acceptance. Even if it's short lived. We are communicating, participating in a dialog. I hope this line of communication continues throughout his life. I know I am going to scar him, no matter how hard I try not to; but, if he knows that no matter what, Mommie won't run away or shut him down because he made his feelings known, all the better.

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