Saturday, July 19, 2008

Updates after a long time - Part I - Behavioral

When I started this blog, Vansh was the only one around and had just turned 2 years old. I had more time at hand, more attention I could pay to all milestones which were more tangible that they are now. I wrote an almost monthly update on the new activities he indulged in, the new words he used, how he tried to string those into sentences and so on and so forth. Now the story is totally different. And just as I tried to look back into my archives, I realized the last one I had done was 8 months back. Huge leaps have been taken by him in these last 8 months, I realize as I read through that post. Each of the developmental aspects - behavioral, verbal, social merits a separate post. And so I decided to do a series of posts on each of these. And I start with the juiciest of all - behavioral :)

At last I see the silver lining to the dark cloud where behavior is concerned. Reason finally seems to work with him. So even though every instruction to do or not do something is met with a why, the logical answer seems to now make sense to him. He still has his moments, quite a few of them (its still just the silver lining, remember ;) ) but as long as he makes an effort to understand what we are trying to tell him, I am happy.

Ignoring and defiance are at an all time high. So even when I have a mighty stern expression on my face when I tell him to sit straight and not crouch while having his food, his first reaction is to do what he's told but then suddenly as the realization of him having his own will and a strong one at that dawns on him, he crouches back yet again, all the time keeping an eye on what my next move is going to be. Depending on my mood, I either repeat the instruction with some explanation or just try to choose my battles and decide this one's not worth picking and ignore him. Depending on his [mood], he either sits straight or decides this is one more of those issues where he can get away by defying me.

He still loves shouting when he is happy or when he is angry but on being reminded to use his indoor voice, he does that. He went through a phase where he would start yelling at me, "You stop it" and the likes, while pointing his finger. This went on for quite some time and got me worrying. I tried to ignore it, tried telling him that its not okay to speak to your mom or for that matter to anyone like that, even lost my patience and yelled back a couple of times. We stopped talking to him for a while after such an occurrence but the behavior repeated itself at least once a day if not more. It happened when he was upset about going to brush his teeth or to take a bath while he was playing with something. I tried giving him prior notice, using a timer, that it would be time soon to do a particular task. Even then he would do the same - ignore me the first time when it was actually time to do it and when I gave him the choice of coming himself or me picking him up to the bathroom or wherever, he would get very upset and start shouting. Its not easy to take it at the end of a tiring day or for that matter at any time. So I and Ashwini talked about it and came up with the idea of taking away a privilege - the daily evening walk - if he indulged in such behavior. We explained it to him the next day and he did seem to understand and in fact had a solemn expression at the consequence he might have to face. These days I also ask him to repeat after me what I expect him to do like saying "I shall put my blocks away after playing with them" one to make sure he has understood and two to make him understand he is accountable and agrees to what I am saying. I wouldn't say its foolproof but it does help as an additional tool to shape the right kind of behavior. So I made him repeat after me that he wouldn't talk to mom nastily which he did. It took one reminder when he just started to use that tone and thankfully its not happening any more. He still does point a finger and makes an unpleasant face when he's not too happy about something but I think thats his way of letting off steam there and then.

Two sure shot triggers to meltdowns are hunger and fatigue as they have always been with him. It so happens that every few weeks, especially when I see kids his age doing such a great job at feeding themselves and I or Ashwini calling after Vansh to come and have the next morsel, lest we call a monster or some big hunk to take him away, we find ourselves flustered, I decide I have had had enough and tell him and Ashwini that he's going to eat on his own from the next meal onwards and stay hungry if he chooses to not eat.

The scene next morning when I give him his breakfast.
Day 1 : Vansh, you eat your breakfast yourself.

You feed me!

Remember how so and so was eating himself/herself. For his benefit, I rant off names of as many friends I can remember saying that they all eat themselves.

Vansh starts with an expression of part disbelief at what I am saying and part reluctance in the knowledge that I, anyways seem to have made up my mind.

After a few bites, declares that he's all done.

I remind him how he turns all grumpy when he is hungry (he does understand that) and how he might feel very hungry at summer camp and not have anything to eat then. As a result, he takes one more bite and declares that he's done.

Okay its upto you if you want hunger to bother you after some time.

At lunch time, the scene repeats itself.

For snack, he devours the apple wedges, that are otherwise administered a royal ignore as they turn from white to brown.

Dinner time is slightly better but at the end of the day he's eaten half of what he normally does if I feed him.

How long can he fight hunger, I think, when he realizes that the only option now is to feed himself. After a similar second day, after the evening walk he has a MAJOR meltdown because he wants to go to his friend's house he just met. No amount of reasoning works with him. He clings to our legs if we try to ignore him, fights to break himself free if we try to hold him. The culprit for the situation assuming gigantic proportions is hunger. We struggle for almost an hour to get his remaining dinner down his throat and finally put him to bed. And its not the first time. Cos had it been I wouldn't have given up on the second day. I have tried to wait longer before this. But then that means having to put up with the fierce tantrums more often. Even then I probably would take that path if he was the only child in the house. But when its at a time when Jiya's napping or I need to get her down for bed, I am left helpless and I decide that its better to have a well fed, even if that means by one of us, and non cranky child rather than the one we have right now.

So the next day I am back to putting the bites in his mouth at breakfast while juggling cutting the salad and the fruits, heating everyone's milk, packing Ashwini's lunch while Vansh comments to no one in particular "Vansh has turned into a small baby again. Mom feeds me. I am not a big boy" Thank God Jiya eats herself during all the morning rush!


mahesh said...

Your blog is simply awesome.........

My nephew is 2 months old....Thought of starting a blog on him....He is so cute.....YOur blog is very huge...Its like an exciting story book of a baby :)

PG said...

these children really know how to give us a hard time. :) I am impressed that you could resist feeding him. These situations have improved in our household too, as I have no controlon hios midda meal anymore, but then in the evening I still feed him, just to make sure. Although I keep hearing that he eats quite well

Monika,Ansh said...

Oh.....this so much reminds me of Ansh. With food we are still where Vnach is, even though Ansh is 4 now. I still feed him & he would not eat himself.

raj said...

Your blogs are so universal.

Neera said...

mahesh: Welcome here and thanks :) It sure is a great idea to start a blog for ur nephew and then probably his mom and dad can join in too to chronicle his everyday things. He'll sure thank you for it when he grows up.

pg: I don't mind feeding him if he eats properly sitting and eats well. But ek to khilao, upar se itna naatak karta hai kabhi kabhi that I tell him u eat urself then.

monika,ansh: Whats with our kids when it comes to food or is it something with us, I wonder!

raj: Thanks :)

noon said...

OMG Jiya eats by herself?! ALready? What does she eat in the morning on her own? Man, I need to learn this trick - to get them to eat on their own. She eats finger foods on her own - but to actually finish a meal - I think I need to get a proper high chair first and not a booster seat...
Cute - how Vansh remarked that he has now become a small boy...
I have never tried "taking away" privileges with KB - feel like he doesnt' understand what that means - or well, I think he will not understand...

Neera said...

noonoo: It is finger food only noonoo - bite size pieces of toast or those sooji pancakes, omlette etc. Upma etc I put little bit on her booster seat table and she picks up with her fingers and eats. But ultimately even I can't trust her to eat everything herself.
This was the first time we did it with Vansh also but seemed to work.