I won't lie.
Henry has been driving me crazy lately.
He is the prototypical 2.5 year old:
Every question answered with a firm "no" even if it doesn't make sense in the situation. Every rule broken. Every boundary pushed. Every sister hit numerous times a day. Every carton of almond milk must be on the counter at all times, the fridge needs to remain opened and naptime is only acceptable if he has at least 4 cups of water next to his bed.
So what do I do? What is my reaction to these behaviors?
Quite often, I choose to ignore the undesirable behavior. Ideally, I guide him to a new activity and he forgets his defiance for the moment. This works more often than not, especially when we are out and about. As a teacher, I was a fan of the "if you...then you" statements and it is quite useful when dealing with a toddler. "If you want to go outside, then you have to get your shoes." "If you throw food on the floor, then you have to pick it up". It's not a threat but a clear cut set of actions that Henry easily understands. Timeouts in his room is solely reserved for hitting, biting or inflicting physical pain on one of us, usually poor little Liza. Timeout always ends with a sweet little hug for the injured party and a funny acting out of his poor behavior choice that led to the timeout.
You see, we have it all figured out....or maybe we don't have it all figured out at all. I feel like all day long is a constant battle. Yes, Mama, I realize I was the same way. It gets old. Old for me as his main caretaker, old for Henry for rarely making the right decision, and surely it gets old for Liza being stuck in the middle of it for her entire life.
Last night, I reread a blog post by Code Name: Mama about the "Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Timeout". I needed these reminders. I needed to remember he is only two years old and he is constantly learning from our reactions to his behavior. I needed to remember he is still a baby and a very emotionally charged baby at that. I needed to remember it is my job to make sure I give him everything he needs so he can learn to make good decisions and learn from his poor decisions. I needed this.
Henry's new favorite activity of hitting his mama and his sister started as soon as Taylor left for work this morning. Instead of sending him to timeout, I sat Liza down with some toys, reached out to my biggest little baby and tickled him saying, "hugs not hits". Let me tell you. The kid lit up from the inside out. I followed Code Name: Mama's rule #2 -- Find the need. He needed a little loving attention. I was glad to give him the loving attention he needed.
And, it made all the difference. It started our day out the right way and with rule #6 -- Be gentle. -- echoing in my mind, we had a wonderful day together.
It was the best day we'd had in weeks.
I think not.