Thursday, March 27, 2008

Truly terrible twos

Oliver is having some real tantrums recently.

It usually starts with whinging and crying for something that he wants but can't have and in most cases ignoring this will cause him to realise it is getting him nowhere and he stops. But occasionally he will progress to worse behaviour, persistently being disobedient (sometimes with possibly dangerous repercussions), shouting at people or even hitting them, at which point he goes into time-out.

In the past being put into time-out - which at home involves sitting on the bottom step of the stairs - was enough to make him change his behaviour, but recently his tantrums have just become worse at this point. He can become hysterical, screaming, shouting and physically fighting to get away. The tantrums are so bad that he can't just be put into time-out by himself because he sometimes throws himself around on the floor and could hurt himself.

It is truly a horrible experience for parent and child alike. We remain calm and tell him why he has to have time out and calm down, but it can take several long minutes to pacify him. The parenting gurus tell you not to talk to them in time out, but it is impossible to just sit there in silence the whole time when he is in such a state.

This week has seen him have one very bad day, then a very good day, then again today he has had a really bad tantrum and had to be brought home from a play-date because he hit his friend and shouted at his friend's Mum.

We wondered whether TV is a contributory factor, so in the last 3 days he has been TV-free apart from half an hour of The Wiggles yesterday afternoon. We have also started to put him to bed a bit earlier as his tiredness seemed to be contributing. Then there is nursery: could that be a factor? He seems to like it there, but who knows what behaviour he is picking up.

So in truth we don't know for sure what is at the bottom of it. All we can do is try to be patient, persistent and consistent in our approach and then hope that in time we will see improvements.