Forgetting Connection

June 11th, 2011 by Dionna | 42 Comments
Posted in Gentle/Positive Discipline, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity

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2011-05-06 01

Kieran and I recently returned from a five week long trip to visit my sister and her family in Florida. Five weeks sounded like a really good idea when I was buying our plane tickets, but I quickly realized the error of my ways in the first few days of our visit.

Kieran’s behavior took a rapid nosedive on, oh, day two. Looking back, it’s easy to spot the “why’s”:

*He was in a new environment: he had none of the familiarities of home, except for me. And I was just coming out of my miserable first trimester morning sickness, so I was not at my best either.

*He was suddenly the older child: my nephew, Rhonin, is 17 months old, and Kieran was alternately jealous of Rhonin’s “baby” status, and power-filled at the knowledge that he could simply take whatever he wanted from Rhonin.

*He didn’t have his own things: silly mama, I didn’t realize how upsetting it would be for Kieran to be without his own stuff for over a month. We’d brought several toys with us – small toys that he often played with at home – but by the end of our trip, he was specifically naming and crying over random toys that he was without. And not only is it the fact that he didn’t have his own stuff, but we were in a toddler’s house – the very large majority of the play things were “babyish.” It was a mess I hadn’t planned for.

*He missed his papa and friends: the most heartbreaking thing of all while we were in Florida was the way Kieran would just sob about how he missed his papa and his friends. And it wasn’t any of that fake crying that Kieran has recently learned how to do on command – no, these were genuine, mournful, his heart was being ripped into tiny pieces sobs. I sobbed along with him a few times.

So what happened? Kieran turned into a child I simply did not know. It was much, much worse than what I felt when Kieran was simply exhibiting typical three year old behaviors. No, this was like he’d taken some kind of “mean kid” class behind my back.

He hit (usually Rhonin, but me too when I talked to him about it). He pushed Rhonin down. He screamed. (Or maybe a better description of what he did was that he shrieked.) He took toys out of Rhonin’s hands – not because he wanted to play with them, but for whatever other reason was running through his three-year-old brain.1

His behavior embarrassed me.

And I think my embarrassment – my mortification that my sister and her partner might think that I was raising a (gasp) brat – then dictated my reactions.

What did I do? Skip the connection folks, I immediately jumped to correction. Every.single.time.

If I saw him hit or push Rhonin, I would often pick him up and take him into our bedroom. And it wasn’t some gentle “let’s take a time-in sweetheart,” it was with frustration or anger, and he knew it. He could see it in my face and hear it in my voice. If I didn’t physically remove him from a situation, I would immediately go into lecture mode. “Rhonin is smaller than you! If you want a toy you need to either trade him or ask him! It is NOT ok to just take something!” Again, not gently, but with frustration in my heart and voice.

I could go on, but 1) I’m ashamed of the way I acted and 2) you get the picture.

I did not respond to Kieran with empathy. When I wrote The Consequence of Using Consequences, a lot of people vehemently disagreed with what I’d written. In a house where consequences are the go-to method for dealing with any sort of “misbehavior,” I can understand why responding with empathy would seem foreign – silly, even.

But having lived on both sides of the fence now, I am more convinced than ever that making a connection with our children, not jumping to correction, has the best outcome in our home. Why do I think that? After only days of my frustrated, unempathetic responses, this is how our relationship disintegrated:

*Kieran was scared of me. Kieran was running from me after he’d done something that I would inevitably correct him for, because I never bothered to see his side of things – I only jumped to a lecture or consequence.

*We were adversaries. We were no longer working together in any aspect of our days. Everything became a struggle – from eating breakfast to doing a “fun” activity.

*Correction put both of us on edge. Kieran, because he was not being heard. Me, because he was not listening to me anyway. Why should he, when I wasn’t even attempting to listen to him?

Without empathy, all correction does is drive a wedge between parent and child.

Yes there can be teachable moments after “misbehavior.” But rarely can those happen with any lasting benefit in the moment. By immediately telling Kieran “no/stop/be gentle!” or whisking him off angrily to the room every time he got frustrated or angry, I was driving home to him that his feelings were bad. I should have focused more on how to appropriately handle those feelings, so he wouldn’t feel so helpless.

Have you ever tried something other than “gentle discipline”? How did it feel different for you and your child?

  1. Not being in his brain, I can’t say with certainty that he didn’t want to play with the snatched toys; however, he rarely did play with them beyond an initial, brief effort.

42 Responses to:
"Forgetting Connection"

  1. violetsouffle   violetsouffle

    wow, you amaze me Dionna. You are always so genuine and honest with your readers even when it’s embarrassing to do so. Im sorry you had a rough time parenting your sweet boy. I am certain you will make good things out of the experience. Hugs and love and I totally have been RIGHT there too.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      It’s funny – we’ve been doing SO much better since we got home, then yesterday we had friends over and Kieran started throwing plastic eggs, first at his friend, then at her mama. Once again, I was mortified, so what did I do? I snatched him up and brought him to the bedroom. In the back of my mind, I was thinking “he’s tired! he’s tired! he’s tired!” You’d think I would have learned from the past month, eh? (sigh) Parenting is a continuing challenge!

  2. Cultured Mama Dawn   CulturedMama

    I tried timeout twice with Ella, when she was much younger. It was effective in the short-term, in that I got her to stop the undesired behavior at the time, but I realized it was not for us, and that there were better ways of handling things– namely, getting off my butt and proactively engaging her rather than directing her from the sofa.

    It’s hard. Especially now when she has taken to running when I want her to stop. That’s the latest thing I’m trying to figure out, because invariably, she’s running to the street or some other dangerous place, and “stop” holds no meaning for her yet. grrrr.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Getting off the couch – that’s going to be in my next post about “parenting through difficult times” ;)

      When Kieran was still more unsure about things like “stop,” I found I had to be much more proactive. So when we were outside and I knew he’d want to sprint away, I’d hold his hand or put him in a carrier. That way I wasn’t getting angry with him. Good luck!! It will pass :)

  3. Rachelle   MommyofLittleI

    I loved reading this, as it certainly gave me insight into my son’s actions/reactions.
    I was wondering, though, what you wish you would have done in those situations. I’m struggling with connecting with my little man lately and I’m hoping you can help.

  4. *sigh* very interesting post – thanks for being so open and honest. i was wondering how the rest of the trip turned out, after having read some of your posts from the beginning of the trip on fb. i was wondering if after a “settling in” time, that you and K got into a rhythm down there. i often fantasize about taking a long vacation with my almost 3 y.o. to my sister’s house across the country, but have always had this nagging feeling in my gut that it would be harder than it’s worth. the fact that K was longing for his papa was especially heartbreaking. it’s so easy to forget that they’re still so little, and sometimes they forget (or don’t have the capacity to understand) that when you leave something (parent, toy, friend) that they/it still exists right where they left it.

    i had an experience where my parenting was non-gentle (aka, for crap) two nights ago. my son wants to do everything by himself now, including getting in and out of the tub “by himself!!!” and i’m definitely okay with this within reason. but a few nights ago, he was pretty torqued up, and after helping him take off his clothes, he ran into the bathroom, stood on the edge of the tub, and i knew he was going to jump in. to which i yelled from 15 feet away, “do not jump in the tub!” too late, he swan-dived in, slipping, and nicking his sweet body on the way down. i swooped in, found myself so pissed off that i actually yelled at him, “that’s why i told you not to jump in!” then the tears started. he’s reaching for me, all dirty-wet, and all i can think is how mad i am. sheesh. it took 20 seconds and my husband saying to me, “babe, he’s hurt and scared.” for me to reach out to him. it took at least twice the time to calm him down that it should have. afterwards, i felt so badly at taking the non-empathic route. ugh. i wanted that to be a “teachable moment”, but that was clearly NOT the moment. these are the times for self-empathy, eh?

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Ah yes, the “parent is scared so reacts in anger” scenario – oh I’ve so been there! My sister and I were at a minor league baseball game in Clearwater toward the end of our trip. A little 5yo boy walked up to me and said, “have you seen a big tall mommy?” So I took him to security and stood with him while they located his mother. As soon as she saw him, she started yelling at him. My sister (mother of a 17 month old who has not managed to give her a good scare yet) was aghast – “how could she yell at him?! If that was me I would have run over and hugged him!” Well, one can always hope, right? But if that mama was walking around scared out of her mind that her child was missing, her adrenaline might have pushed her more into anger once that rush of relief came upon seeing him.
      Same thing with a child who could have cracked his head by jumping into the bathtub. You’re so glad he’s ok – and so frustrated that a preventable near-miss occurred – so your stressed-out mind reacts in anger.

      As for our trip – yes, it did get better toward the end. I made sure to spend more one on one time with him, we calmed down on the big activities, I did a better job of watching his diet, I got him a couple of special toys that he kept in our room, and he adjusted. It did get better, but he was still SO relieved to be home!!

  5. mona

    Thank you so much for this post. I’ve been going through something similar. My daughter (2.5 yrs) broke her leg 3 days before DD2 (7 weeks old) was born. There was so much change in her life- cast and new baby- her behaviour took a nose dive. My previously lovely little girl who hardly ever had any tantrums became so difficult to take care of. It became worse and worse between us, until recently I started to wish I’d never had a 2nd child, and I started to hate DD1. I experienced the same things you did with your son, we were enemies, she was scared of me, and there was a big wedge was between us. And then a couple of days ago, I snapped. DD1 did something (a bit naughty), that 6 months ago I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at, but in my sleep deprived state I lost it. I grabbed her, pulled her away in frustration, and then for the first time ever, I spanked her. I hated myself because I promised myself I would never spank. My dad used to spank me when I was little, and I was horrified that I was becoming an “evil mommy”. I felt so guilty, so awful. I cried and I apologised, but I was certain that the damage was done. I felt scared that I was slowly ruining her. I’d spent more than 2 years trying to be compassionate and loving and now I was scared I would ruin her in just a few weeks. I’m trying to reconnect with her now as much as possible, and I can see so much improvement in our relationship. Last night we spent the whole night cuddled up together in bed, and this morning for the first time in weeks, she woke up with a smile on her face. I don’t want to be that evil mommy, she deserves so much more than that from me. I want to give both her and the baby my best, but it’s not easy to give her all that I gave her before the baby was born.

    • Terri   onelovelivity

      I really hear you on this. My DD broke her leg when she was 18 months and my DS was 3 months. It was an incredible strain. We were not in our own house, even worse. I wish you well Mama through these challenging times…glad to hear that things are getting better already.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Good for you to find ways to reconnect! Reading Lucy’s comment below, it sounds like this is much more of a universal phenomenon when you have more than one child. Forgive yourself and move forward :) Kids need to know that parents make mistakes (and acknowledge/apologize) too!

  6. Jessika Bailey   JobDescMommy

    Awesome post Dionna. I love when moms are okay with showing they’re not perfect. Because none of us are. You are an amazing mother, and Kieran is so very lucky to have you. Thank you for your honesty, it’s always good to know we are not alone…or rather I am not alone! :P Love you.

  7. Steph

    I find it so hard to keep up my patient gentle parenting when in the presence of other parents who I feel may be judging me. I also realize, especially after reading your post, that I also seem to slip up after a sudden behavioral change. It’s almost as if it takes me off-guard and I panic. I become contrary and my daughter sinks her heels in for even more opposition – it truly doesn’t help! I’m so thankful for gentle parenting and the opportunity to adjust my sails when I get off course.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I agree, we have to give ourselves opportunities to adjust, just like we give our little ones!

    • Rebekah

      I have felt the same way so much and a lot more recently, and I feel pretty awful about it, and I really, really understand. Thank You for this article and all these open and honest replies. I recommitt myself to PD and Gentle Discipline in the presence of others. I have been doing the ‘jumping to correct’ thing a lot recently… backfiring completely. I hear you on the panicked feeling too…. I am going to try techniques to calm myself more and focus more on my daughter during those times.

  8. I haven’t read all the comments or your responses, but I want to say. First, remember that you’re pregnant and that will play into things: tired, uncomfortable, hormones etc.

    Add that to everything else and things will be difficult at the best of times. You have the opportunity to change and it might take some time, but you will get back to your usual method. Trust me on this.

    Apologize as much as needed and try to move on. Remember that even if you are a bear (I have been a lot lately) your family will survive and it’ll be as water off a ducks back.

    Persoanlly I go through a lot of issues while pregnant and especially post-partum. It isn’t fun for anyone, but we’ve survived and the girls are able to talk about how things were, how they are, and how they like it.

    I’ve gone through phases of self-loathing because of the words I’ve used, or the non too gentle ways I’ve picked the girls up. I’ve gone through phases of wondering if I should have ever got pregnant the first time, let alone the second or third times. I’ve thought I was a horrible mother and that I didn’t deserve to have my precious children. Then I figure out a new trick to gentle parenting and things suddenly get easier.

    Children forgive a lot faster and easier than adults.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you Sarah – I do feel shorter tempered sometimes now that I’m sleepy (and was formerly nauseous), so I am trying to be gentle with myself. Thank you for the reassurance!

  9. janetlansbury   janetlansbury

    Dionna, this is a beautiful, achingly honest post and I admire you so much for writing it. I love your insights about “connection” and agree — that is the key. But sometimes we prioritize a peaceful, happy connection with our child (in other words, no resistance, anger or tears) over setting the clear, calm and consistent limits children desperately need. Our child may seem temporarily “happier”, but he hasn’t felt the safety of our gentle leadership, which can then get us into trouble… The child feels out-of-control and behaves that way — we lose control and react harshly and punitively.

    I’m not presuming this has anything to do with your situation! But it is a common issue and one I’ve experienced myself. And it’s fresh in my mind because I just posted a response to a parent’s question on the subject: http://www.janetlansbury.com/2011/06/how-to-be-the-gentle-leader-your-child-needs/

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you for the link, Janet. I do feel like we have pretty good boundaries, but your response to that parent made me aware that we need to work a lot on one area before baby gets here – solo play. Kieran has *always* had a hard time playing alone. I’ve tried to work with him previously on finding things to do and entertaining himself, but it’s still a struggle. I’m going to make a concerted effort to do that again before #2 arrives. And if you have any posts on point, I’d love to hear your ideas!

      • janetlansbury   janetlansbury

        I’ve written a couple of posts with ideas about encouraging children to play alone. Here’s one: http://www.janetlansbury.com/2010/08/solo-engagement-fostering-your-toddlers-independent-play/ and it links to another one: “Becoming Unglued”.

        It’s typical with a firstborn to find ourselves in the position of being the play provider. And it’s challenging to allow a child to feel the discomfort of being “in-between”. We naturally want to solve the problem rather than waiting and listening to the cries, complaints about boredom, etc. But that uncomfortable boredom is often the necessary precursor to the child’s IDEA. The more a child gets used to being the one with ideas, the more comfortable she becomes with the process of inventing play. And our children’s ideas are so much better than ours! So, it’s really about biting the bullet, being patient and encouraging, projecting the attitude that boredom is positive, saying, “It’s hard not to know what to do, but you are creative and I know you’ll think of something”.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        Thank you Janet!

  10. Funny that you posted this because only yesterday I was discussing a post I wanted to do on this topic to a friend, but unsure, still unsure.

    I didn’t yet because I don’t want a deluge of attacks levelled at me…

    Dionna, when I had one child, and a lovely calm sensitive one at that, I was “the perfect mama” that I always wanted to be, add another two children in the space of two years and suddenly I am where you describe a lot of the time. It is MUCH easier to be that gentle, loving parent who carefully negotiates and explains everything when there is only one child in the mix – when you have the total exhaustion of 3 close together, and lots of physically violent sibling rivalry (as you described him being with Rhonin) trying to keep a positive handle and direction on things, and keep your head above water is… ummm… a challenge. People can and they do…. but I just wanted to say (with awareness that you are expecting) that with more than one kid in the mix suddenly parenting ideals can become just that, ideals, that we achieve a bit less of the time… I am not looking to justify your or my or any other parent’s less than perfect behaviour as inevitable or ideal, but I do think that the levels of “GENTLENESS” and “perfection” which we expect from ourselves, that natural and attachment parenting “expects”, can lead to a lot of self-admonition and guilt…disproportionate to the level of real negative impact that it has on kids… these are more achievable the less children or more patience you have…

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I have this problem – it’s called my gentle parenting role model is actually a living, breathing role model of parenting perfection ;) No seriously, she’s the mama of 4 and I have *never* seen her get flustered or lose her cool. It’s awe-inspiring, and a little scary.
      I know that I’m not at that place in my life – she’s been studying GD and consensual living principles since before she had kids. But I think I do beat myself up b/c I have that ideal in my head. I’m sure many parents are like that – they have this ideal, but then with each child it gets increasingly harder to be that “perfect” parent.
      I do think it’s healthy for all of us to share our moments of doubt, our “shortcomings,” so that we can understand that not a one of us is perfect. (Heck, I’d love to hear my parenting role model share an imperfection – it would help me see her as a person instead of a parenting goddess – ha!)
      Thank you for your honesty!! And post away, I can’t imagine anyone attacking you for something like that (well, yes I can, but simply delete the one or two “holier than thou” comments you get and don’t let them get to you).

  11. Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama   clothmamajess

    Hey Dionna!

    Its hard when things don’t go our way, huh? Took a 3 week trip with Nathan when he was 3…it was REALLY BAD!! I felt terrible for him, the overstimulation, the new environment, the expectations of family, the sleeping situations, the food, etc.

    I quickly revert to non-gentle discipline ALL the time, now that I have a 1 year old and a 4 year old. I would love NOT to do that..however sometimes safety is a factor and I’ll have to run to rescue the baby from being carried and tackled and pushed and smothered….sighhhhhhhhhh…. I do know this…these moments (although frequent) are fleeting and your attachment will shine through, as has our own.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’ll be looking forward to hearing what mamas *can* do gently with siblings – it will be nice to have some ideas in place when/if we have this problem after #2 arrives!

      • Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama   clothmamajess

        Oh, I hope I didn’t make it sound THAT bad. Really, its just more challenging to be gentle…but I think I walk the line a lot more now that my youngest is getting into the older ones toys and food and cups, etc. The fun part is that when the gentle discipline works its rewarding to see the happy and softer outcome of a potentially bad situation. I should write a post about it…something like, “when redirection DOES work out with siblings!” its very nice to say stuff like, “okay, lets show Brady how you can name all these dinosaurs…” or, shall we teach Brady to count to 10…how about in Spanish, don’t you speak Spanish…” When your mind is open and you CAN be playful it usually fizzles nicely.

  12. Amber   AmberStrocel

    I have to say this: when I was pregnant with my second child, and my first child misbehaved in a way that made me doubt I was ever going to be able to handle another baby, I didn’t take it well. Pregnancy is hard enough, without your kid making you think that they’re going to use their new little brother or sister as a punching bag. So I say you need to go easy on yourself if you weren’t as zen as you could have been. This is hard for you, too.

    (But it all works out, I promise.)

  13. sophia

    As someone who just found your blog I would LOVE it if you could provide examples of how you wish you’d handled the situation differently (you provide examples of what you see as your mistakes, but what do you wish you had said/done). What does it mean specifically to be empathetic when you see behavior like the behavior you describe here? I would like to parent with empathy, but can’t quite figure out what you would do in the specific cases you list in this post. Thanks for sharing.
    Cheers, Sophia

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I linked to three of my previous posts in this one – all of them have ideas that I *wish* I would consistently put in practice :) Here they are:
      http://codenamemama.com/2011/02/16/connection-correction/
      http://codenamemama.com/2011/02/26/alternatives-consequences/
      http://codenamemama.com/2011/03/08/mar-carnatpar/

      Off the top of my head, I wish I’d been more proactive by getting down and playing with my son and his cousin. If I’d been more “in the middle” of things, I don’t think he’d been so quick to hit/snatch, and I could have modeled appropriate ways to deal with his frustration.
      I wish I would have made a more concerted effort to spend one on one time alone with Kieran – he really needed that, since he was out of his element.
      I think most of all, I wish I would have taken a breath and been gentle, seen things from my 3yo’s perspective, and really practiced some of the ideas in that 3rd link.

      If you have a specific question from your own life, feel free to come ask on my FB page – I’ll repost for the wise mamas there!

  14. Olivia

    I try so hard to parent in this way (though I fail a lot). I think my biggest frustration is that my 2 yr old (just turned) is still not verbal enough to tell me what’s going on or hold a discussion about the issue. We are still (since she was 14 months?) dealing with her throwing things. Food, cups, bowls, toys…she also likes to sweep everything off the coffee/side tables when she is tired/angry, but there is often no discernible reason. For example, she will be coloring happily when out of the blue she picks up the bag with crayons and dumps them all on the floor. Or she’ll complete a puzzle and then pick up the pieces and chuck them across the room.

    These are all great ideas and tools that I’m tucking away for later, but what to I do right now?*

    *Yes, we watch for her cues and remove the items before she throws as much as possible. We have tried explaining, talking sternly, and ignoring.

  15. Jessica - This is Worthwhile   tisworthwhile

    What a wonderful post. It happens to all of us and there’s always a learning curve, a first. This will never happen to you two again. You’ll never be caught unawares and you’ve just educated hundreds, if not thousands, of other readers to anticipate the struggle of extended travel and strangeness.

    I remember the first time I ever did anything with Hawk. If there was a break down it was usually the only one because I did everything in my power to avoid it a second time (wasn’t always successful, but I did my damnedest!). And then I’d tell my sister my “tricks” and all my friends.

    I’m sorry you guys had such a rocky time – shrugging off the desires (or especially the PERCEIVED desires) of observing parents is one of the hardest things to do for us “natural parents.” We expect other grown ups to be less tolerant, when really they’re usually pretty easy going about an older child snatching a toy from an oblivious toddler.

    Ok – now I’m rambling. Point is: ((HUG)). You did good. You’ll do better.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you Jessica. I hope it doesn’t happen again, but I know me ;) Honestly, my sister was pretty good with Kieran’s behavior, but I was still embarrassed. Ah, the ego.

  16. I’m so sorry you had such a tough time. We’ve never been away for more than 3 weeks at a time, and even by the end of that, I can see that the kids just need to be back where they belong. (Not to mention that I do too.) Parenting in front of others, especially close family, is HARD. Even subconsciously, you sometimes do what you think they expect or think you should do, instead of what you’d rather do.

    I had a bad moment a few weeks ago. This is how it went:
    http://awfullychipper.blogspot.com/2011/05/reaction-parenting.html

    One other thing I wanted to mention, about how Kieran related to his younger cousin. My daughter was an early talker, and while she’d ask her big brother or other older people for things she wanted, she’d often just grab from kids her own age (and at 2.5, still does). I realised it was because she didn’t know that they could understand, even if they couldn’t talk as well as she could yet. I still have to keep reminding her to use her words, with her friends and even with smaller babies. Maybe Kieran had the same sort of idea – that there was no point asking for a toy because the 17-month-old wouldn’t understand.

    I hope the pregnancy’s going more easily now you’re in the 2nd trimester, and you can start to look forward to the new baby. The transition is hard, but having two is oh so worth it, you’ll see.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Oh Christine – what an honest story! That feeling you described – the one of self-satisfaction – that’s exactly why I just can’t agree with CP, because if most parents would admit it, they feel the same way. Heck, I’ve felt the same way when Kieran has been “misbehaving” and I’ve become angry (verbally) with him.
      And you are a sweetheart to assume the best intentions in the situation with his cousin :) Thanks for helping me remember that as well – that I might not always need to jump to a negative.

  17. Amber Morrisey   birthroutes

    Thank you for sharing. It really is a breath of fresh air to hear I didn’t do as I would have liked.

    I sometimes catch myself being non-ap toned with the kids I mind, and usually it comes down to MY issues (hungry, tired, burnt out etc), I say an apology, help them with care, then make an effort to fix what got me in a place of feeling frustrated and snappy.

    Anyways, we are all human and I love that you shared learning from your trip. Thank you

  18. Ashes   ashleympoland

    Thanks for sharing! I can’t imagine being away from home for 5 weeks; I love my family, but I am such a homebody.

    It gets me thinking. We’re having a lot of struggles with Miles right now and while we’re at home — we just moved. He doesn’t seem outwardly upset, but there’s been a lot of kicking, a lot of yelling and tantrums and “mine!”, and (most appalling for us) a lot of exerting random dominance over the cat.

    Some of it is cabin fever on his part — I hate summer and would stay inside all day if he wasn’t so antsy — but other times I’m just at my wit’s end.

    Unfortunately, at some point between he was a small toddler and turning 2 we verged into a lot more correction — and it’s clearly not working.

  19. This was SO me during my home leave from our expat assignment. I was so on edge and my mom is judgmental and negative. I do so much by myself at home, alone. But there? We just couldn’t get in sync. It was a nightmare and I totally underestimated that my son can’t understand that it’s only for a sort period of time. Well written!

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