Pressure Points

When Habtamu starts to breakdown emotionally, we can use logic a lot deeper into his descent than we can with Yordanos. I should preface this with saying that although the emotional stuff gets a lot of blog space, his episodes are getting further apart and he's often able to pull himself out before he gets to that point of no return. We can see him fighting to keep it together because he's very cognizant of impending consequences. He can pitch his fit now, but tv will be gone for several days later. He's rarely so far gone he forgets that. So if we all play our cards right we have a decent chance of walking away unscathed.

Yordi is a different story.

She'll pick the fight, make sure everyone has lost, and then just become totally miserable and defiant. Well, ok, not completely defiant because there's still that weird 'naughty chair' phenomenon where if you get her where she's supposed to be, she'll stay put. But the point is, she digs in and shuts down. Confrontation just makes her hunker down more, as was proven in the whole 'standing in the snow and won't come in' incident from a couple months ago.

So the other day she was crabby, who knows why, not that she really needs a reason, and was eventually told to take a seat and cool out. To her credit, she will go do that on her own, if she thinks it was her idea. (That's why we start the dance by telling her that sitting in the other room would be a good idea before we escalate to 'the chair' and then 'your bedroom.') Anyway, she had removed herself from the room but was still banging things, which is a tell-tale sign that the cooldown hasn't started. Both kids are like that, now that I think about it... So Chris tells Y that it's time to go to her room. Aaaand that's when I got the call at work.

"Hi, we've got a clean up in aisle 2 and she won't go to her room. What do I do?" Chris said nonchalantly. (She's really good about using phone time to calm herself down and remove herself from the situation for a few minutes.)

"Well, if it were me, I'd pick her up and carry her up there. But then I'd be really angry by now."

"Oh... I'm angry," Chris said almost sing-songy, "But that's not helpful and I doubt I can haul her up there."

So we discussed some other options. We talked about how confronting her directly won't work and that you have to come at her from the side. We talked about appropriate punishments and how just laying out the expectations and leaving (without a defined consequence) was probably the best strategy. I believe I used the phrase, "Just drop the grenade and walk out of the room. She'll figure out that she doesn't want to be there either." Then we hung up.

15 minutes later Chris called back and I could hear yelling in the background.

"How's it going?" I asked.

"Well, she's in her room. Screaming, but she's up there."

"Yep, that's my girl. How'd you do it?"

"Well, I informed her that I expected her to go to her room and that things would start being taken away shortly if she didn't go... Things like tv, the wii, and her toys."

"Her toys? That's a new one. Good thinking!" I said. The thing is, H gets really engaged with pretty much anything on the tube. Y doesn't mind not having it because it means we play more games together. She's never been effectively punished by having her tv privileges revoked. If anything, she likes the fact that she's being treated like her brother.

"Yeah, it totally worked," Chris replied. "She's up there. She's not happy, but she's up there."

So Chris hit a nerve with Yordanos. And it's about time because Lord knows that girl knows how to mash our buttons faster than that guy who used to hang around the Mortal Kombat game at the arcade. Oh, btw, I now work with 'that guy' and he's a very successful web developer.

And the best part is that since she complied, we didn't have to follow through. No blood, no foul so I guess we'll save the 'Which toy are you most attached to' game for another day.

I think it's the stuffed elephant.


Lisa said...

Chris - missed you at the group today. Been thinking about you a lot this week - what can I do to help you out? anything?

Katherine said...

Aahhh! Such 'fond' memories this invokes! I wonder if Yordi is a lot like Kai in some respects! Strong willed? We had to try so many different things before we found an effective punishment for him. At one point, he lost toys when he was defiant. After about an hour, I think I had most of his favorites down in the basement. He sure was a tough nut to crack! Now that he's older and his computer time is sacred to him, I can go right to the 'big guns' and tell him he's going to lose his game time. Usually works, but not always. You're doing a great job, and you two are great parents!

Nicola said...

Chris... this really makes me think of that book you were skimming at my house the other day. It has some great stuff in it beyond the peer orientation issues we discussed. It talks about _counterwill_ for one (which it sounds like Yordi was struggling with) amongst a ton of other great child development/psychology info. Here's the title etc. you might find it at you're library, but personally this might be a keeper (at least I can see myself going back to it over and over again for years to come). A. and I were butting heads a lot for a while and it's given me far more effective tools than I had been workin' with. ;) Hope it helps those "arrrrgh!" days become fewer and father between. :)
"Hold On to Your Kids: Why parents need to matter more than peers" by Gordon Neufeld, Phd. and Gabor Mate, MD
It's just so good. You're all in our prayers. It was really great having you guys out the other night. Hope Habtamu's tummy wasn't bothering him too long that night. ;)

Much love,