Monday, August 11, 2014

Changes are Hard, New Phases are Too

Changes are hard no matter what the change is. Right now our change is more of a phase in Blake's development. The new phase is still a change and it can get exhausting.

Last week I thought he was just cycling into a growth spurt or getting sick. He was whining all the time and eating constantly. He also had the nasty smell of sickness on his breath for a couple of days. He never got sick so I assumed it was a growth spurt until today. Today I realized that we are actually in a new phase.

The thing about any new phase is that I hate them in the beginning. I know I shouldn't but I do. It's the change that occurs with the new phase that makes me realize that my boy is growing up. 

This time it seems different though. It's almost like he is going back to doing those babyish things that he mostly grew out of a long time ago, whining all the time, crying all the time and acting helpless. Everything is so much more difficult and its frustrating! So instead of loosing my cool and freaking out I'm trying my best to roll with it. I have also been reading this book, Wild Things the art of nurturing boys, which has helped me a ton!

To help you get an idea of how our days are going here is a run down of now vs just two long weeks ago.
Upon waking up he needs me to come get him from his room or to come play immediately. Cries every time I leave his sight. Cries for me even if I'm sitting right next to him, he wants to be held or be sitting on my lap. Doesn't want anyone except for me to do things for him. Wants to be fed instead of feeding himself, not all the time but a lot of the time. Does not play on his own for any amount of time. Fits and refusal to do things are at an all time high. Has to be touching me at all times if we are in the same room, which is always since he cries if I walk away. (I'm talking hands on my leg as we watch tv or holding my hand just to walk through the house. Don't get me wrong it's super sweet and I love it but it's exhausting!)
2 weeks ago-
Upon waking up he would come to our room or find us with a smile. He was playing on his own for up to 10-15 minutes sometimes longer. (I could actually clean one room quickly or do the dishes.) He would snuggle and give love but was happy to sit in his own space. Was resistant to do things that weren't his idea but not having a meltdown when made to do them. Didn't mind if I was in a different room as long as he knew where I was. 

My oh my, what a difference a few weeks makes. So as I feel myself wanting to freak out with him as he cries for the hundredth time in a matter of a half hour I try to remember the things I've been reading and the things I already know about child development. Sometimes when it comes to being a parent it is hard not to just react. I've had to take a step back or away to regroup and think before reacting. Just this morning after working for 20+ minutes on building a train track that would meet his standards he rammed my train off the track breaking the track and was instantly upset with me. I had to leave him to play on his own for a while. It lasted 5 minutes before he was back by my side offering to help so that he could stay in the room with me. I was beyond frustrated with his method of play and demandingness (not a word but it works). Anyway I walked away and got myself together quickly because I know that he is experimenting with methods of play and learning to play with others (including me). I also took note from the book I mentioned above and remembered the chapters about the explorer and the lover. In the book it says when boys are in the explorer stage they are active, aggressive, curious and self-determined; while in the lover stage they are tender, obedient, attached to dad and competitive. Oh boy does that sum up where our changes are coming from. We are experiencing tenderness that comes from being a lover along with every single thing that comes with being an explorer. 

How do we deal? Not by spanking immediately, yelling, or with any other drastic response. We have to be the example for him. We have to guide him. We cannot just say what we want him to do we must show him. That seems so easy until we have said the same thing a hundred times but maintaining our composure as a parent is key. It's important for us to remember that he is still learning. He needs reminders, reassurance, assistance and natural consequences when safe. We have to talk him through things and teach him how to talk through it. Even at the age of 3 Blake's vocabulary is good enough that he can talk through most every situation. 

Just last night he was crying and screaming mostly out of exhaustion but I could tell there was something else bothering him. He sat on my lap and I told him to talk to me about it. I asked why he wasn't being nice to daddy in the bath tub and why he was crying. He said, "I just want you do it all momma." I continued to explain to him that bath time is daddy time (it has been for 2 years) and that I am always just in the other room. I reassured him that I wasn't going anywhere and that I'd always be ready to come to his room after bath. We also talked about how it makes his daddy feel when he isn't nice to him during bath time. I told him that he has the best daddy he could ever ask for and that most importantly he was the only daddy he was ever going to have. (I know a little much for a 3 year old but he got it.) I told him that he has to be nice if he wants people even daddy and momma to play with him and to keep friends. Somehow out of that he got, 'daddy will play with me as much as I want as long as I'm nice'. Score because that was my goal. He told his daddy sorry and that he loved him and gave him big love before bed. The thing that was different this time is that he was actually apologetic. I felt like he meant it!

I don't hate everything about this new phase he is in. I actually think that besides the abundance of crying and whining that has been happening lately it might be my favorite age so far. I love how creative he is. I love getting to be a part of his imaginative play or just watching as his imagination runs wild. I love how he makes everything into a song. I love how much he dances and enjoys music. I love that he wants to hug me and hold my hand (after all he won't want to forever). I love his adventurousness even when it makes me nervous. I love watching as he learns new things and is successful with them. I love listening to his stories true or completely made up. I'm serious, this is both the most exciting time so far and the most challenging time too. 

When the stages and phases of our growing developing little ones gets tough its important to remember to keep our cool and understanding of the situation. If we don't understand the situation it's our job as parents to figure it out. It's not easy but having resources makes it a little easier. The resources can be anything from another person to an article on the internet. I know I personally always call on friends, especially ones that have boys, to help me understand when I don't or even to offer ideas of how to handle things. It is also so important to remember to enjoy them through it all. So the next time you want to scream or cry along with them do it or take a mom time out but don't forget to soak in the joyful moments!

How do you deal with new changes and phases? Am I the only one who wants to pull my hair out at first? 

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