J-man's level of "engagement", interactive play, social sounding and word attempts has really been on the rise. I mean, in a exciting, "I can't wait to see what he will do next" kind of way. However, J-man is also starting to exhibit some "less that desirable" behaviors, including 'arguing' (no no no no), hitting, and some all out temper tantrums. In many respects, this is to be expected. As children begin to develop communication skills, they begin testing limits and using that communication to try and get their way. An up-tic in negative behaviors is actually a positive sign, but let's face it: It must be nipped in the bud.
The Communicating Partners approach to dealing with this is probably a common one, but one worth mentioning here. Basically, Dr MacDonald says that giving your child attention, interaction, and communication is like giving them a $50 bill. So, if you want to increase the behavior, you give them all of those things. If you want to decrease the behavior, you give them none of those things. No negotiation, no "talking it through", no explanations, no arguing, no feeding into the drama.
And tonight this approach was put into practice.
J-man was taking a bath (he LOVES bath time) and was all prune-y, so I told him "time to get out".
"No no no no" he said (a response!!! heheheh)
"Yes, all done" I said, and I drained the water. He started pitching a fit, so I took him out and brought him into our bedroom. I calmed him down, but as I tried to get him dressed he lost it again, refusing to let me put his diaper on. He yelled and screamed, hit out at me, kicked his legs, etc etc.
And here was my thought process: My goal is to get him dressed. His goal is to not get dressed AND to fight with me (get attention). Therefore, my NEW GOAL needs to be to not reinforce this behavior.
So I left the room and went into the hallway.
My hubby came upstairs to see what all the fuss was about and I told him not to go in yet. J-man was crying and he came running into the hall and took my hand to bring me back to the bedroom. I said "ok, diaper", and he said "no no no no". My husband then began negotiating with him (a No-No!!!) and J-man went back into temper tantrum mode. So I told my hubby "Let's go out" and we both (wordlessly) went back out into the hall.
J-man was ENRAGED that we left again. He cried and screamed for another minute, and then followed us into the hall, grabbed both our hands and pulled us back into the bedroom.
And willingly got dressed. Even helped! And was grinning and babbling by the end
What I learned:
1. Feeding into J-man's negative behaviors only increases the behavior (the $50). When Daddy came and gave him attention, he started up all over again. When we both denied him the attention, things changed quickly.
2. J-man WANTS to interact with us. He was sooo upset when we left, when he had no one to be with, even though he had 'gotten his way' to stay naked. It was more important to him to be with us than to get his way.
I am loving this.