It seems like the start of school after a long holiday (like summer break and Christmas) always seems to catch us a little off guard. The schools would call it a behavior regression.
Pookie has been doing some yelling on the bus, at school and at home. He’s also been doing some physical acting out recently and pushing Giggles when he is mad about things completely unrelated to Giggles (this one really sucks).
Pookie also has a very strong tendency to crawl off the bus at the end of the school day, gain speed as he heads into the house and then start burying himself into his solitary play. We try to let him have this down time because we think he needs it after a day at school.
So yesterday, BAGM was doing her late Tuesdays at the office. I get off work at 4pm and the kids go to bed around 7:30pm. It was pure hell for the first hour and change. Pookie was pissed. He wanted to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks. He wanted to push Giggles (who was still sleeping in her crib). He started stealing Geetles’ book she was reading for homework trying to get us to yell at him.
It worked. I handled it very poorly, angrily, and throw away Alvin and the Chipmunksy. I finally really snapped and instead of aiming that at Pookie, decided to get everybody ready for a long walk (Giggles was up by this time). We marched about a mile and a half to the nearest Noodles & Company. As soon as we got outside, everybody started talking, Pookie started singing and trying to get Geetle to play some of their walking games.
When we came home, I put them to bed without any problems (other than Giggles pooping in the tub) and started thinking about what I need to change. Pookie and I are fighting a lot right now. I don’t like being the angry dad all the time especially since I know it doesn’t help Pookie any.
BAGM and I talked about a few disciplinary things that we might try but I decided that maybe Pookie is just stir crazy and bored. Bouncing from toy to toy is fine and dandy but now that he is spending so much time at school maybe he is acting out because he wants to spend more quality time with us but we often let him spend time alone because Giggles follows us everywhere and she makes him angry when she is around his toys.
So this morning, I started work a few minutes later than normal and we focused on one of us really staying in Pookie’s space and trying to play with him all the way until he got on the bus. He seemed a little calmer all morning and didn’t seem to get into quite as much trouble on the bus or at school.
Tonight, I really followed him around the house singing songs, dancing, drawing on the dry erase board, playing with toys near him and with him. Like normal, that attracted the girls. BAGM would swap when that happened and she’d play with Pookie and I’d distract the girls off a little distance. During dinner, BAGM asked him a bunch of questions about some worksheets he brought home from school and he did a better job than normal of talking about them. The entire day passed without any major incidents. He got crabby a couple times when Giggles played with “his” toys but came nowhere near pushing her.
I don’t think we have completely fixed whatever is bothering him right now and we are still planning to do some disciplinary things that are based on getting rewards for not doing the negative behaviors throughout a day. But I do think that at least some of the problems recently are that he feels he is not getting as much of the kind of attention that he wants. And when kids want attention and don’t know how to ask for it, they normally start doing things that attract the wrong kind of attention. Which reminds me that BAGM and I should do some scripted conversations with him where one of us helps him ask the other one to play with him so that he starts to learn the right way to ask for attention.