J is my difficult child. He didn't talk until he was 3 years old and since then he has a hard time expressing himself and M and O do not always listen to his words so he physically attacks them. I do not believe in spanking my kids and literally the only times I have ever spanked was because one of my children were putting the other child in danger - for example one time M pushed J under the water in the bath when he was a baby and without thinking I smacked her while getting J out of danger. So last night J got mad at O and was suffocating him and then tonight M didn't play the way he wanted so he choked her so he got a spanking tonight and I yelled at him pretty good and then I thought well that was genius Kim, I don't want him to hurt others when he gets upset but when I got upset I hurt him. So I started thinking about what has been going on and how I can help him resolve this issue. He has never hurt another kid outside of our family ever and I doubt he ever will, but that is not a risk I am willing to take.
After doing some serious reflecting I realized that from the time J woke up this morning until he went to bed I don't think I spent more than ten minutes focused solely on him all day, he watched TV, he played video games, he went to school, and then he came home and watched more tv and then he hurt M and then we went to a friends house and he played with friends until it was time for bed. Looking back on yesterday it was similar minus the playing with friends part and I did spend more time with him but still not a lot and I honestly feel like his aggression is a cry for attention and he feels like he isn't being listened to so here is my plan:
1. I am removing all toys from the kids bedrooms - I have noticed that it is when they are playing in their rooms unsupervised that he tends to be the most frustrated and does the most hurting, we have a playroom and so all toys are going to be in the playroom from now on and whatever doesn't fit in the playroom is getting put away for now.
2. I am banning technology! Television is nice but it is too easy for me to allow one tv show to turn in to three hours and right now we have a television with dvr in almost every room of the house so for now no more tv or video games or playing on the phone. I will wait until my kids are in school or asleep to get on the computer or watch my shows because I need to be an example to them. I will text but no more checking Facebook or blogs or forums that I hang out at all day. All of that will be done at night or while they are in school from now on.
3. I am going to spend more time one on one with J and play with them more and supervise their playing more. If this was going on in a classroom setting I would be doing a ton of observations where I note what is happening before, during and after so that is what I am going to do at home - I am going to observe and then take what I observe and teach all of my kids better ways to handle situations that come up.
4. T and I are both going to work harder at controlling our own anger. This is not easily accomplished right now since T and I are going through some pretty rough stuff as a couple and I think it bleeds over into our parenting of our kids, plus I haven't had a solid 5 hours of sleep in who knows how long so that is wearing on me and I have less patience with my kids - but it is not my children's fault for any of those things so it is my responsibility to not take it out on them.
5. I am going to talk to J more about how he is feeling - a lot of time we get angry because of cognitive distortions (that is a blog post in and of itself) so I am going to figure out what cognitive distortions he is feeling and help him redirect his way of thinking.
Some of you might be thinking that this is a little drastic and a lot of work (my hubby said it was unrealistic) but you know what I can guarantee if I do these things every day that within a month at the most J will be a completely different kid. I firmly believe that when you choose to have kids you choose to sacrifice your time and wants and desires for their sakes and waiting to teach him how to control his emotions is only going to make things worse so it is time for me to put my life on hold a bit and focus more on him and his needs. I will keep you updated on how things progress!