Lindsey and Megan have asked me to describe exactly how our little tyrant was ruling the roost. I'm happy to oblige.
- He will come crawling up to me while I'm cooking or trying to get stuff done and whine and grab at my legs wanting to be picked up. If I don't, he often dissolves into tears.
- When he's being held (which is very, very often) he points at certain objects of interest and proceeds to say "dis dis dis" until you take him to the object. If you don't, he gets louder and louder and more wriggly and agitated.
- If you are reading him a book and you decide after the third reading you would like to do something else and Parks wants a fourth reading...watch out! A tearful fit is likely to ensue.
I'm learning that babies are definitely wired differently from birth, no doubt about it. Parks was never a "laid back baby". He was always more high maintenance and particular. However, much of his demanding behavior that I just described is because I've never really told him "no" to those things before.
I felt like everytime he crawled up to me I "should" pick him up and most of the time...I could! It's just me and him at the house most days so I'm available to give me that kind of attention. I would take him to whatever object he was pointing at everytime and didn't think twice about what kind of message that was sending to his little brain. If we were reading a book and in the middle of the book he decided he wanted to read another one, I would get another book.
I realized a week ago that I was teaching him that whatever he wanted would be granted in an instant. This explained his mini-fits when suddenly I didn't not give him what he wanted. I was teaching him that my world revolves around meeting his every whim. I think it's probably a pretty common parenting mishap, especially with your first baby.
Of course, I pick him up if I know he's hungry, tired, hurt etc, etc. I certainly don't neglect Parks. I just realized I was doing him a disservice by giving in to every little demand and whim like I had been.
After getting advice from some wise, older moms and doing some reading here are some of my ground rules for "Operation De-throne".
- Only pick him up when I want to. This means I have released myself from feeling like everytime he crawls up to me I have to pick him up. Of course, I still pick him up a lot, but not when he's whining. My back is thanking me already!
- I don't take him to the objects he points and whines for. Once he stops whining, sometimes I'll take him over to what he wanted. It's not about depriving him, it's about teaching him that whining is not rewarded and that he doesn't get everything he wants.
- If he picks out a book, we finish that book. He is not allowed to throw it away half-way through and get another book. We also read the book as many times as I want to read the book.
- Utilize playpen time. We do this every morning so I can get ready or do house work.
Jackson and I are completely united on this so it really hasn't been that hard to do and we are already seeing a big improvement! He hasn't been whining as much and he is more self-occupied. It's awesome. It's amazing how a small paradigm shift can change so much. Parenting is hard and the "work" starts earlier than I thought. I know it's worth it though. Having obedient, respectful children is so worth it. Keep pressing on parents, your labor is not in vain!