Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Strong Willed Child: A Cry for Help.

Today we met with friends at our local splash park. We ate chicken nuggets, sipped on snow cones and ran through water fountains like there was not a care in the world.

Then it was time to leave. And all hell broke loose.

Leaving places has been an epic battle lately. Most who read this blog know that our first born is quite the strong-willed character. If there was a spot on the spectrum of strong will that exceed actual strong will, I'm pretty sure Brayden would be placed on that spot. If ever there was a time in my life that I understood the term "a child who keeps you on our knees", now would be that time. I've been praying over him every night, praying for myself and Drew, and praying for our family. I'm in near tears even typing this post, so in a desperate plea to the internet world that seems to always have fun, unique answers to so many other life problems I seem to have, I figured I'd see if anyone has dealt with something on a similar scale.

We've always been a family that has given time warnings if we're leaving. 10 minutes, then 5, then 2, then it's time to go. For the most part, until recently, this method has worked well with Brayden. Now, despite my most valiant efforts of stemming off the tantrum drama, we still leave in utter melt down rebellion mode. If you've ever seen me out in public leaving somewhere with both of my kids, I apologize. It's not pretty, and it looked something like this today:

Me: OK boys it's time to go (after giving the 10,5,2 minute warnings). Connor asks to be held, and I oblige, although he's pushing 30 pounds and I'm almost positive my discs in my back will slip at any minute. I also carry atleast one backpack filled with the works: sippy cups, food, snacks, diapers, wipes and changes of clothes. It's a LOAD. In the other hand, I try to hold Brayden's hand.
Brayden: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I don't want to go. I don't want to go. I don't want to go. I don't want to go!!!!! (insert hitting. intentional hitting. He's only 3, but he can pack a good punch. I tremble with fear if he continues this habit when he's 15. You may find me socked out on a stretcher calling 911 after I have to tell him he can't have friends come over for a nerf gun war.
Me: (bending down to his level and holding his hands at his side): Brayden, we've experienced a lot of fun this morning. And it's a great blessing. We need to be grateful for the time we have, and need to leave with a happy heart.
Brayden: repeat of what happened above, now with kicking. He's also upped his game over the past week and tried biting (today he accomplished his goal, and my wrist now bears teeth marks to prove it).
Me: OK, if you chose to have an ungrateful heart, we'll just all be mad about it together. I end up trying to desparetly cling to my 30 pound toddler, the pool bag, the backpack and the towels, all while gripping Brayden's wrist and pulling him along while he thrashes, kicks, screams and bites me. The entire way to the car.

His tantrum continued all the way home, and he cried his way to sleep for his nap. And somehow after reading all that, it still doesn't seem quite as bad written out as it was in person. It. Was. Bad.

Yall, I feel like a failure. Nothing I do is working, and Drew feels the same way. Brayden doesn't just do this in public; it's an everyday occurrence, even if we are at home. Most of our friends aren't blessed with children quite as strong willed or outwardly defiant :) And many tell me that someday I'll be grateful for his strong will and determination. I try to agree with them, but I'm mostly left emotionally drained and exhausted, not knowing how I will face yet another day or quarrels and fights with my 3 year old. Have any of you dealt with something similar and found something that works for your child? At this point we're all ears for something that may work. Feel free to email me if you don't feel comfortable leaving a comment. And above all, pray for me. Lord knows I need all the prayer I can get!

PS-- I feel like I should add that I LOVE Brayden. He does have such a sweet spirit and I know that somewhere deep inside of him that he doesn't WANT to be this way. I'm just a worn out mom who's trying to do the best thing with my kids and not really sure if I'm aiming in the right direction at all. That's all.

Brayden, on a slightly better day, although the 'tude is still shining through in this pic

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