Understanding my little boy's behaviour
This is a piece I wrote December last year. I decided to delve into this because I am facing with similar circumstances at home these days. So its revision time.
I had been tired (physically) and exhausted (mentally) as the carer of the house and Dhruv, till sometime ago.
Due to winters Dhruv’s outings and physical activities have decreased and because of this he used to stay in a high energy state throughout the day. With a nap in the later half of the afternoon he would charge up his energy for the evening time and for daddy to be home. As soon as daddy came back home the energy of the house used to increase manifold, two being a party. Euphoria would be the right word to describe it. So in this state Dhruv did a lot of mischiefs like screaming, throwing his toys all over the room, banging his cars and trucks, getting on the table and jumping onto the couch. Watching all this daddy and I gave the usual reactions screaming at him and threatening him, I from the kitchen area and daddy from his sitting space in the same room, the only difference being daddy’s intensity being much higher like pitaai kar dunga, bathroom main band kar dunga (I will beat you up, I will lock you up in the bathroom). Not that it was done any day but it was all threatening. And Dhruv was also shouting back louder. All this was taking a toll on me. Besides putting him to sleep had also become very difficult in this restlessness and it was taking as long as 11-11.30 to put him to sleep. Every night I was getting terrible headaches, I could not sleep properly and would remain tired for whole of the following day and again had to deal with the same evening setting day after day. For some reason Dhruv had stopped taking milk and had begun to eat less to always asking for chips and chocolates. Then I realised this was happening because I did not have the energy to endure pestering after telling him no, I was giving in and he was constantly asking for more and more, more of chips, chocolates and more of computer watching time. It was like I was spending the whole day trying to strike out deals with him and failing miserably at each one of them. And Dhruv is just a 2 and a half-year old child.
Doesn’t it give a nightmarish picture to you?
Then the classes of the ABC boys course started for which I had signed up in the fall. It was an attempt at my end to understand my growing up boy better. This course is meant for parents of boys from 2 to 5 years old.
The first week I attended the boys course I came to know that boys have a listening problem, some wiring problem in the brain so they cannot hear if you scream at them at loud pitch. And since they are not good communicators as compared to girls, they learn by doing and repeating their acts whereas girls would straight away understand what is it that they are doing for which no is being said. What boys will do is they will repeat their act several times to realize OK this is the thing that mummy is getting mad about. So the most effective technique with boys is not to speak to them from a distance but to go close to them, stoop down at their level, touch one of their shoulder and speak really low and calm with them. Touching the shoulder opens up their ears and gaining their sure attention. Here there is one more difference between boys and girls. While girls will look straight into your face at this to let you know that they are paying attention but boys will never do that. They will never look into your face, looking here and there sideways. Dhruv also keeps on murmuring something or the other in addition to looking here and there.
Initially it seemed to me like he was not listening since he used to constantly murmur ‘gaadi tod di, truck tod di’ destructive streak that he has. But it still calmed him to some degree. But the problem in totality still existed.
The second week. Some 17 techniques were discussed to deal with boys of which the more prominent and helpful ones apart from the above 2 were setting the boundaries and making the rules for boys. So at the insistence of the instructors, I chose the early morning time when Dhruv after waking up came straight to where I was sitting drinking my tea. We were both relaxed sitting side by side eyes on the wall on the other side of the room, I started by telling him that look Dhruv we are making a rule from today that if you throw the toys in the room outside your playing mat area or if you are going to be nasty with them then whichever toy you throw or be nasty with mummy will take it away for 1 day. And to my surprise it worked wonders. I did not even repeat the rule more than once and for 2 straight days he did not throw any of his toys. I did not expect 100% precision to start with. And I had thought ‘ladka to haath se nikalta ja raha hai, sunta hi nahin hai’ (this boy has surely gone out of hand, doesn’t listen to anything I say). The third day he forgot or something and he threw one of his cars he was playing with. I simply took it away telling him the reason but only once. He cried since it was his favourite car but then understood. He got it back the next day as promised. The 4th day he threw his huge dump truck and he carried it to me to the kitchen telling me to keep it inside since he threw it ( dump truck tod di, andar band karo). The 5th day I was working in the kitchen area and from the corner of my eye saw that 2 of his building blocks got accidentally pushed outside the periphery of the mat. At that moment he looked in my direction to see if mummy is watching or not. In the split of seconds he realised mummy not watching and he grabbed the blocks back to the mat and pretended as if nothing had happened. That was the last day of throwing toys and its been 3 weeks now. One of my problem solved.
In the third week, motivation techniques were discussed, internal and external. Another eye-opening for me that children of such young age can also have high internal motivators. I was of the opinion that they do everything for rewards (external ones like stickers, park visits, bus rides, sweets etc).
And what followed after the class, before returning home we stopped by the supermarket for shopping. After we were finished with shopping and were waiting for our turn at the billing counter, Dhruv was very keen to put all the items from the shopping basket on the billing counter all by himself and after being done with it he called out aloud “Well Done Dhruv”. This was another surprise for me about his behaviour. It made me think whether he had also been attending my class albeit virtually, just in case.
With this, I began to give him space to do things on his own, to struggle a little bit so that when he would succeed in his small struggles his morale will further rise. In this process he has learnt wearing his shoes on his own.
The fourth week. It was about preparing the little boys for school. There were a lot of things discussed which frankly speaking I do not remember much now except for the bed time routine and concentration also because these areas were actually problem areas which still needed sorting out. So the last Monday, 2nd Dec, will have a special mention in my personal history that I decided to do away with the traditional style of letting the child be awake until the time the mother and the whole house is awake and keep sitting on the heads. I decided that when I have done so many new things and making deliberate changes so let me just also adopt the bed time routine. If it works for the children here why wont it work for me and Dhruv. It has to.
So now his bed time routine starts at 6 pm every evening. First going for the bath, then tidying up the toys in the mean time the dinner gets cooled down a bit, having a quiet dinner, brushing the teeth, going to bed, reading his favourite book of the moment (though it has been the same for the last 10 days – Daddy Hugs about a daddy elephant and a baby elephant, he calls it daddy baby book), switching off the lights, a bit of singing of the songs and rhymes of his requests and finally going off to sleep. All this process takes about an hour or so and he is usually asleep utmost by 7.30 to wake up at 7 am the next morning. I start cooking dinner by 5 pm so whole of this 2 and a half hour process grinds me but I m not the least complaining because after he has fallen asleep it is ultra quite time for me. I can peacefully finish my household chores, get some time to watch online the only television programme that I follow and an early bed time for me too even after one hour of reading every night. And especially getting out dedicated time for reading every night has been most satisfying.
All these changes have given great results and I feel energetic the whole day. The house is much more cleaner now, cabinets much more organised, laundry being done often and eating home cooked food daily without fail.
Revision time over. I am ready to go ahead from today to put into practice the pointers I learnt last winter. Wish me all the best.