Friday, April 15, 2011

Social Skills

I'm finding myself very confused with a few parenting issues. First, Oliver has a habit of getting out of bed after we put him down and saying he needs to use the restroom. He knows we don't say "no" to that request so he then stays on the potty forever trying to prolong his sleep. For a while now he's been getting out of his bed and sneaking around the house while we are watching TV or doing work. Eventually he will make a noise and we'll find him lurking and send him back to bed. It's an ongoing struggle where we try not to get angry, as we find that being consistent and calm makes the process go faster. But I find myself wondering whether I should be super strict, or mellow about it each night. Let me be clear in saying that we have never even one time told him "okay you don't really have to go to bed". So it's not like we are sending mixed signals. Yet he is unrelenting in his stubbornness and continuing attempts to push the boundaries.

The other issue is that Oliver is a bully. I'm just going to say it. He always knows what he wants, he leads whomever he is playing with, he often manhandles others in his play, and he just grabs things out of others' hands. He's not very good at sharing, though he spends the bulk of his day with other children. In a situation where he and another child are playing, he may yank a toy out of the other child's hand without warning, and then I find myself going over to try to ask him to give it back. Oliver flat out refuses me again and again, so then I'm faced with the choice of letting it go, or actually MODELING the bad behavior by yanking the toy out of his hand to give back to the child. The other parent inevitably will coach their child to find another toy, and the situation ends. It is a huge challenge, and is embarrassing for me for sure.

Matthew and I are stuck wondering whether this behavior we are seeing is "just normal two year old behavior" or whether it's signs of negative future behavior that need to be nipped in the bud every time they are seen. It's hard wondering what other parents must think of you when they see your child behaving in a selfish way.

I hate to be negative, as Oliver has a lot of wonderful traits too, which I should probably highlight more than I do. He's so physically talented and has a great sense of humor. He knows what he likes, and is very orderly and analytical. There are times when we have a real conversation, communicating real thoughts and emotions with his limited vocabulary. I know he's very smart and confident, and in the long run I would rather him be an independent thinker than someone who needs direction from above. I know I'll have the tendency to gloss over his achievements and highlight the areas for improvement, which will be hard for Oli.

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