Since we came back from Shanghai, she has been defiant. If she doesn’t get something, she’d say NO with capital letters, pounding the table and making the face. When I respond her with no, she’d be even more angry and even wants to hit me. That was a warning flag for me.
I understand that she is jet lagged (sleeping from 12pm to 8pm, and awake the whole night when I was still in China), therefore not physically comfortable. In addition, she was quite spoiled in China since grandparents, relatives and friends all love her. So she needs an adjustment process I guess. Still, it concerns me when I see these unfriendly behaviors in her, as they were bared somehow and now she feels empowered to express them. My first reaction was to respond with force, with time-out, not responding to crying, and even yelling back (not my best moment!). But they were not working. Her behavior didn’t change and I was really upset. So, I did what I always do, change “strategy”. I did a couple of things:
- Instead of responding with “violence and authority”, I talked to her friendly. I told her that the most important thing to do when expressing what she wants is to speak nicely. In return, I promise to speak to her nicely too, and when I don’t, she can remind me to do so. It is not an easy thing to do to keep calm with a fussy and demanding 3-yrs old, but I’m doing my best.
- When she’s acting out, I’d lower myself to her height, talk to her calmly to speak nicely, explain to her why she can’t do something, or she can if it’s not a wrong or right thing (like picking us this shirt vs the other, although it might not match her pant, but whatever), and when she behaves, appraise her that she’s doing great!
- Spend more time with her. I realize that many times that when she acts out, she’s actually demanding more time with me, not just me checking on the phone when I’m with her, but actually having a conversation with her or doing something together. It is a basic demand and although I am super busy dealing with jet lag, life, work and taking care of Tony and her, I still need to satisfy her basic need. So I’ve been just doing that. I talk to her for longer, asking about her day, thoughts, likes. Read with her or just be available for her more.
As result, she’s doing better. She seems happier, calmer, so does her exhausted mom.
Now a fun moment we had.
I don’t remember the context, but I told her that I sleep with Tony, and that when she grows up, she’ll find a man to sleep with. She thought about it for a minute or so and responded: “I sleep with Sofia S” who’s her best friend at school. I was laughing so hard at first but then realized how many logic reasoning went through her little mind when concluding on that. So funny!!! 😆