Well, I'm happy to report that the storm that had been wreaking havoc around our house for the past month or so seems to be heading out of dodge. Thank God. For those who are oblivious to what I am talking about, check out this post.
How did I make it through? It's hard to say for sure, but here's what has happened so far:
- I made a vow to myself that I was not going to lose it, i.e., I would be a role model of calmness. She hung in there with the whining and yelling, but eventually, she would come down from her room and turn her attitude around when I did stay calm. My goal was to model how to take care of myself, e.g., not tolerating being yelled at, screamed at, etc. Hopefully, she will remember this if/when someone tries to treat her this way.
- I did some investigating. I spoke with her teacher, grandparents, and anyone else who has ongoing contact with her. None of them report any noticeable changes in behavior or mood. This is a telling sign -- all this lovely behavior is for our benefit. Lucky us.
- We've settled our schedule down. The evening hours at the coffee shop are done and dad is home more often. That leaves more opportunities for me and the girl to get out together. We've also been able to go out more as a family. We've done more together in the last week than we have in the last two months.
- We are trying to offer more frequent and nutritious snacks. I wonder if some of the mood swings are related to sugar levels. I'll be the first to admit that our mealtimes have rather lackluster in content of late. We have made sure that there is steady variety of fruit in a large bowl on the table for the munchies between meals.
- Preventative medicine, i.e., distraction, distraction, distraction! It is much easier to prevent a meltdown than to clean up after one. Being more in tune with how much more quickly her mood has been to turn, I was much more prepared to come up with distractions to avoid the storm. For example, someone squished the beans she had brought home from school that were to be planted when they sprouted. The storm was a brewing and I pointed out that the butterflies we order for our butterfly garden had not yet arrived. I asked her if she remembered when we bought the garden and she totally forgot about the squished beans.
- We both got a break. She went with grandma and grandpa for the weekend for a much needed break. It did a world of good for both of us.
- We had a discussion while we were BOTH in a good mood. We talked about all the yelling and fussing and I asked her if she understood why I sent her to her room when she acted that way. She said "to punish me." I told her that I was not sending her to her room as a punishment, but rather to give her some time to pull herself together. What a difference that made! If she started to get sassy, all I had to say was "Remember our agreement? You said I should send you to your room to chill out when you get like this? Thanks for understanding."
- We are exploring horseback riding lessons as a mother/daughter thing. My son and husband have the baseball thing. I thought it would be nice to have a girl thing. She needs an outlet and something to look forward to that is a positive experience for her. Hopefully, this will do the trick.
- She has been sick. After a visit to the med center on Sunday and a fever filled night, she seems to be back to her happy, mostly compliant self. We do still have an appointment with the doctor on Friday just to make sure we aren't missing anything.
So, what's the lesson here? I guess it would to stop, drop and roll. Oh no, I mean stop, re-evaluate, re-group and develop a plan. Have you had a similar experience with your kids? What worked for you? Please post your thoughts (and suggestions -- I still may need them!).