Sunday, June 8, 2008

Toddler Struggles...

When I was pregnant with Christian, I couldn't stop reading. I got my hands on every book that I possibly could regarding child care. Nursing, Attachment Parenting, Baby-Wearing, Sleep Habits, Sleep Scheduling, Baby Massage, Organic name it, I read it. Then, the monkey arrived. The books were put away, and I pretty much forgot everything that I read anyway (other than my sleeping advice from Dr. Marc Weissbluth)

Well, I'm back to reading (AND NO, WE'RE NOT PREGNANT). These days, I'm concentrating more on discipline, dealing with temper tantrums, and general toddlerisms. I picked up this great book a couple of months ago. Christian is a full-on toddler these days. Along with the adorable little aspects of his sweet little personality (like waving to everyone and saying "Hi" to complete strangers), he is also a temper-tantrum, kicking and screaming little monster at times. One of the main points of this book is that we should speak "toddlerease" with our toddlers, which is in essence, cavemen speak. For example, instead of me saying "Christian, would you please stop flinging plates across the kitchen for Mommy?", I should say "Christian, No Throw Plates".

Ok. I get it. It totally makes sense...if you have a "typically hearing" child.

This "caveman" speak totally goes against everything that I try to do with Christian regarding his spoken language and listening skills. I'm supposed to be the positive language model in his life. And now, especially in these crucial weeks after implantation, I want to enrich his little world with as much language as possible. I certainly don't think "No eat socks" is a good way to communicate with him.

So, how am I supposed to discipline him? How do you get across to a deaf kid that you're not happy with his actions? I've tried over-exaggerating my facial expressions, aggressively signing "Stop!" and "No!". And I'm not just concerned about telling him that I don't like it when he grabs things off of the grocery store shelves, I'm concerned about his safety. Will he ever get to a point with his CI when he'll be able to understand my yells to him telling him to look for cars crossing the street?

My good friend Jenny and I talked about this a couple of nights ago while we were having cocktails. She's always rethinking "the norm" when it comes to parenting a toddler. Jenny is a parapalegic, uses a wheelchair, and she happens to have one the spunkiest and sweetest little girls as a daughter I've ever met. Her little girl is almost 2, and it has been such a joy experiencing Mommyhood with her. I asked her how she has figured out her world with her little girl. Jenny put it very simply. She told me it's all just been trial and error.

I decided that I really need to take Jenny's approach and experiment. See what works for us. I'm still going to worry about the safety issues associated with a child with hearing loss. I'm definitely going to continue to work on trying to break through these temper tantrums and outbursts. Most importantly, I'm going to only do what is good for our family.


leahlefler said...

Toddler-hood is not easy! With Matt, we'd try to give him an actual direction: (plate stays on the table, please) or (sit down in the bathtub) as opposed to (don't throw your food) or (no standing in the tub). I'd like to say it worked like a charm, but.... let's just say we're still working on it! He's pretty speech delayed so we didn't do the caveman speak thing with him. THe good thing is that he doesn't run in the street anymore or dig in the trash. The bad thing is that he has gotten more "creative" with his antics lately. The boy has some serious energy!

Good luck- if you find something that works well, let the rest of us know!!! I'm worried about Nolan since he won't hear me yelling at him to stay out of the street from a distance... the hearing loss complicates everything to another level!

Mom to Toes said...

hahaha! OMG, I did the same thing.

And, as with you, the only book remaining on the shelf is HSHHC. Dr. W is my hero.

Anyway... It is frustrating dealing with a language delayed child as they hit toddlerhood. I can totally relate. It was hard watching friends start using time outs and "reward based" discipline with their children when Toes just didn't have enough language to get it.

Friends would say "If she is fighting you getting into her jammies, just tell her you will take away her story time if she doesn't listen."


But, in time we worked it out and were able to start using the typical discipline techniques as she developed more language.

Your friend Jenny is very wise - find what works for your family. It is definitely a journey.

Christian is very fortunate to have you as his mom. :D

Shiloh said...

Hang in there! You will be fine. Christian probably understands more than you think he does. Kids are always smarter than we give them credit for. In our case, we try to treat Isaac as "normally" as possible. We signed with him from the time he was a year old and he caught on very quickly. We used time outs and I tried to over-exaggerate my facial expressions and then I would turn my back so he couldn't see me and smile because he looked so cute sitting on the time out chair. You will find out what works for your family. Whatever you do, do it consistently. Christian will catch on with such a commited and loving mommy.