Simple Bounty

Finding Beauty, Grace and Sanity in a Busy World

Failing Jonathan February 7, 2008

Filed under: Parenting — katieosborne @ 8:43 pm
Tags: ,

I’m at a real loss. My relationship with Jonathan, whom I have watched a few days a week for the last two years, is completely deteriorating. It’s been a slow process over the last half year or so.

At first, I thought it was just the trials of caring for a three year old. I understand that it’s an age for boundary testing and increased independence, and I have been handling the challenges to my authority fairly well. The other issue has been that he gets upset when Jonas or Ella get in his way or mess up what he is playing with. Again, a typical three year old thing, and I have been just trying to encourage him to ask me for help when he needs it instead of lashing out at them.

Lately, though, he has been completely out of control. I guess the turn came after Christmas, and it’s slowly gotten worse and worse. The last two weeks have been HORRIBLE. It’s sad, but I dread getting up in the morning, knowing that there is a whole day of battling ahead.

He is continually pushing and hitting the babies. It usually doesn’t begin maliciously. He has been so hyper lately, and he just can’t control himself. He plays too rough; he acts without thinking; he yells. And he doesn’t stop when I tell him to.

I am actually wondering if a lot of his problems may be diet related. There is hardly anything in their home I see fit to feed Jonas. Eggs and bananas. That’s about it. The pantry is full of convenience snack that are loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors, etc. His poor little body is full of all these poisons.

I’m not sure how to broach the subject of diet with his mom, though. I think it might appear judgmental, and I don’t want to offend. But at the same time, I want to help Jonathan act better. I guess I’ll just start by talking to her about what has been going on and leave diet out of it for the time being.

I firmly believe that kids who feel good, act good. Not perfect, mind you, but they don’t act “naughty.”  I think it’s Dr. Sears who says that. I know Jonathan must be feeling pretty bad about himself.

Whenever I need to correct him, he bristles immediately. His eyes become angry, he snarls. This is all before I say a word. I try to always use gentle guidance and correction. I admit, I fall short all the time. I am not as patient and kind as a mom or a caregiver as I strive to be. But I usually do a pretty good job of keeping my cool and not being outwardly angry. I try so hard to approach him in a way that will not escalate the situation.

Yet, he grows defensive and belligerent immediately. He pushes, hits, spits, tells me he doesn’t like me (to which I say “well, I like you, and I will always like you no matter what”), tries to run away, etc. He almost never obeys me, no matter how simple and benign the request.

I feel completely powerless.

And now this week, I have begun feeling really angry, and I’m not doing a very good job of hiding it. I’ve yelled at Jonathan twice. Today he pushed Jonas to the ground because he didn’t want to do what I asked. He was in the corner, and after he pushed Jonas, he grabbed the base of the lamp and banged it into the wall. It wasn’t really this single episode that caused me to lose it. It’s just all the little (and big) episodes throughout the day that keep piling up. Anyway, I shouldn’t make excuses. I yelled, and I picked him up forcefully and sat him down in the chair.

I feel like CRAP. This is not how I want to be. It’s unproductive, and it just further undermines my relationship with him. Yet I find myself in this place. I’m frustrated because I don’t feel like I’m having any kind of impact on him, no matter how I try. I’m indignant about how he treats everyone, from the youngest to myself. He has no respect for me at all, and he used to absolutely adore me. He really did. I don’t understand what happened. And now, I find myself just feeling very angry and barely even caring anymore whether I keep it in check or not.

And to make matters worse, today I cried. I cried in front of him. He was eating graham crackers at my house and kept rubbing them together and crumbling them, and I asked him a couple times to stop because he was making a mess. Finally, he looked right at me, and crushed them in his hands, and then he ran away. I feel abused. I know that sounds melodramatic, but I do. He looks at me like he could care less.

I feel like I am failing him, but I don’t know what to do to make things better. I don’t know how he is with his parents, but I know it is not just me. Michelle also watches the kids, and she is facing the same challenges. I guess it gives me some consolation knowing that it’s not just me, but it doesn’t change things, and it doesn’t shed any light on the situation.

I feel like giving up right now.


4 Responses to “Failing Jonathan”

  1. chaos Says:

    I just want to say I’ve been in a similar situation with a child acting out. When I was in a similar situation I was told not to over react to anything the child does. For whatever reason this is the kind of attention he is craving…On a positive note it means that he trusts you enough to show his feelings to you. Most likely it has nothing whatsoever to do with you.

  2. TheDeeZone Says:

    I agree with chaos.

    The diet may or may not be related to the behavior. It is not the magic cure many think it to be.

    Have there been any recent changes in the boy’s home or life that would have caused this behavior?

  3. katieosborne Says:

    Thanks for the thoughts.

    He started preschool two mornings a week at the beginning of the school year. His mom works about 3 days a week, but lately she has been swamped with work, and just last week she has started working an extra day. This definetely could be playing into the situation. It’s likely, actually. It makes sense that he would be acting out in order to get more attention. It seems that his behavior started to decline before this, though.

    I am just going to try to give him as much quality time as possible. That’s hard sometimes when there’s two 1.5 year olds to care for too.

  4. TheDeeZone Says:

    That sounds like a good idea. Have you tried planning a special activity or time just for him? It doesn’t really have to be a big deal.

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