Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good Times and Bad Times

When Sammy was 2 1/2, that was a really rough age for me. It seemed he was constantly testing the limits, throwing tantrums, and generally being a pain in the butt. Not that there weren't good times, too, but in general, it was very trying for me.

Then, shortly before he turned 3, things turned around. He became an easy-going, happy child. He still throws an occasional tantrum, or willfully defies me, but I can usually turn things around pretty quickly. Sunday, he didn't nap (par for the course on the weekends these days) so by 6:00 he was falling apart with tiredness. After about half an hour of butting heads with him over EVERYTHING, he came up to me and said, "I need a hug and a kiss." We snuggled for a few minutes, and then I had a talk with him about how tired he was, and that that was probably why he was having such a hard time listening. Wouldn't you know, after that he acted like an angel until bedtime at 7:00. Easy peasy.

So, what's this I've always heard about the 3's being so much more terrible than the 2's? Unfortunately, I've discovered this current behavior is probably a short-lived phase. I read a study recently that basically said that children tend to be easy-going and well-behaved around their birthdays. Around their half-birthdays, they go through a phase where everything changes and their behavior becomes disruptive, defiant, and lock-yourself-in-the-bathroom-and-have-a-good-scream inducing. (Sorry, I did a quick Google search, and couldn't figure out the right combination of keywords to link to the study. You'll just have to take my word for it, unless I can come up with the citation later.)

The biggest problem for me is that my kids are about a year and a half apart in age. If you do the math, you'll see that we will always have a kid going through the difficult phase. This is proving true right now - Natalie is going through a difficult stage, while Sammy has been well-behaved.

I also have a copy of a "Cycles of Development" chart from The Gesell Institute of Child Development, but that is even less encouraging. I don't know if I can legally scan in the chart and post it here, but the citation on the bottom of the sheet says the Gesell Institute books are available at your public library. The cycles are: A) Smooth; B) Breakup; C) Sorting-Out; D)Inwardizing; E) Expansion; and F) "Neurotic". I don't exactly know the definitions of all those categories, but "smooth" is the only one that sounds promising to me. The only ages under the "smooth" phase are: 4 weeks, 40 weeks, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, and 16 years. That seems like an awful lot of time spent in cycles B through F.

Maybe no one but me is interested in this sort of thing, so I'm sorry if I've bored you to tears! (I have a degree in psychology, so obviously I find the brain fascinating.)


Special K said...

I'm a laughing hyena over here. The categories sound wretched to me. And the fact that you have three kids going through all these phases is hilariously written. Oh boy, the 3's are horrendous at some point. But 4's were pretty darn okay. Now age 5....a well-behaved angel with an attitude who knows you well enough to push each of your buttons.

Special K said...

I have 2 kids starting into the 3's....not 3 kids