Saturday, May 21, 2011

Taming the Beast.

Midnight, Saturday. Checking in with my therapist [blog]. I need to vent in order to sleep.

I am really worried about Elliot biting. Many people have told me that this is normal, toddlers are frustrated because they can't communicate yet, the teeth hurt, yada yada. Well, it's not getting better and whatever we do does not seem to work. What makes me really fret is the fact that when Elliot seems upset or mad, his intuition is to hurt someone else. This I cannot seem to accept or deal with well.

Elliot mainly seems to bite me, but Thursday he bit Renee. I assume I am normally the target because I reprimand him more than anyone else and this makes him mad. Sometimes, though, it does seem he is being super-lovey and it turns into an overwhelming sense of emotions that he does not know how to express. But lately, it has really been more when he is mad. Today, he bit another child more than once.

Midday today, we had a birthday party for our neighbor's daughter. Their son, Riley, is 8 months older than Elliot (so, 2 1/2). He came over to play this morning while they got ready for the party. Poor Riley-- he really got the brunt of Elliot's bad habits and the repercussions during a grumpy morning. They don't get to play together very often but they certainly know each other. Of course, Elliot didn't share well-- that's expected. What I didn't expect was how fast he would turn to biting to protect his things. I fully didn't expect this and he did it before I could even realize what was going on. When shoving Riley's hand away didn't work, he so quickly bent down to bite his hand. Later, Elliot was hugging, or so I thought, and it turned intense and into an aggressive bite of Riley's sweatshirt. I think there was another attempt too. When I would prompt Elliot to go back and hug Riley as an apology, little Riley would back away.

Riley was so good here and played so well. There were fun moments, thankfully, when they would chase each other down the hallway, laughing, but the playtime pretty much ended when Elliot gave Riley a nice shove in the kitchen and they both went down. Really?!

We have been talking a lot already lately about Elliot's aggressiveness with grabbing and being territorial. Renee and us were discussing how we could get him to more group settings, organized play times, whatever. Most of these settings, however, still have us with him and we take him to the park almost everyday where there are other kids. And he did ok at the party today where there were about 6 other kids there around his age. (He did seem to find his space and play parallel, but that, again, is normal for this age.) It seems he's fine with older kids and even somewhat ok with a group of kids around his age. It's the one-on-one with kids his size that seems to be threatening.

When I mentioned this situation to Riley's grandmother today, she said, "Well, your house is Elliot's territory." We don't often have just one or two kids over to play. Or, if we do, it's for the 30 min before bedtime when we're playing poker or something.

Today really upset me and I can't seem to let it go. Pat is telling to stop rehashing it, but he wasn't here to see the beast. It was definitely the most aggression and angst I've seen from him. And repeatedly. My sadness also comes from Riley's experience-- he got to play a bit, be the brunt of Elliot's biting and shoving, and then sit there and wait while I reprimanded Elliot and Elliot cried. Fun times, eh?

I at first thought that we need to find a place to drop him off, with a group of kids and one caretaker or something, where he would have to learn to deal with others better and maybe get clocked back a few times. But, as I mentioned, the strange places with groups don't seem to be a big problem in themselves. I really think there is something to the notion that this is Elliot's space at home and it's rarely invaded by one individual that is of similar stature. Maybe that's a real threat to him.

So, how do we battle this? Invite individual kids over for playdates, knowing they will get bit and hoping they will help us tame the beast? Hold tight and cross our fingers? Sigh. Is this one of those phases (like rocking hard in the high chair?) that will pass as well? That's the hard part-- sticking with your plans of how to deal with it to stay consistent when it does not seem to be working... or changing it up to try to find something that works. I have trouble staying calm during these situations because I am appalled. So Elliot elicits a reaction from me for sure, but at the same time, I don't think it's really appropriate to just stay calm and say this is wrong and move on. It's a pretty big deal to bite someone.

Renee has been great. After talking with her about this, she read some articles for some tips. She confirmed the whole idea of trying not to give a big reaction, but I just can't seem to let go of the idea that he needs to know that I am appalled by this. I don't know what to do.

This whole thing of "Oh, he doesn't know..." doesn't fly with me. He knows and that's what worries me the most. He knows it hurts and that is exactly why he is using his teeth.

God or whomever, grant me patience and wisdom. We all need it in this household. And thus we enter the Twilight Zone of the Terrible Twos.

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