Oh boy, has J. Bug been giving us a run for our money.Whether it’s the terrible 2’s, the impending 3’s, or something entirely different – he definitely has his own opinions and likes to make sure we know them. On his preschool daily report a couple of weeks ago, we got an interesting note. Usually his reports say things like, “We learned about the letter H today!” or, “J. put the fireman puzzle together faster than anyone! The whole class clapped for him!” This particular report said, “J. has learned to say the word ‘no.’ We’ve worked on telling him that God wants us to obey our parents and teachers, and we appreciate that you reinforce that at home!” On a separate day, we were also told that they’ve been having a tough time getting him to rest quietly on his nap mat during nap time. Apparently he’s been too busy rolling around (thereby kicking other sleeping kids) and trying to identify letters and sound out words around the room.
Oh boy. We love, love, love his teachers and I hated to see that the same defiance we were experiencing at home was now happening at school, too. I have this (hopefully irrational) fear that my children will be the kids in class that the teachers secretly hope gets just sick enough that he has to stay home. I fear that other parents are saying, “I really hope my child doesn’t pick up J.’s behavior. Did you see the fit he was throwing yesterday?” And maybe it’s because I worked in a daycare, but I want Bug’s teachers to know that I welcome suggestions or ideas for how to better discipline and teach him. I do not have a degree in motherhood and am pretty much wingin’ the entire thing. Also because of my background in childcare AND because I know my son, I knew that the words, “J. has learned to say the word ‘no.” is code for, “Your child has been throwing temper tantrums like crazy, and it’s finally enough of an issue that we need to tell you about it.”
So with those fears in mind, I jotted this quick email to his teacher:
Dear Ms. S.,
I just wanted to touch base with you about some of the behavioral issues we’re dealing with in J. Bug right now. As you mentioned on his report yesterday, he has definitely learned the word, “no” and is very fond of exercising his independence. 🙂 We’ve actually been having a difficult time with his choices to be defiant and disobedient in the last three weeks or so. He’s a very sweet and very smart little boy, but he can also be very stubborn.
I wanted to share with you some of things we’re doing at home to help with this behavior, so you’ll know the discipline and methods he’s used to. When he tells us “no” or throws a fit, we tell him that he is being disobedient. We give him one warning that if he isn’t obedient, he’ll need to go to time out. Because he’s used this warning as a way to stall, if he doesn’t obey immediately we take him to time out. After time out, we explain why he was being disobedient, and ask him to say he’s sorry and give us a hug and kiss. If he refuses this, he stays in time out and is given another chance every three minutes until he chooses to obey.
We’ve also begun memorizing scripture as a family, and I’ve chosen Colossians 3:20 as his verse for the next couple of weeks, “Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” We talk quite a bit about obeying Mommy and Daddy, Ms. S. and Ms. G., and other adults who are taking care of him.
We know that J. thrives on consistency, so we’re trying to be as consistent in our discipline as possible. We also know that he loves to see how far he can push his boundaries, and will definitely notice if we let him get away with something once or twice.
We’re having a tough time knowing if these behavioral issues are just part of him being an almost three year old, or if he’s an especially stubborn child. I would really love any insight you can offer, and would also love any suggestions for discipline or structure to help him understand that disobedience isn’t acceptable. Thank you so much for all you do and for how hard you work!
The next day, I got this response:
We have experienced similar issues with J. and we appreciate the heads up on the pushing the boundaries. You are doing a great job. We also use time out and we will strive to be more consistent although with 12 little ones running around sometimes we let things slide. We also use the phrase “Obey your parents and teachers”. I do believe that this is just part of being a three year old and being exceptionally bright. I called my children little “mad scientists” at this age because they were always “testing”. We love J. and thank you for your support.
Ms. S. and Ms. G.
Can you see now why I love his teachers? I read through the note quickly and felt confident that he was getting the reinforcement and consistent discipline at school he needed. Then I read it again, only this time I noticed a phrase I hadn’t picked up on before.
Really? I mean, I know Bug is pretty smart and I know he really loves learning. But do his teachers really consider him exceptionally bright? I looked up some of the developmental milestones he should be hitting, and I found myself a little surprised. Socially and emotionally, he’s right on target. He’s physically a slight bit ahead (that boy has amazing balance and doesn’t stop moving unless he’s asleep). But cognitively, I’m working on things with him that apparently most 4 and 5 year olds are working on.
We’re learning how to sound out words. He loves showing me how some objects are “the same” and some are “different.” He can recognize rhyming sounds and can follow directions with up to three steps. He loves patterns and can tell me what comes next when shown a pattern. Bug can identify all of his colors, letters, and shapes, and can count to ten. He can recognize numbers up to about 25.
I mean, I’m not saying my child’s a genius. I don’t know that I realized quite how advanced he is, though. Cognitively, he’s ready for kindergarten. I need to do more research on the topic, but I have a feeling that’s why that boy can wear me out so much. It takes a lot of work to make sure he’s entertained, and I spend a lot of time trying to stay three steps ahead of him.
When I was pregnant with Bug, I read that eating a lot of Omega 3 when you’re pregnant and nursing will help your child’s brain develop to its full potential. I loaded up on salmon and flax seed during both of my pregnancies, so I guess you could say I asked for it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, my “exceptionally bright” child is trying to eat dirt right now. Oh, and look at that – he’s also trying to put a rock up his nose. Sounds just about right.