Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Trials of a Special Needs Mom- The Defiant 4 Year Old

My son is testing every single bone in my body. If I say do you want a drink...he throws the drink. If I say hold mommy's hand...he yanks it away. If I say time for bed...he throws a monster fit. And if I say walk with mommy...he runs the other way. "No" means "yes I will!" everytime. These days it seems like a no win situation for mom at every turn. But what makes this situation so unique is my son doesn't have any speech. For all toddlers, they reach a stage of independence that most people refer to as "terrible twos"-- a very normal developmental milestone. Children begin to understand they can object or even say "no" whenever they please. And to their little feels pretty good to get a "rise" out of mom or dad. My son, for example, thinks it's really funny. It's exciting on the one hand to know that my globally delayed child has reached a typical developmental milestone. But on the other's the most frustrating period of our existence together as mother and son.

Parents with typically developing children have the luxury of talking their toddlers off the edge. "Johnny if you continue to lay on the floor screaming the birthday party is off and we're going home." Or "Mary, if you throw your sippy cup one more time, I'm taking away your (favorite toy)." It requires some negotiation but it generally works or helps at a minimum. In my case, I don't have that luxury.

I can't say I've actually figured out this stage of my son's development. But I have stopped catering to the madness. I've stopped picking him up off the floor-- in Walmart. If he refuses to eat we just don't eat. If he wants to throw a toy-- it disappears. It may not be the best plan...but it's keeps me sane. I think every mother gets to a point where deep breathing and patience are about all you can rely on to get through a stage you pray won't last forever.

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