I realized this afternoon that today is Thursday. I was so excited to post yesterday that I didn’t realize it was only Wednesday! Whoops! So today marks six weeks home.
Today DoubleShot and I butted heads. Checking the mail is one of DoubleShot’s favorite things! We had to tell her the mail isn’t delivered until after one. So every day she watches the clock carefully and wants to check the mail as soon as possible. When she asked today if it was time to go check the mail, I replied that it was and instructed her to go get the mail key. She normally does so without a problem but today she plopped into a chair and gave me an emphatic “no!”
I grabbed the mail key myself and headed out the door. I could hear her running behind me and I knew exactly what was going to happen. Right outside the door, she held her hand out for the mail key. “Key!”
I shook my head. “Nope, you wouldn’t get it when I asked you to.”
She gave me a really dirty look, harrumphed, and headed back into the house.
I took my time getting the mail, trying to curb my anger. Why does she trigger me so? She acts like a toddler much of the time when she’s dysregulated. So why does it anger me when she refuses to see logic? Three year olds don’t understand. Why should I expect her to understand?
When I went back into the house, DoubleShot was curled up on the couch sulking. I left her alone for several minutes but knew that I needed to reestablish connection before too long. I finally crouched down in front of the couch, waited for eye contact, and then asked if she was ok. Shrug. Are you mad at me? Shrug. “That’s ok. I still love you.” “Yucky!!” And then giggles and all was ok in her world.
I was reminded of some of my parenting training. First, what was driving her behavior? Why did she refuse my instructions to get the mail key? My theory is that she wasn’t feeling completely connected with me at the time and was trying to interact in the only way she knew how. She doesn’t yet have the words to tell me that she’s upset. Sometimes I wonder if she even knows herself why she’s feeling upset.
Second, why is it so hard to parent to her emotional age? It probably would have been better if I had forgotten about the mail for a few minutes and reached out to her to figure out why she was refusing my instructions. On a positive note, it was good that she chased after me. It was good that it only took a few minutes before she was regulated and could move on with her day.
We are starting to teach emotion words so that we can ask her if she’s sad or angry or lonely or happy or stressed. I’d like to find some sort of emotion chart in both English and Chinese that I can post on the fridge. I’ll probably have to create one myself. Once we have learned the basic emotion words, we can start trying to communicate why she feels that way. Right now, she’s definitely not ready to answer why. But I would like to start teaching her to name her emotions.
Another thing we need to work on is teaching DoubleShot appropriate outlets for her anger. Yesterday she was angry about something I told her. She picked up Bruno’s feather on a stick toy and started smacking Baba’s chair with it. I asked her to stop, saying she’ll break both the chair and the toy. She stalked off and started hitting the walls with the toys. I took it out of her hand and she fled downstairs. It’s not wrong for her to be angry but she doesn’t know what to do with that angry energy. We need to find an outlet for her. I’ve been thinking about a punching bag or a weighted medicine ball that she can throw at the floor.
Every day is an adventure! We are still making positive strides, just need to keep adjusting our thinking so that we can better parent DoubleShot. I hope for her to someday have a healthy expression of her emotions.