I bet it’s getting old hearing me talk about Owen’s issue with using gentle hands. Believe me, I’m tired of talking about it. But honestly? It’s this one recurring issue that won’t seem to go away. And while I know it’s a totally normal developmental phase, I have the momentary nightmare that he’s going to grow up to be a bully and to use his own strength to hurt others. And the thought of that just kills me.
Every kid has their “thing”, right?
In almost every way, Owen is a total joy. He’s sweet and funny and follows the rules (ahem, most of the time). He sleeps like a dream and is super social and fearless in all the best ways. He’s an adventurous eater and smart well beyond his years. He remembers amazing details about just about everything and his imitations of people bring me close to wetting my pants with hysterical laughter.
But y’all? The kid is ROUGH.
When he was a baby, this quality used to be a source of pride. “He barely even cries when he falls/bonks/tumbles. He’s so resilient.” I loved the way he would pick himself right back up, brush himself off, and try whatever he was trying again. I much preferred this rough-and-tumble style to others who I saw crying on the playground because someone cut in front of them in line at the slide, or melting into a sobbing mess when someone brushed past them as they were running by. And I’m sure I reinforced it by praising his strength and impressive motor skills. Being tough was a good thing, right?
And then as the months went by, we started filling out incident report after incident report at school. Owen got a bloody lip from running into a bookcase. Owen jumped off the climber and scraped his knee. Owen got a black eye from hitting himself in the face with a book during playtime. And after a while the incidents began to center around altercations with friends. Owen scratched a friend when they both wanted to play with the cash register toy. Owen grabbed a friend by the neck and pulled him to the ground when they were both using the bubbles. Owen kicked his teacher when she told him it was time to clean up his toys.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not think there is some huge issue here. I’m not actually worried about my kid becoming an axe-murderer because he’s going through a rough phase. I think he’s just learning how to control his body. And I wonder if it’s partly because he is so advanced in other areas, that this body-control area is one that has taken a backseat, so he has some catching up to do. Kind of like kids who walk early and talk late.
Like all phases, I’m sure this too shall pass. In the meantime, we’re using the sticker chart with some success, and talking constantly about what gentle hands look and feel like. And we’ve been instituting “rest your body” times (aka time outs), with limited success, when his behavior could hurt other people.
Last night after dinner, Owen walked right up to me and SLAPPED me on the back. I spun around and said, “Hey! Buddy! That hurt! We do NOT slap people like that. Do you need to go rest your body?”. He responded, “No. I was just BURPING YOU LIKE A BABY, Mommy.”.
Benjamin and I died laughing. At least he’s creative!