Today marks the last day of the Kaper being three years old; it (to me) is significant. Starting tomorrow I move from having any ‘toddlers’ and having two full blown ‘kids’. The summer was hard for Kaleb, struggling to find his place in a family focused on his ailing brother he sought attention through temper tantrums, rough behavior, anger and easy meltdowns. I knew the main cause of his problems but struggled to find easy solutions, I felt like I was letting him down, neglecting him, and in the end failing him. Then September started and with it a new routine of school and home life. It was not a seamless transition for any of us. Kaleb fought me hard on walking the 15 minute walk to school, he came home utterly exhausted at the end of the day and by 6pm was a force to be reckoned with. Then I started reading a book that I was given for review called ‘Parenting your power child’ by Kevin Leman. I didn’t start out thinking it would do anything to help me, in fact I read it only because I ‘had’ to for the blog and to be honest I am late in my review because each chapter was packed full of advice that I wanted first to try before I did a review.
One night I was sitting drinking coffee, recovering from yet another family dinner gone wrong when I started reading a chapter called ‘Raising Attila the Hun’ and the more I read the more I saw THE KAPER. Yes, my sweet, adorable, beautiful child was my power child. He was my own personal terrorist! Through the book I was able to see that I was actually walking on egg shells around him, not just because of his attitude (though that was part of it) but because of my guilt from the past year of trying to get Josh the help and care he needed. Kaleb had figured out how to ‘work me’ and he was getting pretty good at it. This book has many examples of the ‘power kid’ and as I read each one I realized that I was reading about Kaleb as if Kevin Leman himself had met and written a book about my sweet youngest son. I also began to see how as the parent I had lost control, and how it was on me to get that control back. So I began to change simple things, dinner for example had become a battle ground of him refusing to eat and then when finally forced to eat he would chipmunk his food until finally someone (generally Tim) would have to dig it out of his cheeks for fear of him choking on it in the night. I began to dread dinner time! I tried Kevin’s advice and told Kaleb that he didn’t HAVE to eat but he did need to stay at the table until we were all finished. If he didn’t eat, but wanted a snack later I would set his left overs in front of him. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he might as well eat with us because he’d have to eat it eventually. If he didn’t eat it, and didn’t ask for a snack later then he just went to bed, no dinner but big breakfast in the morning. Things slowly began to change at the dinner table. When the talk changed from ‘Kaleb eat your food!’ it left room for ‘how was your day?’ and now when I sit down with my guys I get to hear all about their friends at school, the games they play and how many sleeps it is until the next thing they are looking forward to.
This book is changing the quality of our family life. The routines I have set up as a result of this book have left me room to enjoy quality time my youngest who was so desperate for attention, it’s made room for less time outs and many more hugs and snuggles. Kaleb now has 20 minutes alone with me to walk to school, 20 minutes alone with me to walk home from school and a little time left over to read a book before Josh gets home from school. Tantrums still happen, but my attitude towards them have changed, I meet them with calm and quiet and there is no giving in. As a result they are becoming less frequent, less ‘violent’ and I am starting to see a new child emerge.
At school yesterday I had another mother ask me if Kaleb was my son, I felt my stomach knot at first as I hesitantly said yes (thinking … what has he done?) but she smiled and said ‘oh, he’s such a lovely boy, always so pleasant and sweet to the other kids); the teacher who overheard this agreed and said ‘he’s such a pleasure to teach.’
So. One Kaleb’s last day of being three I decided that it was time to finally write this book review and to thank Kevin Leman for writing this book for mothers (and Fathers) like me, who struggle with a power child. The things I have learned will serve us well for both boys in the years to come.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.