lessons is happiness: make a plan

This sweet boy right here has been throwing us for a loop for the past couple of years. Since he was about 2.5 Finn has been Jekyll and Hyde. About 60% of the time he was a joyful, spirited, happy kid. Then that other 40% of time he was nasty and literally out of control. He had some dietary issues that we worked out (the details of which I will save for another post). Solving those problems cut put him at about 90% awesome, and 10% nasty. It has taken some time to realize that the remaining nastiness revolves almost entirely around his grandparents.

Finn has three sets of wonderful grandparents. The problem doesn't lie in them. The problem is that Finn is jealous of the attention his grandparents give to his little brother. I cannot tell you how good it felt to finally figure that out. For the last few years it has been like a light switch turning my sweet kid into a monster as soon as his grandparents walk through our door. Pushing, yelling, defiance, potty talk, whining, and destruction were all to be expected. No amount of reason, threats, or consequences did any good. After all, the kid is five.

So once I finally pinpointed the problem I immediately started to make a plan. I pulled out my all time favorite parenting book, Between Parent and Child, and read about jealousy. The next morning I had a talk with Finn in order to validate his feelings (as the book suggests). It went a little something like this:

Me: You don't like it when Grandma and Grandpa give attention to Leo.
Finn: No, I hate it.
Me: You wish you could have all the attention when they come to our house.
Finn: Leo gets too much of the attention. Before he was born I got it all.
Me: It makes you sad that you have to share the attention.
Finn: Yes, it does. (shoulders drop, voice gets a little weepy)

After that Finn and I agreed to make a plan for the next time his grandparents come. He suggested we make Leo take 10 naps (I wish!). And so we have a plan. In this case the plan is to make a plan (how convenient is that for my blog topic today!) and talk about how the time with grandparents will be shared before they arrive. I can't be sure that this plan will work, but I feel soooooooo much better just having one. Instead of going into a visit with my teeth clenched just waiting for that first angry outburst, I have hope. And a plan.

LESSON: If something is troubling you, MAKE A PLAN.

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