In searching for insight about my nutty and difficult daughter I had some thoughts about Clark. The gist of The Happiest Toddler on the Block is that toddlers are actually cave people (I'm not kidding) with primitive ways of interacting and expressing themselves. They haven't yet developed the more advanced forms of communication that they will as they get older, and the best way to reach them is to speak their language, which means behaving like a cave person yourself. If a child is throwing a fit, for example, you mirror what you assume are her thoughts and you say, "Frances angry! ANGRY! ANGRY! You WANT another cookie! You WANT!" I've tried this a little bit and not only do I feel like a dope but it seems to make no difference at all. The other thing the book suggests is, when scolding them (and this is for the littlest ones I'm pretty sure), to growl at them. Growl.
So I have.
Clark doesn't respond much to "No, Clark. No hitting. That's not okay." It sort of floats past him. But it turns out that growling is very very effective. I've done it a few times now and each time he immediately dissolved into tears. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. It's not a loud growl, just a baring of my teeth, sort of like I assume a vampire might, and a throaty grrr. I find it very amusing that he responds so immediately, especially when he's been for the previous 30 seconds acting as if I haven't spoken. I switch from "No, no," to "grr" and everything changes. But his response is so distressed that I don't know if it's traumatizing in addition to effective. In any case he understands that I'm upset.
Something I'd been waiting for: Clark has learned to hit Frances when she's in his way or takes a toy or generally bothers him. The funny thing is that he doesn't just hit her; he keeps on hitting her even after she's stopped doing whatever she was doing. He kind of gets on a roll. But the growling stops him. Mitch says he tried growling at him last week and it didn't do anything. But he also said he didn't bare his teeth--I wonder if that has to be a part of it...