We are going through a phase at the moment with our two little girls where it seems like they will do anything, almost anything to get both mine and my husband’s attention, including injuring themselves. Don’t get me wrong I am not talking about anything serious, it’s more small things like tripping on the floor, banging a hand on the table or especially in my four year old’s case banging her toe against something. Nothing to cause serious harm but enough to warrant a bout of crying and more importantly being picked up and hugged.
I didn’t question it too much in the beginning but when I started to notice that this was happening every time my husband and I were trying to talk to each other, i.e. have a continuous conversation, I started to become suspicious. From my point of view it appears as if they don’t like it when the attention has been taken off them because when I am talking to my husband I am giving all of my my attention to him (or that we are giving our attention to each other), so they have to do something, including mildly injuring themselves in order to break up the conversation and get the focus put back on them.
This is happening constantly now, to the point where it is just plain ridiculous at times. And it’s not just with him, they are doing it when my mum or sister call over too. But it is definitely at its worst when I am with their dad. It has gotten to a point where we struggle at times to even finish a sentence. I will have started to tell him a story and I have barely gotten two sentences out when we will hear a cry and one of them will come walking in cradling a hand or rubbing their forehead, complaining that they got a bang. Sometimes it is as simple as – “Dee Dee took my book off me and she won’t give it back, waaahhh!!!!”. But regardless the end result is always the same – we have stopped talking to each other and are back tending to them. I like to think of it as ‘self-sabotage’, because they will literally sabotage themselves or self-injure in some shape or form in order to get our attention.
I sometimes wonder is this worse when you stay at home with your children all day long or is it exactly the same even if you are out working and are only spending part of the day with them? I am beginning to think that it makes no difference either way, that they will probably behave like this irrespective of how long you are with them each day. My sister works four days a week and has told me that this happens with her all the time. She is barely in the door some evenings before the crying starts because somebody has gotten ‘hurt’ and needs a big hug.
Another tactic my four year old daughter likes to use is to start emptying the storage drawers filled with their toys onto the floor because she knows this is a big no no and that I will definitely turn around and react. It doesn’t seem to matter to her whether it’s positive or negative attention, as long as she is getting it back then for her it’s mission accomplished. So if I am in the kitchen talking (even on the phone, yes they do this when I am on the phone!) and I hear all the toys crashing onto the floor I take a deep breath, continue talking to whoever it is, sometimes through gritted teeth, and then when I am finished I walk in to her as calmly as I can and make her pick up every toy and put it back in the drawer again.
The ‘injuries’ can be hilarious at times too. Sometimes when we are in the kitchen talking we will hear a bang or a thud and then a scream. When you take a look into the sitting room, one of them, normally Millie is rolling around on the floor like a premier league footballer. “What happened now?”, one of us will say to which you are normally met with “I banged my knee” or “I banged my toe….I need a plaster!!!” After a quick inspection of the injured area and reassurance that it will not require surgery or any plasters, once again we try to get back to our chat. But it’s not easy and honestly sometimes you need the patience of a saint to put up with it.
I wish I could say that I’m always calm about it but I’m not. There are times when I absolutely want to roar at them for doing this. It is the most frustrating thing in the world at times, feeling that you can’t talk to anyone continuously without constantly being interrupted and for the silliest of reasons. My husband often says that spending the day with a couple of small kids is one of the best psychological torture devices there is. If you can endure that then chances are you can endure anything. Honestly if you want to mess with someone’s head just leave them with some children for a few days, because if that doesn’t break you down then nothing will!!
Have you had similar experiences with your children? Please say yes and that I’m not on my own here!!