My son while not speaking much, is advanced in other areas such as running, climbing, and throwing, and as it turns out, he's decided he doesn't need to wait for the big two point oh to jump right into the once-thought-to-be-mythical but now very real-so-very-real terrible twos.
To be fair, there's a lot of awesomeness. Like the mad-crazy-love. The curiosity at literally everything. The imitating [sometimes embarrassing when done in the company of others as your son finds tweezers and proceeds to 'do' his eyebrows], and the sleeping, oh dear God the sleeping is eternally beautiful and I will forever love this part of growing up.
But back to those terrible twos.
I'm okay with the new pickiness over all things food [and the tossing to the floor of all things food, which if you have advice, I will love you forever] but its the other new development that is getting to me: specifically, the swatting. My gentle little chipmunk who is usually the one beat upon at playgrounds and in livingrooms everywhere is now the one raising his baby hands at others. And this stern former-teacher who could stop children in their tracks with the look is absolutely baffled as to how to address this since my kid? He seems to think the look is the funniest thing ever.
In his defense, he doesn't go up to children to smack them, he does it when they enter into what he perceives as his personal space, such as entering the 'toy house' in the playground he was in first, or any other circumstance in which he feels like he needs to 'defend himself'. The swat is not hard. It could almost be confused for him patting the child on the head. And it has yet to provoke a cry. Most children just look at him with a confused expression and carry on their business. And while Baby Center tells me this is normal, it's still swatting, it could get painful when he develops more strength, and well, it's still not cool.
When the situation occurs, I get on eye-level, hold his hands firmly in mine and tell him no. I tell him we do not put our hands on people this way. I then take his hand and run it gently over my cheek to model gentle behavior and if we know the child affected, I take his hand and model gentle pat on the shoulder to show that if he must touch, this is how. He gets it in that moment, he looks down with puppy dog eyes, he models the behavior I showed him, and then ten minutes later, he completely forgets again.
He is not destructive or mean-spirited, but I don't want the swatting to lead to hitting or punching and want to stop it now at this particular phase. It's tough because I see in the moment, when a child is up in his grill, he doesn't pause to think, he swats, and well, I'm just confused as to how most effectively deal with this new turn of events in the ever changing parenting game.
How are you handling, or plan to handle, the discipline thing? Ever faced swatting? How did you successfully solve it? Or are you reading this with marker stained jeans and egg discards in your hair and are just glad to hear you're not the only one?