Things have improved *markedly* since my last post! I felt like I was floundering and completely ineffective in controlling Owen's tantruming, and that was bringing up some bad behavior (can we say tantruming?) of my own. Feeling a lack of control on my part has never been good for my temper.
I bought a couple of books on behavior and discipline and they have been so helpful. Note to self: BUY A BOOK next time I have a parenting challenge. There really is wisdom out there--and with the lack of a partner and family in close proximity I need a sounding board, even if it's made of bound paper. :)
Both books are basically advocating the time-out method, with slightly different emphases. I think we all know inherently what the time-out method is, and what it's supposed to do, but nonetheless reading about the best method---including what NOT to do---is really important if it's going to be useful and also uphold your child's self esteem not to mention strengthen--not damage--your relationship.
Having a plan, knowing that I am not alone (you mean child isn't the only one who demands ice cream first thing in the morning and then whines and cries and sometimes hits when he doesn't get it? What a revelation!! Sometimes we really do think we are the only ones...)...this has really helped me to deter my anger in dealing with Owen's behavior....not to mention the numerous accounts of how damaging not to mention ineffective parental anger is on so many levels. Modeling bad behavior is just the beginning. I don't want to damage my relationship with my son, who I love more than anything in the world and hope to have a close and special relationship with for our entire lives!!
So far, the method has been quite effective. I am using a 1-2-3 warning system, with certain offenses (ie physical behaviors like hitting, scratching, pinching) leading to an immediate time out...which he HATES SO MUCH, omygod. But since we started this two weeks ago he has responded well to warnings (delivered in a short but not angry tone) and we have only gotten to time-out a very few times. I am also reminding him that certain situations sometimes make him tantrum, and also telling him calmly when he's starting to get mad so that he knows to try to control himself. I'm also curbing my desire to talk about everything incessantly. So ineffective. Discipline and move on. It's a work in progress, but I think we are really improving. And I feel SO much better about any "incident", knowing that I was in control and that I treated Owen in a firm but fair and consistent way. This has done wonders all round. Changed my life. Highly recommend. (I need to go write my Amazon book reviews now. :)