It's Not You, It's Him. Of Course, YOU Still Have to Live With Him.

Cranky Frankie is four today.

He likes lots of things.

Cowboy boots:

His little sister:

His other little sister:

Confined spaces:

A good seat for his brother's football game:

The communion of saints:

Chicken Frank the chicken (and Nana):

This exact set up of buddies. Every night. Exactly like this . . . Big Lotso, Little Lotso, Frankie, Little Olaf, Big Olaf, Thumper crammed in the upper left corner between the trundle and the wall:

"This dead guy in the floor at church."

But there are also lots of thing he does NOT like. Those things are less predictable. They include, but are not limited to . . .

Going to bed, getting up, eating food, wearing clothes, sitting in chairs, not making that sound, other people doing their schoolwork, new stories, the existence of some types of animals, when good guys win in movies, going places, leaving places, screen time restrictions, and pumpkin patches.

He's a real piece of work, this one.

He's gotten better . . . I think. Probably. I mean, he must have, right? But he still spends quite a bit of each day making trouble and getting busted for it.

I love him to pieces. But I sometimes lose my cool. I find his extraordinary contrariness a little charming. When it's not completely infuriating.

But what Frankie really taught me is that kids are who they are. Parenting techniques are great. I couldn't do this and keep my sanity without a method in the madness. But parenting techniques are for managing kids, not changing them.

Some kids are docile. Some kids are stinkers. Either way, that's on them, not me.

My oldest was hard, maybe as hard as Frankie, I'm not sure. I was so sleep deprived I don't really remember. (He is still kinda hard.) My next two are super easygoing in comparison. The next two are high spirited, but manageable. I was pretty sure my acquired parenting skills, forged over lo those many years had finally made me stinker-proof. I knew how to handle kids now. My oldest had to have been a fluke. The result of my inexperience.

Then came Frankie.

Parenting just s l i d e s right off of him, like butter off a corn cob.

But I keep at it. He's worth it, and my sanity and the (relative) peace of our home are worth fighting for.

I got a question in the comments of that behavior modification post a couple weeks back, that I wanted to share here . . .

Any ideas for what to do with a 4 year old boy who just can't seem to help but choose bad things and never chooses the same bad things but comes up with new ones 24/7? For example, climbing the dressers, hanging off the bunk beds, cutting his own hair, sneaking food, coloring on walls, humming annoying songs, stealing siblings' toys, or any other crazy idea that pops into his head. You'd think he's doing this for attention except he's a total introvert who loves playing alone....he just doesn't make good choices when playing alone, lol! Actually, even when he's with me he's constantly trying to get into stuff. It's like a compulsion, and he's been like this pretty much since birth. At 10 months, before he could even walk, he had climbed on the dollhouse roof and was happily bouncing up and down on top of it....



Have you considered selling him to the circus? That's about all that's left in my bag of tricks for dealing with almost four year old Frankie. ;0)

I think some kids are just wired for mischief, ya know? And Frankie is an introvert, too. Sometimes I think he gets himself into trouble just to get sent to his room for some alone time. He also spends a lot of quality time outside with the chickens. (The "with the chickens" part is his choice.)

Mostly what I do is . . .

1. Not give up on him. In the face of such constant disobedience, it's easy to be tempted to just give up on a kid and let him be a menace, but I don't want to do that. We're going to civilize him, some how. If I have to stop him from doing twenty different naughty things twenty times a day, so be it.

2. Not take it personally. I think it's important to remind yourself that you're not a bad mom if you have an especially naughty kid. And he's not a bad person. He just doesn't have a temperament that happens to care much what other people think. That can be very liberating. But it's also something that he needs to learn how to compensate for. (Ask me how I know.)

3. Find the good in him. Frankie is exasperating and exhausting, but he's also hilarious and spunky and lovable. I try to find things I can praise him for and things I can do with him that he likes. He's still going to spend a significant percentage of his day in trouble, but at least there will have been SOME nice things too.

Also, I really recommend the book How to Really Love Your Angry Child . I don't know why it's called that, it should be called "Intense Child" or something, because I don't think they have to be angry to be difficult. But it gives a great framework for understanding this kind of kid.

So, Happy Birthday to my Frankie!

And if you've got one of your own. Hang in there, mama.

Want MORE Frankie? Try these:

What Cranky Frankie Taught Me About God

Cranky Frankie Went to the Fair

Living the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in the Home. . . with Frankie

And away he goes . . . Don't worry. We caught him. We're going to give four year old Frankie a try.

I learned a new trick in PicMonkey. SO fun.