Many children with attachment difficulties have trouble with feeling the need to be in control or in charge at all times. They have so far survived by being in control, and have learned through experience that adults can't be trusted. They've learned that trusting adults only causes pain; any adult they have loved has hurt them in some way (abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc.)
In N's case, he was not abused, nor was he abandoned. However in his mind, all the adults he's ever trusted have not been truly trustworthy. His birth mom relinquished him to an orphanage, he moved from one orphanage to another, and then was taken by two strange people to another country, another culture, new food, new smells, new everything. What are all these grown-ups trying to do to him?!
So he tends to feel the need to be in control of everything. Of course, many almost two year olds want to be in charge. :) But with N it's taken more to the extreme level. Our therapist is helping him (and teaching us how to help him) that he can be in charge of some things and make good things happen, but he isn't in charge of everything and he can trust his mom and dad.
For example, he recommends letting N turn on lights, the TV, the CD player, toys, etc, whenever possible so that he can be in control of good things. But N obviously has to learn that when we say no, he does have to stop.
While we were at therapy last night, the therapist asked him to stop doing something and come to another room to do something else. And N was not happy. I could tell he was winding up for a huge tantrum.
There was many a shouted, "No!" when he was asked to come. He gave his dirty look. He finally got up out of his chair and started to walk towards the doctor, then shouted, "No!" and ran back. Eventually he finally did get up and walk out, then threw a hissy fit when the doctor closed the door so he couldn't go back in. Once he stopped screaming he ran to the door to leave the office and started saying "Bye-bye". I guess he figured that since he didn't get his way we ought to leave!
He and I had a similar stand-off today. He threw his pretzels down on the floor because he wanted to go outside.
"N, we will go outside once you pick up your pretzels and put them on the table," I said, wondering if he really understood (but suspecting that he did.)
"Put your pretzels on the table, then we'll go outside."
Scream, scream, scream.
"N, when your pretzel is on the table we will go outside."
And so on (I included hand gestures in this pointing to the pretzel and then to the table so that it would be very clear what I meant.)
Pretzel was picked up and put on the table.
"Good job, N! You listened to Mommy! You're such a big boy! Now we can go play outside!"
Big smiles, happy boy and happy mommy. :)
Next up: Dealing with hitting family members and tantrums at the dinner table!
Oh--and on an awesome note, N gave me several hugs and kisses this morning when asked---so sweet!