Yesterday I picked my son up from school because he refused to put on his shoes, he knocked over chairs, and he kept kicking at the assistant. I got there and he had straightened up. He looked at me, smiled, and gave me a birthday card he had made me at school. My birthday is on Monday and apparently he kept talking about it at school, so they helped him make it. He kissed my hand. He showed some anxiety about his backpack and it’s location, but otherwise had no signs of aggression. I wanted to be mad at him, but I couldn’t do it. Not right then. I simply told him that my picking him up was not good. This was not a reward. We would speak in the car. Understanding behavior would be the key to success though.
I needed to understand why. Why? Why did he suddenly start knocking over chairs and acting up at school? Just a few days ago, he was getting all smiles and behaving perfectly. He showed signs of independence. This complete regression from the norm just didn’t make sense.
He fell asleep in the car. For the past few days, he’s not slept well at home. Maybe he’s not getting enough sleep. I made a mental note that perhaps his sleep might be a factor. He looks so peaceful when he sleeps. Like an angel. He’s beautiful, my son.
When he woke up, I snuggled with him. I asked him what his behavior from earlier in the day was about. He couldn’t really answer. He asked me a few minutes later if he was done at the dentist. He had had a trip to the dentist where he needed fillings and sealants and they tried nitrous oxide with the mask and it did not go well. I guess he has spent all this time worrying about needing to go back. He hears what we talk about. About needing to get his teeth fixed still. Maybe he’s spent all this time upset about this horrible dentist trip he had and the fact that he’s going to need to do it again. I assured him that he will not do that again. That he will need to get the cavities fixed, but he will not be awake when it happens, so he won’t feel anything. He asked when, and I told him the date. He needed to know the exact date. I asked him if that made him feel better and he said, “yes and no.” We’ll see.
Trying to understand what my son feels and how deep his anxiety runs matters. He loses sleep at night. He acts out. He does not know how to contain these feels he has. He’s trying to learn. I think that when he does things he’s not supposed to do, there’s a chain reaction. I can see it in him. He does something wrong. He knows it’s wrong. He hates that he did something wrong. So, he gets mad about that, and he acts out again. I’ve seen it at home. I’m spending this weekend working on that reaction.
My son…he wants to do right. He’s always been loving. He just has a hard time dealing with anxiety and failure and criticism. Teaching him how to handle himself in situations where he might feel those things will take time. Learning that when we make mistakes, we should just own up to our mistakes, apologize, and move on is hard. You see, I believe he feels that when he does those things, everyone is angry at home and that the anger doesn’t go away. He needs to learn that it’s disappointment, not anger, and that once he apologizes, he may deal with consequences, but not one feels upset with him anymore. Learning to move past those feelings will be difficult for him.
Understanding that he cannot communicate his feelings in the moment is difficult for most people, but not for me. I get locked up inside when my feelings run deep too. It’s like I really want to say something, but I don’t know what or how or which words to use. Too many words and feelings get mixed up together and I don’t know what to say or if what I say will make someone feel angry or upset or have weird feelings about me, so ultimately most times I choose to keep it to myself. So when he reacts by throwing things or hitting or kicking instead of using his words, his actions are inappropriate, but I get why he doesn’t use his words. Sometimes it’s difficult when you don’t know the right words to use. I’m an adult, so I know that I cannot do those things and I tend to express my feelings by crying or not at all. He doesn’t cry often. He expresses his feelings with rage, as boys often do.
Allowing him a way to express his feelings helps. I talk to him and tell him that it’s safe to tell me how he feels, no matter what he says. Sometimes he just tells me things that sound like nonsense words and phrases from shows he’s watched. Sometimes I get real responses out of him. It’s worth it enough when I get real responses. Today I learned that he didn’t sleep well last night because of his “nosey.” So we need to help him with his nasal congestion, likely caused by allergies. Perhaps that’s part of the reason he’s not sleeping. The more he sleeps, the better he’ll be able to control his emotional responses.
I’m thankful that I’m able to speak to my son and get responses out of him. I cannot 100% guarantee that what he’s said to me will help what’s going on at school, but I can try to alleviate his worries and see what it does. When we eliminate one thing, we can begin to get to the root of the problem. We just keep on trying until we figure it out. Love, understanding, and patience will get us results faster than anger, impatience, and complaints about misfortunes. I’m looking forward to the brighter days ahead.