Difficulties

I’m afraid to write about this.

K-Pants has been hitting me. A lot. And lately he’s started biting me.

He’s always been a sensitive kid who gets overwhelmed in new situations, or even just stimulating situations.

Our preschool had a children’s performer come give a move-it-and-shake-it concert for families and the whole time he was asking, “Can we go home now, Mama?” Meanwhile, the other kids were jumping and shouting and singing along.

In other situations, when he gets mad, the emotion courses through him like an electrical pulse that has to be discharged. Luckily—or unluckily—for me, I’m generally the target of his aggression.

We talk about coping skills, and I try to make sure I still expose him to situations that are overwhelming, but lately I’ve just wanted to hide us away.

Parenting K-Pants is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Not in the your-life-will-never-be-the-same-after-you-have-kids sort of way. But in the way that it makes me feel like a terrible person. A person who can’t figure stuff out.

I adore him. But I am angry at him for this. For breaking a competent person into pieces that are not gluing back together so well.

I am just starting this journey.

But one thing it has taught me is that even though I’m looked at with polite derision or open appall based on how I’m coping or not coping, I’m also welcomed into a group of very humble, kind, worn-down parents who are traveling the path of parenting a challenging child.

When you have a biter, or a hitter, or a manipulator, or any shade of emotionally disregulated, developmentally different kid, you get to be in a special club. And you can only tell who the members are by the other parents who are kind to you—not when you are doing the “right” thing in the face of chaos, but when you are doing the wrong thing.

***

Resource: “How to Stop Aggressive Behavior in Young Children” via Empowering Parents.

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27 responses to “Difficulties

  1. Oh Evelyn, I am so sorry. That is such a tough situation. Is there someone you can go see? I hope you can find something that work soon.

      • Thanks, Evie! We’re working on various strategies, and I’ll be at the pediatrician next week, so we’re going to talk to her about it and go from there.

      • Hm, it won’t let me reply to your comment, weird! Anyway, my son has some sensitivity issues (that’s what we are calling them, for lack of a better term right now), and his teacher recommended seeing an occupational therapist. I’m hoping they will have some strategies for us. Parenting is indeed hard! Good thing they can be so darn cute. 🙂 Good luck!

  2. Stefanie Ebenal

    Oh Evelyn! Wish I could give you a hug right now. We need a glass of wine. I could tell you sooooo many stories!

    Stefanie

  3. Here are a few things I learned about this with my oldest child. Over stimulation is not good for these kids who are primarily very (w/a capital V) intelligent; emotional and sensitive. Nighttime baths and stories were curtailed because stimulation acted as as an irritant. Keep a journal and watch to see if every six months you see similar patterns. It’s developmental, all kids go through it, but for children in this situation, it’s extremely noticeable. Structure and engagement in activities that require thinking are essential. These kids need their moms. I wish I’d spent every second possible assuring my child everything was okay, rather than thinking this too shall pass. Our pediatricians were top notch, but their advice is not something I’d do again.

  4. : ( I’m terrified that I’ll be having this same issue with Stella. She gets so angry at times and I can see the rage in her facial expressions. I’ll be knocking at your door…

    I hope there will be answers found at the docs office next week.

  5. When Charlotte started having tantrums as a two- to three-year old, I remember getting so mad at her. I too felt like a terrible parent, but think about if an adult you love started treating you the same way – you’d be mad as anything. What somebody had to tell me is that the hormonal surges running through her body were as intense as puberty-related hormones (which we are now going through thank-you-very-much). When I looked at it from that perspective (and here is where I really seem like a bad parent) I started to find her tantrums more amusing than anything else. That at least helped me cope.
    Having said that, I do realize that biting, kicking and anti-social behavior are in a somewhat different category from tantrums and am not trying to diminish or compare our experiences, and talking to a professional is a good idea (in my experience, event when there aren’t problems, it’s always a good idea!).
    And finally, as you know, I’ve spent the last three years being uncomfortably honest in my blog, and it’s so important to get it out there. Writing it down and telling it to others forces you to articulate what might otherwise have been a panic-inducing, but ill-defined problem, and it gets people to offer you sympathy, support and hopefully wine.

    • Scott, I’m so grateful that you’ve stuck with the blog, because you always have great advice and perspective. I am with you on ALL fronts: professional help, sharing the scary things, and wine. Your thoughts are like a mini therapy session in themselves–thank you!

  6. Thank you for sharing that. It must not have been easy. And, I’m sure there are tons of parents out there who needed to hear it. ❤

  7. I don’t know much (anything) about kids, but the part about not wanting to participate at the music event made me think of the book I just read about being an introvert. Some of us are just not meant to jump around and sing in public and would much rather go home. It’s not shyness, it’s just an inborn trait. Maybe it’s okay if he doesn’t want to do things like that and is a little “antisocial”? Although the hitting and biting are something else… Hang in there, though. If anything, your love shows in your concern and in how determined you are to fix the problems and make sure K-pants is a great kid. (A lot of moms would just take him to Walmart and let him run, screaming through the aisles like a wild animal while they picked out 14 bags of cheese puffs to feed him for dinner!)

    • This is a great point, Caitlin, that I’ve been thinking a lot about. What’s it like to be an very introverted kid with an extroverted parent? I think if we tackle that issue, some good things could come out of it. Also, yesterday K-Pants had his first bag of Cheetos ever… your comment made me laugh but also remember that there’s a reason I don’t feed him those: Worst day on record!!

  8. Beyond Bon Bons

    I think this is a very brave, honest post. I really do think you are doing an amazing job and we adore K Pants! This makes me feel special that he actually liked the youth Sunday skit : )
    Seriously though, you are an amazing mom. Your kids are fantastic and even though I know you’re feeling beat down (literally…), I am so impressed by you and think you are a mom to look up to that many can learn a lot from you. Hang in there and call me any time you need a change of pace, our kids seem to get along most days! Come on over!!!
    Or, you know, ditch the kids with dad and we’ll go out. : )

  9. Wow…I feel for you. However, you aren’t the reason he’s doing that. A counselor is a good idea because there could be something upsetting him at the preschool.

  10. Hugs, man. We struggle with this too and I don’t have a silver bullet but I stand in solidarity. If your ped has any good tips, pass them along. We should have a conversation offline….one where thar be rum, arrr.

  11. Evelyn, I know your pain. Q has been seeing therapists since he was 3. He was expelled from per-school for biting his teacher and another child on two separate events. After many years of not knowing what was wrong with my incredibly smart, funny, loving, emotional, son we finally got a diagnosis of hyper sensitivity disorder. In his case it presents a lot like Asperger’s except for the fact that he is overly social. I have felt like the worst parent in the world so many times I could never count them. What I will say is that seeking professional help is a must. You are not the reason that your son is having trouble. You have done nothing wrong. There is nothing wrong with him either. He is just wired in a different way than most kids. That is not a good or bad thing, it just is. Therapy is a fantastic way to figure out the best way to help your wonderful boy be his best self. If you ever need to talk about things please know that I am here for you anytime.

  12. Yes, totally a suck ass situation you’re in. I have a friend who has a child who is a hitter and has a hard time controlling his actions like that. Super tough. I have a lot of respect for her because I can see that it is so hard.

    We’ve been in a zone of total attitude which often involves screaming and hitting, occasionally biting and, even though it’s different, I can understand that feeling of being torn down and utterly spent by the whole thing.

    I hope you have some good resources available to you. And take time when you can to take care of yourself!!!

  13. Hush now baby child! Ya hear me? I have a child that takes a lot of her anger out on me. She is in love with her daddy and daddy cannot do no wrong. After being on the receiving end of her growing pains we started behavior modification -time outs, talking, reframing in order to teach her how to express her emotions, and most of all redirecting- and not in this order either. It worked wonders. Amina 0-Mama 1. It sucks having a mother who has psychoanalysis and child development in her back pocket. Child please! Freud and Jung were my granddaddy’s and I ain’t afraid to use what’s been passed down the collective unconscious. Avatar ain’t got nuffin on me. I said nuffin.

    Now that I have you smiling listen to me:

    Do not believe that your child is emotionally impaired in any sort of way. He is a child with lots of energy and not to mention your first born who was on the receiving end of every dumb thing you and husband did while raising him (to the best of your ability) and not in this order particularly.

    You get my gist. I know you do.

    Now, you brought into the world another baby. Yes they argue, they fight like heathens and scream like banshees. All children do this because it is part of their DNA make up. It is part of our survival as species. If you didn’t fight, push, shove you did not survive. Although an appendix may be a vestigial organ our behaviors never go out of style. The best you can do as a parent is to reframe, reframe, reframe, redirect, redirect, redirect and watch the magic unfold. Demand yes ma’am, no ma’am, may I and please. Please, don’t forget that please! By the by, this is till work in progress in our home. Demand respect because you are a parent, the boss and you are in charge.

    Lastly, you are a stay -at-home mommy (as am I as of lately) and this by default makes us punching bags for our children who think that because we spend every waking moment with them they can walk all over us. Daddy’s are special. They come home late and give but a moment of their attention to children who welcome the change after spending all day with one face.

    Do you know that Amina started acting out with her daddy while I was still working full time for the city and essentially never came home but to sleep and shower. There were days where I didn’t even eat at home…all my meals were taken at my place of employment. Vahid told me one day that she was being really mean to him. The tables turned after I stayed home and he got busy with making moolah. Children are master manipulators and that is all there is. They pretend not to hear you but all of a sudden hear when you but whisper “would you like a lollypop?” I do this all the time and even Amina laughs after she realizes that I’ve caught her in her game. As my city folk would say “you cannot bullshit a bullshitter.”

    As somebody who specializes in work with children (mainly sexually abused children) but child development nevertheless I can honestly tell you that K-pants is a healthy child, normally developing child, with nary a cognitive deficiency in sight, and very much emotionally appropriate for his age (given that you and Mr. D decided to have another baby and turned K-pant’s world upside down you rascals you two). SO you hush your mouth and do speak with his pedo but ask for some parenting advice which she will be glad to give while snickering inside at yet another set of parents who ask the same question :-))).

    PS Amina’s pedo told us “she is your first born and you will never own her spirit”. This was a revelation if we ever heard one. She is a wild pony this one and we love her so much it hurts. Also, what helped a lot with her behavior was a few simple tweaks: giving lunch at the same time, taking naps at approximately same time, and heavy modeling of good behavior. I have canceled lunches with friends, attending most wonderful events yada yada yada because it coincided with Amina’s nap time. These are her most formidable years and we will do our best to raise her right. ALSO, and I promise this will be the last thing, children’s central nervous system is not fully developed yet and they simply cannot control their urges/emotions. They do not understand concept of consequences, hurt feelings and right from wrong. You might as well be trying to tame electric current or heard cats. As their brain and spinal cord undergo myelination one day your baby boy will gain enough handle on his emotion to be able to control his anger and everything else. Until then bottoms up :-))

  14. Oh Evelyn, you are a brave woman. It’s not easy to share hard things like this. I, too, have a hitter/biter in my first-born. It was bad when he was younger, and is much better now. He also did not care for my carefully planned children’s activities. There is hope, though. He is great at school and never complains about the same activities he complains about with me. I do know that the more I focus on his “Love Languages”, the easier it is to work around his anger and frustration. I highly recommend “The 5 love Languages of Children.” http://www.5lovelanguages.com/resource/the-five-love-languages-of-children/. We all love our children. Sometimes we just need to figure out how to love them best. I got a copy of the book from the library, and the on-line stuff is great too. 🙂
    Good luck, and remember, you’re not alone. Plus, with a mom as great as you, K-pants will grow out of this stage and become a great man.

  15. You make me want to be a parent. I know it’s not an easy job, but you do it so well. You take so much in your stride, and what I love about your blog is that you do not bullshit anyone.

    I have no advice for you — certainly nothing that hasn’t already been said — but I would like to remind you that K-Pants is a delightful kid who is going through a trying phase, and he has a wonderful mother (yes, even on your bad days), and loving father. I’ve lived with you all at some of the most recently stressful times of your life, so I know this is the truth 🙂

    Hang in there, love.

  16. Evelyn, sorry to hear! Parenting can be tough. Hope you find helpful support soon.

  17. You are so right…not knowing the “answer” or how to solve the behavioral issues is such a hard aspect of parenting a child with behavior struggles. What do you do when there are no straight answers/apparent solutions? It’s that digging inward inspite of being broken to find the strength to make it through another day….

  18. Your friend from Fecund Thought directed me over here and I’m glad she did. I find your courage commendable. Thanks for sharing something so raw and personal. I hope you can find something that works. I will be looking forward to following along for the ride on the troubled road you are on right now. Unfortunately, my daughter has just turned 1 so we haven’t gotten to the tantrums, but the pediatrician says it’s coming. So, I am sure I will have my own stories, until then I can empathize with you! I’m sure you are doing a great job. Hang in there!

  19. Hugs. And thanks for sharing that link. It was full of great problem solving tips. Sometimes my problem solving reservoir runs dry, and that’s when it’s hardest to “keep my voice low” and “model good behavior.” New strategies help me stay afloat.

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