I need some wisdom from my fellow mamas (and possibly a bubble bath.) My 6.5-year-old son (B) is pressing all the wrong buttons lately. I’m really feeling very tense around him all the time, and I hate it. Something tells me that my expectations might be somewhat high – but even if they are, I feel like I need some strategies in place or I’m going to go crazy.
One note though, he is very smart and very sensitive. Lately, I’ve been disintegrating into harshness toward him – unintentionally, or course.
He just can’t handle it. He gets anxious, and sad, and overwhelmed, and then acts poorly as a result of those feelings. It is just very hard on him. So whatever strategies I come up with – they are going to have to be very gentle ones.
He is continually crossing boundaries in 3 areas, as follows:
1)He interrupts constantly, oblivious to whatever might be going on around him. It’s getting ridiculous. His brother will have just fallen down and will be sobbing and screaming, and I’ll be trying to cope with him, and B will walk into the room and launch off on a speech about “the mating habits of horseshoe crabs” or “if you were a math problem, mom, which one would you be…” or “isn’t it cool the way that such and such does such and such…” What I have been doing, is taking a deep breath, and saying “I like to hear your ideas, but I need you to chose better times to share them, because right now I’m not able to listen.” But it seems like I say this about 20 times a day, and I feel like the general concept isn’t really sinking in. Worse than that, he often interrupts to demand something from me. Like I’ll be getting everyone’s plates filled and on the table, and he’ll start demanding his drink. I feel like, if he just looked up and paid attention to what I was doing, he would see that I am getting everyone food, and getting everyone drinks, and I just haven’t quite gotten to him yet… That is the crux of it – I need him to pay attention to what I’m doing before he speaks. And he just doesn’t get it.
2)He interferes when I’m trying to teach his brother things. He tries to get involved and “help” parent his brother – offers ideas in the middle of stressful interactions, and causes a situation that has nothing to do with him to get much worse. Again, I’ve said things to him about 20 times a day for I don’t know how long.
3)His body is always moving, and always in someone else’s space. I know this is typical for a little kid. The trouble is, he isn’t little. He is 80 pounds. And he is a constant ball of wiggling action. He is constantly flinging his body into people and things, and getting directly in people’s space, and accidentally tripping people, or bumping people. It’s awful. I’m so afraid that nobody is going to like him anymore, because he does serious damage. He seriously hurts people this way, unintentionally.
Part of it is that he is bored easily. As long as I keep him busy with jobs and activities, then he does really well. He needs to have a sense of what he is supposed to be busy with all the time. Every minute. The trouble is that I can’t be responsible for giving him things to do all day long. Some of the day – yeah, I can handle that. But I can’t be responsible for filling his every minute anymore. He has toys, he has games, he has access to a computer, he has chores, and he has a lot of things to fill his time. I need him to take advantage of those things to fill his time, instead of following me around causing difficulties. But he doesn't respond at all to being told to go make his own fun.
So, I don’t know what to do. All these boundary issues seem serious, and overwhelming. I feel like there need to be consequences, and structure, and he needs to learn! But I also feel like he needs to have his esteem and dignity kept in tact. And I just don’t know how to do it.