52.8 F
Fredericksburg
Saturday, December 3, 2022

Buy now

ASK MOM: Kid upset by change, frustrated mom tired of tantrums

Drawing by Suzanne Johnson

THE PROBLEM: My child gets upset when his routine is disrupted. That was okay when he was little, since his dad and I had a lot of control over how his day would go. But now he’s 11, and he still throws a fit every time we have to do something unexpected, like take him to the doctor or make a quick trip to the grocery store. We both work from home, so we’re able to work around him and take turns doing things we need to get done. And yes, we do everything in our power to give him advance notice of activities, but that’s not always possible. Plus, we have no control over his school day. I’m losing patience here!

MARY SAYS: Some people are just like this, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Routine children often grow into disciplined adults: people who show up to work on time; keep the same program operating day in and day out; or work on highly repetitive scientific research throughout a career.

That said, it does sound as though your son’s need for routine may be causing him anxiety right now.

Have you ever talked to him about it? Clearly you and your husband have observed this characteristic in your son, but if he’s not aware of how much suffering his inability to adapt is creating for him—and for you—he’s not likely to change. Assuming you have ruled out a deeper psychological or neurological issue, there are things you can do.

Start by helping him recognize that his emotions are getting the better of him. Inflexibility is a loss of freedom, since external events outside your son’s control are dictating how he feels from one moment to the next. The issue is not just about conflict within the family; your son probably experiences a degree of unease, no matter where he is.

Ask him to imagine what it would feel like to walk through his day unencumbered by what’s happening around him—or to him?

Teach your son how to let go of his own agenda. Encourage him to welcome surprises! Field trip today? No problem! Field trip canceled? No problem! At first, it’s a practice, but over time, he’ll get good at it. After all, despite your son’s predisposition, children are actually quite flexible. NOW is the time for him to learn a new way to interact with his world.

As things start to slide off him, no sweat, he’ll become more curious and follow paths he might not have chosen before. Now that’s freedom. And let him know that whenever he needs to, he can always bring his aptitude for routine back online.

ERIKA SAYS: Accommodating your son’s need for routine is commendable, but constant tantrums are, well, so tiring. It sounds like you’re doing your best to create an environment he can thrive in and he’s still uncomfortable—I can only imagine your frustration! Before I go any further, I think you should know that despite what you think or feel, your son is lucky to have parents working so hard to create a home environment he feels safe in.

Being sensitive to his needs is one thing, but allowing him to dictate your day is another. Your son’s tantrums are ruling your household, which is no way to live. Make it clear you will no longer tolerate his behavior.

Start by working through his tantrums: assure him that change is not always bad, affirm him, and remember to make eye contact. Speak calmly, and if physical touch is your son’s thing, place your hand on his shoulder. Reward him when he diffuses a tantrum on his own and put consequences in place when he refuses to.

And do stop making changes to prevent meltdowns! Working around your son and taking turns getting things done is not doing him any favors. The truth is, when he ventures out on his own, the world and the people in it won’t tiptoe around him the way you do.

Navigating change is a critical life skill, and so is the ability to sustain a routine. Please don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you are unable to help your son achieve a healthy balance on his own.

ASK MOM offers parents two perspectives on today’s child-rearing issues—one from a mom with grown children (Mary), the other from a mom raising a small child (Erika). If you’re looking for creative solutions, or your mom isn’t around to ask, drop in! 

If you have a question for Mary and Erika, we’d love to hear from you! askmomyourquestion@gmail.com

Read more ASK MOM advice.

Mary FollinMary Follin is author of the award-winning children’s book ETHYR and Teach Your Child to Read™, an online phonics program for children ages 3-6. She is mom to two grown kids. Follow Mary on Instagram at @advice_mom.

Erika Guerrero is a freelance hair and makeup artist, Erika K. Beauty, single-mama to one amazing boy, and author of She’s Not Shaken, a blog offering hope and encouragement to women in all walks of life.

Suzanne Johnson, mom of five children and grandma of six, is an illustrator, book cover designer, and author of Realms of Edenocht.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related Articles

ASK MOM: Mom feeds blaming habit in teenage daughter

THE PROBLEM: My 16-year-old daughter tells me everything. I know this is a good thing (at least, I think it is), but I feel...

Hannah Barnaby

It’s no wonder why Hannah Barnaby of Charlottesville, Virginia, began writing books. With almost every job she’s undertaken, there’s been a relation to books,...

RACSB: A Parent’s Guide to Important Conversations

Let’s talk! Parents have the power to make a tangible difference in kids’ post-pandemic lives. Parents are among the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. From...

Stay Connected

11,622FansLike
0FollowersFollow
2,319FollowersFollow

Sign up today!

* indicates required



FredParent eletters


Latest Articles

ASK MOM: Mom feeds blaming habit in teenage daughter

THE PROBLEM: My 16-year-old daughter tells me everything. I know this is a good thing (at least, I think it is), but I feel...

Hannah Barnaby

It’s no wonder why Hannah Barnaby of Charlottesville, Virginia, began writing books. With almost every job she’s undertaken, there’s been a relation to books,...

RACSB: A Parent’s Guide to Important Conversations

Let’s talk! Parents have the power to make a tangible difference in kids’ post-pandemic lives. Parents are among the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. From...

Building Strong Minds

Fredericksburg Parent Magazine knows how much the challenges of the last two years have impacted its readers. As fall begins, holiday family gatherings and...

ASK MOM: Son pits dad against mom, tries to get friends to ‘take sides’

THE PROBLEM: My middle son (he's 9) has a habit of ‘playing both ends against the middle.’ What I mean is, he tries to...