A few quick stories about a little boy.
We were camping at a lovely, family-friendly music festival-our first time at a venue such as this. Our family was young with three kids ranging from 2 to 5. We got to the festival early because we knew that our kiddos would need to adjust before the crowds appeared, so we went the night before the festival actually started. The first day of the festival went terrific. The kids adjusted and all was fine. The second night of sleeping in a tent with music playing until 2 am and throughout the day (which means no nap time) was a little rough but we made it through. The next day, our little guy was exhausted-three days with no nap and two nights in a tent. He was melting down and screaming at the top of his lungs words such as these- I hate you! I am going to kill you!- very loud and very clear and throwing everything that he could find in sight. I simply brought him back to the tent and placed him inside (obviously this does not change the fact that everyone can hear these words) and sat in my chair outside of the tent-waiting for that moment. The moment where he would finally fall asleep out of pure exhaustion. Unfortunately, there was a lady camping next to us who decided to put in her two cents. She told me that her family had a cure for that type of behavior. I simply replied with a simple-oh. She continued to tell me that she gets her husband to use his belt to clear up issues ‘like that.” I politely answered, “ok. I do not believe in beating my children. I do apologize if he is bothering you. He should stop in a few minutes.”
And yes, in about 5-10 minutes he was sound asleep on his cot.
Story two happens 5 years later. Yep, this stuff is still going on. He participated in a hiking class without me. Before the class, I asked what was in his backpack and he told me a spear and his survival supplies (magnifying glass, band aids and a snack). I sent him off knowing that this is his FAVORITE class. Unfortunately, he forgot to mention one item that was in the backpack-a hammer. Now he decided to take the hammer out and use it in a semi-destructive way. It was not ok. Now, when the teacher asked him to give her the hammer-he did. The down side was that he them proceeded to yell his lovely words-I am going to runaway! I hate this class! I don’t trust you!- and run ahead of the class. The teacher then told him that she did not care if he spoke to his parents that way but that he would not speak to her that way. At the end of class, they came and told me the story together. He was calm but embarrassed and the teacher was not happy about the situation mainly because she feared he really would run away (legitimate fear).
So what happened? He got in trouble, as all kids do. Unfortunately, he does not know what to do from there. He was embarrassed. He needed to get away. He does not have the strategies to work through situations like this.
This same little boy will save every living creature he can. He will open the door for others in need. He visits our neighbor almost daily as he thinks of her as his extra grandmother. He is a giver. He loves to give presents and to share what he can-when he can.
So what is going through your head? Are you thinking-yes, maybe you should tighten up your parenting and get a hold of your kid? Or are you thinking-yes, I know how you feel because I have been there?
Well, in fact, he has an anxiety disorder. When he feels out of control, he does not know what to do. Unfortunately at a young age, he doesn’t;t have enough tools in his toolbox to pull out when he gets into a situation that he doesn’t know how to handle so he reacts. In our case, he is also VERY VERBAL. He was speaking in full sentences by 15 months. He still speaks very well with a large vocabulary. When you hear him speak, you assume that he understands everything that he is saying and what he is hearing and you forget his developmentally appropriate age.
Why do I write all this?
begging asking you to hold your judgments. When you see a mother and a child or a child with another adult in the midst of a melt down, please keep your negative thoughts to yourself. If you can not say anything positive, then just stay quiet. If you can muster up a smile, do it. If you are able to crack and appropriate joke to give the person some support, do it. It is tough to be the parent. It is tough to be the child. It is debilitating to be the parent or the child and to be judged as well.
Picture credit: Q-Cards