I have a wild child. He is strong-willed and fierce. He is energetic and hilarious. And sometimes he gets angry.
Because he is only four, he has a really hard time expressing his anger or frustration or sadness with his words and at times, this means he will lash out at me or his dad or his sister. He will intentionally try and break things in our house. He hits us and screams that we are mean. He sometimes tries to bite us if he is really out of control and when we are trying to help him control his body by talking about breathing or stopping the behavior he yells, “I can’t do it!” It’s pretty sad and sometimes scary.
I needed to find his kryptonite.
Helping him control his emotions has always been on our agenda, but once I was diagnosed with breast cancer and lost my hair he required a higher level of intervention. We struggled every day. He regressed to having toiletting accidents and continued to hurt, break and yell.
We were lucky enough to be connected to a Child Life Specialist at the UVM Medical Center who works specifically with children who’s parent or caretaker has cancer. The Child Life Specialist helped my husband and I understand that our sons regression with these behaviors is totally normal when faced with this kind of traumatic news. She helped us respond to him with more sympathy and understanding when he became frustrated, but we were not getting the kind of decrease in behavior we were hoping for.
Just when I thought I was at my breaking point my mom told me about a Superhero Training class she had heard about at Regal Gymnastics.
Superhero Training is A BOYS ONLY class for ages 4-5 years old. I perused the website, found an opening in the Tuesday afternoon 2:45 class and immediately signed him up. Two days later, my mom took him to class and that’s when everything changed.
The following day he asked if he could go to Superhero Training again. By that Friday he had announced, “I’m done pooping in my pants!” And he was. He started smiling and laughing more. His angry outbursts decreased drastically and he was more loving and snuggly. This class meets one time per week for 45 minutes and yet, it had changed our whole entire lives. It’s not that he hadn’t previously had a physical outlet, he attends dance class (that he loves) on Thursdays, but I think he just needed something that was his own. Somewhere his big sister didn’t already have. Somewhere where he can showcase his “skill and practice”-his words, not mine!
Kids are hard. And every kid is different. When your kid is struggling it is heartbreaking to watch and it’s often difficult to identify how to help.
If you find yourself in a similar position, I suggest you seek out the advice of a professional. Friends are great but they often come from a non-objective perspective. Maybe they have biases that may not be helpful in your situation. I’m not saying that you have to go see a therapist, but a teacher, an acquaintance with knowledge about child development, someone who can be a little objective. Then, try and find a physical outlet. For my kid, this means a structured, teaching environment. There are so many options: yoga, dance, martial arts, gymnastics, sports. There is no limit to what you could find and what might work for your kid. Lastly, make it work. I have Chemo on Mondays and my sons class is on Tuesday, so even though I would love to take him every week, I can’t. I’m fortunate enough to have family in the area and can rely on them to help keep this consistent. If that’s not your situation, find someone who can help you. There has to be some way to make it work, you have a village out there, I’m sure of it!
This parenting is tough stuff, but sometimes you can find just the thing that makes your life just a little easier. Have you found your kids kryptonite?