We are so glad that you wrote, and I’m sorry it took me a few days to get back to you. I have a 13 yr old boy, who’s a bit wild in his own right and he’s needed a bit more attention lately.
It’s so great that you have a listening partner – that’s always the best place to start whenever a kiddo is stuck in a pattern of some nutty behavior. The more LISTENING TIME we can get, the better. That pattern can cause exhaustion and frustration and even fear to build up in us- which gunks up our ability to think well and can even cause us to lose our way using the TOOLS.
One of the things you might think about is BRINGING THE LIMIT to your kiddo when he’s running wild. You say that you can’t set limits. If you are trying to set a limit verbally, I’m sure that is true. In order for anyone to respond to a verbal request, they have to be able to think. From your description, it’s pretty clear that your kiddo CAN’T THINK.
That’s what FEAR does to a brain. When fear grabs hold of your brain, you have no access to the thinking reasoning part of your brain. FIGHT/FLIGHT has kicked in. What your little guy needs – what his nervous system is asking for – is for you to physically STOP his body so that he can kick and thrash and scream and FIGHT FOR HIS LIFE in a way that he couldn’t do during his birth. A child who is aggressive and physically out of control is SCARED OUT OF THEIR MIND. He is desperate for someone to help him stop. in a way that won’t pour more fear into his already scared mind.
You may have to get a lot of Listening Time in order to do this. If your listening partner is local and you meet in person, you might ask them to contain you or you could contain them as they fight. This will give you a sense of how you can keep him safe and keep the house safe and still provide great tenderness and reassurance that you are there and you are never going to leave him and he will get through this.
Now to keep your relationship in balance, you want to be giving him lots of SPECIAL TIME, where you follow his lead and just delight in your whirling dervish. You can do the Special Time outside so that he can choose to go really wild if he wants to and he gets your full approval as you take the less powerful role. He doesn’t want to be out of control and you can be sure that he feels your disapproval and frustration. Special Time will be the place where he can run wild and you will absolutely delight in him.
Be sure to set a timer, and leave a buffer of time to BRING A LIMIT and STAYLISTEN when the timer goes off. Endings/transitions can be particularly difficult for scared kiddos because their nervous system feels like they are going to die. Your calm and loving attention, even as you gently and lovingly provide him with some containment will help his nervous system CO-REGULATE and match your calm, patient loving attention.
Just start with that – seeing if you can BRING THE LIMIT and doing lots of SPECIAL TIME with a timer, and of course, ramp up your own LISTENING TIME. And YES! it would be awesome if you did a consultation or even a 6 week Starter Class– so that you could see the overall patterns and find a way to work on one aspect at a time, while getting regular support. I suspect being replaced by the new baby has kicked up your 3 yr old’s fear another notch. So, the more emotional support and regular guidance you can get the better!
Here’s the link to private consultations and also our Starter Class
One on One Consultations
It can be a big EMOTIONAL PROJECT to help a kiddo with fear. It sounds like you already have a good start. Below are some articles that explain more of what I am suggesting. Do let us know how these thoughts resonate with you, and how we can continue to support you.
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
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“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi
A favorite of mine about a kiddo running