You said that you’ve seen your son’s behavior deteriorate in the last 2-3 months. Whenever that happens over here, I ask myself, “what’s changed?”
I think that’s the place to start. What’s changed? School started about 2-3 months ago, and you say he’s having trouble learning. I think those are 2 really important clues.
If you can point to something emotional that has changed, such as a new school or some big changes at home, then YES, I would say it sounds like an Emotional Project. But if you can’t point to anything that has changed emotionally, it could be that you want to look further.
You might start by exploring what’s going on at school. Often, when kiddos are struggling at school, their behavior deteriorates at home because they are trying desperately to tell us, HELP! HELP!! I’m having a hard time. Adults have a difficult time expressing themselves when things are tough. So, he may not be able to put into words. He may not even know why he’s struggling.
So, I would start there. Get some Listening Time around school – what was it like for you? how could you go about finding out what’s going on? How can you approach the teachers? Also explore your FEARS – what if he never learns? It’s good to take all our worst fears to Listening Time. We can leave them there, and then be more RELAXED and able to thing well about what the cause of all this might be?
I do think your Mama gut is correct in that there is some FEAR that is driving your sweet boy. But when there are learning challenges, it can be difficult to suss out – is the fear causing the learning challenge or is the learning challenge causing the fear or is it some of both? This is always my dilemma with my son, and again, LISTENING TIME helps me tease out – what might be emotional and what might be processing/neurological. Getting all my fears out of the way, helps me think more clearly about what might help my son and who to talk to… Light bulbs start coming on!!!
You are also thinking really well in that CONNECTION can help with the fear and his resistance/refusal. It’s great that you are doing your best to offer Special Time. I’d love to see you get more PLAYFUL at other times. LAUGHTER is also offloading fear.
Now, this might make your husband really roll his eyes, but I’d love to see you react to every refusal by PLAYING with the refusal, “you don’t want to take a shower, then I’ll have to kiss that dirt away” and then LISTENING for the laughter. Fear/anxiety can often look like defiance. So the short answer to your question about “how to set limits on his behavior” PLAYFULLY!!! Here are some ideas:
You might pick up Larry Cohen’s book The Opposite of Worry. It’s all about using Play to help anxious/scared kiddos. Here is an excerpt from his book.
Also here are some good games that are not so physical.
Maite, I just had this thought… have you ever considered hiring a teen boy to come over in the afternoons to roughhouse with your boys? I am a great believer in delegating what we may not be good at. You’ve worked so hard on this issue, and your boys really need that rough/n/tumble. It would probably be very good for their relationship if they could rough/n/tumble with each other with a young man there who could be the SAFETY MANAGER if things go south. Sorry… that was going back to your other question. But physical Rough/N/Tumble is also really good for helping kiddos with anxiety.
I hope all this helps. I would start with looking at possible underlying learning/school stuff that might be driving this change. And then work on the fear/resistance using PLAY! You are such an amazing Mama! Maite! You love your sweet boys so much! Let us know what you discover and what we might do to continue to support you.
It is always an honor and a pleasure to connect with you, and again, I’m sorry it took so long.
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
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