My 7 year old is generally very ferocious (it’s the best word to describe it!) after school. He gets REALLY demanding, particularly about afternoon tea. And has very little patience with my or his brother (who is home with me during the day)
I understand that he’s probably hungry, but the way that he chooses to go about it is surely a sign that feelings are close to the surface. I think he’s probably using this time to offload. So I play with it a bit but he’s generally not in the playful mood…he just keeps coming back to food, and well I guess my thoughts always go to that I should just feed him!
If anyone has any ideas about how I could approach this, or even if setting a limit once in a while might be appropriate, I’d really love to hear.
What a great question. As Hand in Hand parents are always wanting to help our children think well, and it’s so powerful that we are always looking for what emotional tension or disconnection may have caused them to go off-track.
But sometimes, they really are just hungry. One of the things that our founder Patty Wipfler says about LISTENING to INFANTS, is that, because they can’t tell us why they are upset, we first need to make sure that there is no physical reason for their upset. When we start to Listen to our babes, we first make sure that no diaper pin is sticking them and we want to feel reasonably confident that they are not hungry.
We don’t judge how our baby is telling us that they are hungry. I think if indeed your son is hungry, it would be great to look at what your judgements are about how he’s trying to tell you that he’s hungry.
It’s really good to take these kinds of situations to our LISTENING PARTNER. We can use our LP to get clear on what’s underneath our thinking. Is there something we are afraid of or something we are trying to avoid or make happen? Are there some judgements about how our child is being?
Once you get a chance to rant and rave about your son and this time of day, I suspect you’ll have some clarity about what you might want to try. You might just try going for CONNECTION rather than trying to get him to offload anything. If you just go for CONNECTION, some feelings may bubble to the surface.
Is there a way that you can work Connection into his snack time? Maybe you build a fort and have a snack under the blankets. Or maybe you just shove a piece of chicken into his mouth when he walks into the door so that his blood sugar gets regulated. (that’s what I finally figured out that my son needed!)
There is NO absolute right or wrong about this: some kiddos ask for food or a distraction so that they can tamp down feelings. Some kiddos really do need food because their blood sugar has dropped. They can’t even connect until they have some protein in their system.
Get some emotional support through Listening Partnerships. And then always go for CONNECTION when he gets home from school. Those 2 pieces will help you figure this out and help you to help your son to get back on track when he first gets home.
Oh – one last thing… just know that when our blood sugar drops, we cannot ‘ask for food nicely’. In fact, the body doesn’t really know that it’s “hungry”. It just feels agitated and has no access to language. Just like a babe can’t ask us nicely to please remove the diaper pin that is sticking them, our kiddos often cannot ask nicely for food when their blood sugar has dropped.
As long as your intention is to connect with your son, and you let go of your judgments and/or your agenda, you cannot get this wrong. Let us know what you try and what you find out.
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
Follow me on facebook: Parenting by Connection with Kathy
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi
Thanks Kathy, your response is really helpful.
I’ve been giving him more protein at afternoon tea time and it seems to help. And I’m more able to simply be with what he’s showing me.
And after reading your response again just now, I’ll focus more on connecting with him at this time of day, instead of madly trying to ‘figure it out!’