This is my first post seeking advice with HiH. Got a 3 yr old boy and a newborn at home. Both of us are fortunate enough to be stay at home parents, so our 3 yr old is pretty accustomed to getting lots of attention. We’ve been using the HiH tools for about a year with some great results but are still struggling lots.
Our boy is simply wild. He’s always been fast and furious. His thing for the past 2 years has been to “trash” the house at high speed. Running constantly, hitting, throwing and breaking objects. When we try to set a limit he just runs and none of us can contain him. This behavior has been the same or tad worse since our baby was introduced.
We used to try using a stroller as a seat to keep him in place, but it only worked a few times before he’d knock it over to get free. So we dropped that. The only time he’s still is at a booster seat with straps at the table to watch a show on my phone. (Nothing violent, mostly Daniel Tiger or nursery rhymes) or to do puzzles or crafts. So we are really unsuccessful at setting limits with regards to stopping him from destroying the house. He’s also a nightmare with cooperating to go potty, get dressed, etc. It’s a huge struggle and we cave in using threats or rewards. We have never punished him as we have no idea how to keep him still. I had him in a home day care which he loved for the past year part time but now there’s no space for him. Apparently he was not so wild there and a good kid mostly. So I think his running is a reaction to me in particular as he knows I can’t handle it well.
He had a traumatic birth and we have had marital issues too regarding disagreement of how to cope with our son. I think he realizes he’s got the best of us. He’s also still waking up several times a night since birth and he’s begging for me at my door to stay in his bed. So I’m exhausted regularly and this is straining my health, marriage and parenthood.
We need lots of help in many areas but I think setting limits around his literally running around the house would be a key piece but I’m open to suggestions on how to get out of this loop.
I’ve got a listening partner (not member) though I need to use it more often and maybe see what it’s like to try it with a HiH consultant. I’d be interested to get a listening partner who is a member using the tools too.
Thank you all for listening.
Mother of 2 boys (3yrs and 3 months)
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
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
A favorite of mine about a kiddo running
Thank you Kathy for your considerate response. A lot really struck home for me to see things directed at MY son as opposed to reading articles and taking classes where something was preventing me from deeply realizing my child is in fear. My denial lifted and I’ve been absorbed in these thoughts about how I am, how he is and how we can navigate our way to peaceful sleep and fulfilling days.
My husband who is not always on the same parenting page seems to take this personal response more seriously which I’m very grateful for. It’s hard to be triggered by a 3 yr old then triggered by a spouse in the same breath.
I’ve been watching my son’s own triggers unfold and I can see his face beginning that loop, so I get in close, smile and touch him nicely. This has actually avoided a few of his regular rampages which has given me some space to regroup my strength. Taking his hand to transition before revealing what’s next has really helped too. You really hit the spot when you mentioned he can’t think when I give a verbal command especially when it’s a limit. (he must sense my tension around limits as I was raised quite strictly regarding limits).
As for me, I’m trying to explore my triggers and will delve deeper with my listening partner and try to find a second one as we aren’t meeting enough. Special Time is tough for me as my mother never played with us as kids. So it’s really exhausting but at least it’s only for limited time. Playlistening has been great since its snowed. He loves throwing snowballs at me while I act very scared. Indoors he’s now got bubble wrap to scare me with. I’ve asked my son to remind me to take a deep breath at the very beginning of looking angry (to help me and to model a tool he can use too) and he’s done so well. I actually see that he notices I’m triggered before I notice. Amazing how observant kids are. Or perhaps his hypervigilence is yet another sign of his insecurity.
So it’s only been a few days, but I am really swimming in it all and seeing a lot of potential for improvement. Thank you so very much.