Q. My 6 yr. old son is worrying me to death. He seems to wake up in the morning with a wish to hurt as many things as he can – including me and sister. He has even screamed at his grandparents. If anyone so much as looks at him funny or tells him to do anything, he starts to punch and yell. I have tried everything. Time outs and putting him is his room only seem to wind him up more. If I tell him he can’t watch a program unless he can stay calm for an hour, he screams at me. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m afraid I’m letting him get away with it because I don’t have the strength to fight him anymore. Help.
A. Let’s first think about what might be going on from your son’s point of view:
- Is he feeling angry because he thinks he is not being heard?
- Is he afraid that no one thinks the same things he thinks? Does he feel alone?
- Does he believe he is a bad child—someone the most important people in his life don’t want?
- Does he look at his sister with jealousy and think, she is the right one, she is the one my parents love most?
- Does he hear words coming back at him every day that hurt, belittle, and tell him he is not okay?
- Does he try and try to get a point across, only to be sent away, yelled at, ignored because no one can deal with his anger?
- Is he upset because he is not able to do what he could pre-covid?
- Is he feeling worse about himself because he can’t keep up with his class, can’t get the directions his teacher is trying to give, can’t be silly with his friends?
Before connection can be made, it is important to see the world as he might. That means getting out of your own head with your fears and expectations. You do not have to agree with him, just be able to see that, given who he is and what he experiences, he hurts, he feels angry, alone, misunderstood, powerless. This is true empathy, no “buts” about it. Only compassion will get you to connection.