Your posts having been coming to mind frequently lately, as my mother has come to stay with us temporarily and the stress level as we all make this transition has been unusually high. My 3 y/o son's behavior has often been hyper, distracted, aggressive, "defiant," etc., ...generally "off" and I can tell he's really not his usual grounded self. I've particularly wondered about how to know when to follow his lead and when to be more directive about how we respond to a stressful moment. I realize that might be a rather vague question to raise, but if you have any particular thoughts on the matter, I'd be interested in hearing them. Again, many thanks for sharing your insights and inspirations. First, I find that the first thing that disconnects our children is the dichotomy shift and how they are suddenly perceived. If usually your son has a routine, but also gets a lot of time being talked with, being listened too and has a voice in the household, often when guests come, especially family who we sit and chat to, our focus shifts and our children can’t get a word in. On top of that, for some reason when we are around our families our children can fall into being “the children”. Our parents are often from a generation that sees them as that. Therefore, suddenly they are expected to act in a certain way, like things that “children” like, sit quietly while the “adults” talk and basically they feel like the world has caved in. The rhythm of the house has been disturbed, and like I said in my post tonight, they won’t know it’s not forever. It’s easy to get disconnected over it, and easy to understand why he might start acting unlike himself.
Another thing that adds to it, is as he feels your stress, he might want to try to help connect you. He might try to convince you that he knows what you should do to feel better, which might be as simple as playing a game he wants to play, or checking something out with him, rather than talking to your family or dealing with life. He may be finding it frustrating that he can’t fix the house’s feeling state.
It’s not as dire as it may sound. It just takes being a little creative.
See if you can find some connection time with him. Every mother accepts the fact that we need to do some things with our children, such as bath time or bed time. Stretch them out a bit. You’ve got a great excuse with the holidays being over, you can say you want a bit more “routine” (another word most mothers understand) and then take that time with the door shut to spend time with your boy. Read stories, play a quiet game, talk, connect. Make him laugh, find out if he’s ok, talk to him about your mom and how she is YOUR mom, which he may find an interesting thought. Tell stories about growing up, tell him that soon things will be back to normal, but that since she’s your mom, you love her and it’s important to make the home feel pretty for her, to make it full of love. Make your time with him, connection time. You can even start a little bit of meditation with him, or appreciation lists, by just sitting quietly, in front of a candle, or just focus on both of you breathing. He’ll appreciate it if you point out how things have been stressed (or I like to say fast with my 3 year old) and you want to feel better.
You’ll find that by taking the time to de-stress and play with your boy, you will feel better too, and as you connect with his inner self you’ll see more opportunities to involve him in the day.
In the day, when you can’t involve him see if you can set him up with some distracted activity so he doesn’t get caught up in any stress of the house. Set up Playdough, art, a new truck, a cardboard box, plan it even the night before, to start him on a journey, will help him feel better and connect to his true essence.
One last thing, before bed, try to take some YOU time. Breathe deeply, focusing on each breath, appreciate little things and find the connection spot where you feel truest to yourself. Relax and let the situation flow. It’s alright for us and our children to have challenging situations, in fact it may be its just what we all need to grow and expand the way they wish and it defines more what we want and what we don’t. Allow it to flow as it should and you will find each day is easier to deal with any stress that comes your way.
Be well, happy and thrive and I’d love to hear how things progress.