Thing 3

Hugging it Out

This one. Man. He’s been our most challenging one FOR SURE. We had the Terrible Twos that lasted from age Two to age 5 and 2’ish months. Then we entered the period of life I like to call “Normal Insane Boy” where he was by NO MEANS “easy” but he wasn’t spitting in my face in hotel hallways or kicking me as I carried him screaming out of school assemblies.

So: NORMAL INSANE BOY. Not: DEMON FROM PRESCHOOL HELL.

But the funny thing is he is – by far – the sweetest of my kids. And I mean that in the Hallmark definition of the word. He’s just sweet. He loves to cuddle, to snuggle, to give kisses and be loved. He adores babies and pets and has had to “disciplined” for giving too many hugs as teachers like to avoid the passing of the germs.

So it’s always been an funny dichotomy. The one I could trust to hug me when I needed it was also the one who would spit in my face if I told him he could watch TV.

But! We’ve been in “NORMAL” for over a year now so it’s more likely that he’ll break a dish kicking soccer ball in the house than he’ll kick me in the shins for no reason. YAY! for Normal!

But lately we’re back to some of our old anger issues. That was the one we dealt with the most during the Terror Years. Because – obviously – it was anger motivating him to hit/kick/spit on me…so that was what we talked about the most. What to do when we feel that anger.

And while he’s not gone back to that behavior – he still has some tantrums that are rooted in anger. So I’m dusting off some of my old calming techniques and reminders to help him cope with the feeling as it comes to him.


Take a deep breath.
It’s okay to be angry.
It’s NOT okay to take that anger out on people or objects or pets.
Are you able to talk about what makes you angry?
If you can’t yet. Take some more breaths.
Now can you tell me? Why are you angry?
Do you know what makes me angry sometimes?
(Insert random thing that gives me Rage Blackouts here. He likes to know it’s not just him.)
Do you need to squeeze a pillow or scream?
Do you need a hug?

That last part. That was the one that helped the most during the terror years. So much so that now, when he’s really having a bad day, he’ll come to me and just ask for a hug and I will oblige no matter what. I can’t remember who suggested it (I got a lot of personal stories during the Terror Years and I tried everything from all of them) but I often reminded him that if he needed attention he could just ask for it. I’d love to give him hugs if he asked. So he started doing that and it’s the callback item that he returns to the most.

Yesterday he was having an emotional day. Sometimes he wakes up with foot cramps and when his sleep is disrupted his mood worsens (like me) and he cries with very mild stimuli. Yesterday was one of those days and several times he said to me weepily, “Can I just have a hug?”

I’m glad he still feels comfortable doing that. His sister has even started it. I want them to always ask for a hug if they need it because that was what calmed me the most in my anxiety growing up – a hug from my Dad. It’s what I miss the now that he’s gone. I hope the hugs will always be a Go To when they’re facing stress.

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1 thought on “Hugging it Out”

  1. I always am comforted when you write about your struggles with him, because I am raising a slightly-younger boy very like this. So much anger and aggression and the constant need to irritate people just for fun, but also so sweet, snuggly, smart and funny. Oh my god, SO FUNNY. I’ve recently felt like I’m raising a mix of Hunter S. Thompson and Robin Williams. It’s exhausting; every day is just EXHAUSTING.

    So you’ve given me some hope here that if I can just keep on keeping on it will improve. It already has improved a bit (he’ s 4 1/2 now), but if we can get just a smidge easier–just a smidge!–I might survive to his adulthood.

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