Today, Brother-Bug managed to squeeze in 5 or 6 different screaming fits in the first hour he was awake.
Woah. I hadn’t had any caffeine yet. Neither had Papa-Bug. Sister-Bug just wanted a spoon to eat her eggs with. There was screaming and shrieking and hysterics on the couch. A lot of noise first thing in the morning.
Exhausting and frustrating as that was, I had to laugh after the screaming had died down a bit. Papa-Bug posted a wonderful piece about Brother’s Freak Outs over at his blog. My writing plan for the day was to follow up on some of what he said. I guess Brother-Bug just knew that I needed some fodder…
We really try to give Brother-Bug the support he needs when his feelings run high – and he is prone to very volatile feelings.
“This is harder than it seems. How do you offer love, support, and encouragement to a small person who is screeching at the top of his lungs, flailing with arms and legs, and demanding something that he can not have? But here’s the second revelation – he isn’t in control either. “
It’s such a dance of balance. When he is freaking out he just needs calm, quiet attention. Often he needs physical affection – reassurance that we are right there while he rides it out. But at the same time, I feel that he also needs to learn that I can’t always drop everything to provide that attention. Sometimes he needs to ride it out without me; I might be nursing Sister-Bug or finishing up dinner or (like this morning) taking a few minutes to finish my daily journal entry and have just a smidgen of Me Time.
Of course, in the moments he is too out of control to figure out the details of coping without attention.
And then there is the question of giving attention that might reinforce this kind of tantrum. One of the morning events was a fit because I wasn’t cuddling him enough. He clearly needed loving attention and cuddles, but the way he was screeching and demanding it made me really want to flee to another room, possibly another state. As Papa-Bug so aptly put it, “I don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
So what to do when I can’t give him the attention to ride it out? Where is the pressure valve or rhythm point that helps Brother-Bug when he most needs help? What do we do to build a set of good habits for self-grounding when Mama and Papa can’t help?