Note: This post was originally written in 2014, with a minor edit in 2015.
Meet Blake. He is my 6-year-old son. He is also my explosive child – a term I have given him that is not meant as a negative connotation or to demean him or to label him. He is an explosive child because he has explosive behaviors and frankly, I am not sure what more I can call it.
(Is he not the most handsome boy you have ever seen? Okay, I may be a little biased, but really? He’s such a handsome little guy!)
He wasn’t what I would describe as a “high needs” or “demanding” baby.
He was definitely different than his older sister, but I feel that was for several different reasons.
My pregnancies were different, labor was different, and while I didn’t nurse my daughter much more than a week (and pumped for an additional 3 weeks); I nursed B until he was 4 months old. I feel like we have always had a special bond and that he has always been kind of a mommy’s boy.
Just in the nursing aspect itself, he was a different baby.
He awoke more often and didn’t sleep through the night until a much later age, but other than that, I cannot say his behaviors were much different than that of any other baby I had ever met.
B was always this fun loving, great sense of humored little boy who on occasion, you could sense a hint of anxiety going on with him. (As someone who has anxiety, I was pretty aware of his anxiety early on, but figured it could be him feeding off of mine.)
I mean, really, short of the few times we would notice his anxiety, there wasn’t really anything “different” about him per se. He was B. No better way to describe him.
He wasn’t like his sister. He was him.
Right before he turned 4, I joked about B being my Mini Hulk. In fact, I wrote a blog post about his Mini Hulk behavior at bedtime.
He was having bedtime issues (that have still been an issue since that time) that resulted in him growling at us, yelling, crying – having what I now call an explosive episode.
It would last upwards of an hour and at the time, it was comical – hence, Mini Hulk.
It didn’t happen often. Maybe once a month, once every other month.
Little did I know that these explosive behaviors would continue and increase in occurrence and not only at bedtime – all the time. For no reason (that we could determine).
In the past year (he is now 6 and will be 7 at the end of April), his explosive behaviors were occurring up to daily.
It went from that once a month/every other month to weekly. Weekly to a couple times a week. A couple times a week to daily.
We would make comments if a day went by that we actually survived a day that did not involve him screaming he hated us, screaming why we hated him, something being slammed, or crying. It was a like a 6-year-old throwing a tantrum that you might expect a toddler to throw.
I know there are parents out there who have experienced the similar behaviors with their children. They have told me I am not alone.
But trust me, when you are in the rut of the behavior – you feel alone. You think there is no other child in the world that can be like this.
B’s behaviors have included (but certainly are not limited to) yelling, crying, screaming he hates us, screaming in general, asking why we hate him, throwing things, hitting, kicking, biting, choking, pinching – not only to us but also his 9-year-old sister.
Not to mention we have a 1-year-old in the home who doesn’t understand why her “Bubba” is crying and out of control and tries to intervene while he is in his behavior because, well, he is her favorite.
As a parent, it is so hard to watch your child break down like this. It is so painful.
You know that this isn’t normal, but you aren’t sure what the problem is. You aren’t sure where you messed up in parenting. You are certain it is your fault, but you aren’t sure what you did or how you fix it.
You don’t know what to do and at that time; really, there is nothing you can do but attempt to keep everyone as safe as possible.
He was doing well in school (as far as we knew), but it was a fight to get him out of bed; a battle to do homework; a battle for bedtime routine; a battle to get him in bed; and non-school days were so chaotic with him beating on and throwing things at his sister; not listening; and just being so out of control that many times I had to call his dad home from work.
It was with this reoccurring daily explosive behavior and his teacher finally telling us at conference time (2 months after school had already been in session) that he was having difficulty sitting still in class and not disrupting his peers, that we decided to seek help of a professional…