In recent weeks, our son has been acting out in more challenging ways. He’s gotten irrationally emotional for no clear reason and turned evenings that seemed headed for quiet routine into circus shows. And he was especially difficult around his brother’s recent birthday party, getting very possessive about toys that weren’t even his. It’s been a bit of a struggle for us and a behavior change for him.
I wonder why this is happening. Perhaps he’s exhausted from the longer days in kindergarten, having moved up to seven-hour school days. He could also be extra tired from the greater physical demands of his new school environment, and more tired than most kids because of his CP. Maybe he’s simply going through a bratty period that other kids go through and is in need of more discipline. Many children experience these emotional spells.
We could drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out whether this is just typical kid behavior, something most parents face, or if it’s linked in some way to the physical challenges his CP presents. But we are not going to do that, because, frankly, our view is that the precise cause does not really matter. This is simply not acceptable behavior and we’re using timeouts, hard conversations, and proportional punishment to send the message that we won’t have it in our house. The same way we’ll treat his brother, with the same expectations for controlling his behavior when he turns five.
Our view is this: We’re not going to make excuses for him, or tolerate behavior that most involved parents would not accept. We’re all too familiar with the set of physical challenges he has and we will always recognize the additional struggle he faces when it comes to certain activities. But at the same time, we’re not going to enable bad behavior or start marching down the road to raising a poorly-adjusted child because we feel guilty or are compensating for his condition. We don’t think that’s good parenting – the world certainly isn’t going to accommodate cop-outs or entitled behavior, regardless of his diagnosis. Our simple view is that some physical demands of the world won’t apply to him, because they just cannot, but everything else applies – including being a respectful, good kid who works hard, respects people, and learns that you should earn things in life.
There are times when the impulse is there to let some things go with him, and it’s a natural one that I expect some readers can appreciate. But we love him too much to enable him to become a spoiled or entitled kid partly because of his diagnosis. When it comes to being raised right, in our household there are no excuses – for him or for us.
– CP Dad