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Have you heard of the five love languages? Everyone have different things that make them feel loved. If they don’t feel loved, they may behave negatively and get very anxious.
Mine are words of affirmation and acts of service (things people do), so I would feel very pressurized by high expectations of being a dream child and cornered by actions such as when people keep trying to ‘talk and fix’ issues. I think it’s the physical distance that scares me when they do that. I would beat myself up about not being in control of myself for certain issues that ‘doesn’t meet expectations’ by throwing, breaking things and yelling a lot. And feel worse after that so as a child I can become violent for a period of time if the issue isn’t solved.
It’s contradicting, so it can also lead to a lot of anxiety. But sitting down and talking immediately doesn’t resolve it because I need to calm down first. Like your child, I behave normally most of the time and seem like the type who never gets angry. Angry outbursts may be from suppressed emotions over time and not suddenly angry bomb in the brain.
If you noticed your child’s strong reaction – throwing something at you when you try to find him and go home together – sometimes your action seem threatening to him as it makes him feel cornered.
Maybe he also feels like he has a split personality because he can be calm and also extremely volatile so it can make him anxious. I was scared when I suddenly started screaming and breaking things in my room in my twenties because I haven’t done that in ages and had things ‘under control’. I was also scared about the ‘sit down and fix it’ talks although people mean well. The more concerned questions, the more anxious I become. I don’t feel comfortable talking to people when I have issues because I feel like they are imposing solutions on me but not understanding how I feel. I would also wander outside for hours because I felt a lot of pressure from all these concerned people and live up to their expectations of being a dream child.
Some suggestions :
As your son is quite young, and don’t seem comfortable about talking about his anxieties or problems, don’t confront him. He is probably aware that he is facing some issues with things in life but too emotionally overwhelmed to fix it now.
1) maybe when he is feeling OK, you can gently tell him short stories from picture books about how characters deal with difficult emotions like anxiety. I read a book about this little girl who wanted to live in a tree house. Her father built it for her but she eventually felt anxious and lonely, so it ended with him telling her if she needs warm soup, warm bed and a hug, she can always come home. Sometimes anxiety is also a very lonely feeling especially when you feel nobody understands. Speaking from a third person point of view on storytelling reduces the pressure on him.
Don’t say: It’s OK to feel anger but not OK to hit people.
Say: Do you know that I feel angry too and don’t want to talk about it to anyone? Let him ask you why and what you do about it. Maybe you read a book or watch cartoons that make you laugh. Ask him if he has a favorite cartoon character and what he/she does. Personally I like Robin from teen titans because he is calm when everyone else is panicking. But he does silly things himself sometimes.
Don’t speak to him in a way that sounds like you are talking down to him (giving him orders) and judging him. The 7 year old kid I live with doesn’t like to be treated like a kid when I talk to her, but she likes other childish things like lollipops and playing with toys because she is still a child.
2) Let him have an outlet for his frustration with time on his own. When I’m stressed, I may do badminton drills where I keep practicing smash shots or play soccer with my friends. I kick the ball really hard but not at them, I’m just kicking it across the field to score a goal. You can play sports with him as long as you don’t stick too close to him physically, show him how to do it safely and let him do it on his own while you sit at a bench.
After a few hours, when I sit down with my friends, we may start talking about stuff. Giving people the freedom to choose when and what to talk to you about makes them more comfortable with talking to you as they don’t feel cornered.