It is said that baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous than adult snakes because they haven’t learned to control the amount of venom they inject when they bite.  They just release all their venom in one swift, deadly release.  Now, this little fact is mostly likely not scientifically sound-but for the sake of my argument let’s say it is.

I am raising a baby rattlesnake.

Little Man is a tightly wound ball of emotions.  He can go from a kind, sweet boy to door-slamming, venomous creature in a matter of seconds.  What can set him off?  His iPad not responding, losing or not performing well in a game, a change in schedule, his socks.  It is my job to teach him how to control is venom.  He 100% got it from me.  {I 100% believe it is the Italian blood coursing through our veins. While I was not as volatile or stubborn, I was a master door slammer and screamer.}  Navigating this as a family can be difficult and challenging.  In public, it can be frustrating and embarrassing.

What have I learned {and continue to learn}:

1.  Acknowledge his feelings. 

Often he is verbalizing exactly how most of us feel.  Software glitches, a strike out, traffic, homework, Mondays.  No one likes these things.   I find myself saying, “I understand it is super frustrating.”  I say it over and over.  I am not sure if it super helpful, but I  want him to know that I recognize what he is feeling.

2.  Set him up for success.  Be flexible.

I try to be ready with a preemptive strike.  I know him well enough now to foresee certain situations.  Before a our LEGOLand visit, we talked about lines and how there is likely to be long waits for rides.  We checked out the interactive online map and plotted a course to a coveted ride.  I sat out with him when he didn’t want to ride the BIG roller coaster.  Instead we wandered around {just the two of us} and found an exhibit where he could build a robot.  Sometimes he just needs down time.

3.  Let him be.

He knows what he likes and wants. When he was really young, I used to coax him or force him to do something he didn’t want to do.  Jump in jumpy houses, go on a merry-go-round, pet a dog. The list goes on and on.  Then one day it dawned on me.  If he doesn’t want to, don’t make him.  Let him be.  Well, let him be, unless it involves his education, safety or being polite.

4.  There is a limit!

He needs to know that while we do have control of many things, life is a series of readjustments and compromises.  I serve him no good, if I smooth every path for him.  And honestly, I am just not that patient.  There comes a time where enough is enough.  Time alone in his room often does the trick, for both of us.  I’d like to say I am always the calm, serene role model he needs.  Uh, nope.  I do yell and I do lose it.  {I am saving for his future therapy!}  My challenge is being consistent.

From my own experience, the outbursts decrease with age and maturity.  However, as the parent, I will just need to survive and come out on the other side of this. Thankfully, we have wonderful friends and family that care about Little Man and show great love toward him.  I appreciate their willingness to help him navigate the world and continually support me in return.  He is endearing and has a lovely soul.  I so want the world to see that!



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