My Son Has Been Exhibiting Questionable Behavior

Modern Parent

I recently noticed a disturbing trend in my son’s behavior, and I am feeling extremely disappointed and helpless. My little boy has always been an easy-going child, but over the past few weeks, he’s been acting like a grump. I can't point to any significant changes in our life that might be causing this. Nevertheless, there are a couple of issues that have been bothering me.

Firstly, my son has started crying every time he doesn’t get his way. While I'm not opposed to crying, this behavior is entirely out of character for him. Whenever I turn off the TV or tell him he can't have any more treats, he goes into silent meltdown mode, coughing quietly before unleashing a wail that is heard throughout the house. These meltdowns last for more than half an hour, leaving me feeling helpless and unsure of what to do. Recently, he told me, “I don’t know why I’m still crying, I just can’t stop.” It broke my heart to hear him say that.

Secondly, my son doesn't want to go anywhere anymore. Whenever I mention going to the park, library, zoo, soccer practice, or any other place, he immediately responds with a loud “noooo I don’t want to go, I just want to stay home.” Once we get out, he seems to enjoy himself, but as soon as he’s not doing an activity, he becomes restless and is ready to leave. These are all places he used to love going to, and the thought of him no longer enjoying them is heartbreaking. Recently, I took my children out for ice cream, and while my daughter was ecstatic, my son burst into tears because he just wanted to stay home.

I have a few suspects that may be responsible for my son’s sudden change in behavior. The first suspect is screen time. My husband has been doing solo care more often these days, and he doesn't impose any limits on screen time. While he is typically very engaged in outdoor activities such as sports and bike riding, as soon as they come inside, he turns the TV on and leaves it on. This is mostly on weekends, but during the week, the kids are either with me or their nanny during the day. We give them 30-60 minutes of screen time to decompress after school, and I'm beginning to wonder if this is too much, and it's causing issues.

Another suspect is my son’s school. One of his classmates is having a tough time dealing with the birth of twin siblings. This classmate was one of my son's best friends, but he is now being aggressive and violent with kids in the class, including my son. He has been hurt by this child several times, which could be affecting him negatively.

Finally, the weather could be to blame. My son hates being hot, and it has warmed up considerably over the past month or so. Last week, when I said it was time for soccer, which he loves and has so much fun at, he broke down in tears, saying he didn't want to sweat. On one of the first 80+ degree days, his teacher said it was hot in the school because the AC had just been turned on. That day, my son was in a terrible mood, and the entire car ride home was silent.

I can't help but wonder if my son is just a typical 6-year-old, but I'm worried that there might be something else going on that I'm missing. Seeing my little boy unhappy so often is disheartening, and I can't shake the feeling that I'm failing him in some way.

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