Thursday, September 2, 2010

Feeling Like a Bad Dad

I had one of those Bad Dad moments the other day.  You may be familiar with it yourself.  You yell at your child, then feel terrible afterward that you lost your cool and were not as patient as you know you should be.

On this particular occasion, it was haircut time at our house.  My wife gives Kai haircuts at home as we know that it is futile to expect that he will sit still at a barbershop.  Every month, it’s pretty much the same routine.  First, Kai resists and says he does not want a haircut.  Then, he will finally sit down in the chair, but, as the clippers draw near, he pulls away and says he is scared.  Finally, after much encouragement / cajoling / yelling, usually in that order, my wife can finally begin cutting his hair.  Even then, however, he keeps squirming, which makes it difficult to give him a nice, clean, even cut.

Afterward, it is my task to get him cleaned up.  He hates having the cut pieces of hair on himself so we thought that a shower would be the best way to get it all off of him.  That sounds good in theory.  Except that he hates showers. 

The whole process of getting him showered was quite an ordeal.  He kept yelling that he was itchy, but then refused to get into the shower.  When he finally got in the shower, he screamed when his face got wet.  He scrubbed himself with soap, but then did not want to rinse off for fear of getting his face wet again.  My patience wore thin and I yelled at him to get under the water. 

He finally rinsed off and cried the whole time.  After he was done, he quickly toweled himself dry and ran off to tell Mom how mean I was to him. 

Sometimes it’s hard to know when to be gentle and understanding, and when to use a tough love approach.  Should I force him to overcome his fears and just get in the shower?  Am I coddling him if I don’t?

With Kai, I wonder if it’s even more complicated than with most typically developing kids.  He seems to be afraid of almost everything.  He is afraid of getting water on his face, of even slow movement on a bicycle, of trying something for the first time.  How much of his anxiety is related to his sensory issues?  How much of it is due to his neurotransmitters not functioning correctly? How much is just normal fears that he simply needs to overcome?

I don’t have many answers to those questions.  But, I do know this.

Yelling at him when he is scared is not the solution.  I need to remember that and do better next time.


  1. Yuji, you are an amazing dad dealing with Kai's boatload of anxieties, and I have no doubt that you're doing a great job. Keep it up. Thanks for letting us into your story.


  2. Thanks for your comments, Bill. Much appreciated.


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