I have been trying to channel you as my 10-year-old flames out about going to school. Just hold space, I think. This too shall pass, I think. But his moaning and groaning about school, the math curriculum is getting to me. It’s a terrible start to our days. He has good friends at school and is smart and well-liked. His teacher is not as happy this year and is less able to be affectionate and kind, and I know that’s difficult. But as we talk about, that’s about her and not toward him. The other thing to note is that his brother is 12 and in the throes of middle school and puberty, so he is no love bug to his little brother. We have lots of talks about this with both of them, but 12 is its own special age. Help!
I’m right there with you, actually. We have a routine of misery in the morning in my house, too.
But I am always wary of “Everything is great at school.” Not that it isn’t. It is just worth a deeper look.
As for all of these crabby boys in the house, perhaps you need to change your morning routines.
First, control what you can: the environment. Almost every human does well with a solid and (somewhat) calm meal. There is nothing more loving than providing a meal and eating it with your children. It is so basic yet so absent in our culture. A meal is saying to a child: “I am taking strong care of you. I am here.” It relaxes every human, and it provides a small space for connection.
What this space also provides is an opportunity to more deeply listen to what your son is saying. What are the feelings underneath the complaints? We cannot really fix anything until we understand what is actually going on.
Although I love making room for feelings and emotions, you still should place strong boundaries around the outbursts and meanness. For instance, the 12-year-old may be moody, but use the morning mealtime to let the boys know that you are going to be putting a stop to the outright surliness.
To further understand young men, I strongly recommend Michael Thompson’s books, such as “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.” And if his aggression and anger and depression increase, please seek professional help.