For a high-intensity boy, situations which prove all absorbing can be fraught with peril for both mother and son. Such situations may include playing with a friend, playing at the park, video-gaming, or doing just about anything which he doesn’t want to stop. If his whole heart and soul are engaged in this activity, then breaking in on his absorption and concentration is probably going to cause some kind of a meltdown. If you parent a high-intensity son, then you know what I’m talking about. You also know that it doesn’t matter if your son is two or twelve: the result will look much the same.
High-intensity boys get so “in to” whatever they are doing that they completely lose touch with the world around them. Especially if they are trying to master a new skill, you can actually see the strain as they put their all into it. Their eyes may dilate, their muscles may tense and shake, and their fists may clench. You can talk to your son, but it is entirely likely that he may not hear you. The problem is that when you pull your son away from his activity, he is likely to resist – perhaps violently.
The best way to help your son (and yourself) is to help him to recognize when he is becoming completely engrossed in something. Depending on his age, you can call his attention to the physiological changes that are taking place in his body as he becomes more fully engaged in his activity. The older and more mature he is, the more likely it is that this step will be the only one necessary to aid him in immediately beginning to “dial down” his response. Younger boys, of course, will probably need additional help. A wonderful technique for younger boys is to help them to assess their energy or engagement level in terms of “gears.”
When you see your son getting highly engaged or agitated, i.e., tensing as he plays a video game, make sure he hears you and simply tell him that it looks like he is moving into 5th gear, and that you think it would be better for him if he took it down to 4th gear. Most boys like the car analogy, and they appreciate the visual image of physically downshifting. This technique works anytime your high-intensity son begins to ramp up his emotional or physical activity at an inappropriate time. It is also a great way to begin letting your son know that his time at a particular activity is coming to an end (for example, the traditional “ten minutes left” at the park warning). Don’t forget to tell your son when it is appropriate to move into 5th gear, though! Running around while playing outside is usually a perfectly appropriate 5th gear activity!
All boys are challenging, but high-intensity sons bring special challenges to their mothers. Having a small arsenal of techniques to assist you in aiding your high-intensity son can make parenting these special sons a true joy!