I am a single mother raising an 8 1/2 year old boy. He does well in school and plays well with other children. He has only 2 other members to his immediate family, my mother and my sister. My mother spoils him like most grandmas and my sister is the fun aunt. I am the only disciplining parent.
Since my son was around 5 years old he has had crying spells. Normally these crying spells begin when I have told him to do something he doesn't want to do. It isn't usually a sobbing cry, but silent crying with huge tears running down his face. As soon as it starts, he will go somewhere and hide and stay crying anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. He also won't look at anyone while he's crying and refuses to talk.
I especially have problems when it's time for him to take a shower at night. He gets upset because he wants to watch his 2 favorite cartoons and he's afraid he won't be done with the shower in time. I told him 30 minutes was more than enough time. He immediately started the silent crying and I've only recently seen anger in him while pulling away from me. 30 minutes later, he is still crying. By this time one of his cartoons is about to come on the tv and as loving as I could be, I told him he still had to take a shower before he could watch cartoons. Now the silent cry has developed in loud sobbing. Another 30 minutes later, the crying has returned to the silent cry and the second cartoon is about to start. I remind him again about the shower and the sobbing starts all over again. Is he throwing his version of a temper tantrum? During these crying spells, I try to be comforting thinking maybe something else is really bothering him. During the cartoon/shower episode, I asked him what was wrong and he said it was school and a bunch of things, but he didn't want to tell me. I tried to reassure him that I wouldn't get angry or punish him. I don't use any form of physical discipline with him at all. I've even tried to change the shower schedule in case the behavior was due to tiredness. Taking a shower in the morning does not coincide with our schedule.
I've told him it was ok if he wanted to talk to other members of the family and he refuses that as well. My mother and sister have witnessed the same behavior. It seems like a battle and only sometimes do I win. Even though I stand my ground, there are other times he won't obey something I've told him to do and will end up crying himself to sleep. Am I doing the right thing? Is this behavior normal? I don't know if he doesn't know how to expressing his anger if only to give me the silent treatment in an effort to punish me. Should I seek professional help for him?