DC1 always gets phases late and DC2 seems to get them early.
Luckily when DC1 hit this phase, Wandering Scientist told me it was a normal age and stage (I think her pediatrician’s office had an ages and stages graphic) and the internet strongly agreed with that assessment.
With DC1 it meant sullenness and occasional bouts of tears and ramped up perfectionism, IIRC. There was also some acting up at school. And lots of silence when questioned. Fortunately it was short, although we did get several emails from one of hir teachers who couldn’t handle it because zie was used to teaching college students, not elementary schoolers. (Another more experienced teacher, when questioned, said there was no problem and her son had gone through the same thing a year prior and she knew it was normal.)
DC2 has become very emotional. Meltdowns, temper tantrums, not wanting to do things, being scared of everything (ex. being unable to sleep because zie was afraid of Ancient Egypt), feeling stupid for not reaching hir own impossible standards. It’s very much like a repeat of the terrible twos, except DC2 is less easily distracted from bad behavior and is more self-aware.
First up: unlike the toddler years, DC2’s refusals to do things seems to be responding well to threats of punishment. Taking away privileges has gotten hir to stop tantrumming and to do whatever it is zie needs to do. Giving a 5 min or 1 min or count to five warning about having to stop screaming and put on hir clothes or play piano or go into the gymnasium for camp on pain of losing screen time privileges or not getting to eat out at hir favorite restaurant has been effective. I suspect bribery may also be effective, but I don’t want to incentivize bad behavior. I guess technically we already have rewards in place for things, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to take them away as privileges. Adding on beyond that in the face of bad behavior may not be a great idea.
The next thing we’re trying to do is to add more attention and more quiet time and make sure zie has eaten and all those things we did when zie was a toddler and seemed to need more attention or less stimulation. DC2 at age 7 wants to talk about hir feelings and hir fears a lot more than zie did at 2.
And finally, we’ve gotten some books about elementary schooler anxiety and have been working through them with hir. The best of these for hir level has been What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner. It’s basically cognitive behavioral therapy at an elementary school level. It also relates worries to tomatoes, and DC2 hates tomatoes, so it resonates. After going through the book once, DH was able to get DC2 through the Metropolitan Museum of Art (even the Egyptian room that DC1 wanted to see) even though zie had refused to set foot in the Museum of Fine Arts a week or two prior.
Things seem to have settled down a bit with the start of school. Hopefully the phase is winding down and DC2 will be back to hir normal self.
Have you gone through the terrible 7s? Have there been other ages with these kinds of stages?