Am I Doing This Wrong?

Am I doing this wrong?

I feel like there are days, weeks, and sometimes even months where I question pretty much every parenting decision I make. The thing that keeps running through my mind is I don’t want to raise a spoiled, entitled child. But my oldest, who is 3, is a very spirited child. He also has sensory processing disorder (SPD). And it’s this combination that makes me question everything I do. I’m never quite sure when I should give him a pass for his behaviors, or when I should stand firm and ride out the tantrum.

He’s just… MORE…

If I had to describe him in one word, I would say he is MORE. More passionate, more opinionated, and more full of life than the average kid. When he is happy, he has this uncanny ability to brighten the mood of everyone in the room. His laugh is ridiculously contagious.

But this child can also go from super happy to uncontrollably upset in a split second. Often it is seemingly silly things that can push him into a painfully long meltdown. His trucks need to be lined up in a certain way, or they need to be carrying something, or he needs to do some specific task before we can move on. And I know if I give in and let him complete his task (which can sometimes last more than 10 minutes) it will completely avoid the meltdown. But I also know this isn’t how life works. Sometimes we need to get moving quicker, or I need to set a firm limit because he’s being unsafe, or whatever. This, unfortunately, will almost always trigger the epic meltdown. His ability to ruminate on the single thought is impressive. It’s almost OCD-like in his ability to perseverate on the offending thought/behavior.

So now what?

I just don’t know how to handle these situations. We recently started occupational therapy with him for his SPD, and hopefully this will help resolve some of these issues. But what if it doesn’t? What if, even after the treatments, he continues to struggle with these things? I know he’s only 3, and that we need to be more lenient with him because of this, but when do we then change our stance? When do we start to be more firm with our limits and our NO’s?

And that’s my problem. I just don’t know. Worst of all, no one can give us a definitive answer. Parenting just doesn’t work like that. What works for one child may not work for the next. It’s not a black and white thing, which really sucks. So, I just continue to push through, hoping that I’m making the right choices.

Dan was born and raised in New Berlin, WI. He is married to the most amazing woman, Dawn, and has two children, Joe (born September 2014) and Nora (born April 2017). Dan has a background in Psychology (BA from UW-La Crosse) and Nursing (BSN from UW-Oshkosh). He is currently staying at home full-time. He enjoys cooking, biking, running, and yoga. He is also an avid coffee aficionado and hopes to one day be able to roast his own coffee beans.


  1. Oh Dan! I hear you! Parenting is the hardest job and one that no amount of training, or reading up on, or even experience can prepare you for the day to day challenges we face. My kiddos sound a lot like Joe in some ways. I always say Sam is a kid of extremems! Extreme joy, extreme sadness, extreme anger, extreme intelligence. I struggle with him and my parenting choices every day! I appreciate your candor and acknowledgement of the struggle! Sending you love and letting you know you are always doing more right than wrong as a Dad!

  2. Thanks for sharing this Dan! It hits close to home for our family as well. We too struggle with the feeling of whether or not we’re doing things right with our daughter who has a similar situation! Another personal struggle that I’ve found is the lack of support for parents with kids who struggle with SPD or anxiety or other challenges that may not have as obvious of an outward physical presentation. It can be an isolating experience as a parent, and a real challenge to get through the diagnosing stage to get the help that is needed, especially when they’re so young! Your shared words alone though demonstrate how much you care and that you are doing a great job at finding the balance that works for your family so keep at it! All the best to you and your family!

  3. Parenting is tough, and I often apply advice I give to my middle school students when they are doubting themselves: “Would you criticize a friend if they did what you are doing?” Most of the time they give me a shocked expression and a quick, “No!” Then we talk about how it is easy to be mean to ourselves, when that is who we should be kindest to. I remember this pep talk when I criticize my parenting; it seems to help!


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