“When I Feel Angry”

Team T have been trying different strategies to help our sweet boy process his emotions.

Emotional regulation is often a challenge for children with T’s prognosis – at-risk FASD.

We experience a full spectrum of emotions, from happy, sweet, caring to explosive moments.

The hardest moments are those when he is set off in the blink of an eye – over seemingly small things, like asking him to brush his teeth, go to bed, or focus on virtual learning.

Thankfully, the majority of our time with T are positive. But it’s important to intervene while he is young, so we can set a foundation for later life.

The hubby and I have read on private groups about kids with FASD who have explosive moments, damaging things at home or physically turning a classroom upside down. Kids with FASD may be at risk of issues with the law in adolescence.

I don’t think – and hope – we’re on that path but we’ve seen things at home that have given us pause and at school and daycare, there have been a few moments related to disregulation.

Most recently at daycare, staff reported that a colleague was bothering T. He got frustrated and threw a wooden block at this peer, causing a bump on their forehead.

Granted, it’s not all T’s fault, but the mother was not happy and asked for T and the friend – who love to play together – to be separated.

That was hard to take in as a parent and it was hard for T to understand the consequences of his – and the peer’s – actions.

Life is a work in progress and here are a few strategies Team T is currently using to help him work on his emotions.

Books are a great tool to share lessons with T in a non-lecturing way. Visuals are so helpful too.

His behaviour therapist recently recommended a list of great books and we found some of them as read aloud videos on YouTube.

Two books – “When I Feel Angry” and “When Sophie Gets Angry – Really Really Angry” – provide relatable characters and teachable moments that feel relevant to T.

What I like about these stories is they don’t shame kids for feeling angry and at the same time, teach them a more productive way to process and express those emotions.

We are so blessed to have really understanding and supportive daycare staff. They may not entirely get T’s prognosis but they have been so genuine and open to learning and trying things.

I often chat with the staff during pickup and she runs ideas and questions by me.

We’ve connected daycare staff with the Special Needs Resource Consultant from Community Living Toronto that supports T at daycare.

The consultant recently provided a role play Conflict Card Game to daycare staff to try out.

Credit: ConnectAbility.ca

The game presents a series of scenarios – sample above – and it provides the staff and T with a play-based way to talk about how to emotionally respond to common scenarios.

We are also incredibly blessed and grateful to have the dedicated one-on-one support of his Child and Youth Worker at school this year.

She has been such a godsend and allocates time each day at school to work with him on soft skills.

What we appreciate so much about her is her willingness to learn and apply things that we and the daycare staff are using, so there is consistency at all touch points of T’s life.

At home, we try our best to role model the expected behaviour, because kids learn best from observing their parents.

The hardest thing about parenting a child like T is the difficult behaviour and I confess to not always being the most graceful in my responses to his actions.

Such as when we found out with very little notice this Tuesday that we were returning to virtual schooling the next day and that day camps next week were cancelled due to a return to shutdown.

My anxiety level shot up and I was not very calm in responding to T’s tantrum during bedtime.

But thankfully, every day with T is a new start and you just have to let the previous day go.

This morning, T’s class did a virtual art lesson – which we’ve done and loved in the past. They drew a sunflower – the symbol of good cheer.

After T outlined his sunflower, he said he was done and got up to play with his toys. I told him he needed to finish his work and to colour the sunflower in.

And just like that, he blew a big fit. He threw his artwork to the ground and stomped off. Started telling me to shut up and saying that he was tired and his arm was going to fall off from all that hard work of coloring.

I had to restrain myself from laughing or losing my shit – because it was both hilarious and incredibly frustrating.

But I kept my cool and calmly reminded him that he would not earn tablet time if he did not finish his work.

After a two-minute tantrum, he came back to the table, started chuckling again and proceeded to finish his work.

For about two minutes, the two of us quietly completed our sunflower. Afterwards, I asked T to share his work with the class.

His teacher praised him for a job well done and after we went back on mute and turned off the camera, I told T how happy I was that he was able to control his emotions and finish his work.

It was truly a sunflower cheerful way to end our morning.

16 thoughts on ““When I Feel Angry”

  1. Thanks for sharing this post Ab. Every parent, every adult can truly learn and feel so connected to your story and T. Handling anger is hard, and all of us can experience it and loose our cool and self at the height of the anger. My son had a terrible 2 & 3 age tantrums that we kind of isolated ourselves from socializing and focus on supporting and teaching him ways to overcome it. By 5 years old, he outgrew it and became the sweetest, caring kid I know. However, it can be a traumatic experience that unknowingly changes the parent . It made me and wife choose to just have one child because the stress and pressure were a lot. We were by ourselves, no friends nor family support. Looking at everything now, no regrets to our decision. Our son grew up happy, positive, kind, more calm than his parents. When I ask now if he wants a sibling or wanted one , his answer is, “No.” Family of 3 always worked for us. Take care my friend. Regards to your family.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am glad to hear that your son outgrew the very challenging anger and tantrums. It definitely feels isolating and traumatic for sure – especially when you are on your own. But it sounds like the hard work and sacrifice paid off. 🙂

      And yes, we’re very happy with just our T. Don’t need another one. 🤣

      Take good care!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t stand it. It’s thankfully Spring Break this week. Gonna try to keep it relaxed but it’s generally always stressful and hard to focus on work with T at home. But we’ll get through it!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. All three of mine have had a hard time with emotional regulation. The boys would get physical while Catelyn went from 0-10 in a flash and be a crying mess. I think hers still has a lot to do with her inability to express her feelings with words. She just melts. These are great resources. My oldest was given a booklet of different emotions to help him identify a feeling in others (apparently he couldn’t tell if someone was happy or mad) and ways to express them himself. Catelyn was in therapy and read books like the one above to help her. Declan still talks about how to handle his reactions in his social skills sessions and I think he is the best at identifying if a situation calls for a big reaction or a small one. That cracked me up about T’s hand being too tired – I could totally relate to your reaction! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robyn. Yes, I literally was caught between laughing and screaming at him, “You think coloring a sunflower is hard? Try homeschooling you.” But I smiled instead. 🙂

      I always marvel at how you parent three kids when one is so so hard already. 😂 I love how Declan is able to articulate big and small situations. I’m gonna have to look that up and try it out.

      I think I find the 0-10 in a flash the most annoying to deal with to be honest. But thankfully they are often short lived and you just have to ride out the crying mess part.

      I guess the one nice thing about the pandemic is all these things happen at home instead of in public. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It really goes to show how important it is to have a support network in place. Some kids have a different way of learning and it’s great that you and Team T are exploring techniques that work for him. It’s okay for kids (and adults) to know that they can feel their feelings, but sometimes need to express those emotions differently. All the best with remote learning over the next few weeks. I can’t even begin to imagine how incredibly frustrating it is for any parent during this pandemic. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t much advance notice for parents to then have to switch gears and deal with homeschooling. Again. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks L. The last three days were pretty darn exhausting. For April Break this coming week, we are not gonna stress it. If he sits in front a screen all day so be it.

      We’re pretty lucky T is an outdoor person – like yourself – and that the weather is getting warmer. Getting outside and long hikes really helps regulate him. So we’re happy summer is well on its way!

      Enjoy the 20 degree weather today!

      Like

      1. I bet! This remote learning is so disruptive to kids, parents and teachers, especially when not much notice is given. And yes, thank goodness the weather is getting warmer. It’s nice to spend some time outside, which is a great way of tiring us out! Yesterday was beautiful. I regretted not wearing shorts when we went for our hike. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Looks like it’ll be a lazy day today with all the rain.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how proactive you are with your parenting approach. I think with how aware you are of the importance of setting a foundation with purpose is going to make a world of difference for both your son and your family as a whole. Your child is so lucky to have such advocating, proactive and loving parents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Rachel. We are very lucky to have known about T’s medical history and although his prognosis feels like a curse some days, it’s helped open up a world of supports for him early on.

      The online parenting groups are also so helpful. Hearing about other kids and their experiences helps us prepare for similar situations. Technology has definitely helped make the journey easier and less isolating!

      Like

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