Be clear about what you ask for.
The photo above was taken when T was 1 and attending an Early Years program, part of our routine to help develop his speech.
He’s come a long way since!
These days, I appreciate that T verbalizes his feelings, rather than internalizes things. He’ll often let you know exactly how he’s feeling.
This can also be a challenge. In the last year, he’s used words that are provoking.
Depending on how far his mood has unregulated, the hubby and I have been called “idiot,” “dummy,” and he’s even called me “a fucker” once. You can imagine my reaction!
In these situations, I remind myself to stay calm and that it’s a symptom of an inability to regulate his emotions.
It is easier said than done, especially when you are in public and you feel judged as a disregulated boy is screaming “Shut up.”
But we are lucky to have understanding people in T’s life at school and in our personal circle.
It’s one reason we are very open about T’s disability, because it puts context into his challenging moments.
We remind others the behaviours are symptoms of a kid with a brain disability that makes regulating his emotions harder than for an average kid.
At home, we’re working to help T find alternative ways to channel his frustrations, impatience and anger.
One of the best ways, a lightbulb moment for us, is to stay calm when he is at his worst.
Again, this is easier said than done. It seems counterintuitive to most adults, because they’d say we’re letting T get away with bad behaviour.
Recently, T started a new thing of telling us and daycare staff, “I am going to turn into a monster” when he is feeling frustrated, usually when he’s not getting his way.
I often stifle my laughter as I tell him that I think he’s already turned into one.
While most people will find his phrasing concerning, I consider it progress, because he is recognizing his emotions and finding healthier ways to process them.
The hubby and I also use books and short videos to help T learn strategies.
This weekend, I came across this excellent video “Just Breathe,” shared by the wonderful Our Sacred Breath.
It features kids talking about how they feel when they get angry and suggests “breathing” as a way to deescalate.
I’ve bookmarked this video, created by Wavecrest Films, to share with T one day soon.
The hubby and I try to be realistic. We know this will be a long journey.
We are thankful for how far T has come – feedback echoed by daycare staff – and that his positives outweigh the challenges.
At T’s positive moments, he is utterly caring, charming, funny, endearing and personable.
We celebrate every step and try to have a sense of humour at the missteps.
On a recent weekend, T was watching videos on the tablet. I gave him many transition reminders he will have to take a break to do reading work.
After my last reminder, he snapped back loudly, “Shut your mouth!”
I took a deep breath and replied calmly, “Use polite words.”
“Shut your mouth, please!” He shouted back right away.
Always one to look at a situation as half glass full, I thought to myself, “At least he said, ‘Please!’”