AHHHHHH!!! He's on the lose. My three year old has this thing called run Mom into the ground, give her a five minute break, then start all over again. Everything I do or say there is a protest, or a nice little rebellion with a charming smile. This has become a daily concurrence. I think he's got it down to a science and I'm playing the fool trying to catch up. "Yes," "No," "No say that," "all done," "not all done," "give me that," things I dreaded hearing when he was two he has just started to figure out. While I'm grateful for the progress the time's where I can't tell if it's personal preferences or sensory issues is when it becomes the most difficult. Especially when it's a mixture of both. How to I discipline a kids that is over stimulated and tired? Of course I do the "We don't act like that" song and dance followed closely by the time out. Does it stop the behavior even when we're consistent?. No. And then I see the whole, "I was spanked. And what was good for me is good for my kids," argument that I just can't wrap my head around. I'll be the first to say that when my son see's someone doing something to hurt others or hurt for the purpose of correcting he's the type of kid to practice on others. If anything it would teach him he needs to hit to get what he wants or correct what he thinks is inappropriate behavior from us.
Most often I find myself on time out, in the bathroom with the water running. Trying to clear my head for round 2. It sucks. And behavioral therapists will tell you consistency and repetition. Which is true but still not easy. Especially with my son. He learns something a certain way. It has to be done that way for a long, long, long time. And if you are introducing a knew way you got to be a salesman with a Charisma of 30 (you D&D'ers get what I mean. lol). If you aren't happy, appealing and sweet any approach will tick him off and you're dodging random pokemon, in the hall way. It's hard. What do you do? You know you're not caving and then suddenly you've got a raging mad kid all over the house. Now this doesn't occur everyday in my house but who has a kid that doesn't do this in some form or another. My Mom tells me I didn't but I know I made up for it in my teenage years. I guess I should say better know than never. And as the great Cosby once said, "Better to get them mad now than have them mad at you later for not getting them mad in the first place." He he.
Anyway, I know that many things play into Keltanys little freaks he has here and there. Like his diet, sensory issues and tiny OCD's he has. And I'm sure I could deal with them better but I'll admit that on occasion my strategy is to turn the music up loud and dance like a crazy fool to see if that boy will crack a smile. Anything to change the mood of the house. And yes there are times when my voice reaches a certain pitch that says "WARNING,WARNING, WARNING, WARNING." That is called being human. Because well that's what I'm here as. But I remember every time that while I'm being tested, or am experiencing the frustration of this little ball of energy that's being overwhelmed., that I have no freaking idea what it's like to be frustrated for the reasons he's frustrated, and I can relate to him in that way, if only in that way. I've been mad and no one got why I was mad. It can feel very isolating and for a little kid can be terrifying. I always remember this no matter how mad I get, no matter how fast I reach my limit, I keep in mind that on the opposing force is a little boy angry and quite possibly scared and most definitely overwhelmed by the flashy craziness of this world. The other huge reminder is that I'm the adult, his foundation, and If I don't keep it together for him who will.
Temper tantrums from kids who have ASD are extremely different than any other types I've experienced, because it could be anything that's setting them off. And if they are non-verbal or have significant speech impairments, you become the master de-puzzler trying to figure out what it is that's bothering them.
I have figured out a plan though for in those times of tantrum chaos. And again it isn't a daily occurrence anymore but man when they happen it sure feels that way. Listed below are somethings I do to keep my cool during those high intensity moments...
1. Forget counting to 10. Instead try counting backwards from 100. It just feels better.
2. Make a quick note of how angry you are. Doing this quick check will let you know if a bathroom break is needed.
3. Smile. Not directly at your kid. Just to yourself. And listen intently to your breathing even if you have to heave to hear it over your kid. This helps distract you from that high place of anger.
4. Walk slowly and move slowly (only if you and the kid are safe of course) . Moving slowly helps remind you that you need to remain calm and at peace if you want to bring your kid into a realm of quite and peace.
5. Talk quietly to your kid reminding them of how they feel. Bring your voice volume way down.. Sometimes this distracts them and reinforces your zen.
6. Get into something sensory like washing your hands, having a drink of water, something you would normally do at any given "peaceful" time of the day. Good emotional distraction and gives you enough time to think and not react on instinct. Which we're prone to doing while angry.
7. Have visual cues around the house that remind you to stay as calm as possible when in the intensity of a tantrum. For example, we have the words love and gratitude on our vision board above our futon. Helps lots.
8. Try to empathize. I know way easier said than done. But if you can get into their frame of mind and think how much it must suck to be that upset it may help you in helping them. It doesn't matter if you don't now what they're mad about just remember a time when you were at your breaking point and then think what it must be like for someone so tiny who doesn't have the skills yet of mastering emotions, to be that frustrated and not know what to do other than what they're doing.. They are small and still need guidance and when they are angry we are their first responders. If you can empathize you'll calm more quickly.
9. Ok, here is a little sweet secret. When I am blinded with anger and on the verge of letting everyone now, I ninja my way to the fridge or cupboard grab a small (portions people) piece of chocolate or candy and down the hatch it goes. I will only do this once more and if it doesn't work I go to number 10.
10. Make sure the kid/kids are in a safe place and go to the washroom. Turn on the faucet or fan as a quieter of the outside noise, get a splash of water on your face, wash your hand, actually go to the bathroom, hum "Happy" by Pharrell Williams and dance like an idiot, imagine your boss dancing like an idiot, do a dance from the 80's, anything to bring yourself down quickly so you can tend to your kid. And when I say dance people, I mean dance hard. You are alone, no one is watching. Do it! Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself cause we all know laughter heals everything. It was employed in my house when I was a teenager and it would take us from high intensity to laughter and tears in 30 seconds or less. So make a fool of yourself and laugh. You'll feel better. :-)
I must say I can't tell you how to discipline your kid. That's something I don't enjoy hearing unless it's close family like my Mummy-in-law or my Mom, who have raised my husband and me. And since I'm raising a mini version of my husband and me it helps to hear their advice. Discipline is a very personal decision that sets the tone for the house. All I can say is try some of the things on the list above to help calm you so that you can make rational decisions about discipline.
Anyway, I hope this helps. Latter I will recommend things to do to keep your little one calm.Thanks for reading. If anyone has anymore tips to share about how to stay zen when your kid isn't, just leave them in the comments section. Don't forget to follow our blog!! More great things are coming!! Even a giveaway. Stay tuned...
Love and Gratitude,