Undoing the damage done by visiting MIL... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 01-06-2013, 10:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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MIL was visiting for a LONG time over the holidays (almost 6 weeks...ugh) and there are a couple of things I find myself trying to UNDO now that she is gone. 

DS (2.5) has "autistic tendencies" or HFA and mild SPD- he is pretty clumsy and physically a bit behind other kids his age when it comes to both fine and gross motor skills. Just recently he had made big strides with climbing on playground structures, going down slides, and going on the big-boy swings instead of the baby swings and we were all really happy and excited about it. 

 

When MIL was here she loved taking him to the park and it gave us a nice break so she did it very often. We are discovering, now that she's gone, that she was telling him "hold on, or you're gonna fall" and "be careful, you'll fall" etc. ALL THE TIME. Now it's become part of his playground script and he is way more apprehensive, even scared sometimes while playing and he is refusing to attempt things that he had proudly mastered just a short while ago. greensad.gif I'm so pissed off about this, I can't even begin to express it.

 

So... I'm not sure how to approach this. Saying "you're not going to fall" seems to set off the whole script thing even more- he repeats and repeats, getting more freaked out. I've also tried really making him follow through and finish climbing up whatever he is climbing when he is doing this- and he is really, really happy when he gets to the top, but freaks out and is very upset while I'm pushing/holding him up. So I'm not sure if that's what I should do either. 

When we go to the playground he just wanders around now and doesn't want to attempt anything anymore without lots of cajoling. It breaks my heart because he was so proud of himself and had lots of fun before. 

 

What do I do to get us back to where we were before MIL came and f*ed everything up??? 


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#2 of 12 Old 01-07-2013, 01:06 AM
 
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With my physically cautious child (not ASD, but coordination problems and vestibulary issues) it helps if I remain very calm myself and if he moans "it's dangerous, I'll fall" I just say "so what, I am right here". I would not push or hold, just hover close so in case he does fall he falls right into your arms - trying this out might even be beneficial.

If he has been made insecure over six weeks, give him at least as much time (if not twice as long) to regain confidence. Being tense about it because you are so mad at your MIL, which is understandable, is probably counterproductive. Vent to us and your DH and try to let it go whenever your out with your little boy, this will help him feel secure again.
 

Edited to add that I just noticed you are expecting, which will make letting go harder  - be good to yourself and find ways to relax, and this will help your little boy relax.

 

HTH!


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#3 of 12 Old 01-07-2013, 01:57 AM
 
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I'd give him something else to replace her negative script. Perhaps singing "this is the way we climb and slide, while playing at the playground"or just the words, if you're not musically inclined. Make sure to keep it positive, meaning avoid the words "not" and "try", because the subconscious does not understand those words, and her messages are in his subconscious and conscious minds.
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#4 of 12 Old 01-13-2013, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input and ideas! This advice has been useful to me and I think we are making progress but DS is still not where he used to be in his confidence on the play structures. He is HAPPY again when playing on them though and that is a HUGE deal. I hated to see him upset and worried about it when I just want him to have fun. It will just take some time I guess.

Thank again.


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#5 of 12 Old 01-16-2013, 10:20 AM
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The saddest thing about it is that your MIL has that type of negative self-talk running through her head all the time...and she actively taught negative self-talk to your child.  But you can actively teach positive self-talk.  The script that I recite to my kids is, "Your body is strong.  You can do it.  Keep trying.  I see how careful you are.  Yes, I can help.  You know how to move your arms and legs.  Exercise helps you feel happy and healthy every day."  I wasn't sure if my method was working until one day I overheard my 3 year old say to himself, "I can do it.  I know how."  

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#6 of 12 Old 01-16-2013, 11:24 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fay View Post

The saddest thing about it is that your MIL has that type of negative self-talk running through her head all the time...and she actively taught negative self-talk to your child.  But you can actively teach positive self-talk.  The script that I recite to my kids is, "Your body is strong.  You can do it.  Keep trying.  I see how careful you are.  Yes, I can help.  You know how to move your arms and legs.  Exercise helps you feel happy and healthy every day."  I wasn't sure if my method was working until one day I overheard my 3 year old say to himself, "I can do it.  I know how."  


Awww. This is so heartwarming!

 

OP, you've gotten great advice already. And how lucky for your son that YOU get how important this is. You're providing a positive encouraging environment for him all the time. That's going to have such a bigger impact on him than anything your MIL did for a few weeks.


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#7 of 12 Old 01-17-2013, 02:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fay View Post

The saddest thing about it is that your MIL has that type of negative self-talk running through her head all the time...and she actively taught negative self-talk to your child.  But you can actively teach positive self-talk.  The script that I recite to my kids is, "Your body is strong.  You can do it.  Keep trying.  I see how careful you are.  Yes, I can help.  You know how to move your arms and legs.  Exercise helps you feel happy and healthy every day."  I wasn't sure if my method was working until one day I overheard my 3 year old say to himself, "I can do it.  I know how."  


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#8 of 12 Old 01-17-2013, 06:41 PM
 
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You got some good suggestions above, and I am glad things are working out. But to look at the original post from a different perspective...

 

May I suggest to separate your child's anxieties from the MIL part? I think you said your child is 2 1/2 years old. This may be the first time, but it certainly won't be the last, that folks outside the immediate family have an impact. Teachers, friends, scout leaders - as kids grow, their circle of influence expands exponentially. I totally understand your concern that Grandma caused new worries in your child, and as parents, we want to protect our kids. But please don't let that concern poison the grand-parental relationship for your family. No one is perfect, and no doubt MIL will say something to scare your little one again - maybe often over the years.

 

My perspective on this issue is as the mother of a kid with the same diagnoses as yours. Anxiety is a common feature of ASD, and I could tell you stories about some of the absurd fears YoungSon developed (and eventually outgrew) over the years. He is 16, and I still have problems with him being unduly influenced - not by peers as much as peers' parents, for some reason.

 

But I am also a grandmother, and could easily imagine being nervous about a grandchild's safety at the park, and perhaps too vocal about it. Well, really, that is not my style, but I don't see it as evil or ill-intended. I get your concerns, but please rethink anger as a response. Maybe you can help G'ma understand how deeply your child internalizes fears, how challenging physical activities can be for him, how much impact her words can have. In the end, his life will be enriched by the extended family connections, but this will entail some teaching and some compromise.
 


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#9 of 12 Old 01-17-2013, 07:11 PM
 
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My Dd gets anxious at the playground also.

I encouragge her, and also tell her I will spot her, but I do not physically help her.

The whole spotting her in case she falls traick seems to really work for her most of the time;

 

Although it was probably me who incited the anxiety in her. As she is sometimes fearless. And I am paranoid about head injuries after my nephew because severely disabled due to a serious brain injury at the age of 15. So I try to find a balance between teaching her to do things safely and encouraging her to pushh her boundaries physically.

 

Also have to agree with the PP. You may want to cut your MIL some slack. I am going to be WAY more cautious and careful with someone else's child out and about than I would be with my own. There isn't anything much worst than a someone's child being injured on your watch when you were intrusted with their safety and well-being by the parents.


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#10 of 12 Old 01-17-2013, 09:08 PM
 
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I say honor your instincts. If you have concerns that your mil is a poor influence, then minimize contact, especially unsupervised contact. It is your job to protect your child. I wish I had listened to my instincts about my parents. It wasn't until after they traumatized my son that I had the confidence to cut contact. There were years spent correcting the damage. Better to prevent it, I think.
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#11 of 12 Old 01-18-2013, 02:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamarhu View Post

You got some good suggestions above, and I am glad things are working out. But to look at the original post from a different perspective...


But I am also a grandmother, and could easily imagine being nervous about a grandchild's safety at the park, and perhaps too vocal about it. Well, really, that is not my style, but I don't see it as evil or ill-intended. I get your concerns, but please rethink anger as a response. Maybe you can help G'ma understand how deeply your child internalizes fears, how challenging physical activities can be for him, how much impact her words can have. In the end, his life will be enriched by the extended family connections, but this will entail some teaching and some compromise.
 

My mother is like that a bit, also saying careful careful! much more than I would, and it drives me nuts sometimes. It's a different generation. Since you call yourself expat mom, I'd guess she is not around all that much, but if she is, it's a lengthy stay, which also has its drawbacks. What's your DH saying? It always helps me enourmously if my DH just agrees that yes, that one was out of line, without even entering into a conflict with his parents about it. having his support and his promise that he will talk to her next time she visits may helop you let go, and preserve the relationship.


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#12 of 12 Old 01-18-2013, 04:13 PM
 
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My favoritest aunt was that type - "Ooh, careful! You'll fall! Too high!" and on and on. It became a joke between my brother and me, and in the end did no lasting harm. And, yes, my brother has ASD and anxiety issues.
 


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