Originally Posted by ann_of_loxley
Thanks for that link!...I know see what 'baskets' is hehe
I have never read the spirited child book. I do not think that fits DS at all. The highly sensitive child is much more him. But he has some serious frustration issues and these bursts, in these many mini meltdowns..he just seems so angry! And then its over. And its clear he had no control at all over what just happened.
I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book. But right now I have to say I am feeling really helpless. The book seems to come at a place where we already are. (so I sort of feel I am already at the end of the tunnel, but am still seeing no light iykwim) I did not start off with your 'mainstream' parenting of punishments/rewards/time-outs/etc. (I wont even go there - I know it wont 'help' either for more than one reason!) We live, try our best at least!, consensually.
I think the problem actually tends to be more with me. My patience surprises me but its like...it builds up and up and up and then I just cant take it anymore and end up shouting or something and its like we are back to square one. Its hard to have empathy during one of his meltdowns. But I know that this is my issue and not his. I am also reading 'Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves' which seems to cover some of this.
I guess my fault is that I am trying to find a way to fix this. To help his meltdowns eventually cease. I guess this is not possible? I dont know. I feel like I do everything right and then he comes out with something like kicking and hitting me and I am like wtf! - where did he get this from?! Why is he so angry!
Ugh...can you tell we had a bad day? lol
I did not start off with mainstream parenting. I discovered AP with my first child. Only when my second child who was having meltdowns every single day starting at about 3 was I falling into a trap of using traditional methods, partly because I was beyond hope to get her to stop her tantrums and meltdowns.
Things that were AP and intuitive with dd1 worked like a charm. She turned from a high needs baby into a very agreeable toddler and preschooler. After APing my second as an infant, she continued to have high needs and turned into a very unhappy/difficult/clingy/unmanageable toddler and preschooler. Unfortunately, I had zero energy to meet her needs because I had my third child by then.
Everything that I learned with dd1 (as far as APing an infant and toddler went), didn't work with dd2 because her needs became more complex, not less over time.
I became angry and resentful at dd2, at myself for not figuring it out how to get through to her. Her intensity, her negativism, her clinginess, her chronic meltdowns is what made me turn punitive for a while. I was at my wit's end, and even went on antidepressants for a while, because there was a rage building inside me (partly due to hormones too because I was still breastfeeding my then 2 year old who was having her own issues - her speech delay caused her to scream at me often because I did not understand what she wanted half the time). A rage started to build in me because no one had to see or deal with some of the things she did. Where opening up a granola bar package the wrong way sent dd into a 15 minute meltdown complete with tears and wails. Where walking two blocks ended up in a wailing meltdown and a refusal to walk any further until I picked her up when she was almost 4. A rage built up in me because I gave up my successful career in science only to be an absolute failure in parenting.
Over time, it was like nails scraping on a blackboard to me. I had to find help. I read book after book, with no real direction. I understood, but I could not implement things in the books I read.
I actually turned to the school system for help. I had her screened at the state early intervention preschool program. Only she would not participate (only found out months later why she wouldn't participate). Her meltdowns never went away. Some days we went without incident, but most days she was falling apart about something.
When I still needed help, I quite by accident was tipped off by my mother of all people about selective mutism. I was about to brush it off when I realized that what I read about it fit many aspects of dd, including her bossiness, rigidity and tantrums/meltdowns(in addition to her not speaking at school). She was additionally diagnosed with generalized anxiety and separation anxiety. Something that still plagues her at 5 years old. She still begs me to lay down with her until she falls asleep because she is afraid of dreaming of monsters.
But even having a diagnosis in hand isn't good enough until you can work on the problem.
For some children, emotional self-regulation is a natural extension of there development. For others, they need to be taught good emotional awareness and problem solving skills to deal with conflict. And this, I'm finding out is a long, slow process.
As I see it, we need to teach them when they are not in the heat of the moments and help them through the heated moments. Eventually, the goal is to head things off at the beginning because things are easier to deal with when they are small. In time, there should be less and less issues as the child assimilates emotional self-regulation.
Same thing with your own feelings. Letting things build and build and ignoring your own stress cues (the headache, the shaky feeling of "here we go again" and I'm not in the mood for it, the butterflies in your stomach because you can see something brewing in your child) cause you to blow up (not necessarily you personally, but the general you).
So what, does one do about it?
Out of all the books and things I've read, this is a distillation of what will work.
1. Help the child properly identify feelings. Using books, social stories, puppets, pictures from magazines, to give the child "words" to describe situations he has been in the past. Without a feelings vocabulary, the child can't articulate what's wrong.
2. Identifying stress signals in your child. Ask them how their bodies feel when they are mad/frustrated/scared/happy/calm. One conversation with dd led her to tell me that when she was frustrated, she felt like hitting someone (though, it's been years since she actually did that).
3. Reflect the feelings of the child. Acknowledging that something hurts/frustrates/makes them mad etc.
4. Give them some tools to help them calm down so they can think straight what to do next. That might be deep breathing, listening to music, being held, rocked, or actually left alone if that's what they prefer. Make a picture choice card of things they can do. Pull out the picture card to remind them.
5. Give them options to defuse their feelings if normal calming techniques don't work. Running, jumping jacks, jumping on an excercise ball, primal screaming (only if you aren't sensitive to noise), acting silly, bear hugs, etc. Gross motor movement helps diffuse the intensity. Make a picture choice card of things they can do. Pull out the picture card to remind them.
6. Once they are calm, tell them you will help them figure out solutions that are agreeable to them and to you or to the other child if they want you to.
For instance, taking turns, using a timer, sharing toys would be viable options for sharing issues. Hitting, yelling, hurting another persons feelings are not.
Over time, however long as it takes, the child will internalize the lessons. But, the key to the Explosive child (and this is common sense) is to get to the child before things get too far gone in the meantime.
Here is a Kid's Problem Solving Binder
I've been putting together for the past few weeks. I can pm you links to things I've found if you are interested.