There has been a wonderful development recently in how Michael has been handling his anger. He has been saying, “I am mad. I am going to my room,” or “I am going to the the basement to calm down.” Last night he was overstimulated and overwhelmed. He was acting up when I picked him up from his after school program, then apologized. He asked if he could play in the yard when we got home. I let him, as this usually helped him blow off steam. However, fifteen minutes or so later when I told him to come inside for supper, (and I had told him supper would be soon), he lost it getting angry with me. He ran to his room, started screaming and then I heard him crying. Frightened that he would start hitting his head which is something he had started doing in the winter, I ran down the hall and peeked into his room. He was screaming angrily and crying, but handling his emotions in a positive way. I left him alone. I went to the kitchen. A few minutes later I heard silence. I went out of the kitchen and saw him lying down on the living room couch on his stomach. He had stopped crying and looked sad.
“Do you need a hug, Michael?” I asked him.
So we hugged and then he said sighing deeply, “I feel much better now Mommy. Let’s go eat dinner.” And he proceeded to tell me about his busy day at supper.
I have noticed, even in stressful moments like last night, an increased awareness of how he is able to calm himself down with better tools and methods. I have also noticed that he is dealing with futility well, an emotion that Dr. Neufeld talks about in his attachment book on parenting that I love so much, “Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers.” He has been pushing the envelope lately to get his way more and more, and when he doesn’t come the inevitable tears and anger. But for the first time, he is handling these emotions without violence towards himself or us! Learning to accept futility means learning to let go of things we can’t control and being OK with that. This is a huge step for someone whose brain works differently and has to deal with massive amounts of anxiety inside.
What have your Exceptional Children taught you about managing anger? What have you learned from their victories about their strengths and your own? I always say our kids are our greatest teachers. I am so glad that I am able to give Michael more of what he needs lately, and that I am going back to trusting my parental instincts. There are two key things to being the best parent and human being you can, loving your children as the individuals they are, and giving them the best of you when you are at your best. Until next time.