Michael has a a hard time letting go of negative emotions. Most recently, this has translated to him getting very upset when he doesn’t get his way. This take the form of a tantrum, and could be anything from hitting his head, hitting me, breaking something, all the while screaming. Not fun for him or anyone around him. Usually, it ends a few minutes later with him crying. I encourage the crying. The dam has broken, so to speak, and his anger and sadness are finally coming out properly. Sometimes I feel like unleashing all my anger, but of course as a rational adult, I don’t. I also learned today (and it shouldn’t have come as a surprise), that Michael holds on to a lot of negative experiences over a course of a day or two and then sometimes blows up.
This morning as I was putting his lunch in his lunch box, he came running into the kitchen at top speed. I barely had time to register that, when he slapped me on my back very hard. I yelled out in pain. My anger immediately came to the surface and I shouted at him why he did that. He didn’t answer, so I asked him to leave the kitchen and go take a timeout to calm down in his room while I did the same in the kitchen. I also told him no story before the bus came to bring him to camp until he apologized. I was so mad. I didn’t know where his anger had come from. A few minutes later, he came in quietly, hugged me, and apologized properly. I accepted, went with him to his room to help him apply sunscreen, and we had a talk. Apparently, he was still angry at me from the night before when I had refused to take him to the library as promised due to misbehavior. Though I thought we had worked it out and it was long forgotten, he was harboring negative feelings.
After doing the rest of his morning routine, we talked outside on the driveway until the bus came. We talked about how holding on to anger is not good for anybody, most of all us. It hurts us deeply inside. It hurts our bodies, our minds, our hearts. I went over with him for the thousandth time all the ways he could calm down. But how could I tell Michael not to do something like hold on to anger and hurt, when I did the same thing, albeit in a different gentler way? How could I model for him letting go of negative conversations, events, people, when I had trouble doing it? Could I even advise him in the first place? The answer is yes. I told him about my anger at my old boss, and how I was letting it go finally and moving on. I told him how sick it made me inside, how I had cried and worried about that job even after I had left. And, I told him what I had learned from the experience, which was to cry, let out my bad feelings, and then do something to calm down like yoga, meditation or a walk. I told him we would be learning to control our anger together.
Exceptional Moms, how do you handle negative events and emotions? Last year before a bad burnout, I used to scream and throw things like pillows or hit the wall on occasion when upset. Then, through personal counseling, keeping a journal, and better self care techniques, I learned how to reign in my anger in a healthier way. It’s essential that as Exceptional Moms, we give our Exceptional Children positive ways to handle anger that they could imitate. Anger turned inward is not good for anyone’s growth. Until next time.