Michael is a very outspoken child. He was outspoken even before he could speak with words, and was always very expressive in negative and positive ways, and with negative and positive behavior. Now that is completely verbal and able to speak about exactly what is on his mind, the things that come out are, well, not always too positive. As some parents have remarked about their own children, they do not have social filters. It’s not their fault. It’s how their brain is hard-wired so they say what they feel in the moment. Also it is sometimes too hard for them to stop themselves. This is a skill that needs to be taught. And it’s hard as their parent not to react and get embarrassed, angry, even sometimes laugh because though what they say is inappropriate, it is darn funny. I’m constantly in this situation myself now, and am looking for ways around it. Like all parents, some days I do better at it than others.
Talking about appropriate behavior in public and at home are good. Teaching that there will be good consequences for good behavior and bad consequences for bad behavior is another thing a parent could do. Still, what are other the best ways to navigate our exceptional children’s outbursts?
- Write a social story on how to handle situation: This is great to explain many of the situations our children find themselves in as do we. What is the proper language we use to speak? How do we address people?
- Stay calm as a parent when they are testing: This is still a hard one for me sometimes when I am tired and my son pushes my buttons with stalling at bedtime and swearing, his new favorite behavior. What a parent needs to do is make clear the proper behavior in advance, and then give a warning to the child. If they do not listen, the parent has to stick to their guns with whatever the consequence is.
- Model for them good behavior and rewards: Yes, it is hard for children with autism to imitate, but not impossible. They are able to do it with enough concentration and practice, so as parents, we need to lead the way.
- Be firm about leaving where you are if the behavior continues to be insulting and then follow through: This will result in loud protests or tantrums, but eventually your child will learn you follow through with what you say.
- When they do positive behavior in public and private, remember to praise them a lot: This is a step a lot of parents forget. It’s important to remember to praise the child when they make positive changes in their behavior and listen. It goes a long way in ensuring they continue with the good behavior.
Exceptional Parents, how do you handle your child’s outbursts? What strategies have worked and which haven’t? Remember, to make notes when you are calm about this so you know what to avoid in the future, and cut yourself some slack if you make a mistake. We all do as parents from time to time. Until next time.
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