Michael has made a lot of progress in learning how to self-regulate when it comes to anger and stress. As I’ve said before, both therapy and medication as well as hard work on his part, have helped him see what changes he has made to made. It has also been a lot of hard work on Dad’s part and mine to remind Michael to go to his own tool kit and see what is the best method to use in calm down in the particular situation he is in. The tool kit is constantly changing. At first this stressed Michael out. He was worried that his old strategies were not working , or that he did not have any more new strategies. Just tonight he was having a hard time with regulating and I reminded him to use a strategy that worked for him. What he was working was clearly not working, as he was acting verbally and borderline physically aggressive. He seemed discouraged for a moment, but then realized, hey I could try this. I was very proud of him when he did use a strategy that worked and he turned the evening around big time.
What tools do work for kids or what could be in their tool kit? It really depends on what calms your child down. Like us, they are individuals and have their own tastes and preferences. It’s important for you as their parent to learn if they like or need movement to calm down, massage, squeezing, bouncing, walking or being left alone to breathe. Ask them questions and offer them different options to try. With time, you will see what works for them, and most importantly, they will see what they like. Here are 5 tips to help you help your exceptional child along the way in understanding their emotional state better:
1)Talk to them when they are calm: The worst time to offer advice about new strategies or using different ones is when they are already upset. It’s important that they are in a calm state when you talk to them and that you are too. This is when good techniques can be suggested.
2) Show them various visual options: Show them fidget toys, chewing gum, bouncing ball, a trampoline, offer them a blanket to curl up with or wrap around themselves. You can show them pictures online or draw images and help them choose.
3) Have them make an anger box: Have them make an “anger box” where they can write down what they are angry about and talk to you about it when they feel ready. If the child is younger and not as literate at writing or has difficulty writing, have them draw you a picture of why they are angry.
4) Remind them you are there for them always: Emotional support cannot be overestimated. Remind your child that you are always there to help them no matter what by listening and providing support.
5) Remind them that they have a choice to deal with their emotions in a positive matter and that anger is ok: This is a tough one. Kids will offer think anger is bad when parents initially tell them to use strategies to handle their anger. The thing is, the anger is not bad, it is often the way they handle their anger. This is where the child needs to be reminded that it is ok to be angry, but they need to vent in a positive and calm way. That makes all the difference.
Exceptional Parents, how are your children progressing in handling their emotions? If self-regulation is hard for them, don’t worry. It takes time, patience, and practice, both on your child’s and your part to help them learn how to manage their emotions. If you both have a hard day or week, don’t stress about it. Learn from the bad, celebrate the good moments, and go from there. Until next time.
Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there before realizing the gift of who my son is. For more information about me and my journey, check out my website :www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.