So to say things have been tough in our family lately is the understatement of the year. More has been coming to light for us about Michael’s emotional issues. I have always known this deep down inside, but only recently have really discovered something. That something is how much Michael’s anger inside is related to feeling afraid, powerless, and out of control in the world. He has so many insecurities, and despite being able to articulate this feelings well, feel the tension in his body, it is still hard for him to self-regulate. We also have yet to find the right medication and therapy combination, so this is wreaking its own havoc on a very intense brain. Some days I have felt like I could not get through another day of walking on eggshells around him or handling yet another meltdown and aggressive outburst. Dad has felt the same. Still, we are both slowly seeing some progress. That progress is Michael understanding that his anger, both angry words and actions, have consequences at home. And when we mess up as parents due to our own stress being high or being tired or both, we chalk it down to a lesson learned and move on to NOT make that lesson again.
Michael is a child who holds back ALL the anger from school, all the horrible thoughts, but at home feels safer to express them in all his rages. When I am feeling tired and weak, it is hard to be compassionate and see the anger for what it is-fear. But when I am feeling strong and in control, I am aware that when he loses control and looks quite scary and older than his years, he is still a scared quiet little boy who does not know what to do. It is then up to Dad and I to model calm, collected behavior, to reach out and show Michael that he does not need to be afraid. He just needs to learn to self-soothe, use his strategies. We have taken great comfort, after a very hard start to the week, that even though Michael is still having blowups, yesterday and today he is recognizing, “I need to use my calm card. I need to breathe.” Also, due to Dad and I putting down firmer boundaries over unacceptable behavior- (i.e. losing points he is accumulating towards a bigger prize, outings in the community) he is beginning to recognize and immediately apologize for his mistakes as he is seeing what is costing him when he is misbehaving. I have felt a lot more respect for Dad and I as the week has progressed whenever we have been consistent.
Consistency is what is the key. No matter how much the child is upset, angry, afraid, the parent needs to put boundaries in place. I have sensed a closeness from Michael since I began doing this. He has expressed his love for me more frequently, and reiterated how he wants to get better so he could live peacefully with us and in society. Things like this have made the hard nights easier to bear. I see that Michael is a tough kid, and that I may not have been giving him enough credit to cope with stress. As he matures, he needs to know that we trust him to behave in a certain way, and that he is bigger than his fears always.
Exceptional Parents, have you sometimes missed your Exceptional Child’s fear for anger? It is easy when we see them blowing up that it is all about the anger. But really, anger is just the child feeling super powerless, and like they have nothing to hang on to. This is where you come in as the parent. You remind them about their tools, let them use them to calm down, and stay close by for emotional support. Once your child realizes they do not need to be afraid and they can handle things, the power games will disappear. Until next time.
Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? Looking for tools to cope with raising your child while handling your own emotions at the same time? I will be there alongside you. As a parent who has been there and is still handling more challenges, I know what needs to be done to help your family be healthy and in balance.
For more information about me and my journey as well as my coaching programs, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com, as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.