So it’s no secret that Michael is oppositional. So are a lot of kids with ADHD and ASD. What is surprising is how much it can not only wear a parent down, but also test your love for your child. It’s hard not to take them personally when they are being rude and testing limits. Still, one of the most important tools I’ve learned in navigating Michael’s negative comebacks, has been using humor as an antidote. Laughing at the little things on the outside. The bigger things are not laughable of course, but learning how to take 5 and realize your child’s struggle is with themselves and not you, will help make it easier to handle the tough times. Michael’s opposition has also taught me a lot about my own anger and,, when I am feeling stressed. What good techniques do I have to calm down? What negative techniques am I trying to change? On that note, here are 5 Ways to Handle Oppositional Behavior That I’ve Learned While Keeping Your Sense of Humour:
- Take a step back and breathe: Yes, this is the first thing to go when your child triggers you, but it is so important to take that five second pause and really see what your child is trying to communicate. Chances are however you will handle it, will be better once you have taken a little break to think things through.
- Remember, it’s a stage: Yes, this is hard too, but often oppositional behavior is part of your child’s chronological development-during the terrible twos or threes (or later if they are developmentally delayed), then at puberty. They are discovering who they are and testing you at the same time. Have patience as they figure it out, and stay strong so you can guide them down the right path.
- They are funny when they get mad (sometimes): Ok, I’m not advocating laughing at your child when they are aggressive or acting dangerously. This is a serious act and needs to be handled calmly while proper ways to handle anger are taught. But for smaller matters of rebellion, keep a straight face, but on the inside remember that you too most likely went through your days of rebellion with your parents to assert yourself. As long as you learned how to calm down (and teach your child to do the same), good things will continue to happen.
- Talk to your Mom friends and share: This does not mean invading your child’s privacy and sharing all of what they do, but commiserating over some of the challenges you are presented with and exchanging resources (and maybe a laugh or two to get you both through), can work wonders at helping you feel better and eventually your child too as they learn what they need to do.
- You will survive this and grow stronger (and so will they): This has been the hardest lesson for me through all of Michael’s opposition. Yes, I love him, but it is sure easier to love him when he is cuddly and sweet and appreciative of me, and not this defiant tween with an attitude. He can be downright unpleasant and annoying when he is acting up, like all oppositional kids are. What I keep reminding myself, is that yes this too shall pass for him and me. We will both get through puberty and survive. In the case of parents going through the terrible twos etc. you will get through that phase too.
Exceptional Parents, how often do you find yourself laughing on the inside when your oppositional child is just plain out challenging you out of your mind? I know. It is easier said than done. Still, if you can see the humor in their antics knowing that deep down inside they are struggling and need to pass through this stage of development to get to the next one, things will go a lot more smoothly. Now, if oppositional behavior turns into aggression and is dangerous, this is no laughing matter. Then it is time to stay calm and seek outside help and support for yourself and your child. You and your Exceptional Child will only grow from every experience and people you meet along the way. Until next time.
Feeling overwhelmed as an Exceptional Parent? Don’t know where to turn for tips, and ways to survive and thrive during the whole journey? You are not alone. I have walked and continue to walk this path myself. As a writer, speaker, parent coach and Mom to an Exceptional Son with Autism, ADHD, OCD, and Type 1 Diabetes, I can help you through all the twists and turns that parenting an exceptional child require, while keeping your sense of humor intact, your sense of self and relationships intact, and helping you see that not only are you raising your exceptional child, but they are raising you to be the best human being you can be. You are each other’s advocates for a better world. For more information on my coaching packages, contact me at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.