“I’m trying Mommy, I really am, but it’s hard. I can’t stop myself sometimes. I can’t stop and think.”
I sighed. Michael and I were having yet another long discussion about his impulsivity in saying things that were inappropriate and some angry outbursts that he had had that week. We were reviewing his strategies, the worksheets he had filled out to try and understand his brain better, and other things that we could be putting into place that could help him.
“I know it’s hard Michael, but you can’t just explode when you don’t hear things you like. Being angry is ok. You just need to make sure that you are calm enough to talk about your feelings to your father and I when have calmed down.
“I am impulsive, right?”
“Well, you have impulsive moments. Your brain is wired that way, but it does not mean that you can’t find the right techniques to use that could help you. Remember, your brain, the ADHD and Autism brain is incredible. You’ve just got to work out the parts that make anger and anxiety harder to control.”
Michael nodded and again spoke of doing his best to try and learn from his outbursts. I acknowledged that I could see how doing that as well as how I could tell when his mouth was getting ahead of his brain. We talked about how even neuro typical people have their moments. I used examples when I became angry because I didn’t do my strategies in the early stages of anger or frustration. It’s important to remind our kinds that even neuro typical brains that don’t have impulse control issues have their moments as well when they may make less than stellar choices.
After having this conversation, I realized I had been using a little checklist of things that were working to help Michael and our family in understanding his exceptional brain. Here are some techniques that could help your child cope when they are having those difficult moments processing feelings:
1) Have a sheet of paper in a few places with the STOP acronym as a reminder for them to stop, think, observe and plan before they act on feelings.
2) Depending on the age, have them make a “Calm Box” of toys, fidgets, or other articles where they can fiddle and go to when they are stressed and about to lose it.
3) Have a short phrase that you can utter firmly if you see your child losing it. In our family we use room, strategies. Michael knows to pick one of three rooms to go calm down an regroup before coming out to talk.
4) Have a time limit of how long they need to regroup. In our house it’s been 15 and 20 minutes.
5) Discuss afterwards how to better communicate so as to avoid frustrations. I go with, “I can see how angry you are. I am tired of having this same fight too, how can we fix this together?” Depending on the child’s age and level of comprehension, you may need to tailor it, but the gist is that as parents we hear our child out affirming what is frustrating them as well as us, and how we can fix it.
Exceptional Parents, does your Exceptional Child understand their impulsivity? If not, are they struggling to? If so, the best thing to do is to sit down when you are both calm, find a set of techniques that work to help them calm down and you remind them when they are going off track. In the end, if the child gets mad, is able to catch themselves, use a strategy, then learn from the frustration, you know you are on the right path. Until next time.