This is a tough one for me, but something I’m dealing with every day. I think every mama has dealt with it at one time or another. My son gets stuck on mundane little things and has an incredibly hard time getting past it. Its our biggest challenge at home and at school. Most kids go thru this. The challenge we face with Luca and his diagnosis of Autism is that these rigid moments can be pretty extreme. For instance, the day after the presidential election, Luca refused to come out of his room. He was freaking out because his water cup was empty and was in the wrong place. He wanted me to make the sun go back down so we could re-do all of Tuesday and Tuesday night so that his cup would be in the right place. He was yelling and screaming that he wouldn’t come out until I made the sun go back down. I told him that most of the country wanted the same thing, a re-do for Tuesday Nov. 6 J. But that isn’t something we can control.
The hardest part for me during these moments is staying calm. And I’ll be the first to admit, a couple of times I’ve lost it as well. When the day has been tough and there has been one too many of these rigid moments, I’ve found myself screaming, yelling trying anything to get him to listen. My ego thinks, if I get louder, he’ll listen. The truth is I’m reflecting his exact behavior, that my way is the only way and when he doesn’t agree, I’m the one throwing the tantrum.
We’ve all experienced it, that stubbornness, the inability to move forward when we know we are right. (It’s been quite apparent over the last few weeks following the election) And I do believe it is important to stand your ground and fight for what you believe in. But when that rigidity leaves us stuck, what are we really accomplishing? And what are we teaching our children?
So trust me mama’s. I know how hard it is in the moments to stay calm. One question I often ask is ‘what basic need is not being met? When’s the last time he ate? How long did he sleep? Does he need to use the bathroom?’ This helps to shift my perspective from the edge of anger to curiosity. Then I turn the questions on me as well. ‘When’s the last time I ate? When was the last time someone hugged me or listened to me?’ Sometimes our children are simply reflecting and mirroring our behaviors. So take the time to take care of you. Tell your spouse, your friends when you need a hug or someone to listen. Take a yoga class, meditate, drink wine. Whatever you need to wind down and fill your cup.
Then when you face these melt-downs, you’ll remember to stay in your thinking brain, to not let your ego take over and you’ll shift your perspective into one that is calm and willing to see from the other person’s point of view. You can calmly explain to your 4-year-old, I’m with you buddy, I’d love to stay in my bed all day too! How about we climb back in bed and read a book, and talk about all the fun things we can do today. Then maybe we’ll both be ready to face the world. And when we do we’ll face it with a little more love and a little more compassion.