Parental beat-down

posted by Jeff | Sunday, July 31, 2016, 8:18 PM | comments: 0

Diana and I have had a rough summer as far as parenthood goes. Our darling little boy has learned the art of rage, and it comes fast and without warning. It mostly involved shouting on his behalf, but there has been some hitting and head butting along with it. The push-pull action at 6 has become more extreme than it ever has. While he'll be fiercely independent about some things like putting on a seatbelt or taking a shower, he'll flip out if he doesn't get help instantly for a toy that isn't doing what he'd like.

As know-it-all non-parents, of course we assumed that kids who misbehave do it because of some parental action (or non-action). While we now know it isn't that simple in the context of various behavioral and developmental disorders, and yes, including ASD, we still look to our past to understand what we may have done to encourage the behavior, so we can correct it. On the one hand, I think we've mostly given him the chance to "struggle," so we haven't shielded him from adversity. I do recall one professional or another telling us however that there would be things where he simply can't logically reconcile a situation the way others would, so he will likely need help developing coping strategies in those cases. On the other hand, it's quite possible that he doesn't understand consequences because frankly we don't enforce them very well. We let him push us to the limit, and then he complies. That's definitely on us, so we've had to start issuing concrete consequences for things immediately, spelling them out in the only warning and then following through. The shouting and hitting, however, have immediate consequences.

I think our frustration peaked recently, and especially on the last cruise. That's a hard time to have a realization, when it's difficult to enforce any kind of consequences. What do you tell him, "No, you can't be on the boat anymore?" We'll have to come up with some proactive plans the next time we vacation.

Our fatigue is partly rooted in summer, I think, and it would be a lot worse if Diana didn't enroll him in various activities throughout this time. I'm grateful that we can afford to give him those opportunities. Our neighbors and his classmate moved a few blocks away, so his most convenient social connections aren't as convenient now. Other area friends of course are doing stuff and taking vacations, so that's hard too. We look forward to him having the structure and regular schedule of school again. Meanwhile, we need to remember to take time off now and then and have regularly scheduled grownup time. I don't know why we forget to do this. It's not like we started being parents last week.


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