I have a question for all of you parents out there. How well do you really know your children. I mean, how well do you really know them? Now, I’m not talking about their likes or dislikes, or their favorite movie, color, or food. I mean, do you know how does your child/children takes in their environment? Do you know know how they navigate through the unknown emotionally? Do you know what their best course of action is when they are feeling unsure of themselves?
I used to ask myself these very questions, because I always thought that I knew my kid inside and out; better then anyone. And I was correct in thinking that, but Willy is always surprising me with his own game plan/agenda. Sometimes I can look at him and know exactly what he is thinking, and other times, I draw a complete blank.
When willy was a young toddler, he would always survey the scene around him before jumping in to join others. He would sit back and watch for a little while (other kids at play) and when he was ready, he’d join in on the fun. He did this for about six months or so, and my husband and I affectionately called him “the watcher.” Because that was exactly what he did. He watched. But once he felt comfortable with his surroundings, he blended in just like he had always belonged. It was pretty great to watch.
When he became an older toddler (3 years old), he changed. Instead of watching and taking in his surroundings like he used to, he would just charge in, head on, full steam ahead, in any situation, and then become so over stimulated, that he would loose complete control and just completely melt down. I mean, what happened to “the watcher?” it was working so well for him for so long? to me, it was like his impulses completely took over, leaving him vulnerable. He would become so over stimulated that I would have to take him out of the situation, and wait for his body to calm down.
Now I know that was his ADHD talking… LOUD AND CLEAR.
When Willy is unsure how to navigate through the unknown, he does one of two things. He either becomes so anxious that he cries and hits, or he clings to closest adult to him, in order to feel safe. I have tried everything under the sun to help my boy feel safe, and sometimes little things help, like deep pressure, tight hugs, first/then sayings (first snack, then playground), reassuring words, etc. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. With Willy, I never know what I’m gonna get, but thats also why I always have a plan B, plan C, and an escape root, for just about every situation.
To me, planning ahead is like “old hat.” To not have to over think every situation, to me, is like not having my wallet and keys with me when I leave the house. It’s a must. A necessity. Are you following me here?
And sadly, Willy’s best course of action when he is feeling unsure of himself… is to hit. No matter how much preparation I give him or his teachers, Willy’s first instinct is to lash out with his hands. Not his words. His world slowly follow, but it’s not as instinctive as his hands. As we know, Willy is impulsive and has a short fuse, but once he realizes what he has done, he is always the first to apologize. And I like that about him. The remorse is there… it always has been, but I sometimes wish that the remorse would come first (thinking ahead). He’s still considered pretty young, but I know a social group will be in his future, and I welcome that. I really do.
So my friends, think. Really think. How well do you really know your kids? Does your game plan work for your kid/s? Are you feeling as anxious as they are at certain times? What is your best course of action to prevent melt downs? Don’t forget friends, that as our kids grow and mature (special needs or not), so do their natural instincts. So tweeking the way you think helps them best, might not be such a bad idea. Giving your child a little wiggle room to explore and breathe might just be the thing that works best. You never know until you try.