Monday, September 21, 2009

Hope it works!

My friend Sydney (see link to her author blog on the right) lent me this book. I don't think the techniques in the book work for every child. But for "easily frustrated, chronically inflexible" children like L, I think it's worth a try. To sum up: There are three baskets you put your child's behavior in. Basket A is the stuff that you will not bend on, that you're willing to endure a temper tantrum for. Usually safety falls in this category. Basket B is the stuff you're willing to talk about, so you and your child can negotiate and both be happy. And Basket C is the stuff you're just going to forget about for awhile.
The premise of the book is that children who throw fits when things don't go their way aren't purposely trying to be manipulative, difficult, bratty, etc. Just as some children walk later than others, some children develop the ability to handle frustration later than others. They know their behavior is inappropriate, but they lack the skills to express what they need, so they end up yelling, kicking, crying, etc. Consequences (rewards and punishments) usually don't work for these children because they don't have the skills to figure out that if a consequence follows a behavior once (or even twenty times), the same consequence will follow in the future.
So a parent's job is to figure out (using Basket B behaviors) how to train the child to handle frustration. You have to intervene when the child is in "vapor lock" before meltdown starts. After meltdown, reasoning with the child is impossible. When you see the first stages of vapor lock, you have to get in there quickly by empathizing. Then you take them down still further with humor, distraction, etc. Then you talk about the behavior, encouraging them to find a happy medium you can both be happy with. "You don't want to go to the grocery store right now. You want to go to the toy store. How do you think we can find a solution?"

I just finished reading, so I haven't tried out many of the ideas yet. But when I have, it's hard! It's hard not to lose your temper, not to think you have to show them who's boss, not to think you can't let them say no to you in that tone of voice. But Dr. Greene maintains that if you follow his method, meltdowns will actually decrease because the child will not get frustrated so often, and you have better control over when meltdowns actually occur.

I think Dr. Greene is right about the consequence thing. It never has worked for L. He truly can't think at all when he gets to meltdown stage. L often tells me he loses control, or that his brain makes him do things his body doesn't want him to.

So I hope it works for us. I'll let you know.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that sure sounds like L., alright. It sounds like it will be hard, but it sounds like something that could well work. You are good at successfully doing hard stuff. Go for it, KK! I will pray for your success and for you to have loads of patience.

Sara and Company said...

Good luck!