Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Tub Thumping - I Get Knocked Down, But I'll Get Up Again

As somewhat self-aware humans we all have things about ourselves that we work on.  As parents sometimes this pops up with our kids, they face challenges and we try to provide them with an assist that will, hopefully, make their lives better.  With Jack, communication has always been a key focus of our efforts and despite fantastic strides because of hard work in speech therapy and with his teachers there are still issues, specifically in emotional maturity, his emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), and how he deals with conflict.

Here's the thing, we've had ho-hum results surrounding Jack managing his recent bouts of anger as we work towards helping him learn coping mechanisms that are socially acceptable.  We've all been working with him as he moves from parallel play into associative play (the third stage of child play development where kids still play independently, but are often doing the same things as the children beside them) with the hope that he will soon be enjoying cooperative play with other children beyond his sister.

When hitting isn't a bad thing

One of the reasons why we put the minions into separate classes was to encourage them to make their own friends, and to stop Molly, a quite typical twin A, from interceding and speaking for her brother. While for the most part I agree with our choice, it hurts when I see him struggling on his own as he's slowly trying to reach out to other kids to play with.

On Attempts at Getting Social

In the past month we've personally seen Jack ask other children to play, only to get rejected (always by little girls), then get frustrated and angry, act out, and pretty much solidify their reasons for not wanting to play with him.  Jack is used to playing with girls:  he is the George to Molly's Pepa Pig, and the Olaf to her Ana, but little girls who have known him outside of the preschool "twin" context don't see this and won't play with him.  This has me asking, Why are little girls such b$*#&es? and did we separated him from his sister too soon, setting him up for loneliness?

This weekend at a birthday party after a girl said no to a game of house, he decided that the best course of action was to lay down on the floor beside the house and refuse to move.  Earlier that day when a boy shoved him in the ball pit, instead of asking the shoving boy to stop, he stood there and screamed at the top of his lungs.  My guess is that because I told him that screaming in frustration wasn't an appropriate response to anger and disappointment, that he took the option of passive resistance, laying on the floor in front of the play house refusing to move.

Picking Flowers with his sister

On Communicating Frustration, Physically

Once the hosting mother found me to peel him up off of the floor, Molly decided to step in and confronted the little girl about not wanting to play with her brother and got him an invitation to play. Jack was unimpressed, because most kids don't want their sister standing up for them, and the rest of the party was a blur of bad behaviour and a complete "s" show for Jack.  When I announced that it was time to leave he even tried to throw himself back into the ball pit to avoid going home, I caught him mid-air (an unprecedented move of coordination on my part). This made him furious and led to a bout of hitting himself in the head to express his anger and annoyance at the situation, an unfortunate regular response of his in the past week.

Chris and I have both researched the head hitting and this is a somewhat common reaction for frustrated pre-schoolers, particularly boys, to hit themselves instead of others when they are angry, but as a grown-up his reactions can be quite upsetting.  Right now we have two interrelated things we need to work on 1) Helping Jack find constructive, non-head banging ways to deal with conflict and anger and 2) Encouraging him to continue to ask other kids to play, even when he gets rejected, again and again.

I am frustrated and sad, but not defeated as I look for solutions. I get embarrassed by the stares from other parents when Jack has his outbursts, then I feel guilty for getting flustered by his behaviour, when all I really want to do is pick him up, give him a hug and say, "Ignore that girl.  Let's get a juicebox, this place is dead anyway."

To read about self-soothing and the buddy bench click here.

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