Saturday, May 24, 2014

courageous parenting...

Now to begin this post I must mention a few things, now as you might have noticed (I hope you have) it's been quite some time since I have posted, life has been very very full! My second confession is that sometimes I find my blog helpful in processing and recording information that I am researching and studying and it helps me to process it as well and it makes it easy for me to find links in the future. 

As a parent of two kids with special needs from time to time you attend a workshop that may address some of the issues that arise. Today was helpful because it was addressing the behavioural challenges that a parent may face. It was helpful for me because I had a few aha moments that completely made sense to me. There are a few points and subjects that made an impression on me. Most of which comes from research that someone else has undertaken

* The Cycle of Tantrum, Rage and Meltdown was developed by Myles and Southwick, they propose there are three stages that each child or adult goes through when they have a tantrum, rage or a meltdown. In Summary they are:

Rumbling just like a volcano sometimes there are signs that a meltdown can be on it's way. Be it sensory or from another cause a parent can prevent behaviours from getting worse by a variety of techniques (more details can be found by clicking on the link in the title) these are: "antiseptic bouncing, proximity control, signal interference, support from routine, just walk and don't talk, redirecting, and home base." Something that can be frustrating using techniques is not a recipe for success rather intuition and a parents understanding of their child can lead to a more positive outcome. Even more frustrating is at sometimes there is an escalation without a clear trigger or a sign of the rumbling process. I think trial and error and experience is the greatest ally. 
Rage when were first experience the meltdown experience at first you attempt to discipline, bribe and reason with your child to get them to stop having a meltdown. I have vivid memories of carrying a kicking screaming child to the car whilst in a shopping centre. Even now we still don't fully know the why all we learnt very quickly was that there aint nothing you can do once they have hit this stage but wait. Of course it is important to make the situation is as safe and private as possible. Sometimes after an incident there is a level of shame and having the least amount of witnesses is best. 

Recovery as a parent is so crucial and it is so important to manage this stage well. Sometimes the child may not remember the meltdown or have no understanding of what happened or even that their behaviour was wrong. On a level aside from this theory I think that once it has been discussed or managed sometimes it is appropriate to discuss natural consequences, however there are a few must do's. Firstly it is important to judge your child they can be very vulnerable and it may not be a great idea to drum into them how much what they did was not appropriate if it shames the child and can cause damage to their self worth. Secondly and most challenging once the situation has been handled as parents we can not afford to be historical. We must move on and if we are struggling with this we need to do whatever is necessary so that we can move forward in our relationship with our child. 

* Compass of shame the behaviour can be challenging this concept however was the most thought provoking. When you have a child with special needs you attend a lot of therapy appointments and it is common that you are always trying to teach something, address something and life seems to revolve around not quite being enough. I think the most challenging is the thought that in getting help you can affect their self esteem moreso as they get older. So this whole idea of behaviour that shows that your child or adult is feeling shame is really challenging. The four reactions are the following avoid, attack others, self attack and withdrawal. I had some thoughts about the behaviour of my children and how their situation affects how they feel and how feeling different from others makes them feel. It definitely made me consider how to ensure my kids feel empowered by seeking help rather than feeling that we as parents are always critical of them. It also revealed to me some of the puzzling behaviour that my sons at school when he avoids using technology or equipment that will make his schooling easier. This concept of the compass of shame can reveal a pattern of behaviour that can be a sign of the underlying issue. I have seen some people when they feel inadequate or challenged they respond by attacking and undermining others. 

* Building Self Esteem and Confidence as parents one of the most important tasks to lead to independence is this. If a child has not got a good self esteem they won't try new things, take a risk or be able to easily brush of the words of someone else who has hurt them. When you have a child with special needs the challenge is even greater. I have noticed in the process of helping them improve their speech or receive OT their can be a focus on the negatives. To get funding you need to be extremely negative and it is then easy to lose sight of what they are good at and how well they are actually doing. I try my hardest but I know the pitfalls and I fall in headfirst some days. So.. to build self esteem one needs to set their children some tasks, goals and skills to achieve. This may be extremely simple, but it can be easy to do things for them sometimes it is to avoid a meltdown or to save them, it doesn't build them up in some situations it actually tears them down. So my personal challenge is to work out what the kids need to do and what they don't need to do yet, remove the pressure from others family, school and their expectations and focus on what my child needs and where he is at realistically.  
For more information on this subject please read this pdf on Self Esteem produced by the Carson St School and Dolly Bhargava

For now this is enough for me to digest and think on, my next post I will post some more anxiety related information and more on our current journey as well. But yes today I got some more ideas on where I can go which to be honest it's been a while and I find even to have something to think on is encouraging as a parent.