I am going to introduce you to a term that you may or may not have heard its called an explosive child. What is an explosive child you ask? Well its a child that has meltdowns, temper tantrums, screaming fits, rages, and emotional outburst that can occur at a drop of a hat. These meltdowns can happen anywhere and everywhere. They happen at home, at school, at the park, at the mall, at the grocery story, on a plane, on a train, well you get the picture.
These meltdowns can hurt the child because they thrown themselves on the floor, hit themselves on their heads or hurt others. Often times the child will lash out at their parents, brothers or sisters in a rage because they have trouble processing their emotions. The best way I can describe it, is that they are having an emotional seizure. They are experiencing such an overwhelming sense of emotions that they cannot contain the sadness, anger, and overwhelming frustration that they lash out. As you can imagine it is quite traumatizing to both the child, their siblings and their parents.
The explosive child is usually sorry after their meltdown. As is the case with my daughter Ally. She apologizes, usually with big hugs for me. When I ask her how does it feel when you get these rages? She says "I can't control it, I can't stop it Mom, it comes out of me and I just say mean and ugly words and I don't mean it." So what is a parent to do?
#1. Stay calm is key. As much as I feel like I want to rage and scream sometimes at the mood disorder that has affected my child, this will not help the situation. Staying calm and control of my emotions in the meltdown is essential. By modeling the correct behavior for her I am helping teach Ally to do the same.
#2. Next is don't give in. Now there is some leeway there. For kids that have mood disorders there are times where I do have to reward or bride. Lets say I go to the grocery store and I need her to behave to listen and stay with me. For Ally she likes to wander and she is a flight risk. So if she stays by my side without leaving for the 45 min trip she is rewarded with a candy bar at the checkout. Or sometimes if I am at the Dr office and I need her to cooperate with a blood draw I will bribe her with a happy meal. Since the blood draw is a traumatic and unwanted activity.
Now here is an example where I won't give in. Ally lost a kitty hand sanitizer holder I got her from bath and body works that cost me seven dollars. She wanted me to replace it for an even more expensive one. I said no. She threw an EPIC meltdown. Complete with a "I want to Die" and "Mommy doesn't love me" for the mall full of Labor day shoppers to hear. I calmly told her no, handed my purchase over to my husband and took her to the car. Didn't give in to her wishes and I kept calm and in control which is hard to do when your in a mall full of people staring at you. And most importantly I kept Ally safe from herself.
#3. Praise good behavior. Whenever I see Ally doing something I like I make a huge deal about it. For example when she shares with her younger brother Andy. Or when she takes out her homework without me asking. I will say " Ally I like the way you shared your cookies with your brother." Or " I like how you used your words to tell me how you felt instead of crying."
#4. Create a Reward system. I am a huge believer in reward charts. I just will google or go on Pinterest and find a rewards chart you like and give a star for good behavior. Have your child decide on a reasonable reward for filling up the chart. Ally likes shopping dates with mom, or getting a pedicure. Make sure to find lots of opportunities to catch your child being good. Trust me it makes a huge difference in their self esteem. Here is a link to Pinterest for some examples on rewards charts http://tinyurl.com/lplzpwc
#5. Lastly learn your child's triggers and avoid them. For Ally, their are triggers that can be avoided and some that can't. She has problems with abrupt transitions. So I have to give her some warning before we are going to stop whatever she is doing to do another activity. She also dislikes loud noises, so movie theaters are out of the question unless we have earplugs. Another thing is homework, she needs to have it broken up. So she does one right after she gets home from school, then another one hour later, then the other after dinner. Taking time to recognize the triggers and the child's reaction can help lesson the explosion.
This is what I have learned has worked for us. I am continuing to learn what works and what doesn't work for Ally. Even though she is an explosive child that doesn't define her completely. She is an amazing artist. She can play goalie for her soccer team fantastically. And most importantly she is quite loving and gives the best hugs. Always remember our children are uniquely ours and we are doing the best we can. To all my fellow parents out there with explosive children is there a way you deal with your children? Anything you would add to my list?