Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Part 4: "Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions"

This is part of a summary of the book: Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Help Your Child Regulate Emotional Outbursts & Aggressive Behaviors. My comments are generally in italics; the rest of the information comes from the book.

Well, after having a break from the reasons I have to read this book reality for a little while, I think I am ready to face the book again. *deep breath* Lest you think I am not still suffering from dealing with this reality, while on vacation, someone told me that I should try loosening up a little (not be so strict) and see if that would help my children's behavior.
We are still in Part 2: Responding to Your Child's Feelings

Chapter 4: Responding When Your Child Is Overwhelmed by Emotions
Another reality check: is it necessary for you to continue reading these summaries this book for you?
"Do you feel as if you're always on edge, waiting for the next explosion? Do you wonder what you can do to lessen the outbursts that seem to occur frequently and without apparent warning? Do you feel like you have little control?...This is an exhausting and stressful way to live..." AMEN!
  • Lessening the Possibility of Emotional Outbursts
    • "In the last chapter we discussed that knowing your child, recognizing his vulnerabilities, and acknowledging his triggers can help you minimize the possibility that he will become intensely emotional."
    • Creating a home that is structured, consistent, and as calm as possible can also help. 
    • If parents react calmly to their child, the child is more likely to be calm.
    • "If your child is overwhelmed by intense emotions, he may feel more comfortable when his life is predictable and routine."
      • To provide a calmer environment for your child:
        • Create and stick to routines
        • Develop and use consistent, explicit rules and expectations
        • Limit the number of activities your child is involved in (if these are things that could be overwhelming your child or keeping him from having time to calm himself)
        • Try to make your home a safe haven.
          • To help your child manage his emotions at home, encourage him to:
*"Release his emotions in ways that are not disruptive to the whole family
*Find a place in the home where he is allowed to go and be undisturbed; don't let others in the family bother him when he is there (Anybody have ideas on how to do this when there are lots of people and not so much space at your house?)
*Use a quiet and soothing place that is filled with favorite toys, stuffed animals, and other calming items and activities
*Find ways to quiet and calm himself" (So far, I have been unable to get my high-emotion children to come up with their own ways or use any of my ideas.)
"Although it may be difficult to accept that your child needs to release some of his emotions at home, do not judge him for this. Validation and acceptance are key here. Your child's emotional outbursts do not occur at home just to bother you; the love and safety in his home allow him to express his emotions so that he can manage the rest of his life. If you can help him learn effective ways to manage his emotions, your child will be less disruptive when he expresses them."

As I read through this book this week, I noticed that, again and again, the authors emphasize the need to be calm and validating when responding to your child. Having also read the H@rry P0tter books this week, it made me think of Professor Dumbled0re and the way he responded to various people, who were often experiencing strong emotions. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that I'll be able to channel Dumbled0re when I get home....

        • "Provide Opportunities for Pleasure and Mastery:  Your child will be less vulnerable to overwhelming negative emotions if he participates in activities that he enjoys, that help him feel good, and that he feels competent doing."
          • Think carefully about using the activities he enjoys as rewards or taking them away for punishments. Yes, because these children are so easy to motivate in the first place so you have all sorts of options to work with *sarcasm*!
          • Find activities that your child will do well at that will give him an opportunity to succeed.
  • De-Escalating Your Child's Emotional Outbursts
    • Be calm and respond to your child in a validating and non-judgemental manner I think this is much more easily accomplished if you have chocolate in your mouth at the time, so BE PREPARED!
      • "Speak to your child in a soft tone, in a soothing manner, and in a low voice. Slow down your own body by speaking slowly and taking slow, deep breaths, which will calm down your emotions as well.
      • Step back from the immediacy of the situation for just a few seconds to find a more effective response to your child.
      • Be aware of thoughts such as, 'Here we go again,' or 'Oh no, not again,' or 'I can't manage this.' These thoughts escalate your own emotions. Remind yourself that your child is doing the best he can.
      • Remember the story of emotion from chapter 1 and make calming statements to yourself. Practice statements such as, 'We will get through this' or 'I can help my child to calm down if I stay calm.'" "I can respond calmly and wisely like Professor Dumbled0re."
    •  Helping Your Child Calm Down
      • Suggest calming activities that have been discussed before the outburst
      • Provide a safe and soothing place for the child to go while trying to calm down
      • Don't make demands on your child or threaten him with consequences during an outburst
    • Validating Your Child When the Anger Is Aimed at You
      • "...the essence of validation is to let someone know that you hear what he is saying and acknowledge his feelings without necessarily agreeing with what is being said." 
      • You can honestly say, "I can see that you're angry at me"
    • Remain Nonjudgmental When Your Child's Emotions Are Escalated...
      • ...because your child may already be feeling guilty or negative about himself or his behavior, and if you label or judge him that may make those feelings worse
  • Accepting VS. Denying Difficult Realities
    • "Willingness and willfulness differentiate the behaviors of people who are able to accept reality as it is (people who are 'willing') and those who believe that they can change reality if they try hard enough, act perfectly, or demand enough (people who are 'willful'). Your child may believe that he can change things by refusing to accept the way they are and by demanding that they be different. In evaluative terms, you might think this child is stubborn, oppositional, or defiant and be very frustrated by his unwillingness to understand."
    • "Your child denies the reality of a situation because the reality is too painful or difficult for him to manage, not because he wants to be stubborn or unreasonable." Hmmm, I'm sure that is true in some cases, but there are also times certain children are being stubborn and unreasonable.
      • Helping Your Child Accept a Difficult Reality
        • Take another dose of chocolate, for medicinal purposes.
        • "Talk to him in a calm and soothing voice.
        • Validate him by acknowledging that he is having difficulty with the situation, how he might be feeling, and how difficult it is when something doesn't turn out the way he was hoping.
        • Help him understand that this situation cannot be changed, no matter how much both of you might want it to. Give him time. Depending on the situation, accept that this may be an ongoing process and may require continued discussions. Actually, you are likely to continue having this discussion for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, so, brace yourself.
        • Help him find ways to distract himself from the negative emotions that accepting might create.
        • Reinforce his acceptance of a difficult reality."
        • Have a pint of ice cream to soothe your nerves after showing so much loving patience during such a difficult situation.
    • When Emotions Are Aimed Toward Oneself
      • Some children turn their negative emotions inward. Be aware of your child and seek professional help if you are worried about your child harming himself.
Chapter 5: Teaching Your Child to Manage Feelings
  • "When you help your child become more aware of herself in the present moment, she, too, will become more effective at learning to modulate and manage her emotions. Your child can develop heightened awareness of herself and her experiences by learning to observe things outside of herself."
    • Teach a child how to observe and describe objects.
  • Teaching Self-Awareness of Experience
    • Help your child to recognize her own body sensations (red face, clenched fist) and the feelings they represent (anxious, angry).
  • Mindfulness/Calm For Your Child
    • Practice calming exercises with your child
      • examples: listening to soothing music, deep breathing, mindfully relaxing different parts of the body, thinking of a happy memory
  • Following Up to Increase Self-Awareness
    • After your child has calmed down after an incident, review the emotional outburst to help her gain understanding of her feelings and behaviors.
      • "What risk factors and triggers led to the emotional outburst?
      • What name would you or she give to describe how she felt?
      • What are the consequences to her for responding in this way?
      • What other way could she express her emotions?
  • Calming Activities
    • "Do not hesitate to help your child remember how to calm herself or to ask her, 'Do you think a calming activity would be helpful now?'"
    • Examples of calming activities: deep breathing, playing on the computer, drawing, taking a warm bath, going somewhere to be alone
    • Brainstorm ideas for calming activities with your child, when your child is calm.
    • Make a chart and place it somewhere your child can refer to when she feels herself becoming emotional
      • Example of a chart: Title: What Helps You Feel Better? Body: When I am sad, I feel better when I...When I am mad, I feel better when I...When I am upset, I feel better when I...When somebody hurts my feelings, I feel better when I....
    • Talking About It Is Not Always Calming
      • Help your child to calm down BEFORE talking to her about the situation
    • Help your child to see the benefits of using a calming activity
"Help your younger child choose to calm herself by suggesting:
*It looks like you're getting mad. Please go to your room and play with some of your quiet toys so that you can calm yourself.
*I think that quiet time will help you settle down so you won't get any madder.
*Can we watch a movie and calm down a little big together?
To an older child you may, calmly, suggest:
*It seems like you're getting mad. Is there something from your chart that you can do that will help you calm down so we can avoid another outburst?
*It looks like you're really angry. I'm worried that you'll do something you may regret later. How can I help you calm down? Will something on your chart help you feel better?"
    • Considerations:
      • The more upset the child is, the more she will need something that relaxes her physically and doesn't require much thought.
      • An activity that works one day may not work the next day.
      • Sometimes it may be calming for your child to be alone; sometimes she may need to be around people.
      • "When you work on the chart, find activities that you and your child agree to. These activities should be easily accessible within your home, your child should be able to do them independently, and they should not depend on or interfere with anyone else."
      • "Don't get into a power struggle if your child refuses to use a calming activity. Remain calm. Continue to validate your child's feelings."
      • "If your child is involved in a calming activity, don't interrupt, make demands, or interfere until she has completely calmed herself down. An interruption may cause an escalation before she is able to tolerate any frustrations."
Next up hopefully sooner rather than later: Part 3, Responding To Your Child's Behaviors

Summary Part 1
Summary Part 2
Summary Part 3

1 comment:

d e v a n said...

Channel Dumbledore! I love it!
I'm going to have to work on finding calming activities, although I'm skeptical if they will get used...