Whenever my son has a meltdown or a tough time with a lesson, I tell myself, “Keep your eyes on the prize.” When he was a newborn, I didn’t expect him to walk or talk. When he was a toddler, I didn’t expect him to read. Now that he is 10, though he can walk and talk and read, I don’t expect him to have the abilities a 15 year old would. Definitely I would not expect him to have the maturity and communication skills of an adult. All learning is a process, and because my son has that unique ADHD brain, some things will take even longer to learn.
At the moment, I am focusing on teaching my son what I feel are some of the most important qualities. These are empathy and kindness. Things which can be difficult at times. I keep reading and hearing that I have to model good behavior so my child will understand how to behave, but I don’t always do this. Sometimes I lose my temper. Often it’s me yelling at other drivers who do (what I think are) crazy things. Sometimes it is me yelling at my son out of frustration. Intellectually, I know this doesn’t do anyone any good.
So what do I do? Well, I’ve certainly done plenty of beating myself up verbally (and not out loud, so you know). But just like with yelling at my son, being angry with myself doesn’t do any good except to feed the guilt monster. I know I’ve been trained to react in certain ways, and not in good ways. What I’ve been slowly attempting to do is some very difficult deprogramming. Before I explode with angry emotion, here are some of the things I try to do:
*Self talk, like “I know he can’t help having a difficult time focusing on this boring lesson,” and such
*Count to 10
*Have a glass of water
*Give myself a time out in my room
*Deep breathing–Breath in to a count of 7, and breath out to a count of 11 while in a comfortable position with my eyes closed. I do this several times until my breathing becomes less shaky, more fluid.
My outbursts have slowly become fewer and farther between as I’ve worked on dealing with frustration. It’s not easy, but I am learning. And when all my good intentions break down and I do have an outburst, I provide a heartfelt apology. I’m very good at saying I’m sorry. I also try to figure out ways of avoiding such situations in the future, often including my son in the conversation once everyone has calmed down. Conflict is a two-way street, after all.