Awhile back over breakfast, I had too-quick conversation with the most knowledgeable Maven. I was complaining a little bit about Gracie’s explosive temper and uber-sensitive personality. Grace, though she has dead straight hair, reminds me of that poem by Henry Wadsworth Lonfellow (no I’m not that smart, I had to google it):
“There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.”
Okay, I could never call my child horrid, but when she is unhappy about something, girlfriend can lose her shit like no other.
So, I was s’plaining this to the Maven and she mentioned the book “The Explosive Child”. She summarized the book for me, basically stating we need to lighten up a bit, see the humour, learn to laugh. I’m sure the 200 or so pages of this book goes into more detail, but I took Maven’s little pearl of wisdom and we’ve been applying it.
A case study: Last night Grace lost it because she couldn’t draw a PERFECT three dimensional image of a box containing markers (her homework simply required her to find something shaped like a rectangle in our house and render it on paper. It is Grace who places high expectations on herself and insists on taking it to the next level). So. She freaked out, pushed markers aside, stomped, cried and couldn’t be calmed down. Then she started to turn on her sister. We sent her to her room to calm down. She screamed all the way there, and screamed a bit while in there. We don’t time her out anymore, we just give ask her to go to her room and let her be the judge as to when she should come out.
Now, the old Meanie and Jo would call it a time out, banter back and forth with her, making the situation worse and worse, causing it to last much longer. Now, we simply knock on her door and ask her if she wants to talk. If she does, great, we work it out. If she doesn’t, we wisely walk away. The old us might take away a privilege in the heat of the moment, which really makes it worse. The new us talk it out after the fact, when things have calmed down, when she is in a more reasonable state. Without boring you too much, last night she came out of her room, a little sheepish looking. She mentioned that she screamed so loud her throat hurt. I told her I thought the dogs down the street probably heard it. We smiled, we laughed, we called it a doozy. She went back to her homework, finished it without issue. Later on, I explained that she would have some money docked from her allowance (she said some unacceptable stuff to Edie, who really was just minding her business when the bomb went off). She accepted this (of course she protested, there is no cure for 7 year old).
What is interesting is that since applying this new tactic, she is exploding less frequently, and is recovering more quickly from her outbursts.