16 Feb 2007

Big Feelings

I've been trying to write this for a while. It's gone through several drafts and I'm not sure this will express it properly either.

I'm having a hard time knowing how to best help Duncan in some ways. There's so much shouting and wailing and shrieking when he's unhappy. We're all getting overloaded, and each of us, at times, adds to the high levels of noise and anxiety in the house. At some stage every day, Duncan is in floods of tears because of something he wants to be given or have done or because he's just had too much stress. A few times this past week, we were both sobbing, sitting hugging and crying together.

There's so much that I'm grateful for, and every day we have fun and connect and develop, so I'm not in any way ranting about some 'terrible affliction' here. I'm trying to see if writing it down, will help me see what's actually causing this or what I can do or change.

For example, something that's been happening increasingly often, particularly when other children are around for a play, is that Duncan ends up chasing someone, shouting and angry and swatting at them. The other child will shriek and keep running away from him, winding him up even more. I have tried to explain to them all, that they shouldn't do this, that they make him upset and worried and cross when they run away from him. I've asked them to try to stand still and say to him 'don't hit me, that hurts' or even to look really sad or pretend to cry. Duncan always holds back, never tries to really hurt anyone, and hates the idea of making people sad. Many, many times over the past few weeks, I've had to intervene and separate them, often taking Duncan to another room to calm down or to try to distract him. Sometimes it's difficult; he just wants to strike out and I've been the one he vents with.

A really lovely little girl has moved in next door. She and Lady have become great friends and she comes over after school most days. She's been really nice to Duncan and sort of mothers him, which he likes. Her younger brother has been round a few times too. They all get on well and my children are delighted to finally have neighbours to play with; that house having lain empty for over a year.

But yesterday I had to tell Lady that unless they could try really hard, to stop setting up situations where they all start to run away from Duncan, they'd have to play over at their house more often. Yesterday they started playing a game, which I think was instigated by Duncan, where one of them was running after him, saying 'let me see your top', (don't ask!) which he was much happier with. He definitely prefers to be the chased rather than the chaser.

The schools are closed for the half-term break, so another family we're friends with have just been round. The children were playing in the garden, running round getting mucky. Duncan though was with me and my friend, colouring a sheet of paper pink, which I then had to make into a 'Tubby Custard' bowl. He then went out to join the others, and all was well for a while as they bounced on the trampoline. Soon though, Duncan was shouting angrily and running after Lady trying to hit her. The same sort of thing kept happening and he was frustrated and cross. They have just gone home, and Lady and Thomas have gone to their house for a while. It's nice and quiet now, and Duncan and I are chilling out together.

I want to reduce the stress he's under, without stopping them all from having fun. I also need to help him find other ways of dealing with these big feelings, that aren't so upsetting for himself and everyone. We all need to calm the heck down a bit.
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Ed said...

From my reading your blog for a while now, I believe that you understand Duncan very well. I just wanted to say that because I dont think it can hurt for you to be reminded of that.

Sharon McDaid said...

Thanks Ed, it's kind of you to say so.

Maddy said...

p.s. cancel that - I've just noticed that there's a subscribe thingy on the hub!

Bree said...

One thing Ive noticed from my time as a mother (almost 12 years now, or 25 years if you add up the kids ages! - scary) is that there is always something to be worried about, worked at, thought upon and stressed about. I cant remember a single moment when there wasn't some kind of behaviour or situation, with at least one of the kids, that I have had to dwell on and try to work at. I seem to spend a lot of time wondering how I can improve relations between the kids, or between parents and children, or how I can develop the promising aspects of their personalities and help calm the negative. I'm guessing it will always be that way. No sooner do we get over one thing than someone new pops up.

Am I making any sense? I feel like I'm writing a riddle.

From the times I have seen you and Duncan together I have always been touched by your closeness, and your dedication to him. Watching you both run around Castle Espi a few weeks back was a pure joy. Your children are all very lucky to have such a devoted mother. We all have down times. Believe me, theres been many times when Ive sat on the kitchen floor sobbing with one of the kids, because I just dont know what to do any more. But thankfully the good times seem to outweigh the bad.

Thank you for you lovely comment on my blog about the MRI. I'm sorry to hear abour your mothers suffering. Its terrible to see anyone we love suffer at all.

Take care

Anonymous said...

Duncan sounds like a sweet boy, and I'm sure he isn't really trying to hurt anyone, but he does need to learn that it is unacceptable to hit other kids (or you, or anyone).

I think you should tell Lady and her new friends that when Duncan gets cross, the friends have to go home immediately. Explain to Duncan that the friends left the house because he wasn't being nice to them and that made them sad. That will help him to understand that his behavior needs to improve, and at the same time, Lady and her friends will know that they have to be more careful playing with Duncan if they want to play at your house.

Sharon McDaid said...

Bree, thank you for such a lovely comment. Reading that really made me feel better about how I can do this. I do worry about each of them at different times, but the good times far outweigh the bad, and I'm so lucky to have each of them.

Bonnie, thank you for the advice. I think it's important to emphasise to Duncan that hitting is wrong, that it hurts. He does know that, but just gets so wound up that he's not able to fully control himself. My job then, is to ensure he isn't put into that sort of position, as much as possible.

thenewstead6 said...

Just to send a ((hug)) and a thank you! Reading your blog, and thinking "but she's a GREAT mum, why is she worrying?" helps put my own worries into perspective. You put so much effort into understanding him, and into making sure that your ways of helping him learn how to behave are appropriate, and respectful of the problems that he has. You will work it through, and yes you are right that putting it down on the blog can really help you to stop and look at the situation afresh. Take heart from all the great comments you've had, and reassure yourself. It encourages me because I've faced similar concerns this week with my aspie son, and reading your post has really helped me - thank you.

Sharon McDaid said...

Thank you Anne. These things come and go. Some days or weeks it seems more difficult, and you wonder what you're doing wrong or can do better. Then the next day it all appears to be going so well. All parents must experience this. I mean if you and Bree have problems, (and I read your bog regularly and can tell you are a close and loving family, and Bree is one of the most lovely, inspiring women I know), then there's hope for all of us!
Take care of yourself now too.

Anonymous said...

I've only just happened round the ring to you so not sure how verbal your lad is. Would he be able to help tell you what gets him angry in these situations? Is Lady (unintentionally) breaking some expectation he has created for the game? Does he understand the social rules of whichever game they are playing? I know for my DS1 (who is 8 and AS) the arguments with DS2 (almost 6 and not AS) come because DS2 will do something spontaneous and not "in the rules"! A lot of the stress he suffers with is sensory overload but thats very hard to control for one without constricting life for the others. I am trying to get DS1 to understand that he needs to take himself out of the situation when he starts to get angry, its no good saying afterwards "I got angry". He can't go through life smacking people and then using that as an excuse! I remind him before they play, I remind him when they are playing and I remind him when I see something starting to build. Its not terribly successful so far but I'm hoping with practise he'll learn to recognise the feelings that precede anger. Good luck.