Monday, September 24, 2018

Don't Punish a Meltdown

    It's been awhile since I've written a real slice of life post. Well here it is. As it often happens with the posts of these kinds, the inspiration came from an unlikely source.

    How many times have you been told, "I would punish my child if he/she acted like that!" when someone witnessed one of your child's meltdowns?

    So we're rewatching Stranger Things seasons one and two on a loop lately. (I think Liam is ready for season three and tired of waiting, lol.) And something dawned on me. Wait......


     In season two, episode 4, when Elle and Hopper get into a fight about her breaking the rules, it was eerily reminiscent of watching an autism meltdown. Let me preface the rest of this as saying, NO I DON'T THINK ELEVEN IS AUTISTIC. Any fan of the show clearly knows, she has psionic abilities. And while our kids have their own "superpowers," thanks to Autism, we know they can't manipulate objects with their minds.

    However, if you watch this clip, you may see the similarities I picked up on. When our kids (or us for that matter,) have a meltdown as a result of an argument, there's a point at which you stop. You stop yelling, speaking, and probably breathing. Because WE know that if we don't, we can ignite the meltdown even further.

    Okay, so in the show, Elle isn't having a meltdown per say. She gets in trouble with Hop for disobeying his rules. This leads to an argument. However, because he too is angry, he keeps pressing her. Yelling. Screaming. Punishing her by taking away the things she loves. Now, I'm not at all saying kids shouldn't be punished when they misbehave or break rules. What I am saying is that we must learn to step back.

    We know that Hopper lost his daughter at a young age. So he hasn't been a daddy for a few years. Now he's raising a tween. A powerful tween, that is full of hormones, emotions, rage, and heartbreak, from a life lived in a lab. So not only is Hop out of date on parenting, but he's never had to father a child of this age, or with this background. 

    Okay, so let's think of the people that tell us our kids should be punished when having a meltdown. They are Hops. (Maybe not as sweet, because let's face it, some people suck.) What I mean is, they may not be parents, or aren't parents to special kids. So they don't realize that we can't yell, scream, and punish our kids when they are having a meltdown.

    We all know that as our kids get older, and they do make mistakes, we need to step in. However, when an argument progresses into a meltdown, we must step back. In that moment, the time for reprimand is lost. Now it becomes a spiral, that we must guide our children through.

    Once they make it out the other side of that meltdown, they're tired, we're tired. Probably still angry or at the very least upset, too. Which means, that now isn't the time either. This is where "we must choose our battles," stands out. Depending on the infraction that led to the argument, and the subsequent meltdown, there may still need to be a punishment. However, that can come later.

    When everyone involved has calmed down, and is thinking rationally, is when we should sit down and talk. Explain to our autie what they did wrong. Why we were so upset. And then give the punishment. However, be clear that you aren't punishing for the meltdown, but rather the mistake the child made which led to the argument and spiraled into that meltdown. 

    So my whole comparison for this post is this: When people see our kids having a meltdown. They're screaming, crying, maybe throwing things, breaking things, (like Eleven in the clip above,) or becoming self injurious, they think our kids are being brats. Those people would react much like Hopper. However, they don't realize, that in that moment, our children are out of control. But WE DO. And that's all that matters. So choose your battles, and bide your time. You got this. (And be thankful our kids don't have psionic abilities! Can you imagine that? We would never have windows, doors, and probably walls in our homes.)

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