An Angry Child. Some children come into this world exuberant..filled with never ending joy & laughter. Some are melancholy, so serious. Others are naturally inquisitive..filled with endless questions.
Then some are Angry...just plain Angry. A hard pill to swallow, especially when their parents are the joyful type. That's how my Michael came into the world. Angry. Low on patience, tolerance for frustration non-existent, I watched in confusion and dismay as my child grew into a person I was unfamiliar with. By age three, he was yelling out in anger, refusing to comply with basic rules, and not responding at all to tried and true parenting techniques to turn him around.
I was stymied. By age five, he was mouthy, rebellious, volatile, and had put holes in his bedroom walls more then once. He was angry. Over time, I became angry. He just was not responding to my positive influences. Over time, getting up in the morning and wondering what my day would be like became daunting. I felt like I was living in a war zone. He was breaking me. I was becoming the yelling, screaming mother that I never envisioned myself. He was winning. Coming to terms with that was humbling.
Sensory Issues. Tuesday Child, in Chicago, IL. was the first place that I gleaned hope. I learned all about Sensory Issues. I learned how children with these issues, don't aways wake up the same way we do. There moods fluctuate. They have low tolerance for frustration levels. They don't often hit maturity milestones at the same time as their peers.
I learned much that first year in trying to understand my Michael. We made great great strides. However, his angry disposition was still apparent and bothered me greatly. Frankly, it really got under my skin. Most days, I worked the program. I learned from a friend about Negative Attention, (check out that post), learned how to pick my battles, handle dressing issues....But that ongoing Anger...ugh.
One day, as I gave into my own frustrations with Michael we were really battling it out. When he upped the anty, I upped mine. It was apparent that I was losing. And then the thought came.."You can't fight fire with fire".
I was trying to end his Anger with Anger. "Can you put fire out with fire? Of course not". "What is the opposite of Anger?".."Patience" was the answer I came up with. It occurred to me in that moment that it was not anger and discipline that this child needed from me. Michael had enough anger within..he did not need more.
What he was short on was patience.
So I decided to give it to him. Show him what patience looked like.
From that point on, when Michael least deserved it, I showed him patience, love and mercy. When he was snarky and hurtful, I went to him with loving eyes not angry ones. I remember one night I got down on the floor with him after he hit the wall or brother, and layed next to him when he tried to distance himself after an angry outburst. I did not say much. I just layed there. "I'm sorry you are so angry.." I said. When Michael would say vindictive, hurtful words to me, I responded with.."that's okay, I have enough love for the both of us..." Over and over, I gave this child what many behavior books told me not too. My instincts told me that this child did not need consequences. I gave this child rope. I ignored his negative behavior and mirrored something back to him that he seemed not to possess.
The opposite of Anger is Patience, Love and Mercy. That is what Michael needed from me as his mom. He needed someone to show him a way out of his anger. So that is what I did.
And it has worked.
Michael and I have not spoken a single word to each other about what passed between us. But I know he knows. I know he is grateful for the life-raft I handed him. I know because I witnessed him receiving it. I watched this child, that night in the dark, while I layed quietly next to him on his bedroom floor reach out and grab my hand as words failed him. I know he knows because Frustration, Angry words and actions have begun to diminish. Replaced with tears, expressive words, and sometimes...by God..tolerance. I know he knows because of the laughter I am seeing. The smiles that all seven year olds should wear...Michael is wearing.
Once again, I humbled by motherhood, and what it has taught me, these children of mine.
At the end of the day, Michael is still somewhat type A. That is okay, it will serve him well in this world. He still at times, struggles with anger, but he has come a long way. I am seeing a happier, more stable child.
At the end of the day, when I contemplate this child of mineI ask myself..."did I give him what he needs?"