Mean Adults- Part Two

porcupine Pictures, Images and PhotosWe all love our highly distractible, full-of-life kids.  That’s why we’re here.
This is not a place where we even consider these kids as a defect in need of correction.

They are a delightful bundle of energy, destined to do incredible things in their lifetime.
But during these less formative years, their raw energy and gifts are still being refined.

And because they are unique, they are very often misunderstood and under-appreciated, even by the adults in their world.  

In the last mailing we discussed how to change the situation. 
Today’s email addresses the Sizzler themselves.

Changes in the Sizzler 

What are some things that can be changed in our Sizzler that might minimize the impact the grumpies of the world have on them AND the impact that our Sizzlers have on the grumpies?

New  Thinking:  The first and all-encompassing one, if you haven’t done it already, is to realign this child’s thinking (and maybe your own???)                                                                                                                                                                                   
They are NOT defective.
They are NOT in need of “fixing”.
They are NOT mere twitching shadows of the traditional calm and compliant child.

They are unique.  They are delightful.  They are fast thinkers.  They are the people who invent things that change the world. 

Let this child know that while they struggle with some of the side effects of their qualities, it is the positive side of these same qualities that will one day carry them to great heights.  Allow them the privilege of being unique, not defective. 

Why is this important?  Because your child is going to come upon many situations in which others give him or her the impression that they ARE defective, that they ARE in need of fixing.  And unless you are actively working to counter this view being handed to them regularly, they will come to believe it. 

So change your thinking, your language and your goals to align with this vision of a child who is WHOLE as he or she is, and simply being refined so that they will one day accomplish great things. 

Getting your Sizzler to adopt this vision of themselves as whole and destined for success will bring about incredible changes in your child.  Set them free with a vision of their value and ability.

Recognize the Impact on Others
This child is often loud.  They often talk a mile-a-minute incessantly.  They are often in constant, even frenetic motion.  The truth is….it can overwhelm even me!  I one day found myself saying to my son that he should share with me only every 7th thought that entered his head because I couldn’t handle them at the rate with which he could deliver them.  Too much non-stop input of ANY kind can make me nervous.  And I’m a wee bit on the frenetic and distractible side myself.  (imagine that)  So I must admit, I understand how my son’s level of output might be a bit much for others to handle.  I’ve overwhelmed people more than once.

So it is important that my son understands that it (read that he) can be too much for others to handle.  This isn’t a bad thing about my son.  But it also isn’t a bad thing about the person being overwhelmed.  Most folks simply have a lower threshold for the amount of input that they can handle.  When they are being asked to process more than they can handle, that overwhelmed-ness can turn into frustration and anger. 

Imagine listening to the high energy musical piece “Flight of the Bumblebees”.  Now imagine it turned up loud, very loud.  Now imagine it playing at the back of your head again…and again…and again.  For many people, the non-stop input of this terrific kid is just like that.

So let your child know that sometimes he needs to take things down a notch, only because the computers in the heads of most of the rest of us process at a slower rate.  This, again, takes away the concept that something is wrong with our Sizzlers.  In fact, their ability to process things so well and so quickly is something that is RIGHT with our Sizzlers.  But it is something with which he will have to develop patience when dealing with the rest of the world.   So when this child is overwhelming me, with a loving voice I often say, “I am delighted with the fast pace of your thought son.  And I am sorry that my slower moving mind can’t keep up with you.  But this is more than I can handle at present.”  He needs to adjust because I can’t keep up…NOT because he is defective.   

There are several ways to take things down a notch.  One is to simply ask them to repeat something more slowly.  Another is to have the child count to 20 between thoughts.  Another is to have them learn to write it down and share it later.  In our house we call this “Picking your moment.”  If Dad just got home from work and found the bike on the driveway in the rain (for the umpteenth time)  this probably is not the time for our Sizzler to ask Dad if he’ll fix the frozen computer so aforementioned Sizzler can play a game.  Even if it IS the moment that it entered the Sizzler’s head, that doesn’t mean it’s the best time to approach Dad.  Pick your moments.  It’s a valuable skill: learning to be political if you will. Teach the Sizzler to ask himself. . .
        When am I most likely to have success with this request? 
        What can I do to improve the odds of achieving my goal? 
        What is the best wording of my question? 
        Is blurting it out in any old fashion the best bet? 
Or would it be better if I waited until Dad had a breather, and then explained to him the factors that led to the frozen computer, explain how I attempted to fix it before bothering him, and why I’d like his assistance.  This is not manipulative if it is done with honesty.  Every one does this every day.  We do it without thinking.  But it’s a skill that an impulsive, fast thinker has to consciously learn to use. 

Create Code Words
In keeping with the above suggestion about helping our Sizzlers “take things down a notch”, you may want to create code words for various concepts.  If your son is giving too much verbal input, you might say “Let’s have some French Onion Soup” (I must be hungry as I’m writing this for even I think these are goofy code words).  But the idea is that unlike vegetable soup which has a gazillion vegetables hitting your mouth all at one time, French Onion Soup works only with one, and even then delicately so.  (Yep, I’m hungry).  So the extrapolation here is that his conversation should not throw out so many items at once, (as with Vegetable soup) but instead he should quietly focus on just one, and then deliver it in a more toned-down and understated version. 

If he is becoming too physical, you might say “Hey Samson” reminding him of the Old Testament character who had amazing strength and could topple buildings. You might also want to have a predetermined “Next Course of Action” that he should take when he hears “Samson”.  Perhaps he should walk away for a brief time alone and a count to 50.  Or he has to excuse himself to get a drink and then practice some deep breathing before he returns. 

But you get the idea.  You want words that are significant, but only understood by those “in the know”.  This will allow your child to develop a self-reflective correction skill that will serve him well later in life. 

Role Play Before an Event
This is a really useful tool for our Sizzlers.  Some kids automatically learn to pick up non-verbal cues that other people put out.  You don’t even have to point out that someone’s tone was angry or their physical stance suggested defiance or boredom.  But for the Sizzler, such cues are often totally missed. – So when I know that my son is going into a new situation that he is unfamiliar with, I will “familiarize” him with it to the best of my ability BEFORE we get there. 

I think through all of my senses and do my best to give him an idea of what sounds he’ll be hearing, what sights he will see, what smells he will smell and so on.  I will role play things with him.  For example, if I know he’ll be meeting odd Uncle Chester, I want him to look him in the eye, shake his hand respectfully and be fully prepared for the unusual thing Chester might say or do next.  I want him to tell Grandma that her apple crisp is wonderful.  And when it comes to playing with his cousins, I want him to ask them what they want to do rather than TELL them what HE wants them to do. But just instructing him to do these things isn’t enough. We role play. We act it out. And we do it repeatedly until it is a familiar part of him. 

Nothing about shaking Uncle Chester’s hand will come naturally to my son.  So with much bravado and swagger, I BECOME Uncle Chester.  My son must go through the required motions properly several times before he is considered “done”.  Even if you don’t have an event in mind, start role playing basic etiquette rules that you and I take for granted. 

Role Play After an Event
In addition, our Sizzlers often have a skewed sense of the intensity of things.  If they are bumped by their sister they will perceive it as a 10 on a 1-10 scale, even if it was really only a 2.  And since over-reacting is part of their make-up, they will tend to react at a level 10 as well.  (Look out sister!)  So, in our house we will often role play AFTER a conflict or event.  If I’ve seen an overreaction, I will stop everything.  First we discuss how things are perceived.  I ask my Sizzler to rate the intensity of the “offense”.  I then discuss with him the difference between his perception of the offense and the offense as it actually played out. In other words, he will almost always see a “10”. So I explain why this was actually a “4” and what a “10” would have looked like.

Then he and I discuss various (and more appropriate) reactions that he could have made against such an offense.  Here comes the role playing.  We re-enact the conflict using some of his newly developed reactions instead of his more explosive previous ones. I want to build up his repertoire of responses, so that he has several that are familiar and comfortable.  I don’t want him to always go automatically to the one most familiar response: exploding. 

We hope you found something useful in today’s installment. Join us tomorrow when we post Part Three of Mean Adults.

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One Response to “Mean Adults- Part Two”

  1. InstinctiveMom Says:

    Also really good suggestions! We role play before, but rarely do after an event. We do talk about what happened if there’s an ‘incident’, but role playing might be a better path. I like the code words, too!
    ~h

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