Sunday, January 25, 2015

Battling Intense Emotions

We are so blessed with three beautiful kiddos, a great house, an amazing extended family, and so many other things. 

We also have challenges like anyone else and although they aren't really anything significant compared to the more serious trials that others have, they are challenges nonetheless to me. 

We have been blessed with a little sweetheart that has some amazingly intense emotions. She has a spunky personality and is so talented in many things but is also very quick to explode and has a very low frustration tolerance. 

I feel very fortunate to have worked with many many kids with intense emotions during my teaching career which has given me some strategies with this little one, but sometimes it is still heartbreaking and hard... and discouraging and embarrasing... and really really frustrating.

Today was a particularly rough day. We had meltdown after meltdown this evening for a variety of reasons (stepping on legos, which is bound to make anyone annoyed to brothers borrowing toys and taking long turns to just needing to share dad's attention... to name a few). All of the frustrating incidents just snowballed into a giant mega tantrum that resulted in hitting and kicking and fighting and screaming and lots of tears by this little cute girl. You would not believe the mean words that come out and the loud sounds... I just felt deflated and wanted to send her to her room and slam the door. 

Instead I did the opposite. I picked her up and held her tight with my arms wrapped around her in a bear hug on her bed, somewhat like I used to do when I was restraining violent kids in my special day class. In this case it wasn't a full restraint, but I sure hugged her tight while she yelled at me that she hated me. I didn't talk and just held her. When she told me she wanted to get away I just told her she wasn't being safe and I couldn't let her go until she calmed down. I told her when she was ready to be safe I could let her go.

I had flashbacks to similar situations with my special needs kids in my classroom as I listened to Catie's heavy breathing which turned into sobbing as her body relaxed. After a few minutes of hugging her the sobbing stopped and I asked her if she was ready to be safe now. She said yes and then just cuddled up next to me in her bed. We just lied next to one another with our heads pressed together and she asked me to tell her stories about when I was little. 

She just clung to me in the sweetest way and wanted me to stay and stay. We cuddled for 20 minutes or so and talked and then she had some cool down time before bed. We also practiced taking deep breaths and talked through ways to react and communicate properly instead of the huge tantrums.

Those sweet moments cuddling tonight reminded me of this sign I discovered at Taipan Trading not long ago.

I think of this quote all the time. Most of our days are good... and honestly Catie's intense emotions have been part of our family for so long now that they affect me less than they used to. She has also grown up quite a bit over the past year and handles so many situations really well compared to how she used to. 

Usually I try and forget these sort of emotional moments because they make me sad and I prefer to reflect on happier moments... but sometimes it is nice to write them down and then use them as I reflect down the road at the progress that has been made. A year or two ago the tantrums could've gone on for an hour or more and could've ruined the entire day onward... so only 20-30 minutes outbursts are a step in the right direction.

I love the quote above from Elder Bednar. I am trying every day to be a little bit better of a mom, especially when it comes to Catie and her emotions. Whether that means I am praying more or reading more books about explosive kids or whatever... I am trying. Hopefully it adds up to something and helps us move through this stage to a better one soon! Either way I sure am grateful for what I have learned from this little sweetheart and the amount of love I have for her despite her frustrating emotions!