Apparently I have given the child the impression that this is what I am capable of. It was quite false of me to give her the impression that I can fix everything, and I am paying for it big time.
After lots and lots of temper-driven exchanges (and we both have hot tempers…sigh.) I stepped back and recognized the trend. Something will happen that I can’t fix:
- She can’t go to the birthday party because she was sick the day before.
- Her siblings are invited to something and she is not.
- Plans are unexpectedly changed in a way that I have no control over.
- Someone else lets their child have a snack that I do not allow.
She gets upset and starts to complain. I try to explain (generally ineffective) and she gets more upset. I explain more, threaten or cajole depending on my mood. She gets more upset and eventually grabs, hits, kicks, or throws something. Then I lose it. Nothing but fresh air and time get us back on an even keel…until the next time life is not fair.
Life is not fair, and it’s a hard lesson for anyone. For a child with language delays that particularly affect logic (cause…effect) and poor emotional regulation it’s a recipe for disaster. In processing all of this I have realized that I have contributed to the problem, especially for the last three years. I have worked behind the scenes (out of her ear and eye shot) to fix things. I have kept information from her until I was sure it was set in stone. I have missed sleep to arrange miracles, and I have in general made her life not easy, but “well-arranged.” Now, I am tired, and there are way too many factors that I just cannot control anymore. Real life is invading, and so, my task now becomes to teach this child that life is not fair. She can’t always have things her way, and even when it isn’t easy we will have to work together to make out as well as we can.
I have already recruited her to this process. Having finally recognized the trend, I picked a calm moment and apologized for being so angry with her lately, and then told her I needed her to help me. In the next “Life is not fair” moment I caught it early and told her this was one of those times I needed her to help. She was still not happy, but it did not escalate, and we awkwardly found a workable solution. Oh I hope I can continue to work on this with her in a calm way. It is so important. I certainly welcome your ideas if you have faced a similar challenge.