Friday, January 1, 2016

Part Four: Some Call them Whiners: Bottom Line

atheist parent atheist parent atheist parent challenging child challenging child challenging child highly sensitive children highly sensitive children

Bottom line, if you are the mom of a challenging child, as I am, learn to respond to your child's extra-large emotions in a way that might seem counter intuitive. While it may seem the parental thing to do to help your child become a positive and optimistic human being, engaging in a tactic of this nature will absolutely backfire on you.

Instead of seeking to change your child, accept him or her. Instead of expecting a reasonable response, allow your child to express themselves without the slightest bit of criticism or disapproval. Don't fear. The storm will wind down, eventually. Do the thing that seems anomalous; do the thing that your mother will not understand; do the thing that others will call indulging and spoiling. Relax, remain calm, listen, stay close, love and accept your child through the hurricane of their emotional storm. Let them know that you are there. Be aware that it is not possible to change temperaments.
A reminder, though, that your own needs are super important, as if safety of all involved. If you need to take a break, if you need distance, if you need privacy, then take it! It is always the right thing to model self care. Not letting someone cut you down. Not allowing someone to shout into your face or injure you. Model the fact that it is always the right thing to expect to be treated appropriately. For example, if your challenging child is taking their frustrations out on you you are absolutely correct to remind them of your expectations for how to talk to you and to remove yourself if you are being abused. You may not talk to me in that manner because I will not stay in this room if you do. This is modeling appropriate behavior and it is taking care of yourself.
Then and Now
It will take awhile, but eventually your child will see your acceptance of, your acknowledgement of, your validation of their struggle and difficulty when it comes to handling such large emotions. Eventually your child will stop feeling the need to express all of that intrapsychic energy. Your child may lose the feeling that fighting is the only way to get support. He or she may stop feeling the need to make it dramatic to show how painful. And your child may finally stop feeling the need to be defensive of how overwhelming and lonely the conflict feels.

As parents, our goal is not to change our child into the sunny child we know would be happier and easier, though so many people struggle with this one for many years. I struggled and got stuck here for many years because I just knew she could be happier if she would only set aside the negativity and embraced the joys of life. I learned over time that a person's temperament is not a choice that they are making. It is a part of who they are.

With time, love, acknowledgement, respect, and patience, my daughter has evened out quite a bit. Today her explosions are waaaay shorter, less frequent, and very often they end with her expressing her understanding and seeing how to improve her choices. Today she is better able to avoid the drama altogether.
Empathy. That's the key.

I hope this series of blog posts was helpful.
I welcome your question and comments.
This is a work in progress!

Addendum, February 11, 2016

I just ran across this article from Huffington Post on highly-sensitive people
and this one from a blog called The Simply Luxurious Life.

I hope you read them!
Elizabeth and I are both sensitive people.   <3 nbsp="">

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