On Day #51 – Goosfraba I used the key phrase used in Anger Management. The movie stars Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. Sandler plays a businessman who is sentenced to an anger-management program. This program is managed by an aggressive instructor (Nicholson).
Why is this important?
Tucker was also ‘sentenced’ to what I referred to as an Anger Management program in Kindergarten. Nope, I’m not joking.
Honestly, I wasn’t a fan that my child was having to attend this anger management program. His ‘tiptoe through the tulips’ mom had a pretty hard time coming to terms with the fact that my sweet boy needed some help managing his heightened sensory intake and emotions. Yet, I knew it was the best thing for him. He was frustrated for so many reasons.
Frustrated because he didn’t always have the words.
Frustrated because he didn’t always understand others.
Frustrated because others didn’t always understand him.
Frustrated because his body wouldn’t work like he wanted.
Frustrated because he knew he was different.
When his teacher first approached me – she knew where I was. I was struggling with all of it – so in all of her wonderfulness she provided me with the name of the program, Second Step (see more at http://www.cfchildren.org/second-step). We all know the Internet is the source of all things – so I started researching right away. I found the list of Kindergarten Objectives:
- Learning to Listen
- Focusing Attention
- Following Directions
- Self-Talk for Staying on Task
- Being Assertive
- More Feelings
- Identifying Anger
- Same or Different?
- Caring and Helping Compassion
- We Feel Feelings in Our Bodies
- Managing Frustration
- Calming Down
- Handling Waiting
- Managing Anger
- Managing Disappointment
- Handling Being Knocked Down
- Solving Problems
- Inviting to Play
- Fair Ways to Play
- Having Fun with Our Friends
- Handling Having Things Taken Away
- Handling Name-Calling
Then I realized something, Tucker needed anger management. As much as I didn’t like it – it’s what he needed. We had long struggled with what we now refer to as his ‘home-run’ face. It’s a face he gets when the switch is flipped.
The problem with this face for him is that his senses and emotions were so heightened that he couldn’t refocus, he couldn’t learn, he couldn’t do much of anything but strike out at the nearest person available.
The problem with this face for his peers was that he was always six inches taller and 50 pounds heavier…so him pushing wasn’t like a ‘regular’ kindergartner or 1st grader pushing. His push? It would send a child across the playground.
Which was usually me…
The problem with this face for me was that it led to lots of bruises and tears. Why? From holding him down. I know that sounds awful – but it’s what I had to do. Put enough pressure on him while he was hitting and kicking that his senses and emotions would calm down enough to actually listen. The bruises would happen immediately – the tears would come later. Tears from what was necessary, but tears from what felt so very wrong – for him and me.
So, he began Second Step at school and I reinforced every lesson I could at home, I used the same language and visual cues the lessons used. I just hoped that whatever he was learning from his teacher could be doubly reinforced at home.
Lo and behold…it began working.
In the spring of his Kindergarten year his teacher met me after school to discuss something that had happened (this is when much of the ‘deep breathing…what did he do know’ began).
“I need to tell you what Tucker did today.”
“Well. He was playing with blocks and another little girl in his class came over to play with him. (Double anxiety – he doesn’t like other people playing with him and she most likely got into his personal space.) Tucker was not happy.”
“So. I moved in just in case I needed to help, but I wanted him to have the opportunity to show us what he has learned. He stood up. I took another step. He gently put his arms under the little girl’s arms and picked her up.”
At this point my eyes are nearly bulging out of their sockets…had all of this work we’d been doing not worked Seriously…what would our options be now???
“Then he carried her to the other side of the room.”
At this point we both burst into laughter and she continues, “Now…while this is MUCH better problem solving, we just can’t have Tucker carrying the other Kindergarten children around.”