Focus On Rage
As you develop goals to change your child’s default behaviours, (those that they always turn to) you must focus on the real problems, not your “wants”, (don’t sweat the small stuff). You may have to set some things aside while you tackle rage. Realizing we couldn’t fix everything at once, my wife and I spent two full years focussed on developing my step-son’s social skills and skills of self regulation to eliminate rage responses. Academics took a back seat.
When required to choose between social skills and academic skills, choose social skills. Social skills are required for peaceful coexistence and success for life on our planet. As an educator, I believe that academics are of secondary importance if a child cannot function in society. I have always stated that I’d rather have a well behaved, caring child rather than a horribly behaved one who had straight A’s. Besides, a child will be unable to learn if they are constantly flying into rages (I’ve seen it). Your focus must be the foundation on which all other skills are based. Focus on positive, self regulated behaviour.
With my own step son, his mother and I gave his teachers, principal, and support team consent to place social instruction before academic instruction. In the past two years, my step son’s learning plan has been focussed on developing his skills to :
- be aware of his own behaviour and see when he was not behaving appropriately, or about to lose control (taking personal inventory)
- know and use appropriate words to express his feelings in a controlled way to de-escalate potential rage situations (communication)
- know and use appropriate strategies to control his responses to frustrating situations (self calming)
Another point for teachers and parents: Don’t sweat the small stuff: Do not “nit pick” by expecting perfection in school work. You must appreciate the student’s monumental accomplishment in overcoming their neurological weaknesses to complete school work. Their success lies in the fact that they completed the task they were challenged to perform, not that is was done perfectly.
Rage is insidious and becomes a large part of your family’s dynamics and day to day functioning. It is common to block out how things are occurring and to avoid thinking about them. Take time to observe what is happening and how it happens. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare yourself to finally take on Rage.
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