Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taming Tantrums: Professional #1 says...

Earlier this week I met with someone about E and her (for lack of a better word) separation anxiety. The day before this meeting, E had screamed for FOUR HOURS--from 9 pm until after midnight. Yeah, rough night.

WELL. I know a lot of you out there have tantrum issues, or sleep issues...and while there are differences between our children, if we have any similarities PLEASE TRY THIS.

Here are the highlights:
Me: E keeps us from sleeping. I think she's mainly a normal kid with motor issues. She realizes these motor delays, and is becoming more aware of her differences. I think this has something, probably not everything, to do with her acting out.
B: E doesn't have much in her home life (with Mom and Dad there) that sets her apart from her baby sister. She needs Big Girl time/activities that make her feel special. She especially needs this as her sister eclipses her in motor function. She's a smart girl. Talk to her like one.
Me: I tried--during an episode, she just screams, there's no reasoning with her. The next day, if I bring it up, she's like "yeah, my bad."
B: This is a family issue. Make it a family discussion. Problem-solve as a family--E included, but not Vivian, b/c she's the baby.
Me: OH.

B suggested structuring the discussion like so:
When I get home, tell E after Viv goes to bed, we need to have a family discussion. Don't say anything else about it; let her "stew".
When the Family Discussion starts, begin with:
"We have a Family Problem."
"No one is getting a good night's sleep."
"This is because Elena is screaming too much".
"Let's work as a team to fix this."
Then open up the discussion, asking questions to everyone (especially E) related to why she screams, what she's thinking, what SHE thinks we should do to fix it (being reasonable, of course). Make guidelines ("E needs to stay in her room") and consequences for improper actions, letting E think of the consequences.

So we did, and put it on paper. I DID give her one child Benadryl chewable to try to tire her out, to try to ensure success (FULL DISCLOSURE). We read it over several times. Everyone agreed and signed their name.

We had Big Girl Time, including staying up 30 minutes later (B said that couldn't hurt--especially if she was crying for hours at her normal bedtime, anyway) to further accentuate the fact that she was older than Vivian. (THIS WAS A HUGE WIN--E's eyes just fired up when we mentioned Big Girl Time and Big Girl Activities that Vivian wasn't allowed to do.)

Everyone slept ALL NIGHT.

For the FIRST TIME in I have NO IDEA.

I feel like this is how most normal families must feel in the morning--reborn. I'm serious--it was a rainy muggy day, a bad hair day, a frumpy clothing day, a still-in-pain-from-wasp-sting/back crampy day, a rush-around I have work/E's PT/home life day--and I felt like I was all sunshine and rainbows, smiling like I just won the lottery on my sweltering mile walk to work.

WOW.

Now, I don't have super-high hopes that all nights will be like this. And that's okay. But to know that it can happen, and that we can be successful, if we have the right strategy (and luck?)--priceless.

Update:
2nd night in a row, everyone sleeps.
3rd night in a row, everyone sleeps--E woke up a little grumpy once, but our AC just broke. She still didn't scream, so that's in the 'win' column.
4th: some screaming. E came out of her room--but that's b/c she needed help in the bathroom. Overall, didn't last long. It's not a win, but it's still a far cry from the meltdown. (is my good fortune waning? uh oh...)
5th: good night.
6th: good night.
7th: bad night.
8th: EXTREMELY bad night.
9th: Started off badly; after 7 minutes of crying and discussion, E asked for a "do-over". Rest of the night was good!
10th-14th: fantastic.
15th--no longer updating.

6 comments:

Mo said...

What would we ever do without all of the 'professionals' we have in our lives??? That sounds like awesome advice and obviously it WAS!

Meadow said...

YEAH! So glad to hear you had this success. And I'm bookmarking this post for future reference!

GingerB said...

Wow, that is serious progress on a fast track. I, too, will keep this in mind for future reference. Hopefully I won't need to, as only my normally developing and older child seems to wake up much these days, and she doesn't holler, but I'm sure the good times don't last forever.

Well done, Mama!

AZ Chapman said...

hi Amy and family

my name is AZ and I am 18 years old with mild CP. your daughter sounds soo much like me at five esp with the fear thing( i have GAD and some ocd as well as the cp).

You wrote about trying to explain to E about her disability. What helped me was the fact that my parents have talked to me about CP. For me I speak differently so like E it is mild but not to the point where it is unnoticeable to strangers. What also will help her in the fall is to talk to her class about CP. i am doing a pp on CP for collage and when it is done I will let you know

glad i found your blog make sure to read mine
AZ

AZ Chapman said...

hi Amy and family

my name is AZ and I am 18 years old with mild CP. your daughter sounds soo much like me at five esp with the fear thing( i have GAD and some ocd as well as the cp).

You wrote about trying to explain to E about her disability. What helped me was the fact that my parents have talked to me about CP. For me I speak differently so like E it is mild but not to the point where it is unnoticeable to strangers. What also will help her in the fall is to talk to her class about CP. i am doing a pp on CP for collage and when it is done I will let you know

glad i found your blog make sure to read mine
AZ

caryanne said...

WOW. That looks like pretty great results so far...and I so hope it continues for you. It is amazing what a good night's sleep does for all involved.

Great post! And helpful for so many.