The tantrum effect

This is not the post I was going to write today. But I was overtaken by events.

I tried to collect my child from school. Hands up, I was running a bit late and had for once picked him up first so was trying to get him ready so we could go get his sister.

He was not playing ball (excuse the analogy). Things were not going well and before long he was cross.

I must admit, so was I when he threw his bag at me so the contents I’d just struggled to get in it (whilst it was on his back and he was not staying still) fell out.

I walked out of the classroom before I got really angry and told the teacher (on the steps outside) I would get his sister first.

She sent me back in as she had a meeting to go to.

I can see her point, but honestly, at that point, ignoring was what he needed. A little help would have been appreciated (after all, I get him to school, surely they can help him leave). Would it really have been the end of the world if I’d had to get him from the office as the teacher was busy?

Anyway, I went back in and got him out and he shouted, yelled, screamed at me all the way across the road to his sisters class, all the time I talked to his sisters teacher and his sister (trying to give her attention instead of him), all the way to the mobile shop and all the way inside. I mostly ignored him. I did stop him hitting me (unusual), kicking a drainpipe, kicking the bike shelter, yanking things on the mobile shop. I did acknowledge a couple of times as he was poking me “I know you’re there, I’m ignoring you right now”. I removed him from the shop van a couple of times as his behaviour wasn’t appropriate and explained he wouldn’t get to choose a snack if he couldn’t behave.

I don’t know if this was the “right” way to deal with him. I haven’t had any training*. I just know that engaging with him in any way makes him worse, ignoring him makes him worse, but I stay calmer if I ignore him and surely that’s better.

I think it lasted about 15 minutes. Needless to say, at some point, he flipped out of it and has been fine since. (Well, not as calm as I might like, story of my day, but not actually cross anymore). I, on the other hand, am still suffering from the after effects.

mood over time graph

mood over time graph

I tried to draw a graph, to show how his tantrum effects us differently. The rise from calm to meltdown is fast for him, and so, with a few wobbles, is the descent. For me, I can stay fairly calm at first, I can even act calm when I’m not (that spike is me walking out of the classroom as I’m about to lose it with him), but then I’m still agitated well after he’s not. I ran out paper at that point, the graph loses accuracy, my raised anxiety levels last much longer than his tantrum did. Three hours later I’m still not quite down.

*School, with the exception of one teacher, seem interested only in managing his behaviour at school. When I mention his behaviour at home they are polite butseem only interested in how home behaviour impacts at school. To be fair, I have been invited (by a leaflet sent in his book bag, nothing addressed to me) on a “Solihull parenting course”. I have read a lot of parenting books – they mainly contain common sense, the things I try and do and act as reminders rather than giving much in the way of “new” tricks and tips. I strongly suspect this parenting course would be the same. If I thought it had specific help for kids on the Autistic Spectrum, that might be different, but no-one has said it does.

3 thoughts on “The tantrum effect

  1. Pingback: Resurfacing | A is for Anxiety

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