One of the things we are working on with W right now is the scale of his reactions. That sounds kind of ridiculous to say because a nearly five year old kid has a very large scale. W’s scale, in particular, isn’t so much large as it is fast. The speed in which he has a reaction can be pretty overpowering. It’s an absolute delight when the reaction is affection and cuddles and a desire to snuggle.
But there is another side to this coin. When things do not go W’s way he gets very upset. There is what you would call a “typical” upset that you would expect from a child of his age, and then there is W’s reaction. His reaction is an 11.
Part of his IEP involves getting some help with this from early intervention. This last week he was introduced to dragon breathing as a way to calm himself down when he found himself getting frustrated. Smell the flower, blow out the candle. In practice he does a great job talking about getting calm, but in the moment there is yet to be a full on connect.
It is incredibly difficult to see your kid suffer in a moment of anxiety or stress and not know what to do with their emotions.
Last week I also had an impromptu conference with W’s teacher where I learned that lately W has been more amped up. It could be from being cooped up inside for weeks, it could be the introduction of his seasonal allergy meds, it could be a typical age thing, but whatever it was it was amplified. I was told that W likes to be first and he likes to win and he likes to be called on first. His teacher said that ALL kids are like this, but where W differs is his reaction if he doesn’t win or if he isn’t called on, or if he isn’t the first to finish a project. His work has started to suffer because he rushes.
I didn’t know what to say to this at all. I don’t know how to teach someone to relax. I honestly don’t understand his fervent desire win or turn everything into a race. He has been like that for ages. When he puts on his coat in the morning he will cheer, “YES! I am the winner!” Perhaps I have inadvertently indulged this attitude of winning by not challenging his cheers.
I’ve never been one to want to be first. My deep need is to be perfect so I am often super slow. His inclination to want to win is fascinating and foreign to me. I am the tortoise and he is the hare.
Where do I insert myself into helping him through this without damaging who he is as a person? He is positively miserable if he doesn’t win something. Tears and sobs and so much sadness and he instantly goes to this, “I am not the winner so no one likes me” place which always ALWAYS takes my breath away. Where does that come from?
I am thankful for the help that he is getting on this from a counselor at school. Along with teaching him dragon breathing she also printed out a book for him that we read all the time. “Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose.” We talk about good sportsmanship and mom hints about karate.
W is an amazing boy. He is so full of love and curiosity and kindness. I’m frustrated that I can’t help him through this better.