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Separation from Stimulation (How to deal with a difficult child)

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Deal with your child’s stress before you deal with his behavior.

 I see a lot of cranky kids in grocery stores and my heart goes out to their parents, but my heart also goes out to the child. One way or another, a child who is acting out is feeling stress. We may have conditioned him to want a treat on every trip to the store and now he doesn’t understand why today is different…or we may have just worn him out dawdling at the frozen food case or chatting with a friend.

The successful way to incorporate a child into a shopping trip is to plan carefully what you will be buying, include the child in conversation and shopping decisions and get the whole thing over as soon as possible.  This won’t guarantee that you will finish while your child is still good-humored, but it improves your odds.

My “difficult” child’s used to have regular “meltdowns” and I was so determined that he would live a normal life and do everything everybody else did that I’m sure I inadvertently caused many of them. For him the excitement and confusion of a party or family gathering was often overwhelming.

When your child has a meltdown, of course you won’t reward him for misbehaving. You will, however, remove him from the stressful situation.

If you’re away from home as calmly as possible take him home.  If you’re at home and he is having a meltdown, particularly if there are guests or another source of confusion at the time, find him a spot somewhere away from the stimulation so he can calm down.  Stay with him or not as his needs seem to dictate, but remember and use this simple rule.  While your child is calming down, he or she needs Separation from Stimulation.

Elizabeth Ruth

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