Monday, 23 February 2015

Mini-Meltdowns in 3,2,1 ...

Something is definitely bothering Nathan.  Over the last few weeks, he's thrown a number of massive tantrums. (Rip the room apart, crying and screaming for over an hour, hitting and kicking anyone who comes close.)

Most of these tantrums have been triggered by us making a request, him goofing around trying to get a laugh and us getting frustrated with him.

Anger and frustration usually come out of a violation of expectations.  I've found this useful for figuring out some of Alex's triggers: he expects that if he bangs his head multiple times, he'll get a reaction and he gets more and more upset if he doesn't. 

With Nathan, I'm finding this a little harder.  My best guess is that he's getting frustrated that we're not finding him funny and thus letting him get out of or delay a chore or task.  If that is the case, it worries me that he's identifying himself so strongly as "the funny one" since it requires the approval of others to succeed.  Nathan is not good at picking up on social cues that now is not the time to be funny.

I'm also worried about his tendency to punish and threaten himself when he's upset.  It's what I call the "Guess I'll Eat Worms" tactic.  Do something bad to yourself and everyone is supposed to get very upset and then refuse to do anything to upset you again.  Only, that tactic has never worked in this house.  I suppose he may be confusing it with the sympathy he gets when something bad happens to him, but refusing to give him sympathy in those cases is meaner than I'm willing to be.

This morning, he said he was going to lock himself in his room forever and destroy all his things.  He was screaming that I hated him and he was going to make sure I never saw him again.  (All while watching me intently to catch my reaction.)  I made him finish up the task despite the tantrum.  I told him that his words hurt my feelings and made me sad (another thing he has trouble picking up). 

It's unusual to get this many tantrums back to back.  Something is throwing off his equilibrium, be it the cold, the Xbox or his brother (my usual suspect list these days).  I hope we can skate through to the other side without too many bruised feelings.

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