Every week my son has his behavioral therapy appointment. And I absolutely love her. Let me tell you why I love her so much. First, she helps give me ideas on how to help manage my sons aggression and teach him ways to learn impulse control. And second, she cares about how I am doing and allows me to talk about issues with myself and gives me the help I need to be a better parent to him.
I honestly believe that everyone should be seeing a therapist. Someone who you can talk to, vent to, and get help from with life’s difficult problems. And children have many problems in life. They may not seem very drastic to us as adults in comparison, but to them, they are just learning how to manage life and find out how to behave as a functional person in society. And sadly, a lot of kids struggle with this. Even as young as my 4.5 year old son.
Like I have mentioned before, Killian struggles with a lot of anger and aggression. Things started going much better after his schedule became more routine. Weekly OT, weekly BT (behavioral therapy), school every day for 2.5 hours, weekly chiropractic. Then around the beginning of December, he had to stop going to OT due to the therapist’s completely booked schedule. I don’t know how large of a role this played in his change but it was definitely on contributor. He had become more hostile and aggressive. He was angry and everything would set him off.
I had a meeting with his teacher where we discussed possible ways to prevent him from hitting other students because he was attacking at least 3 kids a day and other parents were beginning to call her about it. Thankfully it hasn’t been anything that caused major harm but he is still hitting and that hurts.
We talked about revising his daily sticker chart to see if he would start responding better to that. The Green Room ( a sensory friendly room where certain kids who have these issues can go for 10 minutes to decompress and regulate while in a sensory friendly and calming environment with a trained professional) finally had become available for use to the preschoolers and he was able to have his first day in there last week. His sticker chart has 10 spots and 6 stickers is our minimum gaol to receive a treat of Special Milk, milk with a small amount of coffee creamer in it. Tuesday he had his first Green Room day and he got to choose 2 activities to do in there so he chose to have 4 minutes at the sand table and 4 minutes in the tent with the soft weighted blanket before his 2 minutes of quiet belly breathing in order to return back to class in the Green Zone (which I will explain in a minute).
Tuesday was a 4 sticker day. It was not a good day. When I asked him how the Green Room went he said that he really liked it and he felt good in there. However, his sticker chart was riddled with notes from Errin about how he was very angry, knocking student’s work on the ground, yelling at the teachers, hitting kids, and refusing to follow directions. When I asked him why he was so angry he said because he didn’t get to have his snack. It turned out that when he went back to the Green Room he missed snack time and was unable to have it when he returned. I then asked if he told his teacher that and he said no. We talked about how he needs to use his words and explain that to his teachers so they know why he is angry and can help him.
The next day he had a 6 sticker day, followed by a 9 sticker day! Just having that little bit of decompression time during school when he gets most overwhelmed and deregulated had allowed him to have a better couple of days at school. His therapist was amazed at how much happier he had seemed that morning compared to the previous 3 weeks. We talked about the new school wide curriculum about social-emotional well-being and self-regulating called Zones of Regulation and about how he is not allowed to enter the Green Room until he is in the Green Zone, so they will stand outside of the room and take calming belly breathes in order to get themselves into the Green Zone. I had even asked his teacher if she could print me 6 colored copies of the Zones of Regulation chart so that I could have them all over our house, in the car, and at my parent’s house.
Gina, his behavioral therapist, at one of our very first sessions with her, explained something that was so important and yet so obvious. When we get upset with kids we tell them to go to their room and calm down or go out in the hall and calm down. But when they get there, they don’t know how to calm down. We haven’t given them to tools to do something that is not in their understanding. Calming down is something that needs to be taught. Its something that as adults we don’t need to think about how to do it, we just do it. Like breathing, that skill is just, THERE.
So she gave me some papers to cut out and laminate in order to help Killian chose from and give him ideas about how to get himself back in to the Green Zone. These included 10 belly breaths, kicking a ball outside, running, drawing his anger, 10 jumping jacks, listening to music, and a bunch of other suggestions. I put them on a ring and hung it next to one of the Zones charts making it easy to identify which zone he was in and then search for a method to get to the zone he needed to be in.
Remember in the beginning when I said that his therapist helps me in the same that she helps my son? Well, this was definitely one of the biggest ways she helped me. Pointing out that I needed to give Killian the tools that he lacked that would in turn allow for a better outcome for everyone involved.
I gave a copy of those to his teacher as well so that we could all be on the same page, doing the same thing, speaking the same language in order to make sure that things progress in a positive way for his development. Some days he is more cooperative and other days he just yells and runs away. It’s a work in progress. But because of the immense amount of support that we have, and the weekly check-ins and advice from Gina, we are able to better collaborate with everyone involved to ensure that not only is his future bright, but that we all survive!
Talk therapy isn’t just for adults and teens. Young kids can benefit from it as well. And even better, when you and your child go together, you both can get help and advice at the same time. If your child is having a hard time and is acting out, maybe going to behavioral therapy with them would be something to look into. Either way, talking through and finding the root cause and/or ways to adapt and overcome is the best way to make everyone happy.
-The Lazy Mama