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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Intellectual and Emotional Mismatch

This is something that most parents don't often talk about, although there are many books written about it.  Watching Carolyn this weekend has reminded me of just how young she is.  She has the "brains" easily of and 8 or 9 year old.  But she has the emotions and ability to control those emotions, of a 5 year old.  She is struggling to assert her independence.  I believe we give her quite a bit of freedom at home.  The kids are allowed to play inside or outside, and we generally don't feel the need to supervise them.  Of course, scissors and glue are kept up high and there really are no dangerous objects around.  We provide plenty of engaging things for the kids and they have a plethora of vehicles to rid on outside.  But then Carolyn feels the need to assert what she perceives her right, to show us she can get what she wants.  Tonight was another reminder that she really is only 5.

James and Carolyn have decided recently that doing flips on the couch is fun.  We tell them not, they do it anyway.  I tell them that if they get hurt I'm not going to kiss and make it better as I usually do.  I spent part of the afternoon helping Carolyn after she was stung by a bee.  I held ice on her foot, put baking soda and vinegar on the sting and within 20-30 minutes she was feeling fine again.  If you ask her, it probably felt like hours.  But we sat on the couch and had some nice time together.  Later, after ignoring my directions to stop the flips, she bumped her cheek on the side of the couch.  I refused to give her kisses and a total meltdown ensued.  Lately these meltdowns show clear signs of feeling out of control and wanting to assert control.  She pushes furniture around, kicks the couch, and will refuse to do anything we ask.  We use the language we've read about using... "I understand you are angry because" and all that.  But really she needs a good 30-40 minutes to yell and scream.  As she gets stronger, we get concerned about her safety.  We emphasize to her that trying to hurt things/people isn't going to help.  If she didn't have these meltdowns when James was trying to get sleep, we could easily just wait her out by sitting patiently.  Tonight Jon felt the need to restrain her, sitting on the couch and holding her in his lap. 

It is clear from the episodes that she feels out of control and that her brain is working so fast that she can't control it.  She gets fixated on the one she wants and seeks to manipulate us to get it.  But her manipulations fail and she feels powerless.  This happens the most when she's tired, so has been happening more lately with a busier schedule.  But I hope and pray that as she gets older, we'll see less of this.  Otherwise, despite having a social worker as a father, she's going to end up in the social worker's office at school.  I'm going to discuss these issues with her teacher this week as well to insure there are no issues in the classroom already.  Time to try and help her feel even more independent in daily life to release some of the frustrations!

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