"We need to have that Feelings Chat together"
I don't post much on this blog these days because mostly, Bright Eyes is doing well, and the areas where he's not doing so well are pretty much always the same thing over and over again and I don't like to bore my readers.
But this one is worthy of sharing.
The main difficulty Bright Eyes has (and has always had) is in the getting over of anxiety/anger/disappointment/other negative emotions. Going places is something he finds difficult, as is being asked to eat food that falls outside his narrow menu of 10 different favourites, as is 'being bossed' around (his words) or 'asked to help' (my words).
A number of times he's left the house in disgust and tears, proclaiming he is no longer loved and he's going to find a better family. He doesn't usually go too far (it's too cold at the moment) but it's not a great outcome. A few times we've ended up yelling at each other whereupon I've been the recipient of various angry letters.
It hasn't been easy. But I think we may have discovered a bit of a way forward.
After a particularly difficult emotional evening recently, I decided to try a different tack to the usual 'behave more politely or lose your privileges' line I've been on for a while. I could see there were a few issues on his mind so I invited him to talk to me about them.
"We need to have a few good chats about your feelings," I said. "Every night."
We lay together on his bed and discussed bullying and feelings and other good stuff and then I said goodnight to a much happier boy.
The next night I forgot. He reminded me. "We need to have one of those feelings chats," he said.
"Okay," I said, a little suprised that he was reminding me. "I'll sit down with you. You can tell me whatever you want for the next ten minutes."
We didn't talk about feelings but I did hear all about Captain Underpants for ten minutes. Yes, I was bored. But he was happy, so we stayed with it.
The next night we did feelings again. I asked him how he felt about different people and different things. We had quite a good discussion about the reason I sent him out of Sunday school (annoyance with someone in the class), what he did to calm down (hang with the mower in the shed) and a possible solution (me not to teach his class anymore. Definite win for me, eh?)
Has he been perfect? No. But he's gotten over his grumps more quickly. And he's generally happier.
There are conditions to the 'feelings' chats. They have to be held after his little brother has gone to bed and it's best to do them in front of the heater. I think it's a great relationship builder for us and I plan to continue.