2015 has gotten off to a rocky start.
JJ had some behavioural issues at the turn of the new year, and we’ve started seeing an OT to find out how to help him. The basic issue seems to be that he has low muscle tone and correspondingly higher levels of anxiety. He is also frequently temperamental.
What does muscles have to do with behaviour? I was told that he compensates for the lack of control by being more controlling over others and over himself (by engaging in some repetitive behaviour like strapping and unstrapping his Velcro shoes.)
Since we received that piece of information, it was like a missing piece to a jigsaw puzzle. A lamp was finally lit in this dark room. With that, we’ve also grown more aware as to how to help ease him through his daily routine tasks. Mainly, we’ve stopped getting frustrated and/or yelling at him to hurry up. As tiresome as it may be, we try to give him greater allowance and breathing space to finish his tasks the way he wants to. (According to the OT, if we rush him or try to intervene in his tasks, we may exacerbate the problem and his mind never leaves the task because he didn’t finish it properly.)
I was taught simple mat exercises to help him with spinal alignment and strengthening. I was also encouraged not to keep to a strict schedule, and to give ourselves greater time allowance to get out of the door. This has helped to minimise the stress for everyone.
I can’t help but ask myself if we’ve done something in the past to have contributed to his challenging behaviour right now. Perhaps I’ve been too controlling over time. Perhaps I haven’t let loose enough, or let him play enough. Perhaps we have placed too much pressure on him to perform. Perhaps we have been too strict in our discipline.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. I confess, the doubts and guilt are hard to shake off.
But I try to shift my focus from myself to helping him. It is an uphill climb, both emotionally and mentally, so we will need all the energy and grace to see us through. I’m reminded that when things seem out of control, He is in control. He has a purpose for this season. And I pray He will let us see the light of day.
So…I am learning to accept my little boy for who he is, God-created and God-designed. Not for who I hope he will be someday.
Whatever difficulties you may be having with your child, I pray that you will also find strength and encouragement in God, and be able to love and enjoy your child for the special little person that he is.
God has a story to unfold in his life, and a good plan for him. And we as mums and dads are privileged to be a part of this learning journey.