Isn’t it amazing how your kids can go from being your pride and joy who could do no wrong one minute to being total nightmares who you don’t even want to be around the next? Well, most autism parents will tell you that that’s just part and parcel of being an autism parent. However, there is a time when things can go too far. Kids can often be boisterous and strong-willed, but there’s a big difference between that and full blown aggression. Dealing with any kind of aggression from your kids can be tough, especially as they get older, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that you can do. Here are a few ways you can help your kids deal with their aggression more productively.
Find ways for them to channel it
Often aggression can come from not having some kind of outlet, especially on a physical level. Sports are a great option for this albeit not necessarily organized sports. You know what one of the best sports for this kind of situation is? Wrestling. Now, don’t worry, this isn’t the kind of wrestling that you see on TV: hunks of meat in spandex yelling at each other and pretend to hit each other with chairs. Think more traditional Greek style wrestling with two-piece wrestling uniforms and one on one tests of strength. Genuine wrestling requires a great deal of skill and discipline which allows your kind to not only get rid of excess energy but also channel their minds more effectively than they might have been able to before.
If sports is not your cup of tea, any sort of physical activity will work here. Run around the house. Jump on the trampoline, indoor or outside. Take a walk . Hit a balloon back and forth. It really doesn’t matter what the activity turns out to be. Just pick something and do it.
Help them understand it
Here’s the big truth about anger that a lot of people fail to realize: anger is only ever the expression of another emotion. Anger by itself doesn’t really exist. In reality, people get angry as a way of dealing with other emotions. This could be fear, loneliness, frustration, or any number of emotions. The best thing that you can do is to try and help your child get to the bottom of what they’re really feeling. Once they’re able to express it, then it will be much easier to talk things through and figure out how to deal with things more effectively.
One thing we always try to do with Logan is to minimize his frustration over his inability to do something. When he was younger this meant making sure he had a way to communicate his wants and needs. We watch his interactions closely to help him navigate his surroundings without a meltdown. As he has gotten older , this has become more important. A 6 foot man having a meltdown is not something you want to navigate. Trust me on this one.
Set clear boundaries
It can feel as though your only option when your child is having a meltdown that everyone is watching and judging. Setting clear boundaries for them is the best option for making these meltdowns few and far between. Kids with autism need structure as much as possible. It helps them to feel safe as well as know what is expected of them. They use so much energy navigating the world around them that they need you to be clear and concise in your expectations.
Most of us are aware that our kids would never actively want to do anything aggressive or unpleasant. It’s important to be patient with them since this is very likely an expression of something else. By being there for them and making sure that they know they’re safe and cared for, you’re always going to be able to help them through to the other side of their anger.