So today included a milestone of sorts. Evan was given a consequence that was similar to one I would have faced as a child his age. And his mama stuck to her word.
Evan did not get to go to the “toy” store tonight with Dad and Melody. (it was not a toy store per se but he knew there would be toys there)
Instead he stayed home and watched no television, instead read books and watched a few thunderstorm videos. (cracking up btw. he finds thunder hysterical)
In the past I have shied away from large scale consequences. Examples: canceling a playdate, turning around and not going to the pool, play gym, store, etc., not attending an event, etc. Mostly because he would comply at the last minute, but also because I wasn’t 100% sure he was always able to handle the stress or anxiety that caused him to make whatever bad choice he made at the time. I also wasn’t sure if the consequence would hold much weight if it didn’t occur immediately.
But tonight as I heard myself say, “Walk out the door yourself, and you can still go to the store. If I have to help you out, you will not go to the store,” I realized…… he totally gets this.
Just as I would have at age 7.
If my mom said that to me, she would hold her ground and if I didn’t listen- I would not have gone to the store. My parents were not empty threat people. If they said I would be grounded for being out past 11- I would be grounded for getting home at 11:10. Of course at the time I hated it. And I had a lot of friends who would get out of punishments all the time. But I learned quickly what I could and couldn’t do.
And today, as I gave the ultimatum, I realized that I ask others to presume competence with E- and I need to do the same. There are many ways that we need to adapt Evan’s world to help support him through tasks and activities that would otherwise be extra difficult or not accessible for him. But in this situation, he was given a transition item- actually a choice of two preferred transition items (helping him feel a little control). He had not come from a dysregulated state- he was just pushing the envelope.
Testing me. Seeing how far he could go.
If Melody had displayed this type of behavior- and she has, plenty of times…. I would have repeated my request and if she didn’t listen, I would have counted to 3 slowly. 9 times out of ten, she then complies. But if she doesn’t, she receives a consequence. Ex: no snack, no tv after bath, going inside early from the backyard.
So tonight, I presumed competence and I held my ground. Evan didn’t go to the store. He cried a few times, and he asked to go to the store about 105 times, even after Todd had already left with M. But I could see he understood. He knew he should have listened. And he knows I love him no matter what. I made sure to tell him that a few times. But I know he knows.
We still had our time in ‘comfy chair’ and maybe he will learn from this experience and make a better choice another time.
He experienced discomfort, disappointment, anger- and he lived through it and it was OKAY.
I think that is the best outcome of all.