Hubby and I had a homework assignment from Mae’s therapist, Dr. Laura, this past week. If Mae started to get upset, we were supposed to try to get her to focus on the facts, what happened to upset her, rather than how she felt about what happened. This should, over time, get her to pause and take a more rational, less emotional, approach to understanding and resolving issues.
During the week, I had only one opportunity to practice this, and it happened to be a day when she had already had a few upsetting experiences at school. Her teacher had put her on yellow (down from green for good behavior) for disobeying a rule, she’d gotten into some kind of trouble in P.E., and a she’d had a disagreement with a friend. I asked the questions that Dr. Laura told me to: What happened? What happened next? What did you say? What did he say? I think I made it worse because my questions were interrupting the way that she wanted to tell me what happened. What I thought was going to be a conversation about Hubby telling her to correct some homework problems turned into an eruption of emotions about the whole day. So, I abandoned the homework and let her get it out her way.
Mae had one green and four yellow days last week, more yellow than usual in a long time I think. I guess I have to accept that there are going to be times like this; the road ahead will not be straight and downhill. In one instance, Mae told a classmate that she would punch him in the face, which she says she meant as a joke. She has been awfully cocky since her birthday, including saying things like “I’m seven, I can do anything I want” and “I’m seven, you don’t have to tell me what to do.”
A couple of times during the week, I asked how her day had been and she shared with me that she’d been put on yellow, and when I asked her to tell me more, she tried to get out of the conversation (my take on it) by saying, “I’ll just talk to the doctor about it.” Geesh. She’s only seen Dr. Laura once, and already she’s acting like a veteran therapy-goer, like a Hollywood celebrity for whom therapy is as normal as hair appointments. Oh wait, reality check . . . maybe it is her normal given occupational therapy and playgroup and her one-time visit with the neuropsychologist and a few visits with a pediatric psychologist. Well, the good part is that she has always been cooperative and open to learning from the specialists. I think she does genuinely want to be a better friend and have more self-control.
We’re going to have to somehow undo this business about what it means to be seven. I guess that goes on the homework list too.