Below are Nicole's thoughts on chapter 10 of The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell, M.D. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter as well. Feel free to comment below the post!
In Chapter 10 of The Five Love Languages of Children we learn how anger and love work hand in hand with helping our children deal with anger. The authors do an excellent job on helping us to understand anger, how to control it ourselves and how to teach our children to the do the same. If you have not read this chapter, I encourage you to do so. I'm not going to go into detail on all of the helpful hints they gave on helping your children through it. Instead, I want to look at one point that the authors made that really touched home to me in dealing with anger and autism.
Anger management is the most difficult part of parenting because children are limited in the ways they can express anger. They have only two options, verbal or behavioral expression, and both are difficult for parents to handle. Parents find it hard to understand that the anger must come out some way, that it cannot be totally bottled up. p. 153
Mix in a little autism and it makes it that much more difficult to help our children "get their anger out". With our kids, the easiest way to get out their anger is behaviorally. Most of our children struggle with verbal expression so their go to response to anger and frustration is going to be behaviorally.
So how do we help our children with autism express their anger? We need to look back at chapter 10 on two things that the authors say will help children deal with anger.
The first is we need to learn to control our own anger. On page 148, the authors write the following...."Parents who have not learned to control their own anger are not likely to train their children how to do it. And yet, this kind of training is essential for the well-being of children and of society. If you have never learned how to manage your own anger, we strongly urge you to get some help in this area, so that you will be able to teach your children by example and word how to best handle their anger."
This especially true for children on the spectrum. I don't know about your child, but my son is so in tune to my feelings. There are times where he can point out my anger and frustration before I even notice it. It's important for me to control this anger and frustration so that he doesn't pick up on it and it doesn't effect him.
The other point the authors made in this chapter that I feel can really benefit us as parents of children with autism is the following:
"....keep his emotional love tank full of unconditional love." p. 153
How do we keep their emotional tank full of unconditional love? Showering them with their love language.
With our children on the spectrum, we may or may not be able to tell which love language speaks best to them. Therefore, it is important that we shower them with all five love languages to help fill their tank.
I am well aware that with our children it is going to be a little more difficult to help them control their anger. There is so much more going on with them internally that we may not be aware of. With my son, when he eats something that hurts his belly or is feeling even the slightest bit sick we see more OCD which in turn can bring anxiety and anger. We have a whole different ballgame going on over here. However, at the same time, I do believe our children are capable of so much in this life. Including learning how to control their anger. It may take a lot longer. It may only be a little bit of controlling their anger going on. But every bit will help them.
As mentioned above, the authors went into more detail on how to help your children with their anger, including a "ladder chart" on ways to teach them. I didn't go into a lot of detail on this however, these steps are all important on teaching our kids to deal with anger. Our children need to be taught different ways in dealing with their anger.
So let's start trying to help our children deal with their anger. Learn how to control your own. Shower them with the love and follow the steps that the authors wrote in Chapter 10.
The most important thing to remember, in my opinion, is to keep their emotional tanks full!
(Please note that when dealing with the behaviors with autism, it's important to look at different treatments to help your child in dealing with these behaviors. Every child is different in what approach works best for them. For me, my son responds to ABA/Verbal Behavior when dealing with anger and behaviors. In my home, we will be continuing to do ABA/VB and adding in some of the suggestions that the authors made in chapter 10 of The Five Love Languages.)