Kids are NOT to be ignored during moments of despair

Being stuck in a cycle of punitive adjectives puts neurodivergent kids on the defense. Challenging behaviors surface repeatedly, and the blame continues. Instead of ignoring, look at difficult moments as needs for support, thus rebuilding your relationship.

Aggressive. Behavioral. Destructive. Impulsive. Lazy. Manipulative. Non-compliant. Oppositional. Perseverative. Self-directed.

These are just some ways I’ve heard kids being described because of what their actions seem to show.

We can come up with so many punitive adjectives that keep this cycle of negativity going.

The more we attach these words to how our kids show up, they’re going to prove your point.

Well, if you’re going to keep saying that I am [aggressive, impulsive, non-compliant], then who am I to argue?

I see countless families who grapple with what to say and how to act when it comes to such robust reactions.

They know their child is struggling, but the message they keep getting in return is to push harder, exercise discipline, or ignore them until they stop.

Ignore them? That advice shakes me to the core. Do you know what actually happens when you ignore?

Ignoring sends a message that your state of being doesn’t matter and that your fears aren’t real.

Take a moment and imagine what that would be like if you came to a trusted friend crying for help and they said to you, “You’re fine, just get over it!” or “I already told you the answer” and walked away.

You’d be left to deal with all of those dysregulated emotions on your own.

Now, you’re an adult. You have decades of experience. You have strategies. And yet, at that moment, none of it matters.

You feel more alone than you’ve ever felt before because your trusted friend has turned their back on you.

That is what’s happening to your child.

It’s what happens when they are isolated, placed in time-out, or threatened in a way that depletes them.

These instances pile up. The more they occur, the more they fuel a cycle of mistrust that raises alarms.

When the brain is in that constant alarmed state it is under a mountain of stress.

Who can continue to function that way? Who can continue to learn that way?

We cannot force a calm-down state. Or make a child learn how to regulate.

Children need to see and feel what emotional regulation is like as it will be their greatest resource.

They need a trusted, regulated adult, to be there with them and for them during ALL of their hardest moments.

They will learn that no matter how they show up, you will be there.

And so, I leave you with this thought: “When we ignore and threaten to withdraw ourselves, children learn that the relationship is conditional.”

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