Children need to be taught the words and the socially appropriate reactions and responses to their anger within the instigating environment. If the skills are taught within a controlled environment and never applied in every day real life situations, the teaching will inevitably be lost.
Xander has a lot of anger. I dare say he has a lot of rage.
Traditional therapies for children his age do not appear to be helping him cope. He is still having difficulties with his expressive language. He does not have the words to communicate his feelings, but he is improving every day. He has improved so much.
I placed him with a child therapist who used play therapy to instigate a response from Xander. Play therapy is gentle and leading. It is quiet, soft play through books, puzzles, dolls, etc.
Xander is a boy, a knock down, drag out, kicking, screaming fighting boy. Playing house with dolls to roll play situations which may occur is just not his style.
I did this with him when he was three with animals. He would act out how he wanted daddy to care for me. How he wanted daddy to be my healer hero. He would act out getting me the foods I craved to help me be better.
Now he’s five and it’s a whole different ball game. The situation has changed. He’s been through play therapy with several different providers.
It is just too soft and gentle for a child of mine. Drawing and art therapy ultimately ends with him destroying whatever he made.
Hey, if that is what makes him feel better.
But it doesn’t. It doesn’t accomplish anything. Even at five he seems to be acutely aware of this. Destroying things and play therapy is a band aid for his rage.
It was time I got creative.
I called an old collegue who founded TRAIL (Therapeutic Recreation and Interventional Learning). He is an occupational therapist who works with large gross motor skills.
I was an angry kid. I hadn’t stopped and looked at myself and what worked for me in sublimating and expelling my rage. I didn’t make the connection that what worked for me would probably work for my child.
He is, eerily, like his mother in the ultra-competitive, mega tough way.
I sublimated my rage through sports. Where else could I kick and push and get rewarded for it? Sports were the best option for me.
It kept me out of fights in high school, if only because I knew if I acted up during the season there’d be consequences.
I wasn’t a big fighter, but Heather was, and obviously, I had to have my girls back. Any fight I was in Heather instigated and I had to help finish.
There was one time when the fight was between Heather and I. My family laughs really hard about it now. I think the secretary and former assistant principal do too.
Heather had been getting on my nerves. My mother had called the school the week before and warned them I was going to kick her ass and apologized in advance if it was on “their turf.”
Dimick, the assistant principal and our soccer coach, was also a twin. He understood that sometimes a big knock down drag out fight had to happen.
Low and behold, it was on their turf. I had the car keys and Heather wanted to leave to see her boy thing. I didn’t like the current boy thing so I said no. I told her to go to her damn class, to which she responded by pouring coffee down my back since she was standing behind where I was sitting.
My reaction to this was to turn around and stand up with all my force landing a right upper cut to her jaw.
That ended the fight for the moment, but school had just started. At lunch time she (or I in her version) misbehaved again. This time we were both prepared to brawl, and we did, right in front of the window to the office.
Both Dimick and Patty (the secretary) came running, Patty jumped on Heather to restrain her. Unfortunately, Patty, for one day in her career, had decided to wear a dress. It just had to be the day the St.Pierre twins had at it. Patty was wrestling Heather on the floor, legs in the air, and dress hiking up.
I stepped back and watched. I knew Dimick was stronger than me. He is 6’5” or so. He was my soccer coach. I knew when I was in a fight I couldn’t win.
So Dimick and I watched the struggle until he stepped in and made us go to the office.
He called my mom and told us we both were being sent home.
My mom replied, “Oh no, you are not. You need to keep one. Make your pick.”
He kept Heather and stuck her in In School Suspension. He sent me home, where I immediately went for a five mile run to get out my rage.
He knew I would do this. I was pissed and needed to get all the extra rage out of my system. How was I going to do that? Exercise until exhaustion.
I’m going to teach my son the same thing, with some help of course.
We’ve all ready started. We’ve cleared out a hallway. All the pretty, breakable decorations are gone. They’ve been replaced with a construction paper score board and a marker taped to the wall.
At one end is a trampoline so we can do “ups,” where I throw the basketball high and he has to defend the wall. He also have some serious games of monkey in the middle. He’s been working steadfastly at how he carries the ball, because if he does flash it in my face I will take it. He’s learning how to protect that ball quickly.
He’s also getting an outlet for his anger. Usually, he starts screaming and stomping about some injustice, then after a while, we break down in giggles over our silly tactics.
The other day, since he couldn’t get by me, he decided to bounce the ball off my face to improve his odds. Every move after that he kept eyeing my face. When I would calal him on his thoughts he would keel over laughing.
I have a very special bruise between my eyes from our shenanigans.
That’s okay, since he almost put his head through the wall while struggling for possession with me.
Now, he’s starting to see every person as a potential ball player, including my NP Melissa, who does have 2 boys but they are not quite 5 yet. He was just giving her a preview of how the big boys roll.
I always did intend to make Xander a baller. He is my child. It’s unavoidable. I just never guessed he would be so drawn to it so dramatically so early.
I’m happy I’ve finally found an outlet for Xander’s rage. I’ll keep you apprised of how this goes. If ANYBODY has ANYOTHER ideas, please post them or email me.
Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.
He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.
Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."
I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.
I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."