Tuesday, March 30, 2010


One situation that tends to be overwhelming for Prim is having guests at our home.  It's a catch 22 really because our little girl loves a house full of people. She loves the noise and the bodies everywhere. She seems to be most comfortable in group settings and I can almost correctly assume it has to do with being from a large foster family.

Prim's outgoing nature is a blessing to us because H and I are a very social couple. We host bible studies, work functions, have families over for dinner and just enjoy being in the presence of friends and family.  As a military family, we have learned to jump, not tip toe, into relationships and gatherings.  Our time is so short at any one duty station that if we waited until we were comfortably settled before becoming involved in church or making new friendships, we'd be on the road to moving again. Both of our children are flexible and accustomed to this life already and are used to the constant flow of people in our home.

While Prim is comfortable and outgoing during these times I have also noticed that she can become overwhelmed easily.  After watching her, especially yesterday after the arrival of my cousin and her girls, I noticed that it's not them 'being' here that is overwhelming. It seems like it's Prim's own excitement that can cause her to become dysregulated. She becomes so excitable that her energy is almost frantic and frenzied in nature.

Last night she wanted to color with G and their cousin Abby but her brother told her no (they were coloring this huge styrofoam airplane) so she moved on to coloring her own sheets of paper. When she was finished and asked for tape to make a book I told her that we only had a bit left so, no, she could not use tape for her drawings. Thus commenced whining and a stern warning from me to zip it or be excused from the table until she could calm herself.  The whining and complaining continued so I asked her to leave the table which led to an immediate tantrum complete with limp body when I tried to pick her up, stomping as she took herself to the stairs to have quiet time and feet kicking and crying in strenuous protest for having to sit on the steps. 

Fifteen minutes into the crying I asked myself, could I have anticipated this from a mile away? Of course. In hindsight I could see how this seemingly innocuous incident could get blown out of proportion.  What I should have done was taken her to a quiet part of the house immediately and loved on her until she calmed down. Instead, I put her by herself, left to her own dysregulated devises and let a tantrum turn into a full fledged meltdown.  When I realized that she in fact was not going to be able to calm herself down I took her in my arms and went into the living room away from everyone else. She cried and cried, her sweaty little head on my chest with tears flowing like she had lost her best friend. My poor girl, who was so excited to see her cousins and so utterly disappointed not to be able to join in on the fun for those few minutes was devastated. She did not know how to process all of her emotions and I did nothing to help. I was too busy making dinner and chatting and really, I just wanted Prim to calm herself down without my help.

If you allow it, hindsight can become an ugly mistress.  I wanted to kick myself last night for not giving Prim the tools to handle her excitement and disappointment. I could have prepared her more for this visit and when she became upset I should have distracted her. How easy it would have been to have her help me with dinner or show her Auntie the new craft she did at school and that's probably all it would have taken to break that beginning stage of a meltdown. Shoulda, woulda, coulda right?

1 comment:

a Tonggu Momma said...

This happened to me all the time when the Tongginator was younger (we struggled with attachment and sensory issues for years). One thing I found VERY helpful was to write it down. I often got caught up in the day-to-day and forgot little lessons I learned unless I wrote it down. I kept a chart - what worked, what didn't. Just an idea...

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