I am somewhat horrified to realize that two months have passed since I promised you Part 3 of the “Transitions and Emotional Processing” series I began last summer, but I see that Part 2 was posted the week before school started. I can now safely say that it takes me two full months to get myself and my family into the school routine before I can get back on track!
If you didn’t read Part 1 and Part 2 (or need a refresher on them), I recommend going back to read those posts before reading this conclusion. As promised I can give you some follow-up information about how the suggestions I gave goodfountain in those first two posts worked out for her daughter Charlotte.
The day after I gave her my recommendations, I received a copy of the heart-warming photo above, attached to the following email:
We went to a nature preserve today to walk one of the trails.
When it was time to get dressed, I started talking to Charlotte about how this was a place that was for shorts and tennies, not dresses and slippers.
She said, “Can I take it with me?”
And with the memory of your email in my head, I said, “Sure! You can take it!”
She went and found her backpack and packed her dress, her shoes and her necklace in it and carried it the whole time.
Not even a single whine about getting dressed.
The following week, I checked in with goodfountain again about how things were going and received more information:
What I am seeing is that I have to basically use ALL of these strategies and rotate among them. Carrying the dress in the backpack worked a couple of times. Referencing the little card with things to do when she feels angry has worked a few times. I haven’t had a chance to do any big feelings discussion, but I did make a list of where we can and can’t wear the dress. That helped some, for a couple of days, along with not ignoring the dress issue. I just bring it up right away and we tackle it head-on.
Another thing that has helped is giving her some good motivation. The other day I got no complaints from her when we went to return the guinea pig to school because I let her ride in the back next to the cage (I folded half the third row down and put cage there). She changed out of her dress right away.
It seems that the best thing is having an arsenal of things to try while we weather out the “storm” of these passing phases. She’s not going to be obsessed with a Belle dress forever, but she’ll move on to something else. And I’ll adapt the strategies. And eventually it will all sink in. Having a variety of different things to try with her has made getting through the difficulties a lot easier.
This is an excellent point. It is so helpful for caregivers, teachers, and therapists to have that “arsenal” of strategies to try when things get challenging. No one strategy will work every time – we need to be on our toes and think flexibly in the moment.
I’m curious: what other strategies have you tried in a situation like this?