Social Distancing Frustration

When do you become frustrated?
When people are expecting or demanding more than you can give, what happens to your ability to function?
Our children who have special needs may have a lower tolerance or ability to handle frustration. People don’t typically think first before throwing out commands, and they may use a tone of urgency when speaking. These two actions may cause the child to react in significantly extreme behaviors, which in turn, we respond.

I have noticed during this time of our ‘new normal’ and ‘social distancing’ that I am reacting to other people’s reactions and not the truth. I become quick to answer and ready to demand. I am not thinking before I respond as others are on high alert, which is causing me to see or feel what is happening with them.

Yesterday I was frustrated with a client and snapped at him; I realized what I was doing and turned 180 in the other direction. Meaning I tried to accommodate him knowing it was an impossible request. With the two of us at odds, the conversation went no place. I was frustrated and wanted to get the client to leave as quickly as I could. When I was allowed to take a breath, I realized the clients’ frustration, need, and fear regarding his situation. It was a real fear to him. He messed up and needed something to happen, which I could not provide. He was not angry with me, and I was reacting to his fear and anger without thought of stepping back so I could help.

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I am not sure what others do when they are in a power struggle or get caught up in a no-win situation, but I usually get caught up in it and have to stop, think, and remove my emotions so I can move forward.

At home, with my grandson, I notice his joy at being home, the lack of stress with school, and the ability to use his coping skills. He is also able to think, which allows his math and science to gain understanding. Today his project was a success, and he was frustrated; his video was not a success. When I get caught up in his frustration, we both become agitated, and a meltdown happens. He becomes defensive and yells: “I did not do it!” When I see him doing it! However, when I leave my frustration and anger behind he will take responsibility for his negative or unwanted actions. His self-regulation depends on me, which ends up co-regulation.

Co-regulation is hard because others are depending on you to be regulated, uncontrol, and help them to stay regulated. I find myself apologizing for not being controlled or calm when others need me to help them co-regulate. I also find I struggle to help them. I have to have time to myself. I have a plan in mind, and when ‘they’ mess it up, I become agitated or off-kilter, so to speak. I have to stop to view the landscape and move where there are no land mines.

Today was a stressful day for us. We started the day to get a new bike. The old one is very old, and the seat is a girl’s seat, so it is time for a bicycle. The coronavirus has people waiting to get into most stores. One person per family, so no kids allowed. We were able to get into the store to get a bike. Not really interested in any of the bicycles he sees, but choosing one to have a new toy; we walk out with a bright blue one. This bike has hand brakes and was very inexpensive and on clearance. Not such a good deal as the handlebars were not secure, and when my grandson fell, they change locations. Meaning instead of staying where handlebars should be, they were closer to the bike frame. Not such a good start to a stressful morning; it only got worse from there.

After a meltdown, tantrum, and screaming fit of “this is the worst day ever,” we finally decide to take the bike back. Again we are allowed into the store, receive our refund, and leave bike-less. We stop for ice cream (drive-through) and finally smiles on his face; we make it back home. He finishes his homework, and we decide we will look this evening for a different bike. Now, I am not saying we will be allowed into a different store, but we have the hope of going, the knowledge we may not succeed, and the determination not to let disappointment set us back.

Frustration comes in many forms, and while we are social distancing, staying home, and have not sure what tomorrow holds, we remember we have each other, and we are secure in that knowledge. We put on our masks, apply our sanitizer, put on gloves, with wipes in hand we head to the front entrance of the store. Success!

We are allowed in and get a new bike, which has hand breaks for the front tires. It is easier for C to use. He is also excited because it is his favorite color- red! He also can get back home to show it off to his new friend before she has to leave for her father’s house tonight.
He gets home and realizes he can research how to tighten hand breaks. He needs them a little tighter due to his sensory processing issues, which cause him to either hold items too tightly or not tight enough.
He watches videos and gets out tools to work diligently and finally gets the brakes fixed. The rough day has turned around.

Deep breaths, focused counting, and large motor exercises made our day a success!

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