So, Kloppenmum-ers I had the privilege of two children melting down this week – oh the joys!
The first was our eight year-old, our usually lovely boy with an Owl temperament. It started as a simple Possession Tantrum over a few balloons and escalated rapidly. He was a bit tired and with an Owl temperament, so anything can be a trigger for him feeling overwhelmed and then melting down. He leapt on to Karpman’s Drama Triangle as a victim, and really wanted me to join him there too, as a rescuer or persecutor, to reinforce the pattern. My job was to stay calm and stay emotionally detached until he decompressed enough to disengage from the drama – all the while holding the boundary.
As I have found before with this temperament, Random Words and Phrases – that usually work so well with other children, didn’t work. He was also too deeply embedded in his Flesh Brain (fight/flight) system to understand any explanations, and no explanations would have been adequate – his emotional state was so intense. He was furious and threatening to hurt the other boys. I removed him from their general vicinity.
Part Two involved him outside throwing the contents of our recycling bins all over the deck and tipping over the outdoor furniture. At this point he was deeply stubborn and not wanting to interact with anyone. He was deep in his sense of righteousness. He was digging himself deeper into a hole. He could only make things worse, unless I found him a way out of the hole – without engaging in the drama. Talk about parenting on a tight-rope!
Thanks to experience, it was a simple situation to sort. I put my head out the door and told him I would help him to tidy up when he was ready to do so, but that I wasn’t allowing a violent child near the others. I reminded him that I loved him but that I did not love the drama. (Separating him from his behaviour…he’s a good kid, his behaviour was momentarily out of line.) I reminded him he is allowed to be angry but that violence is not anger. It’s violence. Then I left him alone and gave him the space to decide what would happen next.
He stayed in his hole for about another 10 minutes – attempting to damage the house and continuing to threaten the other boys. I continued with my chores and each time there was the real threat of damage to the house I reminded him *that* wasn’t O’Kay behaviour and that I was ready to help whenever he was ready.
Eventually, he grudgingly muttered that he was ready to tidy up. I immediately stopped what I was doing, and went to help. I helped as long as he was working too. I was NOT there to rescue him and reinforce his role as a victim on the drama triangle by doing the work for him. I was there to emotionally and physically support him coming out of a rage, not leave him to struggle further. I was there to help turn off the flow of cortisol that was helping him to learn, before it became toxic.
There were a few false starts but we actually had the mess sorted within a couple of minutes. He spontaneously apologised for the threat of violence and mess, and all relationships were well on the way to being repaired. He made several further efforts to ensure that he and I were on good terms during the rest of the evening.
Over the years we have done a lot of work around, ‘the person rupturing a relationship is responsible for its repair’. (There are three entities in any relationship: individual one, individual two, and the relationship itself.)
He was serene from then until bedtime. It was as if he had found internal peace.
There have been no further drama over balloons.
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