Speeding up recovery time

An area where we seem to be making progress lately is the time it takes us to get back to “normal” after a bad episode. It used to be the case that when Robbie felt misunderstood / scared / ashamed he’d stay with the feeling for days on end, as did the behaviours that helped him to externalise those feelings. We had a couple of rough days with Robbie this week and, after the relative calm we’ve had lately, it was scary to see how quickly things seemed to be spiralling towards his old feelings and habits (screaming, hitting, swearing…).

After a huge eruption on Thursday evening, Robbie took himself upstairs and warned us not to go up to try to talk to him. We let him be for 20 minutes and after that he came downstairs ready to apologise. He still blamed me for everything that hadn’t gone his way (that would be a change too far, let’s not run before we can walk), but he had calmed down enough to have a conversation about what happened and be somewhat rational. Afterwards we had a nice bedtime and he’s been fine since.

Another area where I thought I detected a small amount of progress this week was in his understanding of consequences. He missed out on going to Cubs on Thursday because of the way he’d behaved and the things he’d said. Later, when we were discussing the events after he’d calmed down, Robbie went into his default understanding of event through the filter of shame: he didn’t deserve to go to Cubs because he’s bad. I explained for the umpteenth time that we don’t think he’s bad, but his behaviour had been such that it had warranted a consequence, on this occasion not being taken to Cubs. This explanation is usually met by the “well I did the bad behaviour so I must be bad” reply, but it didn’t come this time. Instead he allowed me to explain further and I thought I caught a glimpse of understanding in his eyes. Maybe it was there, maybe it was wishful thinking. After all, just like Robbie had quickly reverted to old habits during the week, so had I: thinking that I couldn’t cope, getting stressed, losing sleep, losing hope about his future… Still, we both seem to have overcome this bump, and it feels good.