Thursday, November 14, 2013

Self-Talk and the Battle of Wills

Samantha and I had a major battle of wills this morning over her clothes.

I'm actually one of those really lucky parents whose kid really doesn't care all that much what I put on her.  I think that's because, for the most part, barring the discomfort of a stiff fabric or of something slightly too small, she likes what I put on her.  I'm not tooting my own horn here, but I will say, she pretty much basks in the accolades she receives every day at school and from her sitter when she gets home in the afternoons.  Oh, and from complete strangers on the street/in the store/at the playground/etc. 

Happy to be of service to your healthy, growing ego, darling.  :-)

But one thing she will. not. tolerate. is changing what's already on her.  If I'm going to have her put something on, I darned-well better be absolutely sure it's what I want on her.  It had better match/fit/be appropriate and I had better be happy with it, or all hell breaks loose if I tell her something's gotta change. 

Which is what happened this morning.

That cute little Oilily jumper that I got for a song from consignment?  I've been having her wear it with stripey tights.  But this morning, as I watched her walk up the stairs to go brush her teeth after breakfast, I realized just how short, like inappropriately short, it actually is, and how awkward it probably has been the last two times she's worn it and had to go on the playground during recess. 


So, new-found realization in mind, I told her she had to either put a pair of bike shorts on over top of the tights, or she had to put a pair of leggings on underneath instead.  She crossed her arms, pouted and shouted, "No!"  Of course she did. 

And, with my eye firmly on the ticking clock, the minute hand edging ever closer to the moment when we had to be out the door to get her to school and get me back home and on the treadmill before having to get ready for work, I made a decision.  Leggings. 

But she wanted none of it.  She refused to get up from her seat on the toilet lid.  Growing increasingly angry at my increasing desperation, she head-butted me (not on purpose, she just clenches up and moves sharply and suddenly when she's mad, but I happened to be a little too close, trying to force her to take her tights off).  I yelled.  And I think she felt bad, but pride wouldn't allow her to admit it.  She loosened up a bit, began to cry, hugged me, and then let me change her tights to leggings.  And then she took her place back on the toilet lid, refusing to wash her hands, brush her teeth, or wash her face. 

Have you ever heard of self-talk?  It's something people with Down syndrome commonly do.  They talk to themselves, rationalizing something they need to do or something they're feeling.  It helps to organize their thoughts and feelings, helps them to make the decisions they know, deep down, are right. 

Given that Samantha pretty much never stops talking, generally, I have had to listen a bit more closely recently to realize that she actually does engage in self-talk.  And, in the case of this morning's battle, I knew that if I left the bathroom and left her alone, she would work out what she needed to do, and would likely do it. 

I walked out, closed the door, and waited, listening.  At first there was only silence.  Then I heard her rustling as she stood up from her perch, then whispering something to herself about washing her hands, brushing her teeth, washing her face.  And then...magic.  The sound of running water.

I went downstairs.  A few minutes later, she joined me, clean and glowing, a smile on her face, ready for the short walk to school. 



Lisa said...

Oh my gosh - Cate does this ALL the time. You know how most kids have AN imaginary friend? Cate has an imaginary class. She will talk things out with them alot and if I listen closely I might figure out something that happened that she doesn't understand or just figured out or is bothering her. Or I might just hear a made up story about a bear attacking a princess, you just never know! Cate's self talk hasn't matured as well as this example of Sammi's yet though but I can see it coming.

KateY Johnston said...

Oh I like this little illustration of self-talk and it's all so real and familiar :). Hope talks away to herself all the time and I love listening in unobtrusively as she counts things and clarifies who did what where - it's like she's going over the details to get them all absorbed :) sweet girl you have there xo

Rochelle said...

Ahhh the magic of self talk!

Denisemomof4 said...

Hmmmm this is truly intriging. Maddison always has a spoon and she always talks to it and laughs. Wonder if its the same kinda thing. I had never heard of self talk!

Jenny said...

I know my Nephew does this ALL the time. Anything he does, he will talk himself through it. Even if it's just making a sandwich. Getting ready for school in the morning he is always mumbling to himself about what he needs to do next. Interesting. I have never heard of this before. I just thought it was something he did.

FunMumX3 said...

Miss 18 still uses self talk a LOT. Good news is that for some years now we have been able to set ground rules on where it is appropriate and where it is not - based on what is typical in society. I sometimes question why this has to be the case as self talk is a valuable tool for working things out, but the fact is, a 4 year old having an imaginary conversation is darn cute, and 18 year old is not so acceptable. Since I can't change society as a whole I've chosen to educate Miss 18 on what is reasonable when in public.

Other good news is that now the imaginary friends are real people - pop stars, movie actors. Recently we have had Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and the cast of Zack and Cody all in her room at once. Must have been crowded in there :)