Son Has High Expectations/Disappointment Issues (part 2)
I just wanted to do a 2nd part for my son's disappointment issues. An incident happened recently, we were going to our local "Children's Museum" and my 11-year-old asperger son was very excited because there was a giant soft play tower there that he wanted to go in. When he got there, he found out unfortunatley that they tore it down. He was very upset and cried in front of everyone. His expectations are so high before an exciting event, and will get very disappointed if even the slightest thing goes bad, such as what I just told you. He also had very high expectations for this summer vacation. He wanted a homework-free summer this year so he did his Summer Book Reports two weeks before summer started. Last week at his violin lesson, his violin tutor was going to be away for three weeks so she gave him homework in lieu of violin. On the way home from violin lessons, my son had the biggest tantrum about the fact that his violin teacher gave him homework over summer vacation when he wanted a home work free summer. He is still upset about it today that he expected a summer break that would go 100% right, and his summer plans didn't go exactly right. Do you think I should make it up to him? Please Help.
What you described is exactly how I was as a child (ouch, some painful memories!) -- and still am, actually, but by now (age 60) I am better equipped with some coping mechanisms. With me, it is not so much a matter of high expectations causing disappointment, but rather a serious problem with accepting *any* changes or surprises *whatsoever* -- good or bad. (Of course *bad* surprises are even worse.) I think I had tantrums and melt-downs more or less beaten out of me, it was the 1950's, but of course I do not recommend that solution.
I think what might help is for you to: (1) Model for your son -- repeatedly, over and over and over -- alternative and less dramatic reactions to surprise changes in plans, big and small ("Oh my, this road is closed by surprise, but it's fine because I know another way to go and I left early just in case, so EVERYTHING IS FINE ANYWAY, smile smile smile," then change subject and whistle a happy tune, modeling "letting it go." That kind of thing.
(2) When you notice a situation like this brewing, perhaps intercede early in the process -- *before* his mental picture is all finished and sprayed with acrylic and framed in glass and mounted on the wall -- "Honey, that is a great plan that will work perfectly if everything falls into place the way we expect, but remember Murphy's Law and let's make a Plan B right now, so we will be ready either way."
Does that make any sense to your personal situation?
Oh, I love this answer. My son will benefit from this. I know that I should model behavior for him but I sometimes forget to work on this. This is a good reminder and works for many situations. Thanks very much.
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