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I Got Slapped Today...

I got slapped today. 

I almost didn’t want to share this because part of me assumed I would be judged, like…

Why are you letting your 5 year old client slap you??

How could you think that’s ok??

And honestly, I was shocked by my reaction. Because I didn’t have one. I just kept him there, cuddling him in my lap.

I was in a different clinic observing his OT session when this happened, and he had a visual schedule of activities. 

They were all things he loves doing, but still, any kind of structure whether it’s something we enjoy or not, is still taking away a little bit of autonomy, and can feel like a demand.

And the truth is, his cup was full.

It wasn’t his fault.

It was his body reacting to the fact that he was done. 

I kept holding him for a little, but he still seemed upset. So I moved back a little.

His OT was asking him about doing other activities, but that was only further dysregulating him. So we just kind of paused the demands for a couple of minutes. 

The thing is - that we all have these moments. I would be willing to bet most therapists or parents have been bit, hit, or slapped. And it doesn’t make you a bad therapist. It certainly does not make you a bad parent.

The question is, how will you react?

My personal belief is that we should validate our kids’ experiences when they’re upset as much as we can, and lower demands. Wait and talk about it when they’re regulated.

Hey, I’m all for boundaries and clinic or household rules. I’m not super strict by any means, but I do believe that kids benefit from knowing what to expect. And I think it’s way easier for parents, too.

And I’m not saying hitting is ok. All I’m saying is that sometimes it happens. And what we learn from it is the most important part.

I was actually happy this happened. I was happy I got to experience this. Because it gave me so much insight into how I can better support this child and his family. I need to see the hard moments. Because there will always be hard moments no matter what.

I ended up getting into a conversation with his dad and explained the analogy of the boy’s cup being full. I said, after a number of structured activities, his cup is already completely full, and he doesn’t have the capacity for more. 

He needs to do something regulating. I like to think of that as pouring some water out of the cup, which makes some space for what’s to come.

In my new book, I talk about how we can proactively meet the sensory needs of children. Because what is a life of constantly having a cup that’s overflowing, then pouring a little out, then it overflows again, and the cycle continues? That’s an unnecessarily painful way to live. And it’s not nurturing a child’s emotional and physical well being. 

We need to learn how to be more proactive with addressing sensory needs, so that kids can live in a place of comfort and security.

Want to learn more about this? Check out my brand new book, Ready Set Connect, and you’ll learn lots more on how to help meet kids’ sensory needs proactively.

Already read Ready Set Connect?? It would mean the WORLD if you headed to Amazon to leave a review! Positive reviews help me to reach more people and achieve the goal of spreading neurodiversity affirming approaches.