Dealing with Disrespect in Aspergers Teens: Tips for Parents

Question

Our Aspergers teenager is rejecting us and not listening. She is a loner, no friends, and depends 95% on us for daily living. She only goes out to school. Other than that, she is in her room and only comes out to the kitchen for meal time. She has frequent minor and major meltdowns …is very destructive, rude, disrespectful etc. I don't feel safe in my own house. I'm scared most of the time because her meltdowns are unpredictable. The problem is we are not communicating! We need your advice …and thank you for your time and your hard work.

Answer

She’s giving you the silent treatment because she is harboring resentment. Resentment can be a rather toxic emotion both for the youngster stuck in a swirl of resentment and for the parent on the other side of it. When our youngster is harboring resentment about something that might have happened or is feeling resentful toward us, it can be hard to take, but there are ways of coping and helping our youngster through a tough emotional time.

What might make a youngster feel resentful? Well, if a youngster feels slighted or as if she hasn't gotten a fair share of something, or she might be upset over something that has happened that felt completely out of her control. We've all been there …feeling resentful because life just didn't go the way we thought it should. For many of us, it takes time for us to be able to let go of resentful feelings depending on how tightly we may be clinging.

Don't take it personally when a youngster gives you the silent treatment or directs her resentment toward you. While you may have been the one who made the decisions that led to the circumstances that are fueling the resentment, your feeling guilty is not going to help matters at all.

In order for all of us to learn how to take ownership of our own feelings (resentment included), we need to NOT have other people take it on. So, try to separate your youngster’s feelings from your own. This way you can share your empathy and understanding, and help her to work through letting go of the resentment, without letting your own feelings of guilt or whatever gets in the way.

Learning to let go of resentment and other negative feelings can take time, but it can be learned. It helps if we, as parents, have learned how to manage our own resentful feelings too, before we help our kids cope with theirs.

Here are some tips for dealing with the silent treatment:

1. Be the bigger person. Make the first attempt at communication. If you are getting the silent treatment, it's unlikely that your daughter will take the initiative and actually talk to you. Be the one to offer an olive branch. Show that you are mature. Give her a compliment and see if she is willing to talk.

2. Keep your cool and survive the silent treatment with an even keel. It's tempting to lose your temper with someone who won't acknowledge you, but don't let your emotions get the best of you. Stay rational even though you may feel like you have lost control of the entire situation. Offer to take your daughter to a restaurant for a meal and some small talk.

3. Write her a letter and put it in her room for her to read. In this letter, tell her that you love her whether or not she talks.

4. Let go! The more you try to get her to talk – the more she will be silent. Conversely, the more you “act as if” talking is not an issue, the more she will open up.

RE:  destructive, rude, disrespectful behavior

This is a separate issue, and one that requires some disciplinary measures specifically designed for teens on the autism spectrum (use the link below).

Discipline for Defiant Aspergers and High-Functioning Autistic Teens

1 comment:

  1. My daughter has seen a psychologist and councelors who's initial findings were that she has Aspergers. We are awaiting an appointment in late May for an assessment and diagnosis, but in the mean time I can't access any help or support. Her problem has been causing stress and strain in our family for most of her 13 years and has eroded our family happiness and bonding to next to nothing. Our main issue now is how to survive the period between now and May. How do we get through each day without letting it get to us and degenerate into more arguing and anger? I have now been given stress leave from work because of it, and we have no family nearby that can help so we don't know what more we can do or how to develop an immunity to her reactions.

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