As a family, we are experiencing the joy of having an autistic child beginning puberty and being overwhelmed by emotions. As a result, she is just peachy. By peachy I mean angry, confused, violent, sweet, giggly, and wild, sometimes all at the same time, and sometimes in rapid succession.
I feel for my daughter. She just doesn’t comprehend the hormonal changes in her body. And she cannot explain it in a meaningful way to anyone else. But it’s also pretty easy to get aggravated when she acts out.
We have been at a loss for how to help her for a while now. We have tried everything from bribery to threats to isolation, and nothing seemed to be effective.
Until we stumbled upon four seemingly magic words
Be Nice to Yourself
Such simple words. Such a simple concept. Yet it is bringing real change to our daughter.
We have learned that she almost always acts out because she feels like she just doesn’t measure up. She just isn’t good enough. Reminding her to be nice to herself makes all the difference in the world.
We learned these magic words when Cindy went bowling the other day. So, she is just not very good at bowling. The strength and coordination are just not there. She was starting to be really aggravated. Glaring at the kids bowling with her. Grumbling. Negative self talk.
Then her teacher spoke those four magic words:
Be Nice to Yourself
And she was nice to herself from that moment. She was able to celebrate her accomplishments. Even better, she was able to compliment other kids when they got strikes, or spares, or new personal best scores.
These words help Cynthia remember that it is always unfair to compare herself to someone else. That person might not be walking the same path as her. He may not have the same challenges she has. Even if he does, maybe he walks his path faster…and that’s okay.
If you are anything like me, hearing this story for the first time really strikes a chord. How often do we look at someone else and feel like we just are not measuring up? It doesn’t always sound like an autistic adolescent’s words though. It might sound more like this:
I am never going to get the same recognition Susie gets at work. Why don’t as many people read my blog as his? My illness will always keep me from being as successful as my friend Kevin.
When thoughts like this begin to crowd your psyche, just remember:
Be Nice to Yourself
Chris, this is awesome! So simple, yet such a needed message. (It aligns perfectly with some other things I’ve been learning lately too.) Playing the comparison game is a lose-lose for everyone. Wonderful post!
Thanks Rebeca! It’s a wonderful tool, isn’t it? My buddy Tim Gallen talks about OCD — Obsessive Comparison Disorder. This idea reminds me of that.
Jason B. Ladd
I love what you’re going with this site. You might like this post about spending time with your kids, “Stop and Play: Appease Your Toddler and Stay Sane” http://wp.me/p3BzWN-7o
Thanks Jason! Very nice post. My oldest is eight now, but I remember the days where I had toddlers calling for my attention, my undivided attention.
Great post, Chris! I’ll have to remember those 4 words next time I hear someone being hard on themselves. Hmm… I may have to repeat it to myself as well sometimes. “Be nice to yourself.” 🙂
Yes, yes, yes!
Wonderful post, Chris. “Be nice to yourself” is exactly what we all need to hear from time to time. We all have a tendency to find ourselves in league with your daughter when it comes to comparing ourselves to others. Today, I’m taking that advice. Tomorrow, I’ll remind myself again. I need a plaque with that saying.
Well, Chris, you have struck a chord in my heart today that needed to be strummed. Thank you. Great words.
Wendy van Eyck
Great message and so simple! I need to remember that more!
Yes! I have been saying this to both my girls lately, the one just entering puberty AND the the driven, perfectionist, people.pleasing 19 year old!… AND I am reminded here that i need to say it to myself as well; Thanks!)
We have similar issues in our home. We say “be you!” Each and every kid (and adult) hears those words each day! We also celebrate each of our youness or is the meness? We also talk about how each of us has a special role in the family.
I can’t say that it gets easier but with compassion we grow in understanding.
Chris, really good information. Just a few little words like this are easy to remember and provide a good takeaway
Ouch! Have you been a fly on the wall at my house? Not only have I been wriitng a draft post on this subject over a period of time (stalled from publishing it by comparisons – lol!) but I have also found myself in dire need of this deceptively simple yet life-transforming reminder. As my own worst critic I definitely need to hear and have these words on view. Can I join with Shelley and ask for a plaque with these 4 words on please – nice little sideline earner for you perhaps?! This is a great message, Chris. And such a positive way to deal with the joy-stealer of comparison. Well done 🙂
I love it when advice this profound is so simple. I might write this on a sticky and put it up by my computer . . .
Me too Katie. Simple, yet profoundly difficult to remember, huh?
Joy, I cannot wait to read that post. Your creativity always draws me in so much.
Maybe I should do a KickStarter for a plaque side business? 🙂
Sometimes life provides these little gems for us as writers. Happy I stumbled into this one Christa.
I absolutely love the traditions you talk about from your family. Every single time, you inspire me to be a more intentional parent. Thank you for raising the bar yet again for me.
Oh, I wouldn’t know anything about being driven. Or perfectionist. Or people pleasing. 🙂
I think it’s because of these tendencies in my own heart that I was so struck by these words from my daughter’s teacher.
I try to respond to every comment, because I think it builds the community I am trying to instill here. This is a toughie… 🙂
That’s a great idea. I might need to have a custom plaque made and put it over the front door to my house. Then I can start a tradition kind of like the Hokie Stone at Virginia Tech.
We have said this to our daughter so many times now. It really strikes a chord in her heart, and reminds her to not have unrealistic expectations of herself.
You and me both Wendy
Amen. Honestly, this makes the time I put into writing this worth it. Helping one person at the right moment, through God’s providence.
Great four words! I keep a pinterest board titled just this! pinterest.com/crysticaro/be-nice-to-yourself And have fun with puberty, we are on our 3rd round!
Haha — us too actually, My oldest is 18, and in addition to my daughter I have a seventh grade boy as well. Just trying to hang on!
Wise and powerful words…and something I definitely needed to read. I’ve been so dang hard on myself lately for too many reasons. Need to keep these four words in mind when I feel like I am not measuring up to my own expectations.
Thanks for sharing this post, Chris!