Being a Child Advocate Means Learning not to Blame

Being an advocate for my special needs child this past month has meant – learning not to blame. And although it hasn’t been easy there are three points I want to share. Being an advocate means:

Blame is just pain you’re trying to give away.

1. Being able to objectively listen to complaints about my child’s bad behavior — and analyzing the WHY and HOW circumstances led to the final events.
Although I think — just fix it — this approach often just puts a bandaid on the situation. It doesn’t find the source of the problem and the issue just grows worse.
2. Not giving your child an excuse for shortcomings but understanding life is a growth process and I need to be patient and understanding.
I think many parents in my position feel like others will judge them as being soft because they haven’t gone old school with the “spare the rod, spoil the child” approach. I’ve had to conclude that I cannot raise or govern my child as another parent would do their child. I must address things in my own way – period.
3. Actively giving educators suggestions you will work together to achieve without handing out blame or criticism.
I realize blame is really actively dumping pain on another person simply because you don’t know how to handle it.  Professor Brene’ Browne, who is a researcher on behavior, gives a really good talk on this subject in a few Ted Talks and her books on this subject. See link:
She lays out exactly why blame doesn’t solve anything and it undercuts your success. Blame is just bottled up pain. And the person with the pain tries to get relief by dumping that negative emotional energy on someone else. Blame provides temporary relief for the person in pain and then often hurts others in attaining that relief.
I recently had a meeting with teachers trying to work out solutions to my son’s reoccurring acting out in a classroom. A behaviorist did a month long log on what was happening with my son in the classroom. The details were long and painful. I honestly had a tough time reading the notes. I was embarrassed. I was frustrated. I even became angry. But then I had to step back and remember this wasn’t about me or my feelings. It was about my son.
We concluded the one classroom setting may just be too much stimulus for my child to handle. The classroom was extremely quiet and super orderly. Silly outbursts and the inability to sit still for long periods of time were frowned upon. Academically he was doing fabulous. Socially – many times it was a disaster. I was told – my child was the only one in this classroom of other similar special needs kids on the spectrum who was having a tough time.
We changed the environment to a blend of classrooms. Afterwards we had a full week with no outbursts and no problems. The daily shift of walking from one class to another provided enough movement and change of pace, he could handle the academic work AND when he had to periodically stay quiet. Staying orderly and still was achieved in short blocks of time – not long extended hours.
But had I not tried to work with the teachers and behaviorists through the very uncomfortable and stressful month this may not have happened. If I had just pointed fingers and laid blame, a solution may not have been achieved. It would have been about me – not the child.
Advocate – may mean champion and defender for your child, but it doesn’t always mean you bring a sword or punching gloves to the negotiation table for a fight. Sometimes advocate means a calm and measured approach that puts personal emotions on the back burner and the child’s best interests in the front. It means figuring out a creative solution to a problem that many would not have figured out on their own.
So the next time you feel like blaming someone – take a breath, acknowledge the pain, and address the issue without dumping your emotional pain on anyone else. Blame doesn’t help, it just hurts.

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