Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Learning from mistakes versus shame
My son made a couple of choice recently that he deeply regretted. I won't go into the details of them here and now. I would rather present the lesson they have brought us to.
In both of these situations his decision did get him scolded and corrected. They were serious decisions and did affect others around him. Recently he's taken to being hard on himself at various times of self frustration. He refers to himself in a harmful manner and degrades himself angrily. This has brought about an intervention of lesson that is very important for him. It told me he needs my support and if your child on the spectrum does this, they need your support too.
The lesson here and correction for this, is that it's more important to learn from our decisions and mistakes than to feel shame for them or beat ourselves up over them. No one wants us to hurt ourselves in any fashion. They prefer we learn something, make changes and move on. This is not such an easy thing for an autistic person to do in the first place. But if we apply early support to our children in this lesson, could it become easier for them? I sure hope so.
So I've told my son that I don't want him to call himself names or be ashamed (yes he used the word 'ashamed'). I want him to learn from his mistakes. His teachers want him to learn from them too. I've told him that I would never want him to feel shame or dislike himself over anything. We all make mistakes, sometimes they are embarrassing or silly, but mistakes all the same. We have to learn something from them so we don't make those mistakes again.
Next I asked him what he learned from this decision and talked with him about ways to avoid making that mistake in the future. In both cases it was about making a different decision, one that would keep him out of trouble. So long as he does that, there is no reason for him to worry any more.
But the rest of the lesson and intervention continues. It seems that this is a phase that must be dealt with. It requires correction and teaching so that he doesn't develop a habit of hurting himself as a mode of self punishment. No one deserves that and it's easy to fall into.