How I Learnt To Deal With A ‘Grumpy’ Special Child While Keeping My Sanity Intact!

That day, I felt very successful as a mom by allowing my daughter to be grumpy and not be affected by her behaviour. I cannot actually explain it adequately in words, but I feel a sense of pride within me.

This incident happened a few years ago when Farheena (my daughter with special needs) had been at home most of the time for almost a month due to the shifting of her vocational center and delay in the arrangement of transport for her due to starting hiccups. She has either been in a Special School or her Vocational Center most of her life, giving me a gap of 7-8 hours every day to catch up with my personal venture or activities. Since she was home, I had to tag her along with me if I had to go out, since she was not confident about staying home alone.

Taking my daughter to work

On one Tuesday, we both visited a hospital where I went on rounds for a programme I was working with. On these rounds, we meet newly diagnosed patients and talk to them, giving them hope since we are the survivors of the illness they are fighting.

Farheena first refused to come and said she would stay back, then changed her mind again and came with me. She told me that she would sit in the front office and wait for me to finish my work, but she would not talk or make friends with anyone there. I said, “OK”. Next, she sneaked in a biryani treat for her on her way back home. I agreed.

As promised, Farheena sat in the front office with two staff ladies, and we went on our rounds. I called them once between work and was assured Farheena was comfortable and doing fine. The girl kept her promise and behaved in the hospital but refused to talk or make friends there. Also refused to eat anything in the hospital canteen. On my way back, I had a few more tasks to complete, and then Farheena got her Biryani Treat. On her way back, she wanted a selfie with me and gave me a big smile.

A few days later…

Again a few days later when I told her I was going to meet a friend, Farheena said she did not want to join us since she had planned to watch some programs. At the same time, she did not want to stay back alone either.

I calmly told her she had a choice: join us or stay back.. She requested that I cancel my plan and stay with her, and I calmly said, “NO.”

So Farheena announced, “I will come with you, but I will not talk, smile, eat, or drink anything. I will not say Hi as well”.

I was in a dilemma about how to handle this. It becomes pretty awkward and embarrassing for me (and my son Rayyan sometimes) when Farheena ignores everyone talking to her and pretends that no one around her exists. Some people have even wondered whether they have offended her in anyway until I convince them it is not so, but just one of her moods.

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I did not want Farheena to hold me back from doing what I should at work. If I allowed her to stop me this time, she could feel she can do it again, and it may change her and me permanently, which may not be in a positive way.

So I made the big decision: I will let her be grumpy and not be affected by it

So when I wanted to go meet some friends in a cafe, I took her along.

Every ten minutes, Farheena kept asking me, “Are we there yet?”, trying out her first trigger. I answered her calmly, “Not yet,” whenever she asked her question. Finally, I got to say yes. She chose a corner to sit in as we walked in and leaned away from me.

I asked her if she would like to eat something or drink juice or tea, “No” was the expected answer. I bought a pizza and chocolate Mousse and placed them before her to aim at temptation. No response.

I had a good conversation with my friends and enjoyed our time together. There were so many things we discussed, and we had interesting stories to share. We could go on forever, but then time was running out for all of us.

Farheena had all this time not said “Hi” or “Bye” or eaten anything, but sat grumpily, leaning away from me.

I finished chatting with my friends, ate the food, and enjoyed the get-together without being affected by my grumpy daughter.

Mission accomplished!

As we sat in the cab on our way home, Farheena said, “I am sorry next time, I will eat something and talk.”

I was thrilled by this change and wanted to yell out something, but I remained calm and said, “OK.”

That day, I felt very successful as a mom by allowing my daughter to be grumpy and not be affected by her behaviour. I cannot actually explain it adequately in words, but I feel a sense of pride within me.

We always urge our children to enjoy everything we do: food, clothing, a picnic, or dinner out. When we see they are not enjoying themselves, we get angry and pick up a fight because we feel let down by them or see that they are being ungrateful to us even though we are putting every effort to make them happy.

I could have started down that road, taking me down the path of “Why is Farheena being ungrateful even when I take her everywhere with me? She is so mean, etc., etc.” but I did not. I realized that there are days when she may not want to enjoy no matter what I gave her. I just had to remain calm.

I know some of you may find an urge to judge me on this, but if I am okay with a grumpy daughter, I am sure OK with judgment from anyone.

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About the Author

Farida Rizwan

I am Farida Rizwan, 57, Counselor and Psychotherapist working as Senior Curriculum Developer with Chimple Learning. I am the founder of My Giggle Garden, Preschool, and Daycare. I am an ardent blogger read more...

51 Posts | 87,213 Views

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