This last couple of weeks my son developed a new bad habit of sorts. He began kicking and hitting people when frustrated and angry. We tried talking to him about how it hurts people. We tried positive reinforcements when he didn't. We tried negative reinforcements when he did. And then I asked the school psychologist for input. She suggested deep breathing anxiety reducing techniques. So we practiced those with Jackson for about 20 min daily. The problem with that, we discovered, is that the kicking had turned into an instinct. He barely thought about doing it so he couldn't get angry and stop everything to do his breathing exercises. He is only 9 after all. So what else could we do?
When Jackson was very young we did a lot of occupational therapy with him. Because of this, I picked up a lot and I'm actually beginning school this summer for occupational therapy. Anyway, my brain started working overtime trying to come up with any way to stop the aggressive behavior.
This is what I finally came up with. I went to the dollar store and bought a bag of silicone frogs. I put one in my sons pants pocket and explained that if he felt angry and wanted to kick or hit, I wanted him to pull out the frog and try to rip it apart. Sounds crazy I know. My husband just smiled and called me a hippie. Well, the first day we tried it, I had explained to his teachers about the frog and what he was supposed to do. I picked him up so excited to hear about his day. He was so proud to show me the frog. It was in pieces! He said he felt himself getting upset so he pulled out the frog and ripped the legs off. Then the arms. And finally the head. I know it's a little morbid but it worked! It was something that he could transfer the anger to and it was fun too! It also let him expel some energy. He's been taking a frog to school for the last week and a half and he hasn't kicked or hit since! It sounds like a crazy idea but I'm for whatever works.
When trying to get rid of aggressive behaviors I always try positive reinforcements that creates good behaviors first. Sometimes that doesn't work and you have to get creative. Parenting and teaching kids with Autism requires thinking outside the box. What things have tried to extinguish aggressive behaviors?