Ken Shyminsky, a former vice president of the Greater Toronto Chapter of the Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada, draws upon his personal experiences as a teacher and student with Tourette Syndrome to help children with TS and related disorders. He also has Tourette himself and is the founder of the website Neurologically Gifted.
There have been many parent posts online regarding the general and persistent negative behavior patterns of their children. They describe their children as being “mean” on a regular basis. It’s not uncommon to see this default behavior in children who have neurological challenges.
In my presentations, I call this the “Awfulizer Syndrome.” To these children, everything is awful. They always seem annoyed or angry. They are routinely mean or insulting. They often engage in name calling and typically communicate in an unkind or angry tone of voice. Generally negative in most aspects of their daily life, they are most often disagreeable.
Without intervention and support, it is difficult to correct these behaviors. From personal experience, as a person who has overcome this challenge and a parent who has dealt with it, I can tell you it takes a great deal of effort to overcome this neurological affect.
Step 1: Identify your child’s behaviors and the responses of your family members
Identify and address when your child is mean through his/her words, voice or actions. Be sure to do this when your child is in a calm and receptive state of mind. Session need to be frequent and on-going. Share your feelings with your child. Explain how their words/tone/behaviors make you feel, and how it affects your thinking about them (e.g. “Although I love you, your tone of voice makes me feel mad and I don’t want to be around you when you are mean to me”). This response is a natural consequence – people don’t want to be around people who are mean or unkind.