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Kidding Around...An Excuse for Inexcusable Behavior?

Posted by Kim Stricker

“What? I was kidding.”

I get this response when I ask my son to stop whatever inappropriate verbal or physical behavior he is doing at that moment.  I pause, tilt my head, and think, “Really?”  His behavior is anything but laughable.  It’s usually disrespectful, scary, and sometimes dangerous.  And I’m getting tired of my kid “kidding around.”

I think his explanation of “kidding around” is his way of acknowledging that what he is doing is probably not the right choice.  Unfortunately, I also think he doesn’t know what the correct choice might involve.  Whether it is the right words or the right actions, he is at a loss.

Moreover, he will overcompensate.  Watch out world.  Waving a mop, swearing, or calling an adult “stupid” are all possibilities of how he might react in a nervous situation.  When I intervene to deescalate the scene, I am told, “Mom, I was kidding. Don’t you know that?”

Nope.  Saying “I was kidding” doesn’t erase the hurt or emotion that his words and actions caused.  In addition, no one else knows he was “kidding”.  No one else knows he just doesn’t have the social or problem-solving skills necessary to maneuver through the day.  He is on the autism spectrum, very impulsive, and socially emotionally young. He is also at the age where suggestions from parents or teachers are met with rolled eyes and an “I know that.” 

I am tired of the kidding around. Is this just part of being a tween? I remember not knowing how to navigate budding sarcasm with adults or misunderstanding other students’ comments. How can I help him and perhaps be more proactive or preventive?  What are the right words to respond to your child’s “I was kidding!” and “I know that!”  When obviously he doesn’t.  Your suggestions…please!


About Kim Stricker

Kim Stricker is a mom to two boys, an elementary school teacher, and freelance writer. She also writes a blog called lifeslikethis about the daily experiences of raising a child with Asperger’s and ADHD.

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