Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thumbs Up

For the longest time we’ve struggled with finding an effective method to discipline CJ. In the few months leading up to the discovery of his developmental delay and sensory issues, it became apparent that absolutely nothing was working.

Discipline seems to be hotly debated topic. In my opinion, the point of discipline is to train the child in the appropriate way to behave in any given situation. This, I’ve come to understand isn’t a simple one-size fits all task.

We’ve tried all sorts of things with CJ- time-outs, rewards, removing a toy, and in desperation even spanking. I was spanked as a child. I didn’t like it and it deterred me from doing the thing that resulted in being smacked on the butt. It did not faze CJ and did not serve as a deterrent against the behavior being repeated. Bottom line, it didn’t work- so what’s the point of doing it? It didn’t feel right to me and for a reason.

And CJ began to lash out at others- he hit, bit and kicked and screamed. At first we were befuddled at what the heck was going on with this kid. He’s been strong willed from birth and obviously bright, but a different creature had taken over. I’ve written prior about the horrible experience we had at the preschool he was attending at the time; I won’t go into it again.

Long story short, we discovered after an evaluation with an OT- setup through our Pediatrician- that he was delayed in grasp and visual motor. Also SPD- see my sidebar with links for more information. What he was doing was exhibiting frustrated behavior at his inability to hold crayons/pencils and draw/write. And he had a big traffic jam in his brain with sensory overload. He didn’t have the verbal ability or maturity to put into words what was happening to him. And he was labeled a behavioral problem by the former preschool.

You simply cannot spank a neurological disorder out. You can’t change the behavior exhibited by a neurology disorder by spanking. And since I wasn’t sure what behavior was resulting from the SPD and what was him being stubborn. I decided that it was simply not for us. The understanding of the developmental delays shed light on the frustrated behavior. And helping that simply involves therapy to increase the skills. As the skills have increased, the frustrated behaviors subside.

At our new care facility, his teacher has been wonderful. I was honest with her from the get-go at what we were dealing with. She didn’t bat an eyelash. He’s put her through her paces and she has never held any of his behavior against him. She doesn’t let him slide, by any means. But she was a huge blessing in our lives at the perfect time.

A couple months ago I was at the school, picking him up from the day. He looked at Ms. C and said, “Did I have a this day (holds his little thumb up) or a this day (little thumb down). She smiled and held her thumb up and he smiles and jumps up and down. I must have looked puzzled because she then explained that when he’s behaving well, she gives him a thumbs up and if he begins to slide into inappropriate behavior she gets his attention and holds her thumb out sideways and tells him he’s getting there and let’s bring it back up. We don’t want to get to here (holds her thumb out down) and CJ responds by shaking his head no.

Are you kidding me? That’s about as simple as it can get. And it works on him?

I decided then, that I would bring that tool back home with me. I’d see how it works for us at home or out in public. I’ve discovered it’s a nice thing to have in public. It can cut back on verbal scolding. As long as I can get his attention, it can be used from across a room. He doesn’t like getting a sideways thumb and will usually correct himself in order to get a thumbs up.

I don’t know why it works. Why does this speak to him when other things don’t?

I like that it’s immediate. I see him sliding and usually can catch him before it escalates.

Like everything it isn’t perfect and doesn’t always work. But we have had better results from a simple thumb than anything else.

*Please note that I am not making any commentary about the way anyone disciplines their child. I am simply writing about my personal experience with one of my children. I make no judgement of anyone. You discipline your child as you see fit and do what works for your family as long as it is legal. I am not debating disciplinary styles. If you would like to comment on what works for you or your experience without criticizing others then that is welcome. Openly critical, mean comments will not be posted.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Prayer and the Eight Year Old

Late Saturday evening WC burst through the backdoor into the kitchen screaming, “The Bible’s real, the Bible’s real.”

I turn from my dinner preparation and find him panting. When he catches his breath he continues. “I was outside with my car (holds up a green matchbook style automobile) and I dropped in the grass; couldn’t find it anywhere. So I prayed as hard as I could; asked God to let me find my car. And when I opened my eyes- there is was!” Then he begins another frantic run in a circle screaming. “God’s real.” Then heads back across the kitchen and out the backdoor screaming. “God’s real. Praying is fun.” The door slams behind him. From what I could gather from the sounds of the yelling, he and his little brother were running across the back yard screaming/chanting- “God’s real. Praying is fun.”

I find my husband on the couch, laughing hysterically. He finally says, “Do you think they know you blog about them?”

“They do appear to just hand me things me write about.”

At some point, probably soon, we will have to have the discussion with him that just because you pray, God doesn’t always just drop your request at your feet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's 7:30 am; Do You Know Where Your Boobs Are?

Sometimes a young child’s take on the world and the things around them can be imaginative and inventive. Anything can happen. Elves can spend 364 days making toys for a fat guy to fly around the world and deliver in one night every child on the earth.

Reality is not concrete and the line with make believe can blur.

The confusion can sometimes be amusing for us adults.

One Saturday, I’d been doing laundry and wishing that a laundry fairy would appear and take care of this tedious, boring task. Later when I noticed that a bra had fallen into the kitchen floor, I quickly stuck it on a kitchen chair where it could hide under the table until I put it away later.

Having the memory of gnat, I forgot about the bra in the chair.

Sunday morning I was enjoying my cup of coffee curled up on the couch, while CJ ate his breakfast.

“Mommy?” CJ entered from the kitchen, his little forehead scrunched up in concern.

“Yes, baby.” I motioned him to come closer.

He hurried over and stood in front of me; leaned in close. His voice dropped to a whisper. “Your boobs are in the kitchen chair.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

Grandchildren- A Parents Revenge

“These people are not the same people I grew up with.” –Bill Cosby.

The other night on the way home, my kids were in the backseat of the car. They’d spent that day with my mom and were happily raiding the plastic bag of goodies between them in the seat. They retrieved a plastic object in the shape of a duck bill- they each had one. And they proceeded to repeatedly blow into it and a noise that was supposed to resemble a duck’s quack filled the car.

CJ had blown his spit into the noise maker and it sounded like a duck that needed to hock a loogie back there.

Why does my mother hate me?

I thought we’d put to rest the issues between us when I was in my early twenties. Then I had a child. The gleam in her eye and the maniacal laugh when I announced my pregnancy should have been a clue. She’d figured out that sweet revenge would finally be hers.

What could I have possibly done as a child to this woman? None of the stories I’ve been told seem that I was that bad. I was far better than my sister (tooting my own horn here). I’m the good one. Just because she doesn’t have kids, why do I have to pay the price for both of us?

After each visit they arrive home with bags of stuff (i.e. crap I’d never buy them). Usually the stuff is of a noisy nature- duck bill whistles (hello, they are boys...they come with their own built in noise makers), or millions of Legos that are scattered to the ends of the house and hurt like hell on the bottom of a bare foot. Or messy- the color bubble incident is by far the worse. I could stock a daycare with the amount of modeling dough that’s been sent home.

I’ve been told that I colored on her walls as a small child. I don’t remember it but will be paying for it until my kids destroy my house.

Then there’s the food- she once sent home a box of chocolate covered honey buns. I read the nutritional information (more calories and sugar than an adult should consume in a day). She introduced them to children’s chocolate breakfast cereal, chocolate pop tarts and pre-packaged snack cakes.

She wonders why they don’t sleep well when they spend the night.

Usually she loads them up and sends them home to me. And they crash and sleep like they’ve been on a three day bender.

I’ve learned that it doesn’t do any good to talk to her. She will nod along and then go and do whatever she wants anyway. Probably similar to me as a teenager.

My motto for the kids is “Whatever happens at Nana’s, stays at Nana’s.”