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Whenever I need some encouragement, reminders to keep moving forward, I seek out those who have been or still are dealing with the same struggles. It helps keep my perspective, gives me ideas of things to try, and shows me that I am not alone.
Here are a couple of articles and thoughts about parenting kids from hard places. I have talked about this before, so it is nothing new for this blog. However, I keep finding people who know more than I do, reading what they are open to sharing, and growing in my understanding. I could not keep it to myself if I tried.
If you read nothing else, I suggest reading the first article from Stevie Wilson, a licensed professional counselor. I could have benefited from such knowledge during younger years, helping out in children’s programs. Not all of this information is for parents alone. It is good information for everyone to have and understand.
-Teaching a room full of kids can be a challenge on any given day. Some days it is a fun challenge. Other days … not so much. Having that one kid in the class who does not act like the others, can test anyone’s patience, especially if viewed as defiance or being oppositional.. However, knowledge is power and a few small changes can help the day go much smoother.
Last week I had to literally stop where we were and wait for one of my kids to gain control of themselves before we moved on. At the time, we were headed out to eat supper after the kids received a surprise visit from my parents and one of their cousins. It was exciting and different. While both of my kids responded with heightened activity, this particular kid seemed to be having trouble slowing himself back down. The biggest hint – lack of eye contact. While everyone else continued on into the restaurant for supper, I stood on the sidewalk and …..
- watched birds fly overhead
- watched trucks pull in and out of a gas station
- took deep relaxing breaths (amazingly enough, I was not really fazed by all this. I was just enjoying the autumn air.)
- watched more birds fly overhead
… basically I did anything I could do to look as relaxed and bored as possible, to slow down my energy (almost to a stop) and thereby slow down my kid’s anxiety levels. It worked. Once this kid could both face my direction with his body and look at me, I gave praises and very clear expectations – “we were going to walk into the restaurant and walk to our table while keeping our hands to ourselves; walking does not mean skipping, jumping, or running, it means walking.” We had a brief pause inside the restaurant as it was difficult to walk while keeping hands to oneself, but a redo resulted in appropriate behaviors. That was the goal.
In the end, this kid behaved very well and this whole situation was a forgotten thing of the past. Having other adults with me made it possible at that moment to react with these behaviors in this fashion. If it had been me parenting solo with both kids, trying to keep one kid calm while brother was having trouble handling the changes, I would have had to reverse everyone back to the car for some music time or headed home for pb&j.
-What about if you are not in a public/private school setting? What about home schooling? Changing the location from a larger classroom to your dinning room table does not suddenly erase the potential for challenging behaviors. What it does do is give you more options on how to address these issues.
Peek-a-boo is not just a game.
The emotional side of life is one aspect I appreciate much more now, after home schooling Jack, than I did before. It took a short intense time during his early public school stint for us to accept that something more was going on than the normal adjustments to a full day of Kindergarten. So far, we have not regretted this decision. I will admit, there are times where I have the “oh, how life would be different if he were able to tolerate being in public school and I was working outside of the home” thoughts. Thankfully, we do not need me to work outside the home and I enjoy staying home, but the grass is always greener…
Then I realized how well he has been handling the past hour of being bored, how well regulated he is acting. For him, being bored often is what gets him into trouble, a feeling he begins to sense about 5 minutes or less into an activity which he deems unnecessary. Learning to find ways to entertain himself without causing trouble has been one of the biggest lessons he has had to learn, and is still working on. I attribute this learning to why we can actually sit through a church service now and why he was able to take a 3 hour car ride sans movies with me last week.
When we began schooling at home, I had visions of how things would turn out. It did not happen that way. As I had already been reading a fair amount of home schooling blogs when the kids were preschool age, to gain ideas of activities to do with them and help them catch up, I was not completely overwhelmed at the idea. However, I know how it was ‘supposed’ to go. Yet, instead of needing a few weeks to adjust, it ended up taking us almost 6 months before Jack could handle some sort of structure to his day.
2 years later I feel like we are finally at the point I wanted to be at 1.5 years ago. Learning to step back and not take things personally, usually, has helped. Reaching out to others has also helped. Also finding ways that work for him, rather than keeping doing it the way everyone else seems to be, has helped.
I have come to find that, apparently, I was a bit too agressive about learning to read and it was backfiring. So I took a break, trying again at various times till we landed upon something that worked. Using a program like Reading Eggs, has helped take a majority of the arguments out of the struggle to read. Apparently, learning to read is boring, so why try? Sort of like going to sleep. However, ‘playing’ online is fun and so is earning new characters.
The “But, mom, I can’t read” excuse no longer flies. He at least can try to sound it out, with a bit of prompting, of course. Why prompting? Because it is also easier and faster to have mom tell you the word you do not know, rather than try to figure it out yourself. The same goes for opening doors. And putting up your clothes. And …. it has become apparent one of the habits we will need to be working on in the near future.
-I need to do more of these sort of activities throughout our day. Vestibular stimulation is something we often see in Jack. Whether it is due to a history of ear infections or hyperactivity, his need to move is often an indicator of what is going in in his head and greatly affects his ability to focus.
-Letting the little things build up till I explode is an area I need to work on. This was a great, quick reminder and encouraging read.