Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I am listening to you dear boy...

I hate that it's sometimes so easy to miss things that are right in front of my face. For a long time now Pollito has been telling me (not in so many words) that he needs to be near me and closely supervised. I ignored it and just refused to listen. So he screamed louder and louder with behaviors that were worsening by the minute.

Last week I (finally) put my foot down after the umpteenth time of his willfully destroying something.  I told him I heard him! I heard that he didn't want to play in the play area unsupervised. I heard that he didn't want to play outside unsupervised. I heard that he didn't want/know how to be nice to younger children if he wasn't supervised. I heard that if he was told to be mindful of something, it was an invitation that he break it, damage it, destroy it,  or get it stuck in something. I heard that he needed to be near me at all times.

Then I took away "everything." Playing outside with the toys. Playing inside with the toys. Playing with the other children. For a week. It doesn't matter what he did or if the offenses meet the "punishment." (They do and they don't. ) It matters that I took advantage of an opportunity to make his world a little smaller (which I actually didn't think was possible) and take away the anxiety that all those choices, all that responsibility, all that "choice" creates for this little boy.

It has been a week (and he asked for me to extend it until this weekend by telling me that if I let him play in the play area he was going to break something of Milagro's) and he has had the BEST WEEK EVER in homeschooling. He has finally learned his numbers up to 35 and can write them accurately without looking. He remembers how to write his first AND last name. His handwriting has improved. His drawing and coloring are absolutely breath-taking. His decoding includes actually remembering consonant blends--th, sh, ch, bl, st, etc. and the sounds that oo, ou, ow, aw, au, and ing make. When he sits with his books to "read" he actually tries to sound out the words and remembers most of the words he knows.  When he plays on his mat with a few choice toys he mostly plays with them appropriately. His voice stays in the normal range for volume AND we actually understand his speech a whole lot better.  Most importantly, he seems happier. Yes, we still get the defiance and the opposition. Yes, he still tries to do the opposite of what he is asked. Yes, he still pouts and cries when there's a big transition (like bedtime) but it is so much better. And he is genuinely smiling more often.  Today he happily did  Corazon's chores because she isn't doing so well and he smiled all day long.

He was letting me know that he needed ME. I have resisted this with all of my being because he doesn't have RAD. Yes, he has some attachment issues and probably some form of ODD coupled with language development challenges. But since my other two with RAD need CONSTANT supervision and monitoring, I had let this go on for way too long. So now we are making his world a whole lot smaller and we are making gains quickly and steadily.

I hate it when I don't listen to what my kids are really saying.

Lesson learned.



matryoshka said...

I also see a difference when the world becomes smaller. Jupiter's world got smaller this week when on Monday she pushed over a one yar old in the morning and, when I arrived to pick her up in the afternoon, was in the throes of a screaming, door slamming, throwing dishes hissyfit. So she didn't go back to her normal afterschool care for the rest of the week at my decision. And no one gets it. And in fact the other parent that witnessed the screaming throwing hissyfit wanted to know yesterday why Jupiter wasn't there. And I couldn't figure out why she even wondered why. Unfortunately it's difficult to make her world as small as it really NEEDS to be. Which I envision as something similar to what you describe in your post. Birthday this weekend...and holidays incoming. I expect more shrinking will be necessary.

Dia por Dia said...

It probably is necessary to make it super small but people don't understand. I think I especially neglect listening to his needs because the other kids issues are so HUGE and his stay in a "normal" range or at least not as overwhelming. That doesn't serve any of us. I have seen so much progress in my oldest when we really took it down to almost nothing and slowly let him regroup and begin anew. That's so not possible in the real world especially if one works and has school etc. When I first got the kids I worked full time and was a PhD student. I had 3 kids with attachment issues and a newborn and even with help there was no way for us to give them what they needed until I became a stay at home parent. Even then, the homeschooling was what made it possible to make their worlds as small as they needed to be. I hear you and I think you do the best you can and keep them super close when you are around them. It helps.

Tee said...

Though my 11 y/o doesn't have RAD, this is a great reminder that sometimes the best thing we can do is "make his world a little smaller." For kids with trauma, anxiety, etc - This is so key. Thank you - I needed that reminder.

Dia por Dia said...

You are welcome. I need the reminder often and I am starting to think it is true for many kids without trauma too!

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