Discipline Reminders

So I used to be a great parent.  Really.  When I had two kids, I was.  One kid was probably THE easiest kid on the planet.  The other was pretty challenging naturally.  But we worked together, focused on relationship and them learning self-discipline and all was grand.  Really.  I didn’t think we had anything that anyone else couldn’t have.  It was a choice.  I put in a good bit of effort when they were little and reaped what I sowed.  I wasn’t living in some fantasy land, I simply had set us up for success.  We lived very peacefully.

And I tested this out!  I did some parent-coaching.  I worked in a childcare center.  I had a home daycare.  I took in kids to tutor and even teach full time for a period, often for behavioral reasons. Really, I felt I found THE answer.

So when we started fostering, I thought all I had to do was continue that trend.  Be firm, consistent, and use good strong positive discipline.  Between that being nurturing and meeting needs, I figured that a couple weeks into placements, we’d be successfully peaceful.

Reality is MUCH different.  My kids *are* great.  And in a short time, they DO know we love them, will meet their needs, and know we’ll be firm and consistent.  They know we won’t beat them.  They know we’ll help them figure out how to do better next time.

But where my big kids probably got punished once a year (really!), my littles have punishment included more often. So when I was looking through some old posts looking for something, I found the below and thought that the reminders were good for ME.  Maybe someone else will find them helpful also.  I know that when I’ve coupled empathy and these ideas, I’ve done the best with my kids.  And they’ve responded well.

Punishment – usually not related to situation, usually in order to deter that choice in the future or “pay back” for the current situation. It is often something that cannot work by itself. Includes: lecturing, time out, spanking, taking privileges, taking items, grounding, making them do chores, etc.

Natural Consequence – Something that happens naturally. You stand on the chair, you may fall. Some natural consequences are not appropriate (the natural consequence for jumping off a building is plunging to your death so we don’t allow children to jump off skyscrapers). But many natural consequences are very effective.  Many of us do dishes immediately after supper because it is easier to scrub wet mess rather than dried on food off plates.

Logical Consequence – related and reasonable.  These are things like having a child move to another toy area if he isn’t playing nicely in the original one. A child may well feel punished sometimes. Sometimes parents can turn a logical consequence into a punishment by overdoing it. For example, logically, you would require your child to get up from watching tv in order to finish the chore he was supposed to do an hour ago. Logically, he now misses the end of the show. Taking TV for the rest of the week because of it is punishment.

Built-in Logical Consequence – Thing you build in to teach a value, life lesson, etc. “You may X after you Y” is often a built-in logical consequence. Work before play would be one.

Someone asked: If a kid breaks a rule, what do you do to encourage him not to break it again? Especially if it’s a rule that he has repeatedly broken and doesn’t seem to respect at all?

We all probably get into this thinking especially if it is a behavior we want to disappear NOW or at least SOON. Generally though, we don’t get to control people to that degree. We can try. But…but then:

  • we are sweet and want our home to be more peaceful and not include bullying
  • it is hard to control people all the time, so
  • we get inconsistent, use threats (like, “if you do that again….”), etc

The idea with training kids is not really to get them not to break rules. That should be, in time, a side effect, IMO. Instead, discipline means to teach and guide. It means to give them values, morals, life skills, tools, opportunities to learn and practice self-control, reasoning and problem solving skills, etc. That means, sometimes, we’re going to have mistakes. But the mistakes are opportunities also. See the difference in thinking? One is to get kids to do or not do certain things. The other is to get kids to the point where they can figure out what to do and not do as well as why and how.

In my experience (direct as well as what I see), it is a lot more work at first to discipline children with the long term in mind. However, that work with young children or new children to the family is worth it when your 8, 10, 14, and 19yos are making good choices with little (often asked for) direction.

Key things I do?

First, focus on relationship. I live on the floor with my littles (and I have a lot of littles!). We read, play, build, tickle, pet, rock, hug, kiss, do educational things, etc ALL DAY LONG.

Mommy Magic, Uh-oh, and Choices are covered in this blog post: http://hfamcourse.wo…/05/discipline/

Give kids skills and tools by modeling, formally, whatever you need to do. One book to help systematically is Raising a Thinking Child by Myrna Shure. Remember you’re modeling. Sometimes I hear my littles talk like me also. I can be proud when they ask someone nicely. Sadly, I, too, have heard things in play that make me sad I’ve taught that.

I have found it *much* harder to use *only* positive discipline with my littles. Traumatized children *are* much different.  There is a lot more at play than when raising your bio children. Before, I used to say if someone is using punishment semi-regularly, they probably need to look into beefing up the good strong discipline. I still agree that is the case. I’m just the one working on it these days. My big kids were punished probably about once a year and even those times probably were not necessary or best. I wish I could get down to once a month at this point <sigh>.

So, the above is a reminder for me.

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Oh the Lies!

I have a child who lies.  A LOT.  All three of them went through a time of doing so; but one does it to an extreme.  Pretty much, if he is speaking, there is a good chance, well over 50-50, he is lying.

Woman in office at school using a playful tone:  Oh, and where have you been?
My child: At home
I look at him incredulously as I hand the doctor note to the front desk woman.

WHY?

Mom:  Did you wet your pants?
Child: No.
Mom: Are you sure?  If you did, you need to go change.
Child, in a “doncha know” voice: I didn’t!
Mom: Let me see
Pants were wet.

WHY?

Mom: Wow, that was fast.  Did you eat it all?
Child: Yep
Mom: Are you sure?
Child, in an “of course” voice, speaking emphatically: Yes!
Mom: I’m going to have to go check.
Child: okay <shrug>
I start doubting.  Maybe he really did eat it.  Maybe I shouldn’t doubt him so much.  But it just doesn’t seem likely.  As I walk to the trash, I don’t even see the wrapper on top of the quite full can.  I start wondering what he did with it.  Then I see it, in a fast food cup. As I reach for it, I can tell the food is still there.  I open it, seeing over half of it. Dang!
Mom: We have a problem.  Do you know what it is?
Child: I didn’t eat my food.
Mom: No, that is not the problem.  That is little.  So you didn’t eat it.  We probably could have left the rest for snack or something.  But we have a REAL problem.  Do you know what it is?
Child: I lied.

WHY?

Now I know that I did THE worst thing a mom who knows her child lies or would be tempted to lie:  I asked him a question to which he could lie.

Most of the time, I don’t think of it as a “I’m gonna catch you moment.”  When I first asked about eating the item, I really was thinking, “wow, that was fast.”  I was impressed, not thinking, “oh, wait a minute.  My kids who NEVER eats a decent speed or amount happened to eat THAT big thing THAT quickly?  No way.  Now let’s see if he lies about it.”  Seriously, I didn’t go there.

And I wasn’t USUALLY thinking about the likeliness of him lying when I asked about wetting his pants (on purpose) either.  Mostly, I have a busy household and need the kid in clean clothes should someone come to the door or we have to leave in five minutes flat or or or or. But knowing that he’s going to pee the second he gets angry or scared or whatever does make me ask.   However, I do have to say that one of THE things that worked to get him to stop doing it was to say, “if you wet yourself, please go take care of it.”  Well, and doing similarly regarding the things that would have triggered peeing anyway.

Anyway, I don’t think he means to lie.  I think it just comes out.  When it is easier to tell the truth, he still lies.

Mom: Did you put up your towel?
Child: No.
Mom: Please go do so.
Child walks back towards room then comes back out.
Mom: Where’s your towel?
Child gives look saying, “I lied again.”

WHY?

Sometimes I probe after something like that.  I mean, really, WHY would you lie to possibly GET in trouble?  That makes no sense.  I can see lying to get out of trouble.  Lying because you threw away half a sandwich makes sense.  Lying that you didn’t do something you know you did?  Not so much.

One day, one of my boys was four years old and got in trouble RIGHT after waking up.  It was something that we had been working on so I decided to give a short time out for it.  The child sat on his bed for 2 or 3 minutes.  Upon getting up, he went in the livingroom and the rule was reiterated.  Because of the urination issue, Dad asked if he had wet his pants.  He said yes.  Dad told him to go change.  He spent a long time in his room.  I go check on him,  “What are you doing?”
Child: I don’t know.
Mom: What are you supposed to be doing?
Child: Changing
I look around, pull back the blanket, am confused.
Mom: When did you wet?  Sitting in time out?
Child: yes
Mom: The bed isn’t wet.
Child looks blankly at mom.
Mom: You didn’t wet your pants?
Child: No
Mom: Then why on earth would you tell your father you did?

Seriously, I simply don’t get it.

Why?

BTW, I prided myself, the first time around parenting, that my kids weren’t into lying.  It was, of course, that I had such a great relationship with them.  I also attributed it to using positive, non-punitive discipline.  They weren’t fearful of or trying to avoid punishment because we didn’t use those things.  My kids, my easy one and my challenging one, just didn’t lie.  I HATE lying with a passion.  I won’t tell you your dress is pretty if it is hideous.  Before caller ID, I didn’t tell people the person they were calling for wasn’t home if they were.  I just hate lying!  And so I was pretty proud of myself when my first set of kids didn’t do it.

But as with so many things with parenting, if you have enough children, you’ll be humbled.  In this case, it has been times three with one of them sticking with it and doing it to an extreme.  Peeing your pants or not finishing a snack or meal won’t get you punishment.  Lying most certainly will.

Today, I asked, “whatcha thinking?” after we handled the punishment and discussion about the lying.
Child: I don’t know (in a “how am I supposed to know” tone)
Mom: You know what I *wish* you were thinking?
Child: What?
Mom:  I wish you would say something like, “I’m sorry for lying, for disappointing you and Jehovah God.”
I looked at him, about to get up and let that settle.
Child:  I am thinking that now.
He makes a half of step closer to me.  A tear runs down his cheek.
I hug him and pray with him.
We both start crying. I think he really was sorry.  He just didn’t know to be before I suggested it.  I don’t know what to think about that.  I don’t know what to do about that.  But I am really glad we ended up on the same side, together, begging for guidance.

Mental Torment

This post is going to tell you what I do to myself as a foster-adoptive mother.  And then you’ll know why I’m crazy.  Please know that I tell myself to “chill” constantly, to stop worrying what other people think, to accept my best, that perfection is not attainable at this time, etc.  But in the end, I am constantly WORRIED despite Jesus’ admonition to stop it already!

Okay, so I was going to start this another way, but I saw this post and thought, “Oh, YES!!!!”

But, quite honestly, the worst part has been the mental torment of second-guessing every move I make, every standard, every moment of discipline, because for some reason I feel like I have forgotten how to be a parent. The plethora of attachment training sessions, adoption books and doctors who seem to know more about my child than I do all feel like dozens of fingers pointing at me in condemnation.

That was written by Sara over here —> http://saraescamilla.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/quick-esca-update/

Sometimes I have this “yes!” or “yee-haw!” moment that I’m doing just fine, thank you very much.  One of my children will  show they’ve internalized the discipline (teaching/guiding, includes correction, of course), for example.  Or there is some other progress made.  The other day, Ace knocked his sister, the 9 month old(!), down.  He ran and my son grabbed up the baby.  I went and fussed at Ace in a “what on earth, have you lost your mind?” then “you better not ever do that again” manner.  And then I threw a party. Why?  Because Ace made eye contact with me the entire time I fussed at him!  My other kids do that pretty naturally, only looking away if it is another behavior in their case.  They could look at you no matter what you were saying, doing, or how.  But Ace?  Ace TRUSTED me enough to look at me.  We’re bonded enough that he could do so.  So obviously my fussing at him pretty strongly a few times (well, and I left him in his room too!) hasn’t caused any issue with our attachment.  Or maybe it has even helped.  He knows I’m not going to kill him no matter how upset I am with him.  It is safe to make eye contact with me.  It hasn’t always been safe to look ANYONE in the eyes EVER, but…

Anyway, but seriously, I’m sitting here wondering if I should really post that story.  I mean, we all know that you’re not supposed to use a raised voice or even use “that” tone with foster children, especially those traumatized by abuse, lacking attachment, etc.  And then there is the leaving him in his room for a few minutes.  How dare I?  Even though I know that Ace and I are just fine (thank you very much), I know there could be a lot of judgment.

But on a day to day basis, probably the worst judge of myself, is myself.  I wish I could do everything perfectly.  Of course, what *is* perfectly?

And really, my kids are BEAUTIFULLY behaved.  Sometimes I think we’re just way too hyper about things.  And then I think, well, they are so beautifully behaved *because* we’re very firm with high standards.  If we relaxed (like I so often think we need to), would they be so far along?  That is another thing I worry about being judged about also.

(Note:  I’m aware that no one else is nearly as interested as they seem in my head.  They have their own lives, too busy to worry about jugdging me!  They probably aren’t *really* thinking any of the things I attribute to them.)

But any time I get onto my kids, whether a look or a quick phrase or sending them to the corner or whatever, I worry what someone else thinks.  They don’t “see” the Mommy-shopping, just a charming, cute kid.  They think “oh their just kids.”  They may think I seem too easily irritated or wanting perfection.

And then….it goes ALL the way the other way:

PLEASE please please quit praising me regarding how well my children behave and how well I do with them!  I’m a fraud!

Yes, the children are usually *very* well-behaved.  This past weekend, we had the District Convention.  Three full days sitting in very uncomfy seats at the convention center.  I had five kids with me (the baby was at respite) plus bigs.  We sat in two rows so I could be within arms length of all of them, helping them with songbooks, Bibles, “looks,” giving them crayons, whatever.  The kids were AWESOMELY FANTASTIC!  I took ONE kid out ONE time to fuss at him (and it was a pretty major situation that no one would have NOT addressed).  In Three days, one kid, one time!  *I* was amazed and so incredibly thankful.

But though some of it is that I work hard with them, some of it is just that they are pretty good kids and for my three, they’ve had almost 2½ years to learn.  And then they are so much better behaved in public.  It is part of being charming and cute for other people.

But mostly, I just mess up SO much of the time!  Sure, I do some things very well with them.  I could list some great things about my relationship with them and my parenting.  But I make SO many mistakes every day.  I really don’t see how these kids are doing so well with ME as a mother!  So when people praise me, not just them, I feel like a fraud.

See, I really am nuts.  I worry about this stuff ALL THE TIME.  I want to do well by my kids and make so many mistakes.  I worry about what my mistakes say about me.  I worry about being judged.  I judge myself something awful.  And I feel like a fraud.  And every day, I hope I do a little better than the day before.  I keep hoping I can be half the mom my kids really deserve!

Yes, I have many children, but…

This is still rubbing me the wrong way.  I really shouldn’t let what other people think bug me, but sometimes it does. Well, and this person has irritated me before with her mouth.  Just let it go!

The other day, an older woman (her grandkids are now adults) was sharing with me about some of her child rearing.  Her daughter piped in also.  It was neat.  Some of it was how “mean” she could be (can’t we all?) while part of it was how she balanced it out with nurturing, play, fun during chores, etc.

So then she pops off, “Well, I only had three so I could do things like that.  I guess with so many you can’t.”

Ummm, what?

All people are different.  Maybe *she* couldn’t have eight children and spend time with each one.  Maybe *she* couldn’t have gotten individual time with each child each day.  Maybe *she* couldn’t fix pancake muffins, make chores fun, chase them around on scooters, whatever.  Me?  I can.

In my favor are a few things.  First, I intentionally am WITH my kids.  I sit on the floor half the day with them.  They are usually in the same room as me, even.  I believe nurturing and playing with kids (let them lead, mostly) is healthy for them.  I can more easily discipline when I can easily tell what is going on.  And my kids are home.   Homeschooling gives me six or seven hours she didn’t have.

Anyway, all kids are different.  All people are different.  We have different goals.  We have different abilities.  We have different strengths.  We have different needs.

I *am* capable of taking care of eight children (two being young adults now so just the six littles).  We go to the park. They are involved in sports.  We have a lot of appointments to work around.  The school-aged children are advanced academically and *are* being educated well at home.  We do volunteer work, are involved in our congregation, etc.  They spend a LOT of time outside.  We simply are a very active family.  Our children’s play therapist, when describing us in an email said that we spend more time playing with the children than any other family she’s ever worked with.  We simply believe in it 🙂

It is important that we remember, I think, to support others, not tear them down.  I have looked at other families and thought, “I couldn’t do THAT.”  I don’t look at other families and think, “they can’t do what we do because they ___________.”  It is not for me to judge whether someone else can do what I can do.  Then there is a question about whether someone else even WANTS to do what I do.

Be nice Mamas.  We’re all doing our best 🙂

Update

So, I am sorry I have delayed so many posts.  You should see all the posts swimming in my head.  It is just very difficult for me to get time to write some days.  I started off this placement with extreme grief about Monkey.  In no way were we really ready for more kids.  I thought we were, but….Or maybe we are ready as it has worked out fine, just had to get over a major road block to do it.

Anyway, it is working out.  The children are awesome and most days with them have been fine.

Ace is 4½ years old.  He has been quite a mystery to me.  He came with extreme delays and some interesting “symptoms” of *something.* He tested MR with hints of this mental issue or that.  I poo-poo’d that idea right away.  Someone mentioned, “maybe autism spectrum” with the reminder that milder forms may look different.  Hmmmm.  That suggestion made me wonder if it is all trauma as we’ve now seen several examples of PTSD that seem like autism in times of stress.  I would guess that coming into care would be a time of stress.  I still haven’t figured it out.  I know that some of his behaviors were learned (and unlearned).  I know that some behaviors (and lack of skills) were due to circumstances.  I know that he is an extremely quick learner if you can find what he needs for you to reach him.  Anyway, so he has been a mystery in terms of what is going on with him.  The psych report done at the children’s shelter is useless.  My agency agrees with my want of a full psychological/developmental assessment by a certain psychologist.  They aren’t so keen on me waiting til August to give the little guy a little more time to settle in, relax, etc.  It’ll also be easier to show the insurance why they should pay again if we wait.

So Ace started preschool last week.  He went only two days and he’ll have two days this week.  Next week, he’ll start Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  He has done well there, is playing with the other children.  We’ll see how it goes.  He likes the duplo blocks the best.  Of course, balls are great.  He was very capable on the playground so I was a bit surprised when he seemed so awkward on the balance bike.  I told him once he can do it “like Swimmer” (with example), I’ll buy him a bike.  He likes the idea of a bike of his own. He is testing a little, just little things, just a “what will happen if” thing.  What will happen if I look at you and push the button on this thing you told me not to touch? But considering how he was when he got here, that is nothing; so we’ll take it 🙂

Champ is a Mini-Ace.  It is really a weird relationship.  It is obvious they’ve relied on each other for protection, comfort, companionship. Of course, that would be normal for brothers close in age anyway; but this is to an extreme.  What we’ve found interesting is that it goes both ways.  In some ways, possibly because Champ is developmentally closer to typical, Champ seems like the big brother.  But then there is the toddler/preschool learning aspect where Champ is following his big brother’s lead.  In many ways, it is very similar to the unhealthy relationship my three had with one another, especially the part where they keep other people out.  One big positive is that they do recognize they are separate people.

Anyway, Champ has really taken to me and I to him.  Honestly, I think he is probably the reason I pushed through at very first.  He’s a beautiful child with the most endearing smile.  We had to work a little to get it at first, but now he regularly uses his cuteness to engage people.  He loves to mini-trampoline (it is a kids’ one with handles).  He mostly stays back and watches people.  He’ll take toys they hand him though.  He likes cars though and will regularly carry one around.  He doesn’t talk much but when he does, it is full understandable sentences.  I think he was honeymooning though as the last couple days, he’s had a lot more tears and behavior.

Then there is The Baby.  She is the sweetest baby ever.  Had I ever had a baby like this, I probably never would have said, “no more babies!”  Seriously.  She’s a good good baby.  She is always checking things out.  She seems wise beyond her years or something.  She draws you in, engages you in conversation and play.  It is really neat.  She does have some stress reactions.  For example, no one else sees how wonderful she is but us.  She goes “flat” for an audience.  For my son?  He’ll lean his head into her and she’ll tap his head with hers.  I was really surprised she learned to do that so young!  She is most attached to me, making it clear she’s not happy if I leave the room (“I’ll be right back.  I’m gonna go get…”).   Oh, and she is addicted to tv.  I have never seen a baby who watches tv! Monkey wouldn’t watch anything on tv except Sparkabilities at 20 months.

She really is delayed.  We have feeding therapy and the developmental specialist currently.  The Dev Spec comes for communication and mobility.  THis week the physical therapist is coming out for an evaluation.  The OT said she didn’t qualify when she was in the children’s shelter, but will come back out in June for another eval.  We also have a private speech and physical therapist coming for evaluations.  We’ll have to choose who does the services depending on availability.  Typically, I choose private because they give significantly more time to us.  However, I’ve been around the block a time or two so can work with her as we’re in this inbetween time.  This past week, I got her to do a “barely-assisted” roll one direction (she can’t do it the other for whatever reason).    Mostly, she is just a happy baby 🙂

So recently, we decided to take the kids fishing when a town not too far away had a fishing event for children.

This is the only thing caught.  It was caught by Ace.

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This is my crew.

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A local “family” I thought were cute:

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We weren’t the biggest family there!

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Actually, we weren’t the biggest family anyway though.  First off, my two big kids didn’t go.  Second, when I was registering my crew, the guy told me one lady registered nine children.  I only registered five (the baby didn’t count).

So hopefully I’ll get some of these posts from my head to the blog. I have exciting news about Heidi.  Homeschooling has taken a back burner on my blog but should get more press.  I have three reviews (two for Mosaic Reviews, one just being a product I’m glad I bought) to post soon.  Crossfit and diet have slipped, but…

Of course, blogs have periods of more and less activities as life goes on.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to document a little of it though!  I have rarely wished I didn’t post something.  I’ve often wished I would have recorded X when it happened, especially when it is about kids who then progress to Y.

Discipline

Okay, so this was a response I wrote to someone with a four year old.  I felt it described part of our discipline to a great degree.  It leaves out the “babying older children” and other relationship things I’ll talk about in other posts.  But it does give some strong teaching based discipline, in my opinion.  So I thought I’d share it here.

As for what YOU do?

Consistency is KEY.  A lot of people tend to teach kids not to listen until they yell, get frustrated, punish. There is an easy fix for this (but it will take a couple weeks of exhaustion to handle it).  Simply, say what you mean and mean what you say.  When you give a directive, HAVE him comply.  Don’t say things three times, don’t yell, don’t offer punishment instead, don’t spank or give a time out.  Simply HAVE him comply.

“T-lo, please put your glasses on,” may need to include you handing him his glasses as you say it.  Later, you may give him an opportunity to choose to comply, but you’ll have gotten his attention, given the directive, and be ready to usher him towards his glasses if need be. If you do those things with EVERY directive, in time, he’ll get that you have “mommy magic” and everything you says, comes true!  Shortly after that, you’ll know he’ll just put it on because he simply complies with what you say.  Of course, then a few weeks later, he’ll test to see if you still will follow through.  You’ll simply usher him towards his glasses and he’ll see you most certainly do.

BTW, if you find that you are having to actually help him comply a lot or you try to move on and he doesn’t show he’s ready, take that as your mistake for misreading him and step back.  He’s FOUR.  Seriously, NOTHING he is doing or not doing now has ANY bearing on how he’ll be at 12 or 25.  Promise.  Just scaffold him the way HE needs.  When he’s ready for the next step, he’ll just do it (kinda like potty training).

Another key tool is stopping the world.  I had a five yr old foster son who didn’t want to do his peak flow meter for whatever reason.  I have made it fun by letting everyone do it.  I have given him silly goals like making it go through the window and being like superman.  Seriously, come on kid.  So it had to be set up in a way that he wanted to do it.  “In order to do ANYTHING else (other than potty and breathe), you need to do this measure.”  Now, you state it in the positive like that.  Don’t say, “you can’t X until you Y.”  You say “after you X, we’ll Y if we have time.”  Or whatever.

Okay, but there were two tools I *really* liked in Love and Logic Magic (that is the one for 0-6yr olds).

One is to give the child an INSANE amount of choices.  Give him as much control as you can give him in a way reasonable for him.  And make a game out of it.  How many times can you give him a choice?  Do you want the red shirt or the yellow?  Do you want the black pants or the blue? Do you want white socks or yellow?  Do you want the light on or off while you change?  Do you want the door open or shut?  Do you want me to stay in here or go fix breakfast?  Do you want oatmeal or omelets?  Do you want berries with that?  Blueberries or strawberries?  Do you want a spoon or a fork?  Do you want the spoon in the bowl or on the table or on your head?  The point of this is to give him control over things that really should be in his control.  We mamas have a BAD habit of saying no, making all the decisions, etc. Let him control his world.  The other point is that the relationship is like a bank.  You keep making these deposits and it’ll hurt less and less when you need to make some withdrawls (some of the choices yourself).  Seriously, if you have $50 in the bank, then the $47 water bill HURTS.  But if you have $5,000 in the bank, you don’t mind the $47 water bill so much.  And once you have $500,000 extra dollars in the bank, who cares about $47 you forgot about til the last moment?

The second tool I liked was “uh-oh.”  Now the book says you can say “bummer” or a number of other things.  But I have found that I cannot say “uh-oh” in anything other than a toddler teacher voice.  Seriously.  You simply cannot sound abusive with it!  Well, my kids LOVED it also.  It gave them the feedback they needed without causing them to tense up (my kids have trauma histories so freeze and don’t hear another word when I try to correct them because they get scared).  They could stay in the moment rather than falling back to their old lives all because I said, “uh-oh” instead of a sharp “Tony.”  Pretty cool, huh?  Now, the book pairs uh-ohs with punishment WAY WAY WAY too often in my opinion.  It is short, gentle punishment, but punishment nonetheless.  And unnecessary for the most part.  Instead of punishing for making a mistake, fix it, figure out what to do better next time and move on.  A great book to help littles learn how to do better next time is Raising a Thinking Child by Myrna Shure.It is basically a problem solving curriculum you can do as a “circle time’ of sorts (or at supper or whatever) with kiddos.  It is FUN and easy (appropriate for ages 2-8).

So those are a few of our non-punitive, non-relationship, non-environmental based discipline strategies.  Obviously I have some of those also.  In fact, I’d guess that the environment and relationship aspects are much more important generally.  But I was looking at his discussion for another reason so decided to write about this this morning 🙂

OB (Aug 2012): It’s so easy

This seemed like a good blog entry to repost today.  Two of my kids have jumped off the deep end.  At the same time, I’m so amazed by them all the time!  It is the weirdest thing to reconcile in my head sometimes.

It’s so easy….

to be negative sometimes.  I worry about my children, their trauma, their attachment SO MUCH.  But I want to be sure not to miss all the positive!  They have grown so incredibly much!  So often, it is things we just forget or were slow in progressing that we remember.

I remember, for example, having a talk with one’s teacher at one point last year.  It hit us both that the child hadn’t been thumb sucking in a while.

And I remember the first week the one let me sleep through the night (not that *I* slept through the night.  I kept hearing “nee-nee” (the sound of the alarm) in my head.  The kids teased me endlessly about that.

And when the one stopped puking?!?!  THAT was big!

What about how one had only vowels when he got here, almost NO consonants AT ALL! For that matter, we didn’t understand ANY of them at all at first.

Oh, and I have to post the audio one day of one little.  We were at a restaurant and a creature was made out of a napkin. Kiddo was so upset about leaving the monster that we enlisted the waitress’ help to give the monster a new home.  The napkin monster was put in a cave with others like himself :)  The child’s sweet little voice!  I never want to lose that audio!

I really wish I had taped more of all of them.  Some of the grammar and accent and articulation mistakes were so cute.  I wish some of them hadn’t irritated me so much.  They were gone so quickly.

And the fits the one child used to throw were ADORABLE and heart-breaking.  Kiddo just was a scared, sad and angry. Why wasn’t I more understanding?  Or maybe the fits were needed. And they gave me insight into what my dear child was thinking.  I wasn’t the “real” mom.   They’d never say that now.  Then the fits went to pure anger, screaming, freaking out.  But it was what was needed then too.  I can’t picture this child doing it now.  But did I notice when they ended?

The one that got me was the fit recently (note:  in Aug 2012) thrown by another one though.  20 minutes of all out SCREAMING.  I (well, and two other kids) just were THERE.  No one tried to stop it.  That child had NEVER done anything of the sort.  Maybe it was finally *safe* to?  Maybe it was a test?  I don’t know.  I do know that it was handled well.

There are neat things from all sorts of areas where they have learned so much.  Learning academics and eating like humans at the table. Two have been without training wheels for months and the third is ready (third has learned). They need reminders but keep up their rooms and ask for chores.  Two can shower almost independently.

The sweet kids shine through.

You know…we may still have PLENTY to work on.  But in 15 months (now 24), they really grew by leaps and bounds.  They probably were capable of more if I hadn’t messed up so much.  But it is a learning process for ALL of us.  We can all grow together :)

Yes, though they drive me batty sometimes and we go through these spurts of craziness, my children are absolutely awesome, progressing so incredibly much.  They amaze me daily.  I am so blessed even on a tough day.

OB: What’s a boy to do?

Given: Child better not leave bedroom after being put in there or he’ll be beaten severely.

Given: Child will be beaten severely if he wets on himself, in his bed, etc.

Given: Child has to potty more regularly than most children (ie, he is not going to make it through the night).

So what on earth was he SUPPOSED to do?   Did his first parents ever think of THAT?

I actually remember a situation like this from when I was a child.  My dad was very strict.  Usually, I was able to stay within the standards expected.  But one night when I was four, we went to my grandmother’s home.  My dad had told us not to eat anything over there.  My grandmother, of course, offered us food immediately.  I told her Daddy said no.  She said she’d worry about Daddy, eat.  So now do I disobey Dad or Grandma?  I was stuck.  My brother and I got spankings that night.  30some years later, I still can’t imagine what I was supposed to do.

My son was in a predicament one day. I had started a diet and made a chart of how many servings of X and Y.  I made each kid one also.  Why not?  I remember a checklist as a school assignment in elementary school so it seemed to make sense to teach nutrition (there is controversy about whether this was “good nutrition”).  Well, one of my categories, I had put something like grains: bread, cereal, etc.  There were three boxes next to it.  My son ate cereal for breakfast (this was before we stopped doing that).  Later, I had told the kids to get something for lunch and I had gone upstairs for something.  I came down and J was eating cereal!  What on earth?  Since when do we eat cereal twice in one day?  I fussed at him briefly, sighed, and fixed myself something for lunch.  Later, J comes to me telling me that he doesn’t understand why he “got in trouble” when the chart says cereal and has three boxes.  Poor kid.  He was just confused!  Thankfully, in our home, “we don’t eat cereal twice in a single day” and a frustrated sigh is considered discipline enough (though maybe not my best parenting, go figure).  Thankfully (even more, imo!) my son could come to me later so we could work it out! BTW, yes, I beat myself up over the confusion and fussing at him.

See, my son knew I was reasonable.  He could come to me and we could fix the problem.  And the discipline wasn’t harsh anyway though I apologized of course!  And the issue with my father was not an ongoing thing.  I remember it well since I felt I was wronged, but I didn’t live my life in such turmoil.  But *this child*?  There are several things the children expressed being similar.  They just couldn’t make “good choices” because no choice *was* good enough.  Now, we’re still working with them (8½ months after they last saw their parents…update: 25½ months…) to see that things are different here.  They will not be disciplined harshly; and regardless, we can always work to clarify things because I want it easy for them to not have to be anxious about the boundaries.

Bloody Tears

So Tuesday morning, we were getting the house picked up and brushing teeth, that sort of thing, after breakfast.  I asked Swimmer to put the soaps up from the side of the tub (we aren’t allowed to have shampoo and such out in foster homes; ridiculous really).  Well, I walk away as T-lo is brushing his teeth.  The boys start arguing.  It comes down to T-lo saying he is going to put toothbrush on Swimmer’s toothbrush which Swimmer didn’t appreciate.

So I walk into the bathroom and reach around T-lo, playing with his nose, as if I was gluing it back on.  He looked at me like I was crazy (I’m used to that).  So I told him, “I’m putting your nose back on your own face so you’ll keep it out of your brother’s business.”  He starts crying, wipes his eyes, fixes his glasses.  I say, “you will not touch your brother’s toothbrush.”

Then I see it:

So I freak.

I turn him around, pull him off the stool he’s standing on, and say over and over, “why are your eyes bleeding?”

He wipes them again.

More tears, darker bloody tears.

What on earth?!?!?!  I look at his hands.  There is more on his hands than he could have wiped in two wipes (yet not an extreme amount); but it looks partially dried.  I ask, “What is all this from?”

“My eyes bleeding.”

“They were bleeding before?  Why didn’t you tell me?”  I’m desperately checking his eyes, saying over and over, “why are your eyes bleeding?”

I wipe his tears.  Nothing.

I look more, pulling down the bottom lid carefully.  Nothing.  There is no evidence it ever was bleeding.  HUH?

And then it hits me.

We had had deviled eggs (made with guacamole instead of mayo, sprinkled with smoked paprika) for breakfast.  He had asked me for a napkin for his hands.  I had given him a wipe.  Guess he didn’t use it very well.  So when he rubbed his eyes, emotional because I had “fussed” at him, the paprika stained his tears, I guess. I told him to wash his hands well and try to calm down.

WAY too interesting!  SO much for getting my boring life back!  LOL

OB: Potty Training – The Method

REPOST:   The long awaited potty training method post :)

This is the method I used for my son when he was 25months old.  It is what I’ve used for numerous daycare kids (in-home), foster children, and I tweaked to make work in childcare centers.  The average child can do this at 16-30 months old.  If you try at the younger levels for a day or two and see they just aren’t getting it, try again in two or three months.  Almost every child will potty train by 2½ years old.  The longer you wait, the harder it is because 1) they have gotten used to sitting in their mess and 2) they start really ramping up the orneriness  :)

  • Daycare children have the benefit of positive peer pressure.
  • Most children have the benefit of wanting to please mom and dad.
  • Foster children have the challenge of this being a key thing they can control as well as often not having the secure attachment to their caregiver to try to please them over everything else.

Please keep these points in mind :)   Above all else, do NOT do the following if you are likely to be stressed out about the process.  It really is not beneficial for the parent (or parent figure) to yell, spank, punish, or even show disappointment.  And it can cause the process to take much longer.  Worse, it can cause not so fun issues like encopresis, long term holding it, etc.

Okay, so here we go:

GOAL:  To teach child 1) to recognize when he needs to go to the potty, 2) what happens after he has the need, and 3) how to handle things like clothing, wiping, etc.

Get Ready:  You’ll want to be ready for a party.

  • Snack foods (I call this the Cheetos method because Cheetos work well; but various snacks that will cause thirst such as crackers, snack mixes, etc would work).
  • Juice and water, whichever your child will drink more of.  The more you get the child to drink, the more successful you’ll be.
  • VERY watery foods like watermelon if you would like SOME healthiness in the method.
  • A child’s potty if that is what you want to use.  A stool for the big potty if you are using that.  If you are a daycare teacher, you have THE best set up already as you probably have child-sized, but real(!), potties.
  • Wipes, toilet paper, etc for cleaning kiddo
  • Cleaning supplies for messes.
  • Something for soiled undies and cloth cleaning supplies

Method:

  • Set up shop in bathroom or kitchen (a room easy to clean up messes in.  In summer, outside parties may work if you use a potty chair.
  • Keep upbeat
  • Tell child that we’re going to learn to use the potty
  • Eat and drink and be merry :)   This is THE key
  • Possibly teach a baby doll
  • Every 10-20 minutes, depending on the kid (15 is pretty normal), have child try to use the potty.
  • Child should be taught to pull his pants down himself.
  • If you are using a child-sized real potty or a stool in front of the real potty, it is easier to teach boys standing up.  Have them hold the seat up for this phase of learning.  That has them hitting the water with the pee :)   For a potty, boys and girls should be leaning slightly forward.  Boys should be encourage to hold himself down (We use anatomically correct wording here, but I’m not brave enough to say it on the internet as I don’t need wackos coming to be blog).
  • I teach boys a quick shake.  Girls learn to wipe.
  • If you are using a reward, give it after they potty (a resistant child may need some extra motivation for sitting on the potty even)

Other points:

  • If kiddo has an accident, help him clean it up; but let him do it.  He may need help manipulating wet clothing, but only help. Don’t do it for him.
  • Daytime training often comes before night time training.  If your child was night time dry before you tried, expect a few days of night time wetting but within a couple weeks, he’ll probably stay dry at night again.
  • Urine training sometimes comes before BM training.  Some kids can take an extra 3-6months for BMs; but in my experience, most don’t.

Why does this work?  Mostly because if a child is going to the potty every 15-ish minutes:

  • he is getting the sensation of needing to urinate many times close together.  He doesn’t have a lot of time to forget inbetween which will allow him to LEARN the sensation and REMEMBER it from one time to the next.
  • he is learning that when he gets that sensation, pee pee comes out of him.
  • he is getting A LOT of practice manipulating his shorts and shirts (girls also learn to manipulate dresses).

After 4 hours, your child will have had a LOT of opportunity to learn the above.  You should be able to tell by the end of the four hour party if you will need to do it again tomorrow or if he has gotten the idea.  I wouldn’t worry at all about nap time and bedtime for right now.  In the afternoon, you can offer the potty every 30-60 minutes (most children do beautifully with 45 minutes between tries).  Just go based on your child’s needs.

Success rate?  All but two children I’ve taught with this method has learned with few/no accidents within a week or two.  I have started working in a daycare (twos room) at the beginning of summer twice.  Both times, I’ve had all but 1 or 2 kids potty trained in the first week.  The hold outs were potty trained the next week. At home, it may be easier to get success sooner because you can do a full potty party for 1-3 days as necessary where daycare teachers have to tweak the party.  My son potty trained, at home, at 25months old, despite delays, with one potty party day, no daytime accidents from day four and on.

There were two long term hold outs.  Both were foster children with physical issues.  I’d still do the potty party for 2 or 3 days every couple months.  Just know that they do have control on this issue and these kids often take the control when they can.  Physical issues MAY hinder their ability to notice the sensation of needing to go OR to get to the potty in time.

I hope this helps a little :)

OB: Scared for a moment

Here is a blast from the past post, a post I wrote in the Summer of 2011, what seems like a lifetime ago.  Child was a newly turned 3yo at the time, nickname was Munchkin in real life and on my blog.  To me, if you will look back up to the start of the post after finishing, you’ll remember that this scenario all started with the child going from one naughty thing to another, things he knew not to do, but seemed unable to stop doing.  He just kept getting “in trouble.”  Why?  He had a lot going on in his head and heart at that moment!

“Munchkin, bottom” (meaning don’t stand on the couch)

“Munchkin, give your brother back that toy.”

“Munchkin, is that what you’re supposed to be doing?”

“Munchkin, stop already!”

“Okay, Munchkin, you come sit up on the couch next to mama.”

Munchkin pouts as I’m eating a late breakfast while the kids play so he thinks he’s just gonna sit there bored to death.  Of course, that is an option, but…

“J, will you please get those new puzzles for me?  I think they are on the bottom of the bookcase in the office.”

Puzzles retrieved.

“Look Munchkin.  Whatcha think?”

Munchkin pulls out a few baby animals and looks at them.  “Baby sad. Baby misses his mommy.”

“Tell baby it’s okay to miss mommy.”  He doesn’t.  I pick up a baby and have it whine, “me miss mommy.” Then I respond with, “oh, baby, I’m so sorry you are sad.  It is okay to miss your mommy.”

Munchkin continues to play with the animals and they continue to be sad.  I pick up the giraffe saying it’s the foster mommy and having it kiss the babies, telling them she loves them and it’s going to be okay. Munchkin gets VERY upset though!

“You STU-PIT!”

“The foster mommy is stupid?”

He hollers at the giraffe again saying over and over how it is stupid.

I tell him it’s okay to be mad and sad.  I have the giraffe kiss the baby lion.

“You don’t kiss baby!  You bad! You stu-pit!  You shut up.”

Over and over he tells the giraffe to shut up.  Finally, he puts his hand on her mouth.  I make a sound like I’m trying to talk through his hand.  He says, “you shut up, you stupit” and then grabs her neck and strangles her.

I say, “oh, you are very angry with the giraffe.  What did she do wrong?” Remember, I’m thinking the giraffe is the foster mom so in his world is ME.

He takes the giraffe from my hands and throws it on the floor.  He says she is stupid and dead.

I ask him who HE is. Is he the daddy?  the baby?

He replies, “I PAM!” in a big voice.

All of a sudden, I relaxed quite a bit.  At least he’s not thinking of killing ME.  I said, “oh, you are Pam?  Who is the giraffe?”

He says, “Mommy stupid and dead!”

He picks up the baby animals and loves on them.

We then pick up the animals and put them away.  We go to the store and go about the rest of our day.  He has trouble at meal times, but all other behavior is mostly fine outside of a few preschool incidents (like standing up in the grocery cart).  I guess he needed to play that out.

I hope he doesn’t think I will kill his mommy though.  I am sorry for what she has done to her kids.  I hope they never go back there again.  I hope they can heal from what she and daddy have done to them.  I just can’t easily make what has happened go away.