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.

Advertisements

OB: Reality Check

The following post was written in the fall of 2011, about six months after we were licensed.  Much of it is still true though I don’t think I’m nearly as irritated or dysregulated or overwhelmed by it these days.  It just is.  

Okay, there are some things you simply do not think of when you go into fostering.

  • It is not the baby that keeps you up all night.  It is the 4 yr old, the 19month old, the 3yr old, and the 5yr old…rarely the 7month old.  I put these in order of who keeps me up, wakes me up, challenges me most at 4am.  As you can see, the 7month old who has slept through the night since the 3rd week she was here is not why I’m so tired.  It’s the rest of them (primarily the toddler and the 4yr old though).
  • Poop happens.  Really.  Of course, you expect it with the baby and toddler.  You may be less thrilled with it, but you expect it while potty training.  But potty “accidents” (quoted because they are rarely, if ever, not done on purpose) are not exactly rare.
  • Paperwork galore.  If you thought the 153 pages of paperwork you did during training and the homestudy process was a lot, don’t think you’re going to be done with it anytime soon.  Some paperwork you’ll deal with:
    • medication logs
    • weekly/monthly reports on each child (mine run 4 to 8 pages single spaced)
    • documentation of every doctor, dental, vision, psychology appointment
    • fire drills
    • training – it was 40 hours to get licensed and 30 per year to stay licensed. BTW, you do it the first year also so will have about 70 hours within the first 12 months.
    • court papers
    • school binders – each child gets a separate binder with their school related things such as report cards, attendance reports, ARDs, as well as things like their birth certificate, social security card, and immunization records.
    • incident reports (accidents, behavioral situations, etc)
    • emails to teachers, caseworkers, agency workers, licensing worker, doctors, therapists, etc
    • updated records (background checks, etc)
  • Behavior.  Seriously, there is a LOT of behavior from some of these kids.  I think I’ll stop there for today.  Please be ready to deal with what may be a lot of behavior.  Some will be serious. Some will be dangerous (or worse). Some will be annoying.  Some will be constant.  There is a LOT of behavior with some of these kids!
  • Visits galore.  You’ll have:
    • Visits with parents
    • Doctor visits (includes dental, vision, medical, specialist, etc)
    • parent-teacher conferences, probably more than the average parent
    • caseworker visits (and in our case, a visiting caseworker because the official caseworker lives so far away)
    • Therapy visits (speech, occupational, physical therapy as well as play therapy, behavioral therapy, etc)
    • agency visits (licensing, agency worker if you have one, etc)
  • People’s rude comments:
    • Are they all yours?
    • Do you run a daycare?
    • You asked for it.
    • Is it worth it?
    • They have such significant issues (this is usually not said this way.  It is usually said in regards to a specific situation or because you were dumb enough to vent to a family member or friend)
    • derogatory comments about doing it for the money
    • hurtful comments about the children’s parents

This post isn’t to complain.  I am sitting here at 6:30 in the morning having been up since 4 with children.  There has not be a ten minute break in those 2½ hours.  I guess I can be thankful for enough two and five minute ones to write this post.  Yesterday, I got  court papers that surprised me.  I had to send in approximately 20 pages of documentation yesterday and I’ll do at least 5 more pages this morning.  I did 3½ hours of training yesterday and will try to do similarly again this weekend.  No doubt there will be behavior (probably extra since they refuse to sleep). And I really want to get through these books and videos I believe will make a huge difference for the kids long term if I can implement it well.  I gotta keep trying!

I think I glorified what the days and weeks would look like before I started fostering.  I pictured parenting during the day and having from 8pm to 6am free for my time and sleep except for an occasional illness.  I pictured some hard work, but mostly happy fun-filled days.  I never dreamed of so much stress, lack of sleep, mountains of paperwork, or rudeness from others.

Is it worth it?  ABSOLUTELY.  I have five little people whose eyes I will gladly look into when the sun comes up who definitely make it worth it.  And then I’m hoping for a nap 🙂

If he’s not, he can’t!

Okay, plain and simple truth:

A person does as well as he can do in the situation.  If he isn’t doing better, it is because he can’t do better.  When he can do better, he will do better.

The same is true of Mamas also.  The difference is that we have a world of resources at our fingertips.  We can see a psychologist.  We can find a specialist.  We can read another book.  We can read a couple more blogs.  We can ask on message boards.  We can join support groups.  We can go to another training.  We can practice alternative options we hear about.

It isn’t easy being the mom of a hurt child.

Today, on more than one occasion, I told myself, “it’s not about me.”  I can have my feelings, thoughts, fears.  But I have to rise above them (not deny them!) in order to find ways to do better and better every day with my children, all of them.

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 🙂

Homeschool Days Aren’t All Perfect

So, what do you think of when you think about homeschooling? I have a picture perfect day set out in my head. It includes lots of reading and laughing together. It has us sitting around the wall maps pointing out places and facts about those places. It involves activities such as pretend archaeological digs and making soups people may have made in the 1500s. The daily walk, playing with snails, practicing handstand push-ups, reading about dinosaurs, coloring, writing letters to grandma, and the like are sprinkled through the day. At some point, each child has a short amount of computer time, each having his/her own programs (abcya.com, EPGY, Reading Eggs, DreamBox, etc)

And many days seem just like that. We have great materials like Elemental Science and Story of the World History that include reading from books, art projects, hands-on activities, even getting a new pet (Elemental Science is why we got Diego and Eeyore, our bettas). I love spending all this time with my children living life, learning in a low-key manner, and soaring.

But sometimes, homeschool days aren’t perfect. Two of my children had a couple rough days a couple weeks ago which made the rest of our homeschooling experience less than wonderful. Getting into things, having attitude problems, intentionally doing work incorrectly (really people?), trying to control things not for them to control, keeping a nose in someone else’s business, etc. It has been an exhausting week.

Of course, even with some behaviors, even school behaviors, we still had nice moments. I’m hoping next week is a picture perfect homeschool week though, one with lots of the good stuff and little, if any, of the yuck.

Today was a great day, an excellent way to finish out a week. After the children were in bed, I texted a friend about how my life, some days, seems about perfect. I have a beautiful large family I can enjoy more often than not. How fortunate I really am!

Did I tell you?

So several weeks ago, we were at gymnastics, where we send way too much time (the hazards of having a competitive gymnast).  My son was playing with a few other kids.  Towards the end of class, one of the little girls (age 9) comes up to her mom and whispers in her ear.  The mom says something that suggests to me that T-lo may have done something.  I ask.  The mom tries to minimize it but says that T-lo bit her daughter.

SAY WHAT?!?!!  My almost FIVE year old bit someone?  What on earth????

I called T-lo over to me.  He knew, right away he was in trouble.  He admits he bit her.  In a quite exasperated voice, I ask, “WHY on earth would you bite B?”  1 mess of a kid

“I really like pink.”

I had a slight giggle as B’s mom turns away from T-lo cracking up.  I compose myself quickly.

“Look!  You made A cry because you bit B!”

A was *not* making it easy for me not to laugh too.  Seriously, what kind of reason is that?

I had T-lo apologize and sent him on his way.

A turns and says, “he was just so sincere.”

Now it is a little joke that T-lo may bite you if you’re wearing pink.

Crazy!

In other news, he’s picking up his phonics and sight words.  Yes, we homeschool AND learn high frequency words though we don’t consider some of them sight words like schools do.  For example, “am” is not a sight word.  Other high frequency words that aren’t sight words include that, but, make, first, and down, to name a few.  For words like those, we simply discuss the rule.  They’ll eventually get them from exposure, discussion, or phonics.  I’m fine with that.  I’d rather them become stronger readers than doing it earlier.  I noticed working in the public school that the kindergartners seemed more capable than I’d expect, but that that 3rd graders (and especially 11th graders) were significantly less capable of reading well than I’d expect.  I really believe that is because kids aren’t getting a firm foundation.   So we focus on phonics.

OB: “Babying” Older Children

This is something I’m needing to focus on right now due to one of my children having significant trouble and having some newbie foster kiddos.  So it seemed like a good time to repost it 🙂

How we “baby” big kids (ages 3-8):

*I’m CONSTANTLY on the floor, making it easy for kids to come to me whether for a quick tickle or head rub or game of footsies or whatever.

*I rock them…a lot! When rocking, I pet them, run my fingers through their hair, tickle lightly, tell them what I would have done had I known them (or was their mommy) when they were a baby.

*We use dum-dum lollypops for a bottle for a few reasons.  The biggest was that I worried what the agency and caseworkers would think about using a real bottle.  But this has the benefit of being sweet also which is an attachment key.

*Softness, sweetness, warmth, closeness, etc are all good.

*BTW, my kids LOVE green smoothies. Goodness, a “milk shake” for breakfast? Mommy is the best! My three hadn’t even ever had watermelon. Again, healthy and anytime? AWESOME!

*My kids, especially one of them, have taken it further, such as: First words, first steps, first hop, baby sentences, etc. He does it even with mistakes. Like his first steps are wobbly and he falls down. I praise, encourage, help, fix (pretend) boo-boos, etc.

*We play lots of baby games (peekaboo, this little piggy, etc). A lot of finger 
plays and such are fun too. And reading is a very typical thing for parents to do with children. Our play therapist gave us other ideas like “close
your eyes” and then I lightly touch them with a cotton ball or we blow a cotton
ball back and forth (and you can even do that with more than one child). Just
sit close.

*Lotion and a “family scent” are good ideas also. I have multiple chemical sensitivities so I have to be careful, but….My kids started really responding to cinnamon. Well THAT is easy. I can put a small pot of boiling water with cinnamon in it on the stove. I can put cinnamon in muffins, waffles, pancakes, etc.

For me, having babies in the house has been SOOOOOOOO helpful! I’ve had my three since April 2011. I have had a baby/toddler in the house all but 4 months since I’ve gotten them. It helps me see all the fun, silly, touching, bonding, etc things I can do. We NATURALLY do those things with babies. It is a lot harder to remember with kindergarteners. Having those  reminders, I can turn around and do similarly with the big kids. Sometimes, it feels like I have septuplets rather than one baby and some bigger kids.

BTW, one other thing we do is MUCH greater than typical supervision. This was necessary due to behavior at one point; but even when it could be loosened, we didn’t go all the way to average. Having them close gives opportunity to for coaching, helping, guiding, etc. It also gives a lot of opportunity to touch,rub heads, tickle behind ears, quick kisses to the tops of heads, silly words, etc. 🙂

Everything They Do is WRONG!

So on a message board, a few people were talking about how everything a foster child does, when they go into a new home, is wrong.  They want the wrong things, say the wrong things, do the wrong things, think the wrong things, wear the wrong things, etc.  This really hit home for me because I really do feel like I’m correcting kids all the time at first.  And I know some of those things are just family preferences, not “the end of the world.”

  • speech, grammar – “Will I have some more? instead of “May I”?  being unintelligible to some degree or another
  • manners – please, thank you, yes/no instead of yeah/uh-uh
  • social skills (sharing, talking with others, etc)
  • aggression – verbal (name calling, cursing, etc) and physical (hitting, biting, pinching)
  • at the table – using utensils, sitting up straight, eating speed, eating real food
  • hair and dress – unkempt, inappropriate sayings, etc
  • LOUD, very LOUD, making noises CONSTANTLY, yelling, not even knowing HOW to whisper
  • self-care – pottying, dressing, bathing, etc.
  • bed – bedtime, sleeping through night, etc
  • cultural differences to navigate (not necessarily change)
  • defiance – blatant, hidden, passive, just hollering no over and over

Obviously I have young children.  I can imagine there would be other issues with older kids.  The amount of time on screens, inappropriate clothing, wanting to do things that kids shouldn’t at all (like drugs, be with an adult boyfriend, etc) or can’t in foster care, etc.

We have new children.  Ace is 4½, Champ is almost 3, and The Baby is 6mo this week.  These kids have fewer of these “wanna change them” things than most.  I am not worrying about how loud Ace is, for example, as I figure that is my issue right now.  And I kinda find Champ’s mouthiness cute (though I won’t let him know that!).  I do have to address Ace’s social issues as we have a lot of kids.  And we are gently working on both boys’ self-care skills.

Mostly, I want kids to know they are safe here.  Sometimes that heads off certain issues but causes others temporarily.

Anyway, I think the main takeaway is that even if I would like many things to change, that it is important the CHILDREN don’t feel like I want to change everything about them.  Can you imagine thinking that everything you say, do, think, want, wear, etc is wrong?  Can you imagine feeling nothing is ever good enough? Some things will need to be addressed in time.  Very few things need to be addressed the first week, be addressed in a punitive manner, etc.   In time, you’ll find that some things don’t need to be addressed at all as that is just how it is or will work out itself. But regardless, it is probably wise to be mindful of how much you’re trying to change “overnight.”

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: 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.