April 27, 2015


I recently attended a workshop on challenging behaviors. While I didn't find the golden key to unlock that one magical answer, I did find some fairly universal truths for all challenging behaviors. I went with my buddy specifically in mind (because he has the most challenging behaviors) but the points that stuck with me really work for all my kids.

Behavior is a way of communication. All challenging behaviors have a function and purpose from the child's perspective. Challenging behaviors result from unmet needs. We all have behavior that other's might think is insane, but they work for us. That is why we continue to do them. And we all know that changing your own behavior is a really hard thing to do. I'm working on listening from my heart and really trying to hear what my kids are telling me.

Having a voice is so important. My buddy lacks a voice that comes quickly and easily therefore his challenging behaviors are more extreme. I need to hear what his actions are telling me and then try to teach him to engage in a behavior that will serve the same function but in a more acceptable manner.

One point the presenter made really hit home for me. She said that instead of doing things to the person or for the person we should be doing it with the person.

I am so guilty of this. Sometimes it's easier for me to just do everything myself. It takes time and patience to let little people help. My buddy loves letting others do the hard work. I can now see how this could really limit him later in life. I want him to be independent.

Each person is capable of learning. You have to assume competence and have high expectations. Don't close doors that don't need to be closed yet. My buddy might never drive a car. But then again, he might. There is no need for me to close that door when he is only 6. I have learned in the past 6 years that there will be great disappointments when he can't do something but there are also amazing moments where he blows my expectations out of the water.

Another point the presenter made that resonated in me was when she talked about how easy it is to stop going places and how quickly and easily our child's world can shrink. When we go somewhere and challenging behaviors arise, it can be frustrating and embarrassing. It can take a LOT of extra effort just to complete a simple errand. It's so easy just to never bring your child out. I don't want that. I want my kids to experience a wide variety of places and people.

Now it's up to me to really listen to what the behavior is telling me and come up with ways to answer their needs by changing how we do things. Then keep trying. Eventually we will have many successful outings with minimal challenging behaviors. If I keep my buddy away from the grocery store because he runs off and throws food out of the cart, he will never learn how to navigate the grocery store. And let's face it, the grocery store is a big part of life. So maybe for now, he only comes when we have a few items to get and he gets to actively participate - stopping the boredom and creating the fun next to me so he won't want to run off.

It's not easy. I don't think it will ever be easy. But I am confident that I can do better. I want all my kids to fly.

April 21, 2015

April break

We had an amazing April break. I was dreading it. It can be really difficult managing three kids on my own when we go out... and staying home all day makes us crazy. I tested the waters with a little children's museum. It went well. We visited a new park with no incidents. We even had to leave the playground to walk down a little hill to get to the swings, explored a bridge and went back to the playground.

My buddy was a rock star all week. I've been learning as well. He needs a lot of reminding when a transition is about to happen. He needs to be able to have a little say in the matter - for example I let him choose the last thing he wants to do before we leave. Before he does whatever the last activity is, I tell him straightforward what will happen next, trying hard not to be too wordy. "First you slide. Then we walk to the car."

There was one time where I pushed too hard and he melted down. I wish I could go back and handle it differently.

The girls had haircuts. I told my buddy over and over that it was just for big sis and rara. He just had to watch. Normally he wouldn't have even walked into the hairdressers. He explored around for a while and sat and played the iPad while I hung out with the ladies. Then we played hairdresser (aka stick every sticker we got at the hairdresser all over your baby).

Then I started to get all sorts of confident in my abilities and we headed to an even bigger park that had animals to pet and a pond and playground and grassy areas and a picnic area. I even packed a lunch and we made a whole day of it. We wandered from one activity to the next all staying together. I wasn't stressed out in the least. I even managed to pull out my big camera and take some fun pictures.

The only way to really celebrate such a great week was with some ice cream.

PS. Not to worry. There were still plenty of antics. Like ice cream in your little sister's hair and a carrot up your nose. Perhaps a half eaten bowl of Cheerios went flying across the table covering the wall, chair and floor with a milky mess. Toys were thrown. Tantrums were thrown. Research was done on vehicles with 3 rows of seats because the physical abuse in the backseat is at an all time high. But those are all typical behaviors of three rambunctious kids. I'll take it.