Every day the wonderful happens…

and I'm here to blog about it.

Morning Milestone October 11, 2012

Filed under: Matthew,special needs — Elizabeth @ 9:20 AM

Kindergarten has been going great–for both boys, but surprisingly well for Matthew.  We have only had one morning that he has woken up and cried about having to go.  But a cupful of my coveted carbonated water helped turned his attitude around very quickly (it’s the closest thing he gets to a soda and he loves it!).

The one problem has been morning drop off.  He cries every morning.  And I’m not just talking about crying.  He refuses to get out of the car and stays frozen in his seat.  Parents aren’t allowed out of their cars at drop off and I finally had to contact the special education department about having an aide there specifically to drag help him out of the car.

Even with the aide there, the shenanigans continued.  But at least she was there to get him out, and help him with his backpack (which is another problem–the backpack is heavy and he is so tiny!!  He only just now has grown out of his 24 month pants!).

I felt like the crying was simply becoming a habit.  I could tell his heart wasn’t in it anymore, that he was doing it just to do it.  And I knew we just needed to break the cycle.  So at the advice of his preschool aide from last year, I decided to institute a sticker chart.  Every day he doesn’t cry or whine at drop off, he earns a sticker, and after 5 stickers he gets a reward (which will probably be a piece of homemade chocolate).

Let me do a little sidebar here on why it has taken me so long to do this.  It is very hard for me to “reward” behavior that I think should be expected.  For instance, I never understood parents who paid their kids for good grades.  I also didn’t feel that it was fair for Matthew to be earning chocolate when Isaac does this without thinking about it.  But in the end, they are totally different kids, and I have to constantly remind myself that I can’t hold Matthew to the same standards that I hold Isaac.  I want to.  But I can’t.

So this morning, we talked about the stickers.  And how he was going to be brave.

And we pulled up to the school, and the aide approached our van, and I told her, I think he is going to do it by himself today.

And for the first time in 39 days, he climbed out of the van on his own (with a slightly wobbly chin).

And everybody on the sidewalk cheered.

When you have a child with special needs, the milestones are very different.  But usually a lot sweeter.

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7 Responses to “Morning Milestone”

  1. aunt chris Says:

    Proud of Matthew –and Mommy!! I will give you some chocolate next time I see you.

  2. Yvonne Says:

    Way to go, Matthew! We had a similar issue with Natalie – smack talk in the morning, tears and the death grip at drop off. Since we went through this during summer VBS and had issues last spring at the Y too, I finally declared it time for an outside assessment because I wasn’t sure if it was separation anxiety or just control (and why all the control issues – that is another story). The counselor was very helpful because she affirmed what we were doing (didn’t realize how much I needed that) but also suggested the sticker chart. I was doubtful – aren’t I bribing her? But her point was it is a way to encourage positive, productive behavior. And when you can, set it up before the situation presents itself (as in, set up the system at a time other than when he or she is in tears at drop off. Offering a reward during the tears is bribing). So, we did it and it has made preschool so much better. There have been days with some smack and one day where I had to peel her off of me, but I was surprised it hasn’t been more. I think for N it was about giving her control again. 5 stickers and she receives a reward – going to bed 15 minutes later, an extra book at night, a piece of gum – things like that. All of this to say – I think you did great. I understand your concerns but sometimes, putting it back in their court makes such a difference. And great to include the aide too! Oh, and on the one kid but not the other thing – I made sticker charts for each child with different things that they each needed to work on. So then each child can earn 5 stickers and receive a small reward. They each have something they need to work on, it is just different things. Happy Thursday!

  3. Jerusha Says:

    Yay for mommy wisdom…yay for Matthew!

  4. Amen to that, sister! Flexibility in parenting sometimes seems like caving….but I find that it gives me the most opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t. Awesome to hear this news!

  5. Abby Says:

    Dang it. Why do I read this while I’m at school? I know better! Crying. Hooray for Matthew!

  6. Jenny Says:

    cheering right along with them 🙂

  7. So glad to hear that you’ve fostered a positive change. This reward chart system has had me curious since a lot of adoptive moms have been talking about it lately. Sounds like it could be effective for us too. So would you say they this situation is one where its okay for him to have control as long as he’s making good behaviour choices?


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