Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Loving the Difficult Child

I noticed a theme in my favorite blogs this week. So while it is purely coincidental that I am blogging this... I think it is entirely appropriate. Especially since today I have been dealing with some VERY difficult children. 

When I was mapping out what lectures I wanted to go to at the FPEA convention, I circled the lectures I was interested in for each hour... When I read, Loving and Teaching the Difficult Child by Beverly Bradley, I circled the title 3 times! As you may know, I have a difficult child. 

The most important thing that I got from her whole speech was, "Pray." This is where we all need to begin in dealing with our difficult child! "Pray first thing in the morning. Pray for understanding. Pray for help." Go to God first because He understands what it is like to deal with a difficult child, after all, He has been dealing with us since He created us! 

The first thing we need to do, is understand. Understand their behaviors and tendencies. Understand their diagnosis. I know that in my personal experience, ever since I understood my son's diagnosis', it has been easier for me to cope with his behaviors. 

We also need to understand what they need. I once told a fellow homeschool mom/occupational therapist about my short lessons. I explained to her that if they finish early they are allowed to play until the timer goes off. She asked me, what happens if the don't finish early? I told her we move on. She explained that my son had different needs. He NEEDS to get up and move. Especially after 20 minutes of seat work. Now we take a "play break" after each lesson. 

ADHD children are impulsive. 1 Corinthians 10:24 says "Nobody should seek his own good, but that of others." That is a great verse for my son to know but it is good for us as well. We need to ask ourselves, "Will this benefit anyone else?" In other words discipline for them not you! Teach them that being kind is always a benefit. Oh and this part I REALLY loved and am going to implement at home and in the classes I teach; When Beverly needs to change her children's behavior, she holds up 2 fingers, like a peace sign. Her children know those 2 fingers represents the greatest commandments. 
Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
ADHD kids are known for their inability to focus. I get very frustrated when I have had to repeat myself several times because my 7yo can not focus on what I am saying. Beverly said these children have a hard time tuning things out and focusing. If your voice isn't safe, your kids will tune you out. Children will attend and focus better when they feel safe. Stay calm and don't over explain yourself. Simply state was is required and in my experience try to maintain eye contact. I point to my eyes. If I am wearing my glasses I tap my fingers onto my glasses. I also ask them to repeat what I just said. 

All children need consistency but none more than children with special needs. Keep your expectations simple and clear. Also keep them stable! You can't keep changing the rules on the poor child. Set a routine. Make sure you have planned appropriately for time. Don't fuss at your kids all the way out the door because you did not allow for enough time in the morning routine. I am so glad she didn't ask people to raise hands when she said that because I would have had to, would you?

Be sure that you have planned some form of physical exercise during the day; trampoline, playground, pool, &etc. 

They need tactile stimulation. ADHD kids fidget because they need to, they are not trying to annoy you. Allow them to doodle, wiggle, bounce, or whatever they need to do in order to listen. 

They need to see progress. Failure is common. You need to encourage the smallest success! 

They need to own their responsibilities. Say something like, "I believe you want to do the right thing." Appreciate them! 

Some kids need transition time. Give them a 5 minute warning. 

They may need to avoid stimulating situations. Today I tried to take my 7yo to the museum. I thought it would be fun for us. I knew that he was having a rough day already and I thought he would benefit from getting out. It was overwhelming for him. He was unable to control himself. It turned out to be a miserable experience for the whole family. I am not saying that we will never go to the museum again but I need to respect the fact that some days he just can't handle that situation. 

Some ADHD kids need help falling asleep, not mine, but some. Actually my 5yo is the one who could stay up all night if I let him. Beverly recommended listening to learning CDs. I just found this AWESOME site today that has free audio books to download. If you have an MP3 player in your child's room they can listen to a story as they doze off to sleep. 

They need an appropriate teaching style. This is why we homeschool. Auditory, visual, kinesthetic,... Use all these methods in your teaching style and school will be much more fun. 

They need you to help them discover their strengths. Everyone has them! 

They need you to choose your battles. 

They need you to be someone who believes in them!!! 

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