|The New Year's party settings and guests, Birdie (L), Hubby, and Princess (R)|
|Me in my styling 2013 |
party glasses decorated by Birdie
|The Kitty Ball|
"I will try to improve my kindness to others."
*cue sound of screeching brakes here* Whoa! What kid makes that their New Year's resolution?!!! We-ellllll... If you knew the whole story...
Before Winter Break, I found myself at a bit of a parenting loss. Princess was having, shall we say, some "behavior issues", with a capital I-S-S-U-E-S, in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Quite frankly, she was hammering the total stuffin' out of everything and everyone that crossed her path. As you might imagine, this was not going over very well at school.
Day after day, Princess was bringing home "action plans" describing her bad behavior at school and asking her to plan how she intended to avoid this behavior in the future. Her plan? "I will do my best not to (hit, kick, shove: fill in the blank with the daily assault of choice) as long as other kids will LEAVE ME ALONE." (I obviously had to erase this part of her action plan form, for fear it wouldn't be well-received.)
After these violent little fury storms were over, Princess was always very remorseful. She was full of anxiety over her outbursts, as well. Every year around the holiday season, P always has more trouble keeping herself together. There's a lot of pressure to be good during the holidays, an expectation which makes good behavior even harder to obtain for kids on the spectrum. Princess and Birdie both already feel the pressure to be "perfect"-- which, to them, translates to "like other kids"-- most the time, and when you add the whole Santa-is-watching-you garbage to the mix, you are creating an environment in which they are never. Going. To relax. Besides the need to be good to get good presents, there is additional stress created by the general buzz of excitement charging up the rest of their classmates during that time. Take a room of already antsy third graders, then hop them up on seasonal holiday treats, Christmas presents and lights and trees, family visits, holiday shows that they stay up late to see, and a long school break in the near future, and the resulting chaos is almost too much for even the teachers to deal with, much less our friends on the spectrum. Kids that my daughters normally love drive them crazy during this time of year. (Princess and Prince Charming actually called it quits during this time! They still haven't made up because "he's still too crazy to be around right now, Mom! He's turning into a regular boy!") And kids that they don't normally love? Well, they send my girls into fits of insanity during the holidays!
I'm not saying all this to excuse Princess's aggressive behavior-- homegirl needed some consequences for her actions-- I'm simply saying that she was working overtime trying to diffuse all the sensory input she was getting at school. And home. And everywhere else she went. And all that work wasn't enough. She was failing miserably at keeping her goop together, the proof of which was in the pile of disciplinary papers stacking up on our dinner table. What was worse, it seemed that the action plans were actually making the behaviors escalate. I say this because, once Princess had calmed down from being in trouble and moved on, she still had to go back and fill out an action plan later, which would dredge up the whole event again. After five action plans in three days, I knew I had to do something different, because the paper discipline was just pissing my Princess off. And we all know that a pissed off Princess just ain't gonna be good for anyone.
After the third action plan, Hubby and I racked our brains trying to come up with an effective line of discipline that would keep P's aggression in check without exacerbating the problem-- 'cuz like I said earlier, homegirl needed some consequences. All the toe-stomping, kicking, shrieking, pushing and shoving that she'd been doling out at school in the hallway couldn't go unchecked. (It has become painfully clear-- and I mean that literally-- to everyone that knows P at school, that walking in line in the hall is NOT the highlight of her day. Therefore, walking in line also sucks for everyone else in her class.) We had discussed taking away her prized stuffies and many of the toys in her room, but Princess has proven time and again that taking her possessions is of little consequence to her. Sure, she gets angry when you first take her stuff, but it's off her radar in less than a day. We discussed grounding her from her tablet computer, but again we had seen poor results with that line of discipline in the past. Finally, at my wits end, I told Princess that if she couldn't act like a lady, she wouldn't be allowed to dress like a lady at school. One more action plan and she wouldn't be allowed to wear skirts and dresses for a whole week! The look on her face made it clear that I had struck a nerve. You see, Princess had worn pants only once in the 70 days we'd been in school, and that was only because she was going on a field trip. Every other day had been frilly and girly skirts or dresses. No substitutes.
Well, the very next day-- a Friday, Princess brought home Action Plans Four and Five. Needless to say, she was not happy when I kept my promise that she could not wear skirts to school for the following week. Actually, at first she was livid. By the time the weekend was over, however, she had resigned herself to her punishment. On Monday, P went to school and managed not to get in trouble. Yay! On Tuesday, Princess reported that wearing pants was "very helpful, Mom, even though I HATE them. I baaaa-lled up my fists, and preeeee-ssed them by my sides when I started getting mad, and that's when I felt those AWFUL PANTS! I DON'T LIKE WEARING PANTS! So I shut up so I wouldn't. Get. In TROU-BUUUUUUHLE! And I didn't!!" *cue excited machine gun noise*
That was the moment where this momma *thumbs point back at me* did a very enthusiastic double fist-pump, followed by my happy dance (which I am sure looked like some sort of seizure to all who witnessed it)! Woo hoo!! Success! And all it took was an un-ladylike wardrobe change...
|I think I can... I think I can...|
And-- so far-- she has! (I am seriously knocking on wood here.)
Ten days into the new year, and already Princess has done better at keeping her resolution than most adults I know. It also seems that Kitty Ball may just be the thing to wish upon, since we are action plan-free in 2-0-1-3. *knocking on wood-- again*
It also seems that wearing pants may have replaced mac & cheese as the new greatest disciplinary tactic of all Crazy Train tactics. But it's like I always say: Whatever works, y'all. I'll take it!