If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

When is a reward chart not a reward chart?

I had our half term meeting about child 4 the week before the holidays. After the two weeks of agressive behaviour, life is settling down, now instead of aggression and violence usually directed to his peers we have defiance against the staff. The class teacher is managing him well, but the support staff struggle, generally because they try to talk him into doing things, rather than expecting him too. Something the class teacher and Sen Co will work on with them. In fact the teacher is pretty amazing in that she will try something and if it doesn't work she will go back to the drawing board, speak to other staff or us and try something different. If something works fantastic but the minute it stops having the desired effect she will rethink and come up with something new to try. Academically child 4 is doing well but I worry that if we do not resolve his behaviours, his academic ability will suffer in the future.

This week the school have tried a sort of sticker chart, (I know, I know....it sounds like a reward chart and I guess in a way it is one.)  Child 4's teacher has noticed that he loves stickers, if she says "I wonder who will get my sticker for sitting nicely?" He sits beautifully and then is overjoyed to receive a sticker for doing as asked. So, she has created a special sheet full of pictures depicting his day. Every time he completes a section of the day without hurting someone or being rude he gains a sticker. It can be just sitting nicely or moving to an activity when asked. In fact he can't fail to gain a sticker. There is no penance for not getting a sticker they just move on to the next part of the day. By the end of the day he has a sheet full of stickers, they just focus on the good stuff. So far it is working.

 On Thursday he came out of school saying that the teacher needed to speak to me, "uh oh now what" was my understandable response. Well, on Thursday he got through the whole day without hurting anyone! That is the first time, since he started school last September. A whole day and he was so proud of himself. He couldn't wait to tell his siblings, his Daddy and his Nanna and Grandad. I am not one for reward charts, in fact I don't think any adoptive parent is, anything that may set up our children to fail is not of any use, however a reward chart that is not a reward chart but a sticker chart that celebrates the little successes and leads to a major success is something that I have thoroughly enjoyed. I know that the sticker chart life span could well be short but if it means that child 4 can celebrate the joy of making it through a day without resorting to violence then it shows that he is finding his way to manage his anger and that can only be a good thing.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Growing up is tough

Bullying is an insidious thing and it can have long reaching tentacles that invade not just the life of the person affected but also their family and friends. When you are a teenage boy loaded with testosterone and going through puberty life at home can be tricky at best and down right miserable at worst. Even when the bullying has been stopped there is a residual victim mentality left, especially if there is low level "p**s taking still going on. The children probably aren't even aware they are doing it, it just becomes habit.
For us though it can make our life feel like a minefield of emotions, one out of place comment and our teenager sees red, I mean a blinding red, one where he cannot control himself. He has to make everyone else as miserable as himself. So he hits his younger sister and intimidates his younger brother often reminding him that he is adopted. He will swear and be right up in our faces.
The knock on effect is huge. Both of the girls are scared of him when he gets angry, his brother moves directly into fight mode none of which help as it feeds the anger and his power kick. He will not respond to us his parents except to shout, swear or be defiant. Of course, once everything has calmed down he is sincerely apologetic but sorry is a word it doesn't repair the damage already done.
We have moved into quick, decisive but appropriate consequences and are hoping that this will help him control the rage.

One of the downsides of secondary school is that you are who you begin those pre-teen years as. The persona of year 7, is the one you have to carry throughout that part of your education. Your peers seem unable to allow you to grow, change and flourish, to become the person you are going to be. These are the years where education has such an important role to play, how you behave, how you are treated and how you are educated and not just in academia help to mould you. If you start this time wrong footed or different it is so hard to mature, to find your way. You sometimes fall into a victim mentality and that is so hard to break, you assume that people are out to get you even when they are not.
I have yet to work out how to deal with this. I listen, ask if my help is required to intervene or sometimes I email the school regardless.

We don't have long to go now and child 2 can study his sixth form years elsewhere. Where he can be who he is today and not who he was 2,3 or 5 years ago. He can be the funny, bright, articulate good looking boy that I spend my time with!