Friday, October 29, 2010

A Case of the Naughties

Late last night, I read the post by Tiffany on her blog, Just a Little Bit Downsy, about her daughter having a bad afternoon. I was way too sleepy to comment on it then, but I thought about it as I drifted off to sleep. Gave me time to decide I'd like to touch on it here.

For the most part, Sean is becoming pretty easy-going and doesn't get into as much trouble as he did as a toddler. However, he has his triggers, just like anyone else does. Things that set him off and bring out the grumpy, stubborn, and naughty parts of his personality. Doug and I have gotten really good at reading his signs and try to work with him to avoid his triggers. Mainly because when something sets him off, he doesn't understand us when we try to reason him out of the situation. And if we can't talk him out of, he turns into wet noodle boy that won't budge.

Here's some typical Sean cause and effects.

Cause: Loud noises, such as screaming children, over-crowded areas, fireworks, sirens, loud music. Effect: covers his ears, will not move, screams "no! too loud!", crying until removed from situation. This makes it hard for him to go places like the school cafeteria when it's full of students talking, even the Buddy Walk is difficult for him.

More recently, he has been lashing out at Ella because she likes to shriek at the top of her lungs. He's started hitting and pushing her away from him when she does that. Obviously, we don't approve of her shrieking, because it hurts every one's ears, but we also don't approve of Sean hitting someone because they are too loud. We are actively working on teaching both of them appropriate behaviors.

Cause: being asked to do something (like get ready for school) when he's still tired. Sean is a slow riser, but if we get him up too early then he doesn't get enough sleep and drags on even more. Effect: stubbornness, refusal to cooperate or independently do what is asked of him, snappy. Sean isn't at the point where he just willingly gets ready for school every day. Some days are better than others and some days are much worse than others. In general, it's a daily struggle to get ready on time. We do a lot of the process for him. He won't feed himself in the morning (or he'd do it at a snail's pace) so we spoon feed him. He likes to refuse to go to the bathroom, so we take him to the potty and sit him on it every morning. Once he goes, he's fine to take care of business and move on. He just doesn't want to do things on our time schedule. Same goes for teeth brushing, he will do it himself, but needs us to prompt it. Sometimes he dresses himself, but most of the time we help him. He's very capable of dressing himself, again it's a time thing.

Cause: people that won't do what he tells them to do. Effect: he reflects that behavior back. Example: he likes to walk down the front stairs with me, wants me to follow his step pattern. If I don't he wont's walk down the stairs and I have to physically carry him to the car. He makes up lots of walking rules, wants people to follow his way or he won't do it. He has to be the one to open the door first. Lots of crumbling behavior when people don't do things his way.

This is one that we really work on. We don't want to constantly bow to his will and do everything his way. We need him to learn that everyone has their own pace and way of doing things. Yet, on the other hand, we really can't make the world move at his pace. Concepts like let's hurry, we're going to be late don't matter to him. I'm hoping that eventually he outgrows this and understands more about time.

I think so many discipline issues are based on communication. When you have a child with limited communication skills, it's understandable that you'll have more behavior problems. When I get discouraged about this, I find myself looking at older kids/adults with Down syndrome and how they behave for inspiration. I clearly remember thinking "I am never going to be able to make it through a grocery shopping outing with this child!" Yet, now he is a great shopping companion when we are one on one.

Like with all children, I think the motto "this too shall pass" applies. I hope so, that's many a mama's mantra!


Tiffany said...

Thank you for sharing! Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone!

Lisa said...

Thank you for this post, Deborah. I've been thinking a lot about discipline and how it will relate to Finn. At two, he's in many ways already willful and has a naughty streak. He gets into EVERYTHING. some of his favorite activities are getting into the recycling bin in the kitchen and strewing its contents all over the floor, lamp-tipping, and tossing shoes and various toys over the baby gate and into the dog's lair to be vigorously chewed up and destroyed by said dog. I am convinced that Finn understands "No" at this point, but he's stubborn, and I wonder if he forgets - like, if he's approaching the recycling bin with that glint in his eye and I say "No, Finn," he will stop, but a little while later, he's back to it. Is it because he forgets, or because he's willful? It's hard to know with a child with extremely limited communication skills. I keep telling myself that disciplining Finn is just like disciplining my other kids, it's just going to take more patience.

Anyway, sorry for the novel. This post struck a chord with me.

And that picture of Sean? It's just about exactly how I picture Finn in a couple of years :)

SunflowerStories said...

Lisa, Sean was very naughty as a toddler, as in you could never leave him unsupervised because he'd get into things that you'd never imagine him thinking of. Like, if I left hm quietly watching a movie and took a shower, I'd get out 10 min.s later and find that he'd pulled every dvd off the shelf & taken each dvd out of the case, then slid them across the wood floors to shove them under a rug. Like 50 dvds at once. And he'd obsess over certain naughty acts- like if you told him "don't throw toys in the litter box" he'd be at it again and again and again. No matter how many times you tried to redirect him. It's like he needed to hear it 100 times for it to sink in.

The good news is that slowly he outgrew those things. By the point where I thought I'd lose my mind if he tossed one more thing in the toilet, he finally stopped doing it. I promise! It gets better. :)

kim said...

loud noises and over crowded situations are also a big issue for us too! today was the halloween party at school and there was so much noise that wyatt just shuts down and refuses to participate.

or for instance, we went to a college baseball game, and when the music started in the stadium, i had to leave with wyatt and sit in the car until it was over.

we now also hid all the dvds on a top shelf in a closet, because we had the same issue too. it is hard to explain to him because of the degree of communication and understanding that he can damage them.

but you are right, little by little these issues do work themselves out, slowly, but they do!

ps - wyatt loves to try and open the garage door even thou he knows not to, anyhow, recently he took an empty paper towel roll and that gave him just enough reach to open it and take off.

i said, uggghh! and this kid is ingenious!

loved your post :)

Cindy said...

This comment "I think so many discipline issues are based on communication. When you have a child with limited communication skills, it's understandable that you'll have more behavior problems" really hit home with me.
I've been trying to fit into words why some thing are so much more difficult with Johnny and I think you just did it for me. Thank you! I needed to read that!