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Monday, May 18, 2009

"Behavior Modification" for mommy



Hard to believe that she had a fever of 100.2 and was still willing to model her new top for me.  On our way to the doctor, I slipped it on not expecting much, but she managed to smile.  She has a cold, a virus maybe, but no strept throat.  She should be alright again in about three days.  The nights are hard, because she coughs alot, and cries.  Tonight she fell asleep on my chest, and together we rocked for almost an hour.  I could feel her heart beating, and with every breath she took, I realized she was sinking into a nice deep sleep.   It was a wonderful fulfilling moment, and maybe one I needed to give me the strength to believe in myself. 

Let me just say that Nicolas is a wonderful child.  He is smart, well mannered, charming and I am very proud of him.  His teachers love him.  His friends love him.  I am happy to be his mom, however he has always been a whiner, and very lazy.  He is timid and shy, and we have sheltered him for a very long time.  Whenever we take him somewhere new - a museum, the beach, a school, a play or even Disney on Ice - he whines, cries and gives us a hard time.  He wants to go home, he throws small tantrums, and makes everyone's life hell, even though we always assumed that he was uncomfortable, and his personality was just difficult.  This is the first book I have read that addresses these problems and tells the parent to stop!  This behavior can be reversed.  This is not a phase.  This is not a genetic thing.  It can be dealt with, so why not try it.  By the way, his speech teacher, who also teaches autistic children says the same thing.  
I decided to skip to the end of the book (don't worry I will go back and read the chapters missed), and find out what parents need to do to resolve some of these problems.  Once I read the ending, I was even more convinced that this book might just have the answers I need to work out some of my parental dilemmas.  They do a great job of not only targeting the child, but the problems of the parents.  As a matter of fact, they target the problems of your marriage and your parenting techniques.  No I don't have any marital problems, but I must admit that we don't always agree on our goals.  My hubby tends to baby the children alot, whereas I concentrate on the disciplining. When both children act up, there are times when tension is visible in our house and we don't deal well with it.   According to these doctors, most marriages consist of parents that "confront" differently.  We do.  They advise to attack only one problem at a time, and stay focused and supportive of your goal.  Most of the time, parents fail when success becomes visible.  Once the child has clearly grasped the rules, abides by them, and realizes the boundries that they have been given, the parents bend the rules to reward the children.  This not only sets the child back, but creates an even more difficult behavior to eliminate.  The parents have to work even harder to change the childs behavior.  Whether it is guilt, joy, love or excitement that causes the parents to give in, the stress that is created can be damaging to both the child-parent relationship, as well as the spousal relationship.  Yes, it sounds so deep, but also very sobering to me.  The example they give is of a child that refuses to go to bed.  Oh you know, the child that gets up upteen times, never has a set bedtime, sleeps in the parents room, is always hungry, thirsty, or can't sleep.  Once the child finally figures out that his bedtime is at 8pm, and mom and dad won't give in, he will go to bed on his own.  I agree.  My children go to bed at 7pm, and alot of times, they just say they are tired and begin to get ready on their own.  Very nice.  But in this case, because the mom always gives in and reads to him, or rocks her son to sleep, it is the husband that has to make sure she stays focused on their goal.  Once the son begins to show signs that he is willing to go to bed on his own, the parents feel guilty that they are enjoying their evenings all alone.  Know that feeling?  Yes, I do.  They decide to go and check on him, and tell him how proud they are of him.  The boy is almost asleep when the parents enter his room.  He sees this as a sign to get up and start his bad behavior all over again.  This time the parents blame each other, fight, and cannot get their son back to bed.  The parents have to start their "behavior modification" all over again, and this time it takes longer and is much harder, because the son expects his parents to "give in".  
So, the first thing I did today was keep my cool.  I counted that my son whined eight times before 11am.  I gave him firm and quick answers to his questions, and then ignored him until he changed his tone of voice.  He also cleaned his room tonight with a little help from mom.  Although they say to let the child struggle a bit, I thought it best to help him a few times, and then leave him up to his own devices.  No matter what, I stayed firm on the consequences.  He refused to clean it last night, after lying to me, so I kept him away from daycare today and all of his friends.  He was not happy, and I did feel harsh and guilty, but we really had a great day.  I held my own, and I even told the kids to go play so that I could pay my bills today.  I may not have been their best friend, but I definitely felt like a "good mom".
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