Mom Tip Monday: Be Respectful

by Heligirl on October 25, 2010

in Guest Posts,Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles,Parenting Tidbits,Positive Discipline

I’ve invited Susan from Mariner 2 Mother to guest post a Mom Tip Monday today. Susan has a 7-year-old boy with sensory processing disorder and she’s taken a number of positive discipline courses focused on developing capable young people. Today she shares her experience with control and respect when it comes to working with a child with SID.

My son is 7, is in the second grade, and deals with Sensory Integration Disorder. What that means is his body receives information from the outside world via his senses, the messages go to his brain, and the brain interprets the messages a little bit differently than a “normal” brain does. In his case, when he hears a loud, sudden sound, it used to freak him out completely. These days, it will shock him, but not totally overwhelm him. He has issues with his auditory, tactile, visual systems, and more.

Fortunately, his SPD is fairly mild in general. When casually observed, he seems just like any other child, until his system reaches overload. Then, he has meltdowns; and some of them are rather spectacular. These are not tantrums. A meltdown happens when he’s been working to keep it all together for hours, and he finally hits a wall.

For the past 9 months, my son has been receiving vision therapy (like physical therapy for the eyes). He has daily work at home and weekly visits to an optometrist. This therapy makes his eyes work hard, and it can be physically uncomfortable at times, causing headaches on rare occasions. Because of this, he doesn’t like to do it. By the time my son comes home from school, he’s been heavily using his visual system, he’s been stressing his auditory system, and he’s pretty worn out. When he reaches this state, his attention span is almost nil. Sensory seeking behaviors kick in: he’ll spin around and around. He’ll jump on and crash into the living room furniture. He’ll use a hippety hop and mini trampoline. It’s at this time (after an after-school break) that I have to get this kiddo to sit down, do his vision therapy that works his already tired eyes, and do any homework, to include 20 minutes of reading.

You can guess how this goes every day. Not go well 99% of the time. In all honesty, when he’s in this state, rewards and consequences do not register for him. I find that the only thing I can do is to maintain control of me. The more combatant he becomes, the more calm I must be. At the thought of work, he is instantly defensive and in a fight or flight mode. I have to get him to do some deep breathing, possibly give him some bear hugs (the sensory input calms him), and be patient. For the most part, when I can stay calm and in control, he eventually does his work.

Of course there days when I lose it? That’s when the 3 R’s of Recovery (from Positive Discipline teachings) come into play.

The 3 R’s:

1) Recognize the mistake with a feeling of responsibility instead of blame.

2) Reconcile by apologizing. Children are so forgiving.

3) Resolve the problem by working together on a respectful solution.

When I’m really on the ball and I feel I’m about to lose it, I tell my son that I am very frustrated and need a time out to cool off. I go to my bedroom and read for about 10 minutes.

For me, having that time of distraction allows my adrenaline to drop, so I can be calm and in control and try it again. For the times that I do lose it and yell at my son, I take a minute or two, get calmed down, and then apologize. I tell him that I shouldn’t have yelled, but I was really frustrated and tired and didn’t take a time out when I should have. He appreciates my being candid with him and apologizing, and is quick to get beyond the blow-up; especially when he is treated with respect and honesty.

Speaking of respect, during times that my son has an especially difficult meltdown, and starts to become violent, I don’t allow him to destroy things or to hit me or himself. That is not being respectful of our home, me or himself, and I tell him so. I tell him that if he needs to get out physical aggression, he can go outside and run around the house three times. At his age, so far, this has worked.

Ever since my son was a young toddler, I have always tried to treat him with the respect and honesty I want in return. I believe that respect is earned and is never fear-based. I look forward to the young man he’s going to be in a few short years, thanks, in part, to skills I learned with Positive Discipline.


Carol @ Knee Deep October 25, 2010 at 9:52 am

Great advice. I think a lot of us need a reminder that a Mommy time-out is better than losing control. Thanks for sharing this!
Carol @ Knee Deep recently posted: Little Girl Lost – My Nightmare

Twitter: Heligirl
October 25, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Thanks Carol. It sure struck home with me when I read this. Susan has been through a great deal and is a fountain of wisdom when it comes to positive discipline.

JP October 25, 2010 at 11:14 am

So many children need to learn what “respect” is. It begins at home, at a young age and grows throughout our lives…:)JP
JP recently posted: Affirmation

Twitter: Heligirl
October 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Absolutely. Having been raised with the “do as your told” and “because I said so” rather than respect and understanding, this is a really sensitive topic for me. To teach children to respect, you must respect them.

Susan October 27, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Hi all! Thanks Heli for asking me to contribute to your fabulous blog. One time about 2 years ago, I was discussing respect with a new friend, but one with whom I really hit it off. I was shocked and dismayed when she said that in order to respect someone, there has to be a small component of fearing them- in other words, to fear the possible retribution if you did wrong. It took a lot of self-restraint to not totally go off. I told her that my definition real respect has no basis or component in fear whatsoever; love and admiration perhaps, but no fear. I know that her definition stems from being raised by a horribly abusive mother; and that is very sad.

But then again, she referred to how she dealt with her kids when they were toddlers and preschoolers as “training the puppies.” Yup, she “trained” them to be “compliant and obedient”, and to “be good and do as they’re told.” Their self worth has become tied to whether they are doing good or bad. If they please the parents/ teacher, then they ARE good. If not, they ARE bad. Not the way I choose to raise my son.
Susan recently posted: My Introduction to Hypnosis A Restrospective

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