It is time for my little guy to put on his big boy pants!
I know he is only six, but I am starting to lose my mind, between the whining, and the arguing, and the excuses, and the complete shut downs.
Last week, I found myself being THAT MOM. Yes, you know the mom that is doing something and you think either, “Oh, I hope that never has to be me,” or “Wow, look at her, glad that’s not me!”
Fred has been having troubles transitioning into first grade. We had similar problems last year transitioning into kindergarten. I think he just does not handle change well. I have been trying to put the positive Love and Logic spin on it of “Look you get to learn how to do this when you are six, so that when you are an adult, you will know what to do. Many grownups don’t know how to do change!” (Huge smiling face from me!!!!) He just looks at me with that “Oh, yeah, right lady” look.
He has been getting up fine, getting dressed, getting into the car, getting out of the car, and walking up to the school without problems. (Last year I did take him to school twice in his pajamas, carrying him all the way to the kindergarten door and handing him off to his teacher!) The trouble seems to start when it is time to stand in line. Then the pouting face comes out, the mule legs set in, and he is clutching at my hand, arm, or leg, or all three!
Last week, he wouldn’t even get into the line, choosing rather to stand off on the lawn of the school’s front yard. When the bell rang, the door opened, and his fellow classmates started filing into the building, he just stood in the grass. I was trying to negotiate him if not into his classroom into the front door of the school. His afternoon teacher, whose door we line up at, said, “Oh I will handle this,” and proceeded to chase him around the yard. I felt that I should help her, although I found it ridiculous to let him have such control over the situation. I was the one that finally caught him and then she carried him into the classroom. It really would have been much better to negotiate him into the building with words and let there be consequences for his actions.
I did write a letter to her and to his morning teacher, the wonderful Mr. Davis, so that we could all be on the same page for Fred. Some emails were exchanged between myself and the afternoon teacher, and to make that ever-so-long and not exactly fulfilling exchange short, I was able to convince her to at least let me bring him into the classroom in the morning to work in his activity book or write his alphabet letters and completely bypass the line, which is where we seem to have problems.
We have been doing this new procedure for a little over a week and it has been working well. He hasn’t had any more red days at school, but several days when he is at home, he falls apart again. He may just refuse to do his homework, which might only be to write his five short spelling words five times each.
Last Wednesday, he was supposed to start a church club that he has been looking forward to doing for over a year now, but I said if no homework was done, then I wasn’t going to sign him up yet. He ended up going to Grammie’s so I could get Hannah registered for her girl’s church club. This week he did his homework and gladly went to the church club. I think it will be good for him to be around other boys and men.
Over the weekend, he had papers that he needed to do that he has not been doing in school. Mr. Davis says that he often shuts down when he is at his desk and will not work. Fred is also having problems at school with crawling around on the floor under the desks when they are supposed to be having floor time together, so these papers were sent home for us to finish. The first one was to write the day and date for four of last week’s days for which he had not written anything. After two and a half hours, he only had the four days written, not the whole sentences of “Today is Tuesday, August 30, 2011,” etc., and he had whined, and made excuses for most of that time. I simply felt like I was going to kill him and sent him to his room so we could both have some space. I don’t even know how many times I said, “Sit down and do your work.”
If he would just write it, it would be done in about 20 minutes. He did do another assignment much more quickly. I asked, “How does that make you feel?”
“HAPPY!” he yelled.
“I feel HAPPY too!” I said, “Let’s feel HAPPY all the time!”
But then he just as quickly reverts back to the activity where he simply refuses. I asked him after his very good day today how that made him feel. Again and this time, “Happy, VERY HAPPY.”
I try to tell him how proud of him I am, but so quickly he can turn back to whining and making excuses. I have gone to just picking him up and carrying him to his room when it starts and saying, “I will see you when you are sweet and talking in a big boy voice.”
I have tried to get him to work these things out with his sister and cousin as far as the whining. One day we were all cleaning together at one of my housecleaning houses. Fred came up and said Hannah and my nephew would not play with him. I asked why not. He said, “They say I am a whiney pants.”
What could I say? I said, “Well, honey, I am sorry to say, but I don’t really disagree with them. Sometimes you are very whiney, and right now the way you are talking to me is whiney.”
“NOOO, I’m not whining.” He says in his most whiney voice.
“Really?” I asked. “Well, what do you think you should do about it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Would you like to hear what other kids do in this situation?”
I proceeded to give suggestions anyway, “Well some kids just ignore their friends and play anyway. Some kids might talk in a voice like this (and I made my voice deep and loud) ‘Would you like to play with me?’ so that they are not mistaken for whiney pants, and some kids just talk in a normal big boy voice.”
He never responded, but went off to play and somehow must have figured it out with the other two because later they were all happily laughing and playing together.
Yet, times like these still do not seem to last.
I am trying to be patient and love him through it. I use bedroom time A LOT. I try to do the problem solving strategy like I did with the whiney pants. I talk about what a successful day at school will look like. I have taken away his DSi (Nintendo gaming system) until I no longer have to worry about him going into the school building nicely or doing his work or doing what he is supposed to be doing. I am letting him earn some toys for good days at school for a while. Unfortunately sometimes, I am just loosing it! I have to admit that at times, I just look at him, and yell out, “Fred, I can’t take this anymore! Put on your big boy pants!!!”
I know I am not supposed to yell, but frustration has definitely set in. I am trying some other items for school and home such as the Attribution Theory, which I will write about soon. I feel like I talk with him constantly about meeting the expectations of school and home. I just pray a lot too! I am working on my own calmness as well! I have been better in the last week and know that Fred is making little steps of progress each day. I just want him to feel hopeful that he can do this; that he is capable of wearing his big boy pants!