my quote of the moment: "if you can attain repose and calm, believe that you have seized happiness." ~julie-jeanne-eleonore de lespinasse

March 1, 2011

an experiment in restraint

lumpy has issues. i'm not sure if they're exactly normal kid type stuff, or if there's something deeper going on. we have talked to doctors and taken him to professionals, and so far every one of them has said that he is in the "normal range." there are some things he will struggle with and some things that will come easy for him. basically we shouldn't really worry because most of what is going on right now are things he will outgrow eventually.

that really isn't much of a comfort. but, as he's grown out of most of his toddler behaviors, as he's entered school and his world has expanded beyond his home and his family, as he interacts with more people than just his brother and i, i have seen an improvement with most of his behaviors.

still, his conversations skills leave much to be desired. he still just talks, there is no give and take, there is no worrying if who he is talking to is paying attention. and when he gets upset he cries, big fat blubbering tears. just as quickly as he gets overly upset, he is over whatever it was that he was crying about. his emotions and mood swings are so crazy fast sometimes it's frustrating and scary.

the other problem he/we seem to have is that he doesn't pay attention to his surroundings. or maybe he just tries to get done with certain tasks so quickly that he makes a mess of things. he has potty issues, and when he rushes he makes a mess, so often that i've started making him wipe the bathroom down in hopes that being forced to clean will prevent messes in the first place. he also throws things while cleaning, knocking things over or hitting his brother with stuff, who then tries to hit him back with his hands. it usually ends up as a bad situation, but with them forced to share a room, i'm not sure how to fix it. the other thing he does sometimes is jump around like an excited puppy. he runs up and down the hall or jumps from couch to couch. for awhile i was worried for the furniture, but now that fishie is moving, i really need him to settle down. he's knocked her over, run into her and pushed her down, and just recently he kicked her in the head while he was rolling on the floor.

she wasn't badly hurt, but it's never fun to try and explain bruises on a one year old. and of course lumpy felt bad, which only made him cry. it's hard enough to comfort a crying baby, trying to figure out where she is hurt, but then to deal with an overly emotional six year old, it's just too much sometimes.

i know he's still young, but i don't remember his brother being overly emotional or hyper like this. though, like i said, as he's getting older and out and about more, he is getting better. i suppose part of me wishes that his progress was faster, and another part wishes that i could help him more. but how do you teach a six year old self control and restraint?

one thing that seems to be working is timing his every activity. in talking with his teacher, i began to realize that most of the problems and issues i'm dealing with at home are not present at school. so beyond the fact that it is a different mix of people, i also realized that one major difference between home and school is a schedule. his whole school day is broken up into blocks of time dedicated to different activities.

schedules have always been important in this family to avoid meltdowns. both lumpy and bumble crave consistency. they hate surprises during the day, they like to know what's going on and what will happen next. but when it's just lumpy and i and fishie at home during the afternoons, i became kind of lax in our schedule. if he wanted to go back in his room and play for a few hours, and there weren't any chores for him to do, i would usually let him. if he wanted to play video games or watch tv, i would usually allow it. it was only as a punishment that i would really put strict limits on the amount of time he was allowed to do things.

limits helped to keep him calmer, and so i adapted that method into our daily routine. unless he is having "quiet time," which is when i force him to lay down in his bed with the lights off, i time him. whatever he is doing, he is only allowed to do for 30 minutes at a time. building with blocks, playing with puzzles, watching tv, it doesn't matter, after 30 minutes, i make him stop and move onto a different activity. later, if he wants, he can pick up where he left off with whatever he was doing before.

i've also started limiting his video game time. now, i know that little kids aren't supposed to sit and play video games for long periods of time anyway. and i suppose my only excuse for letting him play as much as i was had been because it kept him quiet and settled for a short period of time on the days where he couldn't play outside and he and his brother were at each others throats. now though, he's only allowed to play for a certain amount of time each day, and for only about 15 minutes at a stretch.

so far this timing thing seems to be working. though we only started doing it last week, and we're still working out all the kinks. the first few days were a little rough, if he was playing with something and being good, he didn't want to stop, and it was hard to explain to him why he needed to. and with certain things, like when we sit down and watch a movie together, the timer doesn't count.

i'm hoping that with the weather getting warmer, sending him outside will help him to get rid of some of his extra energy. i remember having problems like this last winter too, though as he's gotten bigger in size, it's harder to physically control him when he gets overly upset. i know some of his medication that he's on also makes him hyper, and i've expressed my concerns with his doctors and we're talking about switching up some of his doses and seeing how he does. though not until after march, because the change of seasons is always bad for him.

honestly the hardest part is that i wish i could do more for him. i wish i could help to calm him down, and i wish i could help him to control his own body and his own emotions better. he is my baby boy. i know he's always been like this, sometimes worse and sometimes better, but always himself.

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