Friday, May 06, 2016

Sometimes I get it right

Yesterday started off well enough. Young people woke up happy, ate breakfast, played while they waited for me to get dressed and ready to start school. It seemed it would be an easy morning. Well, until I called everyone to the kitchen to begin our schoolwork for the day, that is. Then it was like someone flipped a switch from happy, pleasant six year olds to children auditioning for a role in that horror movie where people's heads spin around on their bodies.

Yes, that bad.

As I exerted the effort to stop my own head from spinning around on my body in response, my brain actually kicked into gear to solve the little conundrum.

Think. Think. Think.

Breakfast. They ate breakfast, so all should be well. But, breakfast was some lovely homemade scones that J. whipped up earlier and there were no hard-boiled eggs cooked this morning. That means there was no protein. They ate two hours ago...

Ahhhhh. The light shined. Hope to the screaming problem was on the horizon.

Protein. Some little girls needed a quick infusion of protein, STAT.

Now, experience told me that once entered into the screaming phase, it was very difficult to move them out of it. I also knew that novelty would do the trick. So, in a rare flash of parenting brilliance, I made some quick trail mix, got out the lovely little luncheon plates and cups that I never use, poured glasses of milk into the fancy little cups, and set it all on TV trays. I never said a word, but the curiosity about what I was doing and the little luncheon plates jogged them out of their screaming enough to pay attention to what I was doing. And the desire to use the charming little luncheon plates overrode their current inflexibility.

They ate their protein snack and calm was restored. We even went on to have a fairly productive academic morning. (Don't worry, I made trail mix for the non-screamers as well.)

Now if I could just remain calm and thoughtful in the face of loud chaos every time it happened...

Oh, and I keep forgetting. I had a new article published: The 4 Best Things We Learned from Karyn Purvis

I think any parent, not just adoptive ones, should be familiar with her work. Check it out.


Carla said...

What do you do to address the poor behavior? I know it's so important as moms to take care of the reason for the poor behavior, if we can, but I think it's important to try and teach my son (age 4) to act in a non-screaming fashion - even if he doesn't feel good.

Did you address it after they'd had their snack? I certainly know that trying to correct it in the middle of the screams tends to be a lost cause, but am often at a loss as to when to deal with it.

thecurryseven said...


There are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is that children do the best they can. With my screamers, this means that their ability to manage disappointment, frustration, hunger, and irritation is still developing. These are skills that come with maturity. My job is to help give them practice and tools for dealing with the big feelings that are so often overwhelming to them.

Yes, after the fact we do a lot of talking about ways that can help avert the descent into screaming. For instance after the snack and regulation was achieved, a little later we talked about how our brains and bodies need different kinds of food and how protein can help us think better. We talked about kinds of food and what is available. At other times, L. has even mentioned that a few times when she is feeling upset, she will get her weighted blanket and that helps to calm her down. This is a huge step for her because she has been an extremely explosive child with very little margin for frustration. She is now maturing to the point where she can begin to recognize when she is starting to feel off balance. Not always, mind you, but sometimes, and it is a step in the right direction.

The other thing I try to remember is connection before correction. No, in the midst of the screaming, there is no logical thought going on, so anything you say is not going to have an effect. Damage control, such as the snack, is the best you can do. I always try to make sure everyone has acheived a sense of calm before addressing the behavior. I know that my children do not enjoy being in such a state because they feel out of control. They are not doing it on purpose and are certainly not doing it to annoy me.

For my first five children, this style of parenting would have completely annoyed me. I was a good parent and consequently, I had well-behaved children. I knew what I was doing and if all those other parents out there would just shape up, they could have well-behaved children as well. And then number six came along. If my traditional, consequence-based parenting style was going to work, he would have been so phenomenally behaved that we would have started to see a halo glow around his head. I tell you, I gave it my all and used every single trick in the book, over and over and over. While that style will work with many children, for children who tend to explosiveness, it doesn't do a thing. I've tried. It just adds fuel to the fire. In order to save our son and our family, we had to change, so we did.

I'm so glad we did because we needed all of our new tools to deal with our extremely easily frustrated little girls.

Hmmm.. maybe this should have been an actual blog post. :-)


Carla said...

Sounds like a good blog post to me!

Thanks for responding!! My son is 4 and I knew just how to parent him before I had kids. Ha! I appreciate your insight and experience.

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