Thursday, May 30, 2013

Making Gains

I need to take a look at how each of my children is doing from time to time. I decided a post would be a way for me to take stock of their gains. This post is more for me, than for anyone else. But I am sharing it anyway.

My Oldest Child

She is entering the tween years so there are loads of emotions and body changes, but most days are fairly calm. She still enjoys reading and cuddles. She is very outspoken and is not afraid to speak up for another person. All in all, she is doing well.

My Middle Child

She has grown by leaps and bounds since she was diagnosed with SPD as a 4 year old. She uses her words more than whining or melting down. She is able to fix problems with clothing and hair, sensory issues specifically, on her own most of the time. She asks for help when she cannot fix an issue. She has been having a tough time wearing more than her favorite three outfits so we are working on branching out a bit and finding comfortable clothes that she can tolerate. She is trying to eat more food varieties even though the textures do not always agree with her. She is gifted at using computers and can read well. She likes to complain about anything we ask her to do, but if it is her idea she does those same things with no issue. She is not the same kid who used to come home from pre-k and bang repeatedly against the wall because she was so stressed out. She is working hard!

My Youngest Child

He still does not feel pain in most areas of his body. He still throws his body around or down in an effort to harm himself if upset. However, these behaviors are calming down with patience, modeling, and his use of words to solve problems. We are moving from a place of sensory meltdowns to a place of typical pre-k tantrums. He talks, he walks, he makes eye contact. He does NOT like to be touched most of the time unless it is me holding his hand or carrying him. His allergies are a lot better, but they still exist. He can tolerate a small amount of most allergens, but we try not to expose him. He has been able to stay with his father once at home while I went out for an hour. This was a HUGE breakthrough. i am hoping it will happen again soon. He is now comfortable playing at the park without me holding his hand. He knows how to spell his name verbally and is asking how to spell other words. He spoke to other children, that he knows through a group we attend, at a park recently and I nearly cried. Previous to that, he would run away if anyone came near him. This day he was telling them an ENTIRE story about spiders and ladybugs! We will continue to work on his loud screeching vocal tones throughout the summer.

I am proud of all three kids! :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Meltdowns, Tantrums, and Peaceful Parenting

People often ask me how I handle a meltdown or tantrum peacefully. First, two of my children are living with sensory processing issues so they do have meltdowns related to their triggers. Often this means they are so wrapped up in the issue that they literally do not know anyone else is in the room. Second, a tantrum, in my opinion, is more likely to occur when a child wants or needs something that is not being given. This often occurs without a true trigger in my experience. You are welcome to have a different viewpoint, of course. This morning we had a perfect example of a tantrum. The details, in all their glory, are below.

I went to the bathroom, and returned to my son and daughters who were awake and happy. My daughters had come downstairs to join my son and play while I was in the bathroom.

Me: What do you three want for breakfast?
M: I don't know, but I can get it myself. Thanks, mom!
K: I may want a sandwich, but I am not sure. (Yes, they are welcome to have any food as long as it is healthy, or mostly health, at breakfast time.)
E: Hi, mom. I want "ba times".
Me: Sure, I can help you do "ba times" after your sisters have their food on the table. They may need my help.
E: Pick me up! I want up.
Me: Well, my back still hurts so I cannot pick you up, but I can sit with you after I help K with her food. Would you like to hold me hand or help me make breakfast?
E: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Me: Darling, I will be able to help you in a minute or two. Would you like a bite of food or some water while you wait?
E: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Me: Okay, I will be right back. Your sisters need me, too.
E: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (He is literally a foot from me right now by the way.)
Me: Okay, girls, is there anything else you need from me?
M: Nope, I am all set.
K: Thanks mom, I'm okay.
E: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Me: Alright, E, I can sit and hold you now. Thank you for waiting your turn. It can be hard to wait when you want "ba times". I still cannot pick you up, but I can walk with you to your bed or a chair and sit with you.
E: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
(I walked to his bed which was closer to him than a chair.)
Me: If you scoot, crawl, or walk to me, then I can hold you and nurse you.
E: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
(He then scoots about two feet to me and climbs up.
He smiles, then nurses for about five minutes.)

Had I known that was all he needed, I might have nursed him first while my daughters had some fruit, but then again he often nurses for more than 20 minutes so that can be tough to predict. At any rate, he was having a tantrum, not a meltdown. He knew I was there and it would be his turn soon. He was not ignored. He was spoken to with love and compassion. He was given several options. He was offered a snack while he waited. I did everything I could, while still insisting that all of us have equal needs and rights. A three year old may need "ba times", but his sisters also need to eat and my back was injured. All of our needs are important, not just one person's needs.

I did not punish. I did not yell. I did not hit. I reassured my son that his needs would be met as soon as possible. I modeled how to handle stress. Peaceful parenting does not mean permissive parenting. It does not mean children are allowed to be selfish or put themselves before others. It means we guide them with love and mutual decisions whenever possible. If they cannot make a mutual decision, then we model how to do that so everyone's needs are met within a reasonable time period.

Monday, May 13, 2013

They Have To Learn That Hard Work Is How You Get Paid, Right?

My children sometimes participate in a program that gives them gift cards or educational toys if they test products. This is my children's choice not mine and I always supervise. Recently I spoke with a friend about this program. The friend said that the program was good because my children needed to learn how to work hard to get money and things.

This comment rubbed me the wrong way. At first, I was not sure why I was so bothered by the comment. After a few hours it dawned on me that children do not, in my opinion, need to be taught such things. They will naturally learn that hard work and persistence helps them achieve goals. After all, climbing a rock can teach the same lesson on the child's terms. Practicing how to start a swing and continue swinging can also teach this lesson in a natural way. I did not sign my children up, at their request, in order to teach them a lesson. I signed them up to have fun and possibly enjoy some educational items. I hope people understand that I am not opposed to children learning and growing up. I am just opposed to them being forced into adult ideals so quickly and so young.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Learning Uncensored

My family currently home schools. Sometimes people who do not home school wonder what homeschooling looks like. Here are some photographs and captions. Most of the time we gently guide the children using their interests. We attend many groups with other families so our children have opportunities for meaningful play, imaginative play, and more. Sure, we can do this at home and sometimes we do. However, spending time with other children helps my children to see topics, problems, and solutions from a different perspective.

We have visited animal rehabilitation centers.

We climb, run, jump, and explore.

This is fun!

We learned about air pressure with friends.
We look for animals in different habitats. We saw crayfish, frogs, and more on this day.

Ladybugs and other beetles are an obsession.

Who doesn't love a science project with chemical reactions?

Watch out!

We learn about nature and safety during hikes.

Why hello, fossil!
Relaxing the way our ancestors may have rested at the local mountain.
We explore regional and state parks. This park has a former coal mine.