Thursday, August 28, 2014

On This The 16th Day Of School ...

So my first word for my first blog on the subject of being Ellie's Mama is WOW! I had no idea so many people were following me or the Facebook posts I make about Ellie, but ... WOW! That's all I can say!My sister-in law told me yesterday that a co-worker of hers is waiting to hear the next update about Ellie. And I have had folks that follow my public posts write me to encourage me or ask how she's doing.So in light of all the curiosity, I have started this blog. I promise I will try to make all entries shorter than my usual ramblings. Well .. all future entries. :-)I give my Facebook followers my apologies that you've been left hanging over the past few days; I have been super busy with some job training.Okay, without further ado, here is your long awaited "Ellie update," as we are now calling them. Let's recap: We implemented the rewards jar system the weekend before last. We told Ellie that she had to came home from school with a week's worth of smiley-face stickers if she wanted to earn something from the jar.She came home last Monday with a note about bad behavior again, so already that week's chances of a reward were shot. I figured she may need to have daily goals in place in order to make the weekly goal more attainable.Before I can come up with what those daily rewards should be, I take her to school the next day, Tuesday, and her teacher informs me of just how bad she was to earn that note. The week before it was pinching, yelling, throwing puzzle pieces - aimlessly or at others - and disrupting music class (a place where usually you are encouraged to be noisy). I'm told what happened that Monday was that she pushed another student. Basically, the class was lining up to go to lunch and the other student - a husky little fella - "got in her space." So ... she turned around and pushed him out of it! Problem was - aside from not keeping her hands to herself - was that he didn't expect the push, so it literally knocked him off his feet and into the other eight students standing behind him. I'm told they all went down like bowling pins! Of course I take this seriously, but on the inside I'm chuckling just a bit at the visual.But again, I do take this seriously because she can't continue to behave this way socially; my inside chuckling quickly turned to discouragement as I drive back home. Nothing I was doing seemed to be working: time-outs, spankings, taking away privileges - nothing. It was time for more earnest prayers and drastic measures. So I went home, cried, prayed, and then took most every toy she owns out of her room; I put them all away for safe keeping. They are tucked in tight at the top of my closet where she can see them but can't reach them. I left her Monk Monk because he is her absolute comfort, some crayons and coloring books, some dolls that she NEVER plays with and her TV. I couldn't take everything for storage reasons. Plus I needed something left for leverage should she decide not to comply after this point.Of course she was livid when she came home, but she seemed to understand that if she wanted it all back she had to earn it one toy at a time with good behavior.The next day, Wednesday of that week, she came home with a note about "slapping at lunch table." I asked her about it and she admitted that she slapped another friend across the face. Knowing that if I ask her why she did it she would just say she didn't know, I asked her if she was mad about something. She explained that she did it trying to be funny. I told her we don't slap friends when trying to be funny, because chances are no one interprets slaps from supposed friends as funny. With that antic she lost Monk Monk.At this point I'm thinking something's gotta give. She needs to see her own progression as well as her own decline. So Thursday while at the Parent Teacher Store with my boss, I picked up an actual rewards chart that you might see in the classroom. I grabbed some reusable smiley-face stickers so that we can make our home reward chart look just like her homework/behavior folder from her teacher.

She came home that day with a smiley face and a note that read "We had a much better day today!" I let her pick where she wanted the reward chart hung and as long as she comes home with smiley faces, she gets to put them on the chart herself. So guess which toy she wanted back? Yep! And I guess Monk Monk could be the key, but I like to think that all the praying I did (and am still doing) is coming to fruition.Thursday and Friday of that week and Monday of this week she has come home with smiley faces. I'm thinking, "Finally! I've found what works!"Nope!Fast-forward to Tuesday of this week. Another note! This time it read, "Ellie had a hard day following directions." So I took Monk Monk again thinking that would nip this week's behavior in the bud. Did it? No!Yesterday's note read, "Ellie really had a hard time staying with the class and not hiding in the room." Apparently, Ellie will just spontaneously jump from her seat to go hide (usually in the book nook). Then on top of that, I'm told she behaved rather badly at church last night. (I was at church, but it was my first night in the youth room. She was left to "test" her daddy's limits. Not my intent, but she saw the opportunity.)So ... last night we took from her the toys that she had earned back Thursday and Friday of last week as well as her TV, and of course she still has not earned Monk Monk back. We explained to her that when (not if) she comes home with smiley faces she can have her toys back (one at a time still), and when (not if) she learns to behave in church she can have her TV back.Now I'm back to feeling rather discouraged. I just wished that along with that bad behavior note the teacher could tell me just one good thing my kid did. Ya know ... something like, "Ellie had a hard day today following directions, but helped a friend pick up toys." Otherwise I feel I am only reinforcing her bad behavior these days. It's like when she gets home we discuss her bad behavior, but never what she did good. I can't reinforce good behavior if I don't know about it. I wrote the teacher a letter to that affect. So I guess we'll see how today goes.
In the meantime, I am asking God to show me today how to be loving and nurturing toward her rather than harsh. This is a difficult adjustment for her - her more so than me. I'm asking him to allow me to see her need - to see her as he does - and to show me how to almost blindly praise good behavior while not giving much more attention to the bad. ###