My last post was Thursday, Aug. 28. Ellie came home with a smiley face sticker that day and a green mark. She got Monk Monk back.
(Her school has a color system. Green is where all kids start out every day. Green means "ready to learn," and they can move up or down from there. Red, orange or yellow are colors that indicate you were very well behaved. Blue, light blue or purple are colors that indicate you behaved badly. If ever I say Ellie received bad marks I mean she got a blue, light blue or purple mark.) That Friday she got a blue mark. I don't even remember what for at this point. But honestly, I decided not to punish her with any usual method because I was not sure how effective it would've been over the weekend. I was out of inspiration as to new forms of discipline as well. I just left it as is and tried to enjoy my holiday weekend with her.
The following Monday was Labor Day so there was no school. The next day she came home with a green mark and earned back some dinosaurs. Wednesday she woke up throwing up, so she missed school and I missed work. Thursday and Friday she came home with smiley faces and green marks and got her Lincoln Logs back. And since technically by Friday she had earned an entire week's worth of smiley faces (granted a 3-day week), she got to pick a reward from the jar. She chose the movie Frozen, so we bought the movie and had a girls' night in. Monday and Tuesday continued smoothly, but then came Wednesday!
Wednesday, Sept. 10: At lunch time, Ellie decided to pour a carton of milk over another child's head for no reason - well, she says it was to be funny, but it was definitely not funny. Her teacher actually called me this time. I don't know if Ms. Glasgow was trying to call me to come get Ellie because maybe they were actually going send her home for that antic or if they just felt like this warranted a phone call. Luckily for Ellie, I was at work late that day for another training and could not answer my phone. So unfortunately for them, her teacher and the school were forced to keep her there and figure it out. The last thing I want is to see her get suspended, but I have no doubt they would do it if they felt like they had to.
I felt so defeated at this news. I had done all I knew to do and it was not working. I am losing my patience with this child! But all I can think to do is nothing. I mean, I talked to her about her day and encouraged her to talk out her feelings, but by this time I seriously didn't know what more to do. Then on top of that, by Friday, she came home with yet another note that read, "Ellie earned back to green today, but had some trouble with hair-pulling and hitting." I give! I mean I give up! Once again I just try to enjoy my weekend with her.
So this Monday came. The significance about Monday is that I had a conference with Ellie's teacher, principal and assistant principal to discuss what to do for her. We all just want to see her do well - to see her get it and succeed. We bounced behaviors and suggestions off each other and at the end of it all came away with a new rewards system that I am to try here at home (on top of out rewards systems already in place). It's one that Ms. Glasgow has initiated in the classroom and seems to be working. Basically, she drew a line on a clear disposable cup and every time Ellie does something she is asked to do the first time she is asked, Ms. Glasgow places a bear in the cup. When Ellie has earned enough bears to meet the line she gets to choose from a variety of activities. The idea of the "bear cup" is to help Ellie learn to follow directions by doing what she is told the first time. If we also implement the "bear cup" here at home, we will create consistency for Ellie and she will "get it" more quickly - we hope! :) We are also going to try "picture schedules" with her so that she understands transitions throughout the day better, because she seems to be having a hard time moving from activity to activity or from classroom time to lunch time. It is laminated pictures of each activity (i.e., rug time, story time, recess, lunch, etc.). Each picture has a small piece of Velcro on it's corner. There is a little man who starts out each day at the first activity of the morning. When it is time to move to another activity, Ellie gets to move the little man to the next picture. The hope is that Ellie will have less anxiety about transitioning and obviously to make the transition more fun and less of a struggle.
And to address the separation anxiety that has increased since Cockrill started Independent Week (the week parents stop walking kids to class) we decided that it is best for her in the long run if we keep doing what we are doing, which right now is I drop her off in the lobby, give her a quick kiss and hug with a "Have a great day! Mommy loves you!" and walk away. Someone else will take over from there and get her to class. I do have to walk her into the school because Ellie won't even cross the threshold of the building unless I do it with her. To start walking her to class again at this point would only be working backwards. So as hard as it seems to be on Ellie, we will just continue in this particular struggle until it is no longer a struggle. :-/
Here's where I really need your prayers: Ellie seems to be socially inept most of the day at school. It seems she doesn't want to play with other kids therefore she is not getting along with them. In her ineptness she is either mean to them to kids to get them to leave her alone, because she doesn't want to play with them - she just wants them to get away from her. :-/ Unfortunate but true. And it makes sense because she is an only child and has always had the company of adults. When she's not being mean but rather decides she does want to make friends, she apparently thinks that being a class clown is the way to gain friendship. Every time Ellie misbehaves with bully-like antics and gets what she deems as a positive response of other kids laughing, it sends the signal that this is how you have friends - this is how you act to have other kids like you. What's not clicking for her is how she is isolating another child and causing them social distress.
Please continue to pray that Ellie will keep her hands to herself and be loving and kind at all times. This is the area where the school is losing their patience with Ellie. This behavior is what can get her suspended. Following directions and learning to transition are skills that can continue to be worked on inside the classroom, but mean, bully-like behavior is not tolerated - understandably!
Will update further when I can.