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daycare provider with strong willed son

 
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sunshinekids
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Joined: 09 May 2006
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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 10:55 pm    Post subject: daycare provider with strong willed son Reply with quote

I am a daycare provider and am having difficulty with my 2 1/2 yr old extremely strong willed son. I began as a daycare provider 3 yrs ago when I was pregnant with him and truly enjoy what I do. Some days there are no problems and other days I just want to cry b/c of his behavior and the most difficult part is I can't figure out the triggers. I know he is more difficult when he is hungry, sleepy or not feeling well, however, I am not trying to use that to excuse his aggressive anti-social behavior. So we try very hard to make sure he gets a good nights sleep, he eats well and often, etc. He is finally getting to the point where he can verbalize that he doesn't want me to hug the other children, that I am his mommy, etc, etc but I tell him that I still love him even if I am hugging someone else and try to include him in the hug (if he'll join in). I try to make sure that I have just him & me time early in the morning and off & on throughout the day for short amounts of time when the other children are engaged in something else. Besides the tantrums he throws when he wants my attention or doesn't want to share (b/c he sees everything as his, even the toys that are strictly for the daycare, since it's his territory) I desperately want to do more structured, learning activities for my older preschool daycare children but most of the time he makes that impossible. I have tried to include him in what we are doing, but if he gets frustrated b/c it is too difficult or he isn't getting my undivided attention, he ends up ruining the game/project/activity and it ruins it for all the kids and I end up not wanting to attempt these activities again even though I know it's good for them. I know I am capable of being a better daycare provider but how do I get him to cooperate?
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birdy
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Joined: 26 Apr 2006
Posts: 20
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 1:50 pm    Post subject: It will Get better~ Reply with quote

Hi,

I just wanted to say a few words and also to tell you that it will get better. Our first born, a boy, sounds almost exactly like your son. People were constantly telling me to get better control of him. Or telling me that he was definately "active" or "energetic."

They were also telling me that he might be ADD or ADHD. Having taken pyschology in University, I knew enough to know that I didn't know enough, but was pretty sure that he wasn't ADD or ADHD. But I did know that I had to get him under better control.

I went to child psychologist and he confirmed that my son was "strong willed" but nothing more. He also confirmed that I did need to get my son's behavior under control. Both for my sake and for his. He then recommended something that I was a bit shocked with but it really worked and has made miracles happen in my son.

Up until this point my husband and I tried all sorts of "behaviour modifications." And I mean, all sorts!

The psychologist said that at our son's age (2 years), it was hard for him to understand his behaviour was not okay. Basically, you can't reason with them, they don't understand that until much later.

We had to cross that bridge, getting him to understand when Mommy and Daddy said to stop, it meant stop. Especially since one of the incidents that brought me to the doctor's office was once when he didn't listen to me and ran out onto a busy downtown city street.

So we were to observe a behaviour and tell our son "No, Mommy says No." If it was repeated (and often in the beginning, it was repeated immeadiately), we were to pick him up and take him to a chair and place him on our lap. He was to have his legs placed in between ours (so he couldn't kick and hurt us), his body perpendicular to ours, arms criss-crossed in front of him and held gently at his waist. This way he could bend his body backwards and forwards and not whack us with his head. He wouldn't be able to hit us either. We were to hold him until he sat still AND quiet. The first time this took us over 10 mins. He was furious! I stuck it out. Then after he was still, I let his hands go. The directions were to let them go, but if he started to yell, swing or hit, to put him back into position. This was repeated until I could release him and he would sit still without being held.

Eventually (in about 2 weeks) I could tell him no, if he didn't listen, which was now rarely, I could pick him up, sit down with him and not have to hold him at all and he would calm right down and behave.

It was explained to me that our son was having problems turning himself off. He was naturally a more observant and emotional child, highly sensitive. Like yours, always better behaved with proper food and nutrition. Like yours, he was in a very busy home with lots of stimulation. Like yours, he was strong willed. And like yours, not able to control himself when the situation required him too.

Our son is now six. He is still highly sensitive, emotional and very observant. But I actually find him very easy now. Usually I just explain to him why, and he behaves. Our daughter is the one I find strong willed!

I hope for the best with you. I do know that it is hard to do what the doctor suggested to us. Especially since I had a 3 week old daughter when I started this and I had to leave her crying sometimes and be consistant about this "training" with our son. But truthfully, it didn't take much time in the long run, I would hate to be dealing with an out of control boy now!

Roberta
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birdy
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Joined: 26 Apr 2006
Posts: 20
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 1:54 pm    Post subject: Forgot one thing Reply with quote

Forgot one thing...

The doctor said that we weren't to talk to him, as in "that was bad, you shouldn't do that, when Mommy says don't, don't..."

Rather we were to try and make calming sounds, or just be quiet.

And the key to keeping it up was to always go and sit with him, even if just for a few seconds once we got to the point that he would sit still immeadiately. Kind of a way of letting him know that we understood that he was out of control and were there to help calm him down.

Roberta
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sunshinekids
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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're right...he is highly sensitive, emotional and observant. He is extremely advanced in his verbal and cognitive development, as well, just seems his maturity lags behind all that.
Are you supposed to do this process everytime he ignores a "no" even when it's for a minor infraction or should you try redirection, distraction or mild correction for the minor infractions and save the "holding" therapy for the big tantrums? Because there are times when soft, soothing, redirection works and it seems to me that escalating it to the major response immediately would make things worse.
Do you have any thoughts on how to keep him interested & engaged in an activity so I can work with the other children? Or how to approach the activity so everyone can stay focused?
Did you find your son to be demanding (for attention) and unable to entertain himself at this age? I have two older children (17 & 13, both girls from a previous marriage) and I never seemed to have difficulty teaching them to entertain themselves the way I have with him. I was a daycare provider when they were young too and never had issues like this. My oldest daughter is extremely strong willed as well, but always found positive ways to receive attention (b/c she's a people pleaser) and says when I was doing day care she had an extreme need to feel "special" since she was the provider's daughter and had to share me. I try hard to provide that for him but it seems like the more I give him that the more he demands.
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birdy
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Joined: 26 Apr 2006
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Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Basically we were told to use our judgement on the when part. We did use the holding technique pretty heavily at first, kind of to establish that when we said no, we meant no. There was a series of reports that I studied in my Child psychology classes that talked about the effectivness of negative behaviour modifications. They got lots and lots of parents and families. They had the parents list their negative behaviour modifications (ex. time out chair, scolding, hand tapping, etc) from first used to the one saved for the worst offense. This was in families of all ages, so for some it would be "grounding for a month," and others, "10 mins on time out chair." They then had families do one of two things. Either follow the order, or go straight to the big "punishment" when a bad behaviour was displayed. The families that went straight to the top, so to speak, actually used the punishment less in the long run and had better results (ex. kids behaviour stayed improved longer). So the studies concluded, while it seems drastic to jump to the big punishment each time, it actually meant less use in the long run, and better compliance as well.

That being said, I would definately use verbal direction and redirection first. Essentially the premise of holding is that a young child can't be reasoned with, isn't identifying the behaviour themselves as either good or bad (ex. appears defiant and deliberate, which could just be plain "not getting it.") And needs a way of being signalled their behaviour is wrong with Mommy and Daddy's support (you being there as calm as you can, its scary being so wound up you can't stop, ever felt out of control yourself and just want to hit something?). If using redirection and verbal cues help your son and are effective that is a good thing. But if you have to repeat yourself, go to holding. The idea is that he does need to listen to you. Afterall, you are given charge of him for a reason even if he can't understand it.

With our son now, I would definately say that he has a hard time entertaining himself. Eventually he learned to play with his sister (who grew old enough to play with him). Although, he is learning to read and this is proving to entertain him. I am scouring second hand stores for phonetic type readers.

I found that the best way (looked at the photo albums) to entertain him was to make him my junior assistant. For example I sewed for money then, so I gave him scraps of cloth and scissors. But he has never really played. Even now, his legos, tinkertoys and matchbox cars sit in "collections" never played with. We focus heavily on physical activity with him. I do get him outside for hours a day if possible. The best toys we have had for him are the trampoline (hours and hours of use until it got blown to bits by a freak storm), a huge sandbox (just bought screened construction sand, is 12' x 12' and 1' 6" high), tire swing, and those huge bouncy balls with handles.

Also he is very dependant on routines. A set firm bedtime. Meals at firm times. And, he still often naps now. I find that because he takes life so intently (ex. plays hard is often sweaty when done playing, focuses so intently on his crafts, etc, has high expectations for himself) that he wears his energy quickly and needs frequent recharging.

We live in a huge house and I bought him a training bike just after he turned three (birthday in October), and over the winter taught him to ride a bike by riding around the kitchen table. By spring he was riding without training wheels. My daughter is almost 5 and still can't ride a bike with training wheels.

I emptied his room of everything but his mattress (at 8 months he could flip out of his crib in 10 seconds), safetied all the outlets, eventually removed the light bulbs because he would get up during the night and turn it on and not sleep, we also had to screw a baby gate to the inside of his window since he pushed the screen out once. But then when he got too much for everyone, myself and him, I could put him some place safe to calm down. This was more when he was 3 1/2 and my daughter started to walk. Often, after putting him in his room, he would fall asleep within minutes.

We did discover very quickly that whenever we put a physical barrier in his way, he would get around it. He is very smart and intuitive. So we had to get him to understand the rules himself. For a while it was like the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, "yes, you can go outside and play, but you can't go in the drive shed, the barn or the garage. You can play on the grassy square but may not go past the trees by the road. You may not go in the corn field, near the pond, behind the garden ...." And if I missed one! We would outline the day for him, but only one day, so "Today we are going to Grandma's house, shopping and ...." We had to be specific and very detailed. He understood an amazing amount of things, and liked responsibilities.

Also, we did have to phrase things negatively, for awhile I had tried to only reward good behaviour, and use positive language. It meant nothing to him. He needed clear, "this is right, this is wrong." Also, we got to the point that we drew the boundry for a behaviour a lot tighter than we actually wanted. Two examples, the play area outside, we would tell him not to go past the trees, but if he circled the trees we didn't say anything, since he was still 10 feet from the dry ditch of the road way. Or, for dinner time, we would say he had to keep him bum on the seat, but were just happy to not have to put him back in it every few seconds (he learned to undo the lap belt at 10 months). Or, I didn't want him to crawl up the stairs for a while, but learned that if I placed the gate up two steps, he would ignore it but if it was right at the bottom he would try to climb it.

We would tell him, "your the only one who can make your sister laugh, that's important!" Then have him try and make her laugh. He started feeding the pets then too, and still does to this day and is very faithful with this.

I am just realizing this as I type, but he needs purpose in what he does. He doesn't like play without purpose, generally speaking. He also needs to understand things himself. There are a few things he gravitates to but they are all very physical.

Our son is also actually a perfectionist. Our struggle now is getting him to try and do something when he thinks he can't.

I didn't want another child, I thought I can't handle this one I must be a bad parent. People implied that too. They had no idea how exhausting being a parent to a child like this can be. But I am glad we were blessed with another child. Our daughter was so very very different. It made me more confident that it wasn't me, but him.

That being said. It is very rewarding being my son's parent. He makes me feel so loved. I don't doubt one bit that he loves me. He brings such awesome insights, its great.

It is possible that your son is also very perfectionistic. He might be seeing the other children's capabilities and expect to be able to do it their things himself. So when you start a craft, he gets frustrated because he wants to do it too. Then when he can't get the same result... frustration. I found that when I did activities with my son, (eventually I would set up themes for the week and had a structured hour in the morning and one after nap time) I would deliberately make noticeable mistakes myself.

Hopefully some of this is useful to you. I had to re-read and retype this to try and stay somewhat on topic. I found it very frustrating as a mother when our son was young. He was my first child, and very different from the other children. There wasn't a lot of support and understanding. I had a lot of guilt that I was doing things wrong and spent so much time searching for "the way" to parent him.

Incidentally, if you ever have the opportunity to have your son tested for IQ, I think you would likely find that he is way above normal intelligence for his age.

Once you can break past the behaviour issue and get some controls in place for him and you, then you will have so much fun exploring his talents. I think you will find that you will naturally fall into the more structured activities. But focus on the physical activity in a huge way to get some of that extra energy out of his system. I also am very careful with my son and sugar and tv time, it does help. No juice, lots and lots of fruit, one sweet treat a day, etc. One half hour video per day, tops.

Roberta
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