Help for Haiti

Help for Haiti
This organization has been in Haiti for many years. They are trustworthy.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Pretend I'm Dead!

One of the toughest tasks I've faced as a parent is teaching my kids to take responsibility. I understand that my children's particular learning challenges coincide with a two to four year delay in maturity, but even taking that into account I have been only partially successful in teaching them to take responsibility for their actions, time, possessions, and other obligations. When they were very young, it took them longer than most to learn and complete simple tasks and develop routines. I admit, there were times when I went ahead and did things myself because I didn't have time or patience to wait on them. But most of the time, I allotted the time for the kids to do things for themselves and insisted that they do as much as possible independently. I taught them how to do simple chores, daily self-care routines, cook, and clean. I gave them charts, lists, and all the supplies they needed to be successful. Yet I still watched in bewilderment as my son would walk into a chair and say "That stupid chair!" as if the chair exerted its will and deliberately moved in front of my son instead of my son just taking responsibility for his own inattentiveness. My daughter would trip over one of her toys that she had neglected to put away and then turn around and kick it for being in her way. When they couldn't find their shoes, I would hear them grumbling about "those stupid shoes" and making comments like "Somebody must have moved them because I can't find them." Even though there were designated spots for shoes, books, and toys, when they couldn't find them my kids never seemed able to connect their actions of not putting things where they belong to not being able to find them later. It is easier for them to immediately ask for help rather than try to problem solve and come up with solutions on their own. My son, who has short-term memory issues, has refused to use aids like calendars, lists, and planners. So when he needs to call someone, he never has the number readily accessible. When he wants to call his Dad at work, he asks whoever is around at the time to tell him the number. Since Dad has been at the same job for years now, I figured that my son should either make an effort to memorize the number or write it down someplace where he can consistently find it. I've started asking him questions like "How are you going to remember your appointment date and time?" and "When do you think you should leave in order to get there in time, and how will you prompt yourself when it's time to go?" His usual answer is to grin and say "You'll remind me!" This week I've instituted a new strategy. I ask him my coaching questions, and then add "Pretend I'm dead!" so he has to come up with a strategy that doesn't involve me. So far, it has seemed to stimulate his taking a bit more responsibility to come up with his own solutions.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Have you ever noticed that kids respond in different ways to discipline? Even kids in the same family, with the same corrective measures often respond in different ways. That's why I'm leary of any "Use this approach and it's guaranteed to work" programs or books. I once got a recipe for "Never-Fail Pie Crust" and I was afraid to use it since I thought I might be the first failure. I've felt like that with parenting books, too. My son was impervious to many of the techniques I'd read about and tried with him, and sometimes in retrospect I felt like they were more damaging than helpful. Our church offered a course once on raising kids, and even the title was intimidating since it claimed to be the way God would want us to raise our children. Well, I do want to please God and do things the right way, so my husband and I went through the course. The techniques no doubt worked for some kids and I've talked to people who say the program was a tremendous help for them. For awhile, I did what the program prescribed, but I didn't get the same results as the authors. Not even close. So I was left to think that either God's way doesn't work for my children - a scary thought - or perhaps He who created unique children has more than one way of loving and raising them.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!
After the cookouts, parades and fireworks I have been reflecting on the meaning of Independence as it relates to my family.

Dr Jim Dobson has said that parenting is the only vocation in the world where you work your way out of a job just as your starting to get good at it. His meaning as I understand it is that our goal as parents is to raise up our children to the point that they are independent and don't need us anymore. This is a daunting task. It is all the more difficult when you are dealing with special needs kids.

Right now we are dealing with my son, Joshua and his struggle with time management. Sometimes it seems that Josh invented the concept of slow motion replay. Left on his own, he will finish his morning toilet, shower, dressing and breakfast just in time for... lunch. He has two speeds: "Stop" and "Plod."
We have tried reasoning, threatening, nagging, bribing and shaming. We've tried reminders, lists, prompts, voice recorders. We haven't found anything effective yet, but we will keep trying.
This is an area that is critical for his future success. And ultimately, that is what our goal is - self-reliance and independence.

Happy 4th of July.