By recognizing that every child is different and matures at a different rate, I hope you will begin to see his behaviour from a new perspective. What you previously considered as “behavioural problems” is simply actual behaviour that does not meet your expectations of what a child his age “should” display.
I read this in The Straits Times’ supplement Mind Your Body dated 11 July 2007. Kenny Toh, a life coach was addressing a reader’s bewilderment with her son’s behaviour in kindergarten. While at home he’s active and participative, in school he’s quiet and reserved. She asks, “Is he simply shy or is he socially phobic?” and adds “I am lost and upset about my son’s behavioural problem in school.”
I love Kenny’s response above as he tells this mom that the child’s behaviour is normal for his age. I can identify with the mom and I had to learn the above lesson a year and half ago the hard way. One I still have to remind myself time and time again.
You see Hubby-jr was unexpectedly unique. Beginining 2006 I started him on playgroup. It was only a one and half hour session in the morning, Mondays to Fridays. While it took other kids a week to adjust to playgroup, my son took 2-3 weeks!
When I had to leave him alone at playgroup after the first week of being with him, he’d stand in a corner and scream, and I mean REALLY scream!. He would scream on and off (taking breaks only to garner his energy) for the entire session. Yes, for one and half hours! This continued for a WHOLE week (he almost lost his voice). During that time I would come home and cry. It was heart wrenching. I seriously wondered if I should pull him out but decided to wait and see. Thankfully the teacher was patient, understanding and really loved kids. The second week, the screaming continued but one day, he stopped and observed when they sang songs. Another day, he stopped and actually walked near the teacher to look at something before walking away to his corner. Slowly, very slowly we started seeing minute improvements and finally one day he just stopped crying and slowly began to participate.
I was greatly distressed when he was doing the screaming thingy. I was also very disappointed when he was the ONLY child that was still crying (more like screaming!) when ALL the others had settled in. Initially I tried my best to assure him but when the disappointment got to me one day I lost my cool and scolded him and… I actually told him, “Mommy’s disappointed in you”. The second those words came out my mouth I was filled with regret. When I told hubby, he said, “Oh no! Is he going to be emotionally scarred?” I couldn’t sleep that night.
Next morning after dressing him up, I looked him in the eye and told him…“Mommy is very sorry to have said you were a disappointment. Mommy didn’t mean it, you are not a disappointment. Mommy’s very proud of you. Please forgive me.” Then I taught him to say, “Yes, I forgive you mommy.” After that I told him, “Mommy cannot make you brave. You have to find it in your own heart to be brave and I know you can do it. You take all the time you need and mommy will be here to support you.”
I wasn’t sure if he’d understand me but I felt I had to say it to him. Well at some level he must have because it was very shortly after that, that he started to adjust to playgroup.
My attitude changed that night I couldn’t sleep. I realised I was disappointed because he didn’t meet my expectations of him. I revised my expectations, accepted him for him and became more supportive. I think he sensed the change and it helped him adjust.
Today, Hubby-jr’s still “unique”. There have been more incidences where I had to take stares from other mothers and kids while he screamed (Hubby-jr’s doesn’t handle change or new things very well). I’m happy to say that I’ve never repeated the words “disappointment” and I’m definitely more supportive. God has and is definitely using him to teach me patience!
I’m also very proud to say that Hubby-jr’s grown by leaps and bounds. He’s matured a lot this year and is learning to cope with changes a whole lot better. 🙂