Monday, February 09, 2009

Another Post That Isn't Funny

I have been meaning to write a follow-up to the posts about Luke’s visits to the psychologists, but, frankly, I’ve been a little embarrassed. But it is only fair to Luke that I say this, for the record. The short version: Luke is nothing more than an intense little guy, and we haven’t been parenting him very well.

And here’s the long version:

While the first psychologist believed that Luke might have a mood disorder, the second believes that Luke is just very intense and somewhat oppositional. In other words, he is a challenging kid. And while Dr. B. didn’t say this in so many words, we haven’t been rising to the challenge.

Dr. B. gave us a very specific discipline plan to follow with Luke, and we have been doing it for almost three weeks now, and things are going much, much better. Luke has a set of rules at home, and if he isn’t following a rule or we want him to do something, we tell him that. Then, if he ignores us, we say, in a calm but stern voice, “Luke, please do xyz. If you don’t, you’ll go to time out.” If he doesn’t stop, he goes to time out. We say, “You are in time out because you didn’t xyz.” We have a plan for what to do if he doesn’t go to time out, too, and what to do if we are on our way out the door. Basically, we have a very simple, clear plan that has been completely scripted for us. And it is working.

I could go on and on about why I think we weren’t very effective before. Part of it is that I read too many parenting books and everything was always muddled in my head. Part of it is that I don’t much like conflict and so I avoid it. But really, it is hard for me to be objective enough to analyze the dynamics in my family very clearly.

I’m not saying that we don’t have any challenging situations with Luke (or Henry, for that matter) any more. And I’m not saying that Luke’s intensity has gone away. But we are managing it much better, I think, and when things do get a little out of control, we have a plan. We have something to cling to.

And also, just because I’m always talking about Luke’s difficult behavior, I want to throw this out there: He just got his report card, and he is doing GREAT in school. I couldn’t ask for better. He has had his name written on the board once all year, and his reading and writing and math are all going very well. And he loves art and music and gym class.

This parenting gig? Sometimes it’s a little bit of a roller coaster ride. Actually, scratch the little bit. And the sometimes.


Beck said...

It's hard for a lot of us, this whole "discipline" thing. My girls respond very well to my casual, hey-don't-do-that style of discipline, while the Boy needs WAAAAY more structure than comes naturally to me, and so I actually have to work ALL the time at it with him.
Good luck to you guys - I know you'll do great.

so yung wilson said...

I think this is one (of many) of my biggest fears in parenting: not being able to see from a disinterested perspective at myself and at my child. I've often wondered in my imaginary world where I have a child, if I could ask near and dear friends for some probably painfully honest perspective: would they give it and would I be able to take it?

It's good to have an outside perspective - one that you can trust. I'm glad to hear that Dr. B is helping out. I'm glad to hear that he wasn't so quick and willing to quickly move to some emotional/mental disorder. And I'm glad to hear that all you and Luke needed was a plan that involved zero prescription-filling or lobotomizing.

Luke is intense, but I think his intensity is partly what's so great about that kid. I cannot imagine that he'll schlep through life ... he's going to enjoy it thoroughly I bet - all the way to the end. Thanks to you and Craig. And Henry too.

so yung wilson said...

p.s. what a treat to visit your blog to find not one, but TWO whole new stories for me to read!

Becky said...

I think you are being great parents. You cared enough to go to the doc and keep trying until you found a solution. And you are sticking to it. Seems like pretty good parenting to me.

God Bless.

Mara said...

I really think you need to start giving your photographer some credit here. I was giggling the moment I saw this pic, then realized... wait...

I took that.

Nancy said...

I have no doubt that whatever you were doing wrong, I still am. Plus, I've got a few other things on you, like I don't manage food issues well, and I think you do beautifully with that. I also have no doubt that a bit more consistency would really improve life with Emily. I might start trying that on Wednesdays. HA!

so yung wilson said...

p.p.s. Title and picture work beautifully together. And I completely disagree with your second sentence of The Short Version. You and Craig parent Very Well. Maybe it's improved now with The Plan. This calls to mind a quote I have stuck to my fridge that I'll now badly mangle: There is no way to be a perfect mother but a million ways to be a good one. You're a Good One, Ser.

Juliana said...

So glad to hear things are going well and you are having a positive experience with all of this.
I would love to continue e-mailing about this like we had a few months ago. Did you ever get my reply????

Amber said...

well, I just want to say that your parenting style before Dr B may not have worked for Luke, but it does have many things going for it. I was parented much more the way Dr B is recommending even though I was a fairly obedient child, and it was totally over the top and unnecessary. Luke is totally lucky to have you guys as parents.

Ser said...

Amber, I think I also wanted to address, in my post, what you talk about in your comment, but then I didn't. I know that all kids don't need to be disciplined in this way, and I guess it doesn't fit my ideal of how I would like to interact with my children. But, gosh darn it, so far it has been the only thing that has worked with Luke. Henry, who has a real people pleasing instinct, responds much better to discussing/modeling/etc.

Everyone, you are all so great. I, like Henry, am a people pleaser, and it makes my day to hear nice stuff.

My Three Sons said...

Hey Ser, So i wanted to share a find that i have - a couple books - one called "the mind of boys" and the other is "the trouble with boys". I am only about 1/2 way through the first one but wow - it really expains alot. Since we both have boys it may be good to read something like this to understand what they are thinking. It is a real eye opener - and mostly they talk about how boys are being left behind in schools because they learn differently. Anyways, good luck on parenting - no one told me this would be so challenging! Anyways, keep it up!

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