Saturday, September 17, 2011

The truth about Alden

I know I have been real sloppy with this blog. Most of my time has been spent on thesis writing, babysitting and going about my daily chores that I barely have time to blog. When I do have time to spare, I'm more inclined to talk about my life in the other blog, which is totally selfish, I know. To be honest, I've been feeling rather guilty for not writing about the kids cos they've gone through so many milestones in the last couple of months. I haven't chronicled these developments the way a good mother should but I intend to change all that.

Anyway, recent events have prompted me to start an entry which in a way would give me a clean slate. First of, let me talk about my enchanted little Alden.

My boy turned 5 last May and a few weeks after that started Year 1 at Avonhead School. The transition from pre-school to the 'big' school hasn't been easy for him cos the activities are comparatively different in many aspects. The hours are quite similar to his pre-school's sessions but the activities are more structured. They consist of mat time, singing, reading, writing and counting, among others. To encourage him to like school and make the transition easy for him, his teacher suggested that he goes home after recess everyday. This was decided partly because of Alden's signs of fatigue after afternoon tea.

In addition to that, Alden's cheekiness has also contributed to his having a short day in school. You see, one fateful day during morning tea (this happened about 2 months ago) Alden ran off towards the school gate in an attempt to seek attention from his teacher.  Mrs. Waterman got really alarmed when this happened cos she thought that Alden was going to marched ahead and run off to the street. When Alden saw a heavy Mrs. Waterman chasing after him, he laughed and laughed and thought that they were playing tag. It was a good thing Mrs. Waterman managed to catch him before he got to the street. Needless to say, his actions caused  a commotion among the Year 1 teachers and students.

Because of this incident, Mrs Waterman insisted that I come in every day during recess to keep an eye on him. It was  frustrating for me cos my schedule in the office was totally messed up by this. I send him off to school at 8.50, get to the office at 9.05, run off to the school again at 10.40, get back to the office at 11.00 and then pick him up again at 12.30.

So you tell me, how much work can I accomplish in that period? Not much at all.

To make life easier, I tried to work something out with Mrs. Waterman. I explained to her how difficult it was me to be there everyday and asked for her consideration in the matter. To my relief, Mrs. Waterman understood and said that she'd get the senior students to keep an eye on Alden during the days when I am not around. So far, it has been working well.

Another problem with Alden is his behaviour in class. He doesn't want to listen to the teacher, cries at the drop of a hat and constantly seeks attention by doing silly things. Because of his strong personality (another term for jajal) and some delays in his speech, a teacher aide was appointed to work with him everyday. This has only started recently but already I'm seeing progress in his behaviour. He no longer cries when I leave him in the morning and he has learned some routines in class. Stuff like putting the drink bottle on the table, placing the reading folder in the box, putting the lunch box on the shelf and taking out the reading folder after morning tea time. To help speed up the development of  his positive behaviour, an intervention teacher who specialises in child behavioural management  from the ministry of education was referred to see us.

Yesterday was her first visit. The meeting started with a short Q and A on how Alden normally behaves at home. Stuff like his routine, his temperament, his bed time and how we deal with his negative behaviour. After pointing out the dos and don'ts, she laid out a few strategies that would help promote positive behaviour. She emphasised on the importance of having a routine at home. You see, one of the problems in school was to get Alden  to follow a set of routine in class.  Therefore, the primary aim of this intervention was  to develop a set of routines at home to promote good behaviour in Alden. This will then correlate to what the teacher is doing in school. I was all  up for the idea.

We talked about the ways in which the daily routine should be set and how I should introduce it to Alden. For a 5 year-old, a picture chart would work best. After some serious googling, I managed to design a simple chart for my cheeky boy. I started using it yesterday and to my surprise it was successful! This is what it looks like:

Since the specialist seemed warm and open, I didn't hesistate to tell her about the other problems I had with my Alden. One of them was getting him to listen and obey when being told to. It's been a constant battle for me to get him to do the simplest stuff and when he does do it, he throws tantrums and shows faces. Silvia suggested that I give him some kind of empowerment and let him make a choice. Let him believe that he has the power to decide. For example, if I want him to have his dinner and he refuses, I should give him options: A. Eat dinner and then watch cartoon or B. No dinner and no cartoon. Let him decide and take responsibility for his own decision.

This tip may sound like the most basic thing you've heard but I have never thought of it. I tried it yesterday evening and for the first time in history, Alden finished his dinner all on his own, sitting nicely at the dinner table. I couldn't be happier! I have tried it again this morning and afternoon and so far the results have been positive.

I know it's too early to tell, but for once I feel like I have the upper hand in this tough battle called parenting. This is the reason why I decided to write an entry today. With some of the new techniques Silvia has taught me, I now feel like a rejuvenated mommy.

I'll write more as this exciting adventure unfolds. Wish me luck!

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