Monday, March 19, 2007


We had stopped by the mall on our way home. It had been raining outside and I had just taken the wheelchair out of the trunk. Dear Son was six years old at the time and did not want to get into his wheelchair. Granted, we were just there to pick up some make up I had ordered at the department store, and it wouldn’t be long, but he wouldn’t cooperate. He had just started this thing, as I call it, where he would bear down the minute I lifted him out of the car and want to sit on the ground. It had been going on for a few weeks now, at random, but was clearly becoming a trend. It didn’t seem to matter if it was raining, snowing or anything else, or even if the ground was still wet, he just wanted to sit down, on the ground and he refused to get in his wheelchair. Where was this coming from? I had no idea, I just wanted it to stop and to stop now.

I admit I had been pretty spoiled up to that time. I can’t recall that I ever had any behavorial issues with Dear Son and I was thankful for that. He was always a happy go lucky kid and a huge extrovert. The minute he saw anyone, he had a big smile for them and was his old charming self. But this behavior, this had to stop.

I picked him up off the ground and finally got him in his wheelchair. We picked up the make up and then went home. As I was going home, I thought about what had been happening these past few weeks and what might be causing this behavior. I had also noticed that he was fussy when I got home from work. This was unusual for Dear Son and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I began to reflect on everything that happened over the last few weeks and realized that I had just started back working full time and hired a babysitter. Granted, it was only for three to four hours a day, and was a Grandma type he loved, but still, something wasn’t right. I watched his behavior closely when I came home from work and soon began to put things together.

I made a few simple changes to our day. First, when I came home from work, I would sit Dear Son on my lap and give him tons of hugs and kisses and talk to him. I began to do this the minute I came in. He would smile and give me these big old belly laughs and when he couldn’t stand it anymore, he’d scoot off my lap and onto the floor. From there he would go about his business and began to play. Then I could relax, change my clothes and get myself some dinner.

Next, I began to spend more time with him after work. I started taking him for long walks again or taking him out to swing out back. They were simple things but I gave him my time, even though I was tired.

The behaviors disappeared almost overnight. It was nothing more than Dear Son needing more attention from me right after work. After all, I had been gone all day and even though his Dad got him off to school and got him off the bus, he still missed his Mom. It wasn’t as though I wasn’t paying attention to him when I got home, I was. It was just that I was tired after working a full day, and would change my clothes, get some dinner and then give him all of the hugs and kisses and play with him. I just needed to do these things in a different order.

It’s amazing how little things go a long way. I learned after that, that it was easier to change my behavior than to change his. I continued to use this technique today, always looking for ways to change what I am doing, to affect Dear Son’s behavior. So often, we spend a lot of our times trying to change others, when it’s so much easier to change ourselves. The result sometimes, make everyone a lot happier.


Awesome Mom said...

I think that you have hit on something that works with all kids. I have watched the Nanny and every time she deals with behavioral problems it is always the parents that have to do the change in behavior the kids then follow. Changing yourself and not other people is one of the best life lessons that my mother taught me.

Jodi Reimer said...

Thanks for this post, it came at the perfect time. I'm dealing with some "critique" of my parenting by family members who don't get that we can't expect our kids with special needs to change, we have to do the changing...

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