Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Patience is NOT a Given

I babysit from time to time for friends and my sister. Some seem to think I have the patience of an "angel" - which is kind of amusing. I will admit, I've grown as a person a lot over the years. My patience was, well, non-existent for the most part at one point in time. I pondered over my changes to come up with the reason I am more patient overall.

When I began to take college courses, after moving down to south Florida, I started with business (accounting), then switched to early education. However, I found that I did not want to be a part of the politics that go along with working in the school system. I was appalled at the teacher's behavior when I interned for a kindergarten class at the end of one of my semesters. I realize that teaching a class of roughly 20 children has challenges, but her behavior was not acceptable. In my report, I included the details, but I'm not going to go into it here. It's irrelevant at this point.

From early education, I switched to psychology. I switched to psychology because at about the age of four, my nine-year-old began to display symptoms of ADHD. He wouldn't sit still with the other students in his VPK class. He constantly fidgeted or interrupted others. He wouldn't seem to "hear" you when he was spoken to. His teacher, at the time, wanted me to take him to be tested for ADHD. I had a problem with this because I didn't want him to become labeled if he did have it. I also knew I would never put him on medication because I believe it is more debilitating than helpful.

So, fast forward a bit. I wanted to learn more behind the psychology of a person. I figured if I could help my son, I could also help others at the same time. I even considered getting my doctorate and building my own practice! Yeah, that's not happening. I am going on to acquire my master's degree, but it isn't going to be in psychology.

Over the years, I adjusted my attitude to get past whatever issues I had going on within myself, so I could do my best for him and my youngest. Being the parent of a child with ADHD is like having 10 children running at warp speed 90% of the time. It's exhausting and frustrating at times.

I don't let this deter me anymore. He is an extremely bright individual who needs a strict routine. The routine helps keep him in check. He knows what is expected of him. Sometimes we go a little off of the routine and then havoc ensues.

I find that he reacts to things much differently than most children. For instance, if he is excited about something, he becomes overly excited. He bounces off of the walls. I have to tell him to bring it down to my level or to calm down. If he is in trouble for something, he sometimes shrinks away in fear - overreacting. If he fails at something, sometimes he freaks out because he feels like he'll never get it. His reaction to almost everything is almost always magnified by a HUGE amount.

I have learned to adjust my behavior and reaction to accommodate him, so he feels safe and secure with me. My children need to feel they can depend on me. If I overreact, then he will freak out.

He was the first reason. The second was my youngest. Even from birth, he proved to be more sensitive and stubborn than other children. First of all, he didn't want to come out! He was almost 11 lb. when he was born and cried almost all the time for the first few months. It was exhausting and discouraging. Eventually, to my relief, the consistent crying faded.

He is an extremely intelligent child. However, if he doesn't want to do something, he will refuse to have any part of it. This usually leads to a huge tantrum if I push him hard. I prefer to pick my battles. For instance, he knows that if he hurts someone, he should say he is sorry. He refused to say he was sorry at one point, so he was in time-out for quite some time. He screamed and cried, but eventually, he gave in and said he was sorry. I haven't had much trouble out of him since then. Usually, he is better behaved than his brother.

It took me years to learn how to read and understand others. This enabled me to figure out how to handle different situations. I didn't just wake up with a lot of patience. I WORKED at it. Patience is developed through a repeated pattern of behaviors. As with anything, you just have to keep at it.

My patience has become almost second nature. I hardly overreact to anything anymore. It makes me feel great, knowing that I am able to guide my children and they can come to me for any reason without fear I will freak out.

It took me a long time to get to this point. You can do it too. Just keep at it. There will be a lot of ups and downs in the beginning. These days, it takes a lot to push me to the point where I start to lose my patience. Usually it's a really bad driver who pushes me over the edge. Texting and driving = swerving into my lane, almost hitting me = angry me. Yeaahh... True story!

I'll include a bit more in my next post about some of the ways I keep him on track, just in case you were wondering. Here's an article I wrote that may give you a some ideas:

How to Treat Children With ADHD Without Medication

Thanks for reading!

~ Crystal ~

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