Friday, August 29, 2008

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

I got a phone call yesterday from a place that I've been trying to have evaluate Holland since June. They are so popular that it takes months to get in. They evaluate language processing skills and help find the ways your child best learns. The kids were all quiet until the phone rang. They're like a heat-seeking missile. As soon as I got on the phone, the dam broke. If it was my sister, it would have been easy to hang up and deal with the beasts. But this was the woman trying to schedule an appointment. I interrupted my conversation 3 times to get them to stop fighting. At one point, I hid in my room (no lock, so I had to keep my foot on the door while my 3 1/2 year old cried at the door).

The woman asks me if the one having the problem is the one that will be evaluated. Oh how embarrassing. Nope. That's my middle and youngest going at it. She was very nice saying she understood what it was like. She made an interesting couple of comments. She said that I needed to draw with him. That he could not see himself in the situation. I can completely understand this, because that is exactly what he looks like. He gets "stuck" in the moment and cannot go forward or backward. I actually used to do this with my students I taught many years ago. The woman that referred me to these people was actually the teacher I student taught under. She's the one that got me started with drawing. I used it all three and a half years of my teaching, but didn't continue it once I became a mom. I kind of laughed in my head when she said I needed to draw with him. Can you just see it? "OK. Let me put you on hold while I draw for my 7 year-old the reason he shouldn't be yelling at his sister about those dominos."

I decided to give it a go for post-behavior reinforcement. I sat down with all three of them and began drawing what I was doing and what they were doing. I didn't even tell them what it was. But Romania said, "That's you on the phone and me yelling at Egypt!" Great. Now we're on the same page. I went over what everyone looked like. How Holland hid out in the other room. How Egypt and Romania kept screaming at each other. Then I crossed it all out and drew two options that Romania had. I asked him which he thought would be easier for him and he picked the "walk away and wait for mom" instead of the "sit there and let her touch my dominos".

The true test came this morning however, when I was getting ready to head to Costco with three "I can't walk in a straight line" kids. I thought why not try this before we leave? I drew me pushing the cart into Costco, with Egypt sitting in the cart and the two boys walking behind me. Then I drew several pictures of what not to do and crossed them out. Then walking through Costco, the boys pretty much stayed behind me and Egypt *gasp* did not ask ONCE to be taken out of the cart. This is a girl who has driven me out of Target because she wouldn't sit down.

After lunch I had to run a couple more errands because we'll be gone this weekend. I'm trying hard to focus on correcting behavior. I have a couple charts; the "IF-THEN" checklist and "The Blessing Chart". They've been great tools, but I wanted to add "The Brother Offended" chart, too. There's a great homeschooling bookstore very close to me and I wanted to go in quick to look around. I didn't get to stay very long because I forgot to draw a picture before we left. I'm not kidding. It was the complete opposite of Costco. Two of them were arguing over toys; then one started driving the little car around the aisles. Someone pushed, someone cried and I had to leave.

I thought maybe Costco was a fluke and they just happened to behave. But after seeing their behavior in the bookstore, I'm going to buy a couple of sketch pads. I'll leave them conveniently around the house and my van for future counter attacks.

No comments: