Monday, June 15, 2009

Now What?

Today I woke up with renewed sense of hope and optimism. It was Gracie's first day of Gymnastics! I signed her up last week and have been so excited ever since. I got her all revved up about it too, by saying, "Do you wanna go to a class where you get to run and jump and play?" Of course she was on board.

So we drove on over this morning, got her all signed in, and she was squealing with delight at all the people and fun stuff to play on. I thought, "This is it. Thank goodness."

I sat in an area where the parents watch the class and started reading through the material they gave me. I watched Gracie and her class sit in a circle and do some stretching. The teacher was so sweet and making it so fun for them. That lasted about 2 minutes, then Gracie was up and gone.

She began sprinting all through the preschooler area, jumping on different things, walking through other things, hanging on bars; basically, she became so excited, she turned into a complete wild animal. I said right then to the other moms, "Oh, this is going to be a problem."

I went out there and the teacher suggested I hold Gracie behind a gated area where she could watch what they were doing and maybe that would help her know what she needed to do. I tried explaining to Gracie what was going on, that this was just like preschool, just a different teacher, but she wasn't even listening to me.

She was watching the older kids run around and struggling with all her might to get out of my arms (luckily, I have to do the "seat belt" with her a lot so my arms and body are strong enough to handle it). I was not going to let her bully me nor was I going to allow her to bully any of the other kids.

After about 5 minutes, the teacher called for Gracie and asked if she wanted to make pizza with them (as an exercise). So I let her in, she only jumped on a couple things on her way to the circle, but did sit down. Then I watched as the teacher struggled to get her to mimic what she was doing, while all the other kids waited. She lasted about 3 minutes and was up and sprinting again. I decided that was the end of that.

It was a free trial class and everyone was really sweet about the whole thing. So I two-stepped it out of there with a restrained, kicking and screaming Gracie. We will not be going back to that class.

At first I was discouraged because I know if she just could have applied herself, she would have done great. But as I spend every minute of every day with her, I should have foreseen the events of this morning. As I watched her, I knew exactly what she was thinking and what was going to happen as a result of her just looking away from the teacher, and I was right. I'm at least two steps ahead of her in any public situation and have to be prepared to leave any scene without cowering to her in any way. She just keeps testing that electric fence to make sure it's still on.

This is what I'm facing now: Where do I start to get her the help that she needs for this developmental problem she has and how does it all work? What can I do? I don't want a diagnosis, I just want some sound parenting advice from someone who knows how to handle a super-distracted, super-active child.

Please please please if there is anyone who deals with this or has dealt with this or has seen it dealt with in other families, I really need your help right now. I've searched the internet but I don't really know what I'm looking for. I have no idea where to start, knowing that this is going to be a lifelong journey of tribulation and learning.

I'm ready to face it. I'm ready to listen to criticism and adjust my parenting practices. I don't need sensitivity, I need blunt honesty.


'Garrett's mom' said...

First and foremost, I would go talk to her pediatrician. Write down all the concerns you have, and all the things in Gracie that you have noticed, and take the list to her doctor. I think they can give you the next steps that need to be taken to get Gracie the "help" that she needs. I think you are doing an awesome job! You recognize that Gracie has an unbelievable amount of energy, and you are doing things to try and help her. Gymnastics was a fantastic idea! Another thing I would suggest looking at is maybe Gracie's diet. I would try cutting any sugar or high carb foods from her diet. See if that helps. Don't get discouraged! If something needs to be done for Gracie, I'm glad to see that you are willing to take whatever measures need to be taken. You are a fantastic mother, don't you forget that! Hopefully that helps a little. Those are just the first things that come to my mind. Let me know if I can do anything to help you! Love you!!

Sarah-Olivia said...

I personally think the main thing is to stay constant and firm. Not the "we are never going to have fun," kind of firm but stick to what you say. If you say, "If you act like this then this is the consequence..." stick to it. Landon (who is VERY close to Gracie's age) had a little bit of a problem with structure etc. and even when to therapy for almost 2 years for it but is doing a lot better now. The behavioral therapist said that he really needs things to be constant and I need to be unreactive to his problems when he has them. I'm not sure if I am making sense but if you ever want to talk give me a call! 253-380-9439 I would be happy to talk or just listen if you just need to vent!

tara said...

Gracie is 4 months younger than my little Ali: so I know exactly what you're dealing with. Garrett's mom gave you some good suggestions (I was going to suggest talking to your pedi. to, so on to the next thing)-- the sugar is a good one too. My kids are addicted to sugar-- I had to get it completely out of the house. They think it's okay to ask for candy at 10am. Why, I don't know b/c I never give it to them before lunch (potty training jelly beans for the 2 year old aside) Anyway--

I really don't think there's anything abnormal about Gracie, granted, I don't know you personally, but from your blog, she sounds a lot like my almost 4 year old. We didn't have terrible twos at our house so much as "treacherous three". Seriously. Ali can be sweet and helpful as can be one minute and a TERROR the next.

Today for example, we went to a local restaurant (Nothing fancy, just a little bistro) to meet up with a friend of mine, and her mother, that I grew up with. I haven't seen her in 4 years. Ali was on her worst behavior and I think it was because she thought she could get away with it. I told all 3 of my girls there would be no dessert if they didn't behave, and they didn't get dessert.

I could have wrung Ali's little neck! We got home and she got mad because I told her no when she asked for something to eat, we had just eaten lunch! She started to have a tantrum, so I sent her to her room. She continued to scream at the top of her lungs until I spanked her. Then the tears started (before it was that mad, fake cry and just flat out screaming). For some reason, I think because I had 2 people over that aren't usually here, she thought I'd relent and she'd get away with it. Tis' not so, my little one! ESPECIALLY in situations like this you have to mean what you say and follow through with the consequences.

With the gymnastics thing, I would give it another try. She needs practice being around other kids and following directions. I would talk with her about it again and explain "its going to be fun and you can run and jump and play, BUT you have to follow the directions of the other kids, or you can't participate". She sounds like my children who like their independence (I hear "I can do it myself!" about 10 times a day, from each kid!) and are a bit strong willed at times. It will serve her well in life, she just needs your gentle but firm hand to mold her into the wonderful girl you know she has the potential to be.

Keep your chin up, you are not alone in this!

tara said...

that should have said LIKE the other kids not follow the other kids directions. LOL!

Becky said...

Everyone will have different advice for you, and having never met Gracie (or you!! maybe one day?) it's hard for me to really give you any. Having 3 kids and knowing a lot of different kids, I can maybe offer a little of my own advice.
I would talk to your Doctor, but beyond that, be willing to accept what he/she has to say, even if there is a diagnosis involved. If there is a diagnosis, try to see it not so much as a "label" but a solution.

Anyway, I really don't have much advice to offer. My kids have done their fair share of running around, not listening, and not following rules, but as they get older, people do expect a different level of behavior, so it becomes harder and harder in public situations.

Good luck!

c_money said...

I realize that I don't have children, but I work and have worked with a lot of kids, so hopefully these ideas will help!How far do you live from Gymnastics?? Is it possible for you and Gracie to maybe ride your bikes, or even walk to gymnastics? I am curious, if you kind of wore her out before going to the class, maybe she would be able to focus a little more. Definitely an experiment to try, and then you both are getting good exercise! When I was teaching, I had an entire classroom filled with kids who had so much energy that they weren't able to focus and seriously only wanted to run around as well. I had to work really hard on watching how I said things. For example, you did tell her that she was going to get to run and jump and play. Maybe in her mind she saw all the stuff to climb on and it clicked that you said she could. Something to think about. I would also look at the diet! Cutting out sugar and carbs worked for alot of my students! It sounds like she is an amazing little girl, and I know for a fact, that you are an amazing mom! You have such a huge heart I can only imagine how wonderful your little one can be!

Tina said...

wow! These are some amazing women giving you really sound, down to earth, good advise... all worth trying... Just remember, the only time we fail at something, is when we fail to keep trying... She is a good little girl and will be ok... and hopefully you survive her!! :>)

wendysue said...

Before I give any advice, let me say that you are a GOOD Momma! Don't forget that. Everyone's kids have struggles, many you may not even know about, and I think too often, us mothers take it all on ourselves.

I would start with your public school system. Ours here in Nebraska offers all kinds of testing for kids starting at 18 months old. Language, behavior, everything. Call and see what they can offer. Most likely it will be to go in and do some testing. If she qualifies, they will have some therapy options and the best is that it's free! We had a language therapist come to our home for our little 2 year old that wasn't speaking, she came for a whole year. Many public school systems even have classes at the schools starting for 3 year olds. I have two friends with kids with autism that started in the system that early and a few other friends with children with other behavior/language issues that got started then too. Just give them a call, it definitely couldn't hurt and may help.

I'd also ask your Dr, they may be able to get you into a behavioral specialist that can help you with some tactics that may work. I know for us, even just with the language problem, it was nice to have someone just give us some ideas of what to try.

Best of Luck to you and Gracie!!

Tom and Amy said...

I'm a friend of Becky and Jon's - my oldest son, now almost 6 was a lot like your daughter - he had speech issues and also went to develpmental preschool. Anyway, we also tried gymnastics - what I suggest is finding a program/club where it's more controlled. The ones that have all age groups going at once would never in a million years have worked for us, but the community one with just his class in a room worked. Granted, there were times I was standing outside the door watching with him through the window because his behavior was so distracting to the other kids. But we'd go back in and try again. I hated paying for a class only to attend part of it but it was important in the long run to stick with it. I would try a program where parents participate/shadow their child. Best of luck, it is sooo hard to have a child who's a little off the norm but I wouldn't trade him for anything. (We also visited a nuerologist, but his pediatrician helped the most.)