Griffin has been having problems in school again. We’re very disappointed, as we really love his teacher and we know that she is tough, but fair. And it is the same old issues: not listening, not doing what he is told, not sitting down to learn. It isn’t only affecting HIM (he is starving because he refuses to sit down to eat lunch, he is missing out on learning outcomes since he ignores the lessons) but it is also severely inhibiting Ms. Mona’s ability to teach, and he continually tries to grab the attention of the other kids in his class, affecting their learning too.
Today when I went in to drop him off, Ms. Mona had a two page letter for me written from Griffin’s perspective. It basically documented his day yesterday up until nap time.
Part of it is that he’s a 4 year old boy. I get it. They are routinely challenging and full of energy. I’m not asking that he’s perfect. But part of that is just him. It’s not like we don’t notice any bad behavior at home- we totally do. We just try to deal with each individual situation instead of the “problem” as a whole. And some of it we assume he’ll grow out of, or we ignore because we’re so tired of being the disciplinarian. But all of that has to change. We need to do it so that his school life is easier (I want him to LOVE to learn like I did!), so that his home life is easier (I want this to be a safe, happy place he can relax in!), so that his family is happier (we don’t like feeling like things are ALWAYS a struggle), and so that his teachers have an easier time- because their lives are hard enough as it is.
I think I have it narrowed down to a few key issues.
1. his attention span is minimal. I’m not sure how to improve this other than limiting his screen time (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/10/health/views/10klass.html?_r=0) and maybe playing learning games with him. This is an area I definitely need to do more reading on (since I’m clearly not a child psychologist). But where we’re going to start is 1 hour of tv a day- that’s all screens including tv, ipad & phones, and that includes before and after school. I will also designate one hour of time every night to playing learning games with him, or working on his writing. I’ve never really structured our time that way before, but I’m thinking having a fixed schedule might help him.
2. he HAS to be the best/ the first/ the winner/ the most important at EVERYTHING. This is a challenge at home (for example, he has to be the first one done getting dressed and if anyone else is done before him, he FREAKS OUT and has a huge fit) and i is also a challenge at school (during circle time if Ms. Mona calls on someone else instead of Griffin, he gets very angry and says it’s never his turn, it’s not fair & he storms off). I am no longer going to entertain this behavior at home. There will be no “racing”, or “being first” and he & Evvie are going to be treated exactly the same.
3. he refuses to help with chores (at school and at home) when it wasnt his own idea. If Ms. Mona asks him to help his friends clean up a center, he’ll run away and hide. If I ask him to pick up his toys, he’ll sit on th floor and play while he attempts to ignore me. Part of this is his stubborn nature, but I wonder if part of it is the fact that he has no real chores or set responsibilities at home yet. So as of today, he has a chore list. He will now pick up his own toys, put his dirty clothes in the hamper, put his dirty dishes in the sink, and help fold his own laundry. Doing his chores will get rewards (a quarter!) not doing his chores will get consequences (no screen time).
This will all have to be modified as it does/ doesn’t work, of course. And we’ll need to still deal with things as they come. But it’s a start. I know the first few weeks will be rough for all of us. But we’re doing it for HIM. He’s so smart, sweet, and funny. All he needs is some support so that he can always have good days.