Polina is a perfectionist (that makes 2/2 of my kids) and gets very frustrated if she can't do something such as writing her letters and numbers perfectly. Let's face it....the child really didn't see for the first six-and-a-half years of her life. She still isn't in the prescription strength she needs because we are trying to step her up gradually. Add not seeing to being institutionalized (and underestimated) for the first 6 years of her life, and you can imagine the difficulty and frustration that comes with a perfectionist learning to write!
So, we adapt. Her biggest issues are size, space and sequence. Size and space are easy adaptations. I draw a box with a highlighter and she is to contain her letter or number in that box. Sequence is a little more difficult. I draw dots for her to connect, but on more complicated figures, such as the number 5, knowing where to start, stop, etc is difficult. That's when we make a chant or a song to help her remember.
Tonight, we were working on the number five. It's complex. She started frustrated and whining. I could have reacted negatively as I'm sometimes guilty of doing. But tonight, I didn't. I was calm, I drew boxes, I paid attention. I guided her when she wanted and gave her independence when she wanted. I positively praised her through the whole process. She finished feeling successful. And when she feels successful, I get a kiss on whatever body part is closest to her (tonight it was my arm) and an "I love you, you're a good momma!"
I could end this blog there. But I want to throw in a few cents for those that don't understand or are struggling with behaviors of adopted or special needs kids.
All kids, but these one especially, need to feel successful. I got this positive response out of Polina tonight because I took the time to help her feel successful. Those positive feelings lead to positive behaviors and an enjoyable evening of cuddles, sharing, and celebration.
The same goes when a child feels unsuccessful or "bad." (I cringe at the idea of a child feeling or being told they are bad. No child is bad...behavior is bad. If you believe or tell a child they are bad, you need to think seriously about this!) If they feel defeated, they will act defeated. One negative leads to another negative and misery for all.
As parents and teachers, we have the ability to respond to children in a way that could make-or-break the day for everyone. We need to find the positive...the successes...and put our focus there so that our children will put their focus there.
Alvin Price said "Parent's need to fill a child's bucket of self esteem so high that the rest of the world can't poke enough holes in it to drain it dry."
Polina did a good job of filling my self-esteem up tonight. I am a good Momma, and I'm encouraged to do well again next time. Go create a positive cycle with your kiddos!