Thursday, May 31, 2012

Back to educating

Since blog is sooo not about ME, let's move on:)

I decided to address something I have touched on before but it happens and blessed parents of older treasures sometimes are clueless as to how to handle it.

Childish behaviors--

As in when around others, acting very immature

Saying inappropriate things

Making goofy faces at my camera
(I warned Chloe this pic was going on here---)

Trying to get attention

Butting in

Being rude

With our teen treasures we have seen this over and over. Even recently. 

Scenario was-Chase said something that very rude and insulting to me. And he smiled while saying it.

So why do they do this and how to handle it?

Why-- well, my belief is that they never got this at the orphanage or as a child when this behavior normally would have been dealt with.  And it wasn't dealt with or learned back then so it resurfaces as our children "grow" in our families.

And often it happens over and over- it seems to be harder to teach at this older age than back when it should have been learned. But it's our job to plug away at this to get them where they need to be.

Often it's hard not to get mad at having to go over these things many times, or that they look 15-16-17 and act like a 5-6-7 year old. But as I often say- age is but a number- react to the behavior, not the number.

So here's what I do that works--

I take them aside if I can, right away. I do not try to embarrass them, but I call them on the behavior asap. Not in anger. But in question-- "why did you behave, say, do this?"

And often you get the blank look. No answer. Do not get frustrated. That's typical.  Just move on.  Ask them "Did they realize that was not acceptable?  Or if you know they knew "You knew this was not acceptable?"  Again, an answer is good, but not required.

 We then do something that is HUGE in getting our teens to see what the issue is-- we role play. We literally show them the behavior, how they presented it. And why it was wrong- how it came across. And then we show them how they SHOULD have handled the situation, conversation, what ever the issue was.  

Because often this "gets in" when talking does not. They are teens. When you start saying "This is what you did, it was wrong, why did you do it, what were you thinking, why did you act like a 5 year old, what is wrong with you, you know better, etc.  THIS is what your teen heard---- "This is what you did, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda. " YEP, you become Charl*e Brown's teacher. And they don't hear a thing you are trying to get into this precious teen treasure.

So when you role play the situation, this often holds them with you, and also requires less English to comprehend, thus "keeping" them with you and your lesson much longer. And getting across to them for them to learn.

Then when they do it again (and they will) you can pull them aside and say "remember when we talked about this and I showed you how to do it differently? Do that now or go to your room and come back when you can do it." WILL WORK.  It makes them own the behavior.  

One of the hardest things with a tougher teen adoption is getting them to own their behaviors because most of the time there is very little "owning" of any behaviors in an orphanage. Basically if they stay out of the way, don't create a fuss, they are not getting anytime of basic parental instruction, which is where they would learn how to behave in situations. No guidance along with a different culture and cultural acceptances cause us to have to teach/reteach these things.

Try not to become upset, because when we go there we react in anger and when we get angry our kids often shut down. Then NOTHING gets in. Not-one-thing. So we have gained NO ground, no teaching, no progress.

How did I handle Chase insulting me? First, it took me a whole day to address it without anger. Even then I had to really push myself not to be angry. Because he not only insulted me but he also smiled while doing it. Yep.  Smiled. This is something we have also seen with our teen treasures, smiling at inappropriate times, often when in trouble. We *believe* this comes from embarrassment.  Not totally sure. 

But it's I-N-F-U-R-I-A-T-I-N-G.  Can you picture it? Talking to your child about something they did wrong as they stand there grinning?  I mean, if you ever wanted to really "knock some sense into them"(not hitting any kids here ever MOM) it would be then.

So when Chase did this, I told him the next day "What you said to me about XYW, (and I said exactly what he said, how he said it and was smiling meanly like he did)  it was wrong. You owe me an apology. And when you are being mean to someone like you were to me, smiling when you do it makes it 10 times worse, it means you are enjoying being MEAN. And if that's how you act in school and with other kids you will not have/ keep friends."  

That's it. What this did? It made him OWN the behavior, and it gave him food for thought. Even if he thought he "bested" me, good ol' mom, who he probably can justify something I did to deserve his insult, he WILL think about the "you will not have/keep friends." Because our kids want to fit in. They want to have friends. And to have that they must become equipped with skills to gain and maintain friendships.

And as time goes by you can get your teen treasures to learn, they will "get" what you are teaching them.  I can now tell Chloe "You're being rude" or "that's unacceptable" even "stop it NOW" and most of the time it will stop her.  

 We found when she came home she believed every time we tried to correct her on anything she thought we were "yelling" at her. Not actually YELLING but that she was IN TROUBLE. Yelling was the term she used.Kinda like she still "opens" the TV or the lights:))

And I would say to her "You are not in trouble, I am trying to teach you the right way to do something, not even raising our voices. This is when we realized how much better role playing went. Because as soon as she thought we were "yelling" she shut down. Nothing got in. So the behaviors did not improve. And we were frustrated.

Now, we joke when she says "Are you yelling at me?"  (yeah, she asks, she's comfortable enough to do that now) and I am comfortable enough to say "No but if you want me to I CAN YELL so you know what yelling is?" And she quickly says "No."

This falls under "Attention at orphanage is bad, attention means you are in TROUBLE." Because the older kids are mostly left to their own devices, no guidance, unless they really are in big trouble for something. It creates this "shut down" attitude in our teens.

So what else is going on around here? Lots:) Picnic for Memorial Day and I swear I got food poisoning or something 'cause I barfed all Monday evening/night:( Realized I have barfed more in this new house than I did in 12 years at the old one- OIY.

Went to a birthday party for the teens friend and had a campfire, roasted marshmallows and the kiddos swam for the first time of this year. 

Had our first Youth Sunday at church with Paisley, who voluntarily READ up front (see her, she's behind the cross) in Chinese. We were so proud of her. The others read in other  languages, but she read the most:)  She did wonderful.

Got an extra kid (mom DO NOT have a hissy fit) she is actually a former foster kiddo of my aunt who left the system then found out she was pregnant 
and had no where to go. (See where I get my heart for those in need??- this is one of my "moms") I did have to explain to our kids she was only here for a few days,while aunt is away on a trip--- these kids here seem to have this crazy idea when anyone comes with a suitcase they are here for good. What's with that already??

Spending time getting to know the newbie, Miss Paisley. Gosh, is she funny.  Loves to sing. Loud:)  She's full of life, she's a total joy to us.  She is loving Chinese speaking with her new sibs, I laughed when she went to take her evening medicine and couldn't get the lid off, Chloe said to her "Wait, wait, let your BIG SISTER help you:)"
Then this morning Paisley said something in Chinese and Chloe said "Speak English" and when she spoke Chinese again Chloe went behind the fridge, looked at me and rolled her eyes. Yup, sisters, they are.

This weekend will be interesting- the teens, sans Paisley, will go to Teen Retreat with our Youth group from church, they leave tonight till Sun afternoon. This will be a lesson for Paisley, because she told Chloe to tell me she wanted to go, but she didn't come and ask ME. 

 So she will not be going. I feel it's too soon to send her off overnight anyway, and I want her to have some time with us without the teens. It should help her figure us out a little better when left on her own, but also with the understanding her sibs will be coming back shortly:)

That's our week in review. Blessings abound.  Giving thanks to our Lord for each and every day, each step we make with our treasures, for each and every child we have be blessed with and all that we have.


Rebecca said...

Good stuff Vickie! Please keep posting the "How-To's". It is so insightful!

thesleepyknitter said...

Love your blog! We love to read how everything is going and to read your good insights. You are the RIGHT mama for that family! Praying for you!

Beth Templeton said...

I really appreciate your insights. Our teens also say we are "yelling" at them when we are talking normally--it was helpful to hear your take on it. I love the modeling approach. We so often want to tell our children what not to do, but forget that our children who grew up in an orphanage have no idea what the alternative is. Modeling is a way to give them tools to work with. Blessings!