Consequences in Action

I love this kid. 

He’s funny, energetic and is the highlight of the room. 
But he has another side. 
 First grade has been full of learning curves for Michael and for Mr. Sexy and I as his parents.  The parent-teacher conference we recently had brought a few things to light. What Mr. Sexy and I thought were minor issues at home were actually larger issues at school.  The past six months or so have been crazy for us.  But what’s new?  However, I realize I have let Michael’s behaviors fall to the way side more than I think I ever have.  Now we are seeing some of the effects. 
Michael is having a difficult time staying on task at school.  When he is on task he does his work slowly, meticulously.  If it’s not perfect according to his standards, he is unhappy and will do it over if possible.  This behavior has caused him to not finish his work on a regular basis.  When asked to move on, I was told he cries about it.  Just about every day he cries.  (Yeah, my kid is THAT kid these days.) Up until very recently he was told to stay in during recess to finish his unfinished work.  Since he has told me how much he enjoys staying in, I have asked his teacher to send unfinished work home as homework and to force him outside to play.  I’m told even getting him out the door has been a struggle. 
Michael does have difficulty staying on task, even at home.  When doing something as simple as cleaning his dinner bowl, it can take him anywhere from 5-30 minutes.  This is with just about every task he is asked to complete.  
Now we set a timer for every task.  He can see it.  He can hear when it goes off.  Sometimes he gets his stuff done.  Other times, not even close. 
And that brings us to this morning. 
Michael has a timer for every step in his morning: Making his bed, getting dressed, making his lunch, eating breakfast, getting himself ready to go out the door.  Every day seems to bring a challenge but this morning was especially challenging. 
He couldn’t find anything to wear. 
That’s not an abnormal problem for anybody.  I understand this problem!  But, when push comes to shove, I always find pants and a t-shirt – even if I have to dig through the dirty laundry.  Lucky for Michael, I found him two pairs of pants and two long sleeve shirts last night and I told him so.  Yet this morning he came down stairs wearing Marie’s jeans over his pajamas with a sad face saying, “Look!  These won’t fit!”  That was our first clue the morning would be rough. 
Mr. Sexy and I have been working hard on making Michael think through problems for himself.  For some reason this has been a monstrous struggle for him.  (Well, I have my theories…there are two sets of parents in his life – but I won’t go there…yet.) So of course, this morning Michael had an opportunity to look for pants and a shirt.  
Apparently there were none to be found.  His timer went off and his opportunity to get dressed passed.  On to breakfast.  Well that timer ended and he hadn’t quite finished eating either (Denai took care of that later). At that point he had 12 minutes to get himself ready to go out the door.  Most of that time was spent wandering aimlessly around looking as though the entire world was against him.  As Mr. Sexy and I were up and about we noticed several pants and shirts scattered on his bedroom floor.  Yet Michael remained in his pajamas, every once in a while whining about not having any clothes to wear. 
That 12 minutes was stressful.  Do we send him to school in pj’s?   How is that appropriate?  Do we give him clothes with a lecture?  That obviously hasn’t worked in the past… Should we physically dress him like we do Denai?  As Mr. Sexy and I quietly discussed what to do we kept coming to the main point: He has clothes.  For some reason he is choosing not to see them
He needed to be pulled up short and sudden, as Marilla Cuthbert would say. 

 Our conclusion was painful for me.  But it was the right one.  Twelve minutes passed and we told Michael it was time for his shoes.  He would be attending school in his pajamas.

A conniption fit ensued.  He was almost carried to the truck this morning.  Almost.  
After they left I called his teacher and explained our morning.  Let’s just say I LOVE HER.  She understands the concept of Love and Logic and supports it fully.  It was good I called so she would know and understand why Michael was in his pajamas and why he might be particularly upset.  His teacher also encouraged me in my efforts and even said, “You will win this.  Just stay firm a consistent.  You will win.” 
So, Michael is in his pajamas at school.  I’m not sure what kind of attitude will enter the van when I pick him up.  But today’s consequence was needed, as painful as it was for all of us.  

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3 thoughts on “Consequences in Action

  1. Oh do I ever commiserate with you! That was my grandson exactly when he first moved in with us when he was 5. A daily battle about everything. At age 10 he was diagnosed with ADHD (he is in no hyperactive physically though) put on meds and life became so much easier. And things were better at school. He is now 16 and just went off the meds because he wants to go into the military after high school. I am starting to see some of those behaviors sneak back. Especially the being so darn slow in the mornings. Good luck. Stay consistent. You will win the battle. I hope!

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  2. Yep – has happened here. You just gotta stick with what you say. My eldest – they boy – is also a perfectionist in his school work. Teachers at first thought he didn't understand the material; because he wasn't completing the work. But then they realized – he not only understands, he's really smart!! But, also very very meticulous: which of course takes time. So they learned to work with him on this little “quirk.” He has to learn to except time limits – but the teachers' will let him revisit a project he feels is “unfinished” when he has spare moments. And at home we use timers for certain things too. I find it's a good way for me to also keep track of time/our day

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  3. I commend you for sticking with logical consequences for the choices he is making. It's tough to do as a parent. We want to rescue them, help them, save them from the embarrassment of things like going to school in their pj's. But it's necessary for our children to learn that their choices have consequences. You're doing a great job, mama!

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