Monday, September 12, 2011

Cade Takes a Step Back

Watching Harry Potter with his wand.
Remember how I just posted about how awesome Cade was doing with starting kindergarten?  Yeah, well NIX THAT.  Ah man.  Today we took a giant step backward with the whole kindergarten thing.

It all started with the color yellow.  Cade was supposed to wear that color to school today, because they were learning about it, or something.  So when I pulled his only yellow shirt over his head, which is this cheap monstrosity, Cade warned me that he didn't like it and he didn't want to wear it, but I made him because I didn't want him to be the only kid in his class that wasn't wearing yellow and feel like a freak.  Only, I should have listened to him, because apparently wearing yellow made him feel like a freak anyway, and things just went downhill from there.

When I took him to his class, he grabbed my leg and said quite resolutely, "I'M NOT GOING TO SCHOOL TODAY MOM.  NOOOOOOO WAY, MOM!"  And I kind of looked at him baffled, because school has been in session for 2 weeks, and he hasn't had a single problem.  So I tried pulling him through the door.  I tried bribing him through the door.  I tried threatening him through the door.  And, finally, when all else failed, I DRAGGED him through the door.  By then he was crying, and I was near tears too because I was flustered and bewildered as to why my kid was suddenly swimming laps around the anxiety pool.  Fortunately his (awesomely sweet) teacher came over in that moment and took (read: PRIED) him away from me, and I left.  I thought about him all that afternoon, hoping and praying that he was handling school well and not having a melt down.

Three hours later, I went to pick him up.  His teacher came right up to me after the bell rang, and told me that there had been some "issues" that day.  Great.  I cringed, waiting for the worst.  I am used to my child being willfull and defiant, and sometimes that's what I love most about him - but I also know, then when it comes time to conform, like in school, and say, just sit and do your work and be quiet, I'm not always sure Cade is going to be great at that.  And today he wasn't.  She told me, "Today, Cade REFUSED to try."  He wouldn't do a lick of his work, because he kept saying over and over, "I CAN'T do it."  This really concerns me, because I don't want my 5 year old at such an early age to think he can't do things, to already feel so incapable - I mean, isn't that supposed to happen during the dreaded adolescence?  Brandon and I tell him several times a day what a good boy he is, and how smart and strong and brave and wonderful he is.  We shower him with love and compliments and positive affirmations.  So...to have my kid already starting out, saying he can't do something, breaks my heart.  I don't know what to do about it.

So, when we got to the car, I told Cade that he could watch cartoons after school for a little bit, but then we were going to sit at the table and do alllll the work that he refused to do at school.  I don't want him to think he can get out of it, or that it isn't important.  My hope is that he'll start to do it at school once again, just as soon as he realizes that sitting at home and doing it with Mommy and Daddy is no fun when he could be playing the Wii or superheroes or something.  So Brandon sat with him for an hour and they did all his work...and it was hard.  (NO CADE, IT'S A T.  A T!!  NONOTANL!  A T!!! *giggles from cade, groans from brandon...*)  You need an incredible amount of patience with this kid, because he's smart and absolutely capable of the work - but lacks the drive and desire to do the work.

So, what do I do?  How do I give my sweet son more self-esteem?  How do we get it in his brain that kindergarten isn't, like, a choice.  In my desperation this afternoon when I was trying to get him into school, I told him that Mommy and Daddy would go to jail if he didn't go to school, and HE LAUGHED.  IN MY FACE.  Punk.  But I'm serious.  If any of you have any ideas on how I could help encourage him in this, or if you can just relate, I'd love to hear from you.  I just want what's best for my guy, and it makes me sad that he's scared of school and feels inadequate.

Later today, after school was out, I asked him why he didn't like school that day, and he crumpled to the ground and wailed that he hated school because it was "Yellow Day" and that he HATES YELLOW.  So I ripped that shirt off his head and told him to go pick annnny shirt he wanted.  Tomorrow is Yellow Day too, but if Cade will go to school sans the freak out?  He can wear any color he wants, conformity be damned.

Sigh.  Cross your fingers that tomorrow goes better...

11 comments:

Sarah @ Bearing, Eating, Being said...

Aww!! I'm not a parent, but I did take a parenting class in college (don't ask why!) and I thought that someday when I was a parent, I would re-read "Parenting With Love and Logic" and apply it to my kids! What you did (having Cade do his homework at home) is very "Parenting With Love and Logic," because it's basically is an approach where you let the kid live out the natural consequences of his/her actions. They will understand then why the rule had been set up. I thought it was (at least in theory) a really great approach. I'd check that book out or at least see if you can find some forums or something online that discuss problem solving this way and see if it looks like it's for you!

I think you're a great mom and I have NO doubt that Cade will have healthy self-esteem. He's probably just feeling overwhelmed by all the transitions happening (a new sister, new school, new friends, etc.) and testing his limits (or reaching them!)

Sarah Hope said...

Hey there, I don't comment much, and I'm not a parent. (so you can now feel totally free to disregard anything I say). :)
It sounds like Cade was having one rough day---he's done so well for two weeks, maybe, today was a blip. Maybe he was tired, nervous, frustrated, who knows, and his way of showing it was "I can't." Maybe that's his equivalent of don't want. Maybe it wasn't that he felt incapable...who knows. My guess, based on how you describe him is the dude has a fairly good dose of self-esteem. You know how sometimes if you're nervous or anxious you say things that don't totally make sense, maybe it's like that. My point really is, wait and watch, diligently like you will, and see how the next couple of days go. :) (easier said then done).

I LOVE that you made him do the work when he got home. That sounds like such a good parenting strategy! And really, I've seen kids go to school in costumes...as long as he's there and partly clothed, no biggie. Maybe he can wear a yellow sticker, it's all good. :)

eden said...

a read about a study that divided a group of kids into two smaller groups and had each group do a puzzle. after finishing, they told one group 'wow, you're really good at puzzles.' (or something similar to that) they told the other group, 'wow, you worked really hard to finish that puzzle.' (again, or something like that) when they gave the kids a chance to choose an easier or harder puzzle, the group that had been told they were good at puzzles almost all chose the easier puzzle. the group that had been told they worked really hard at puzzles almost all chose the harder puzzle.

my sister noticed that when she had told her son he was really good at puzzles he stopped doing them altogether. since hearing about the study, she's started pulling out puzzles and praising him in a way that praises his hard work, not necessarily natural ability.

obviously, i have no idea how you and brandon praise cade, but this could be something to think about...

Michelle said...

Hey B - I think you did the right thing, by going through Cade's work with him at home. Perhaps you can approach his teacher, to see if she can give you a heads up on work the class will be working on next week. Hopefully you can introduce the work to Cade a few days before he has to do it in his class with the rest of the kids. It will hopefully build his confidence and get him more engaged. As for the "Yellow" day - Why don't you provide him with a yellow wristband or Yellow zip-up hoodie, so he can take it off later in the day or grab it off his coathook at school when the teacher is talking about the colours.
You're doing a Fab job! Hugs!

Michelle

brie said...

thanks so much to all for your comments and ideas - it means mucho to me. i think i'm going to try some of these ideas you gave me, so thanks - i really mean it!!

Melanie said...

Alright, so I don't have any professional words of wisdom for you, but I do have a five year old (girl) myself. A girl that, for whatever reason, deeply needs the approval of peers and has MAJOR anxiety about life in general (although she's warming up to it lately).

Ever heard of the author Max Lucado? He's the author of the children's books about little wooden people called The Wemmicks. Books entitled, "You Are Special" "You are Mine" etc... Basically they are books that really make you think about your self worth (being unique, not letting other people's opinions hurt you, knowing where you came from).

I want my daughter to feel that she is something awesome so deeply that it is a normal thought to her. I've started reading these books to her and she is TOTALLY making the connection between Punchilnello (the main character) and herself, between Eli (the woodcarver) and Heavenly Father. It's actually been quite awesome.

Sairs said...

I'm not a parent either but just wanted you to know you are in my thoughts. It must be really heart wrenching to see your little guy upset and then have to take him back to kindy the next day. Wishing you the best of luck and happy thoughts!
Sarah

Krista said...

Last year I had a student in my class that had anxiety. His mom told me that in kindergarten it was a struggle to even get him to go to school, but honestly by the time he was in my class (fourth grade) I didn't notice it hardly at all. He was taking medication I believe, but he was well liked and accepted by the other kids. The only time I really noticed his anxiety was when something unexpected happened like one time the electricity kept going out during a storm and one time we had an unannouced earthquake drill. Hopefully with time and as he gets older the anxiety will lessen.

Tylaine said...

Had to laugh at the jail thing too. I can just picture C laughing. :)
I can somewhat relate to this. Ethan is rather reluctant to do any of his work even though he's smart. I think it's mostly just a little phase of getting used to school. Does he do chores at home? I have a little fish chart for Ethan and when he gets 10 fish he gets to go out for ice cream or to the pool with mom or dad. The alone time is really great for him and I think it helps give him a feeling of accomplishment.
Not to make you feel worse but if you think things are hard now just wait till you try teaching a 6-7 year old to read. furustrating!! This year though with his little readers I reward him with a quarter when he reads his story. He likes that because he knows he will get to buy a little toy or something when he's saved enough. I think finding some kind of reward can sometimes be a good thing because it helps give them the motivation they need. Good luch Brie! You're a great mom. :)

Traci said...

Wow, the boy must really not like the color yellow. Can't blame him, I don't like it either. You could always just put it in his backpack and if he changes his mind at least it's there, so he's not the only one not wearing yellow, although I'm sure he wouldn't be the only one.

Sahara said...

Aww, Brie, that sounds so frustrating! Like someone else said, it makes me wonder if Cade's "I can't" was his way of saying "I can't bring myself to do it." I heard the same story eden did about the puzzle and the words kids were praised with, it was intriguing to me, it makes me want to try it. Don't take it personally that he laughed when you said you would go to jail if he didn't go to school, I doubt he really understands what that means in real life. (And you won't go to jail if he misses some school by the way, especially since it looks like you're on top of his classwork already) One method I've found that sounds like it could be extremely useful is on this site called "Positive Parenting.org" - and it really focuses on figuring out how to communicate with your child so you can find out what they are trying to say in their misguided tantrum way. (In this case, Cade's tantrum about refusing to go into class) http://www.positive-parents.org/2011/07/positive-parenting-in-action-tantrums.html I know Cade is older than a toddler, but I've been thinking about how the same method could be applied to any age kid with some slight modifications, and it seems like a really good idea! And who knows, it could be he is so willful that he just wouldn't care about being the only one not wearing a color that day. Or, you could put a yellow shirt in his backpack so that if he changed his mind and DID feel silly not wearing yellow, poof he's all set to change his shirt. Best of luck working with this new kink - you are a very caring mother, I know you'll find a way to get through!