Thursday, December 11, 2008

Loving her doesn't seem to be enough

Avery's behavior chart from school is horrendous. Over the last week she has gotten 2 yellow and then 3 red marks on her behavior chart.

At her school a green is a warning to stop behavior. The next warning the child gets in a yellow. They have to move their car out of the garage and put a yellow marker on it for the rest of the day. They lose half of their recess and treasure box at the end of the day. A red is "three strikes and your out" mark. They lose all of recess and the end of the week treasure box. Their car is marked red. Avery's car is predominantly the only car outside the garage and the kids are giving her a hard time about it.

In the last 5 days I have gotten notes home from the teacher saying Avery is misbehaving in cafeteria, during rest periods, on the playground and during instruction time. She has even been holding up her middle finger to people. I have no idea where she got this but I suspect the bus.

Avery's behavior at home has not changed. But there are issues we have been tackling for a very long time. They include attention seeking and continually doing things even after she has been told no. For me she is very high maintenance. I love her to death but I work very hard to set limits with her and it is exhausting. And the only result I get is anger, frustration and a daughter who says "I don't like being your daughter".

Let me give you some examples of her behavior. Avery walks into the room where her Daddy and I are talking.

"Avery me and Daddy are talking. Please wait."
"Daddy? Daddy?
"Avery what did I just say to you? Daddy and I are talking here."
"Daddy? Daddy?"
"Avery, listen to Mommy. Let us finish our conversation."
"But Daddy..."
"No Avery, wait!"
"But Mommy, daddy..."
"Avery! Stop it! Leave the room until we are done."
Blank stare
"Avery do as I ask. Leave the room."
"I don't want too."
"Avery I am going to count to three. If you are not gone you will go to time out."
Looks at me
Still looking
No movement
"Three. Please go to time out."
"No mommy! No!"
"Go to time out NOW!"
She puts up more resistance but eventually
she leaves the room, fake crying.
Then she calls from the time out chair which is across the house about when she can get up.
She will not stop until she is answered.
And on it goes.

Now this is just 3 minutes out of my day and we play this scenario over and over.

I have tried taking the hard line. I have tried being soft and compassionate. Neither changes the behavior. If she is not the center of attention she will make herself the center of attention. Sometimes its through positive behavior but mostly its through negative behavior because really noone can give Avery ALL the attention she craves. If there is one person in the mall that is NOT looking at her she will do whatever it takes to get that persons attention. She will dance, or say something in a loud voice to get that persons attention. Whatever it takes.

When she was younger she would have to one up her brother on any experience her had. She would make up a story like "Mommy, when I was 4, I picked apples in the field too and I picked 20 of them." Because Cullen had gone on a field trip and had this experience she needed to get the same attention he was getting. For along time she would tell stories about how she and Uncle Wally did things together. "Well, when I was Uncle Wally's daughter..." I guess she figured since she wasn't my daughter, but Uncle Wally's, that I could not confirm or deny she made up stories.

I took Connor to the pediatrician and Avery hung, literally all over Dr Fain. hugging him and kissing his arm while he tried to talk to me about Connor's treatment.

I spoke with her teacher this morning about what is happening at school. She was thinking something was happening at home. Well, really nothing has changed at home. Just the same old battles fought daily. She says that when Avery wants to say something is school she can not be put off even if it is an appropriate time. She will be asked to wait to speak but she just kept saying... "Ms. Sharp! Ms. Sharp" over and over til she got a warning.

Ms Sharp behavioral problems usually get sent to the cafeteria where they have one on one teacher interaction and are kept busy with lots of work. But Ms Sharp does not want to do that. If Avery has a red already and the day is not over she is being sent to time out in the classroom.
She says Avery is behaving in timeout.

We talked about whether she is just too young for kindergarten still or whether its Christmas time, or whether its something behavioral that she might need to be tested for. The decision was made that we would wait til the Holidays were over and see if anything changes. Ms Sharp also said that she would try and come up with another system that might motivate her to better behavior.

I am really at a loss. I have been struggling with how to interact with her in ways that counter some of this behavior. But so far I have found nothing that really works. Loving her does not seem to be enough. I spend my time googling topics like attention seeking, mother-daughter relationships, ADD. But there is not a book that explains Avery.

She has wonderful energy. I get such joy just looking at her. She is smart as a whip. She is very creative and artistic. She is determined and strong willed. All things that will do her good as she grows. Yet she can raise my blood pressure in an instant.


Elysa said...

Thought you might find some direction or good resources at that link.

Elysa said...

And here's a link to the book about "dreamer" children that was mentioned near the end of that thread:

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much Elysa!