Friday, December 12, 2008


I've been unsure of how or what to post about K lately because honestly, it's just been difficult to parent him lately. I don't want to withhold info on here that pertains to "real life" but on the other hand, there is some semblance of privacy within the family and an embarrassment point that I don't want to broach with my children either. For that reason I've held off on SOME of this just in order to process it better myself before posting.

But in all honesty, it has been a roller coaster with Kristopher since late August. He began school and things started going down hill, and we've tried many interventions annd different tactics and each time we find one that "works", a new thing shows up somewhere else that needs attention.

Brianna is now hitting, Emma is "mauling" (laying on top of Micah and holding him down) and Micah will just flop right down onto Emma or Brianna too. So it's not like the other three are some sort of angelic humans that do no wrongs. They all have their moments.

Here lately the biggest struggles with Kristopher have been his attitude, lying, and random aggression. That is... aside from outright disobedience of course.

The lying I do believe we've squelched and I'm SO very glad each time he outright tells us what he did to make each of his siblings scream instead of saying "maybe they..." and making up a story or telling us "I don't know." The boy is smart. I'll give him that any day... and it works to his benefit and against him as well. We explained finally that when he's done something wrong, the consequence is "this big" holding our hands about a foot apart. But when he LIES about it, then the consequence is "THIS BIG", holding our hands stretched completely out. He seemed to get it. Consequences vary in our house and yes, we use the word consequence for the reactions to his behaviors and yes, he knows exactly what the word means and wonders "what consequence" his actions will have... time outs, losing privileges, losing toys, or not getting to do a fun activity or visit that was planned. He now understands that lying is not going to get him anywhere.

Which is why he told us that last night he laid in his bed playing with his stuffed animals (that he wasn't supposed to have but that's another story I suppose) and dressing them in his nightshirts (that he wasn't supposed to have...). I simply asked him why there were shirts in his bed.

It's also why he told me that he knocked Micah over tonight while they were in their bedroom "going to sleep" and that he did it because he didn't want Micah standing in his crib. Not really a good reason.

He's been willingly telling us (when asked of course) the things he's done the past 2 or 3 days and I do feel like that's a step in the right direction because he's no longer lying about things... but he hasn't stopped DOING them, and the really bad attitude is still there full force.

Of course I'm writing this tonight because I feel like we've had a full day of successful behavior modification without major intervention or harm. Unless you count him knocking Micah in the face tonight... but that's just ONE thing, and that's pretty good compared to the past week or so each day. Which would be why his room is "so clean" aka has nothing but two beds, a stool, two empty bins that used to hold toys and a stuffed chair in it. No toys, no stuffed animals, no shoes, not even clothes in most of his drawers because he kept emptying those too.

He has not been allowed out of my sight today. There's no toys in the bedroom so no reason to play in there- and remarkably good timing that the batteries in my electric baby gate died today. He has NO ACCESS without the batteries but *I* do. He has not been allowed to take his "big kid toys" into the living room to set them up away from the little ones and miraculously every single ornament has stayed on the Christmas tree today. With the exception of the one that Emma pulled off when I set her out there as we prepared to leave tonight. He has been allowed to play on the porch only with supervision and that's the ONLY place that has his toys. I'm not SO super mean and did go to the garage, choose ONE toy, and bring it in for him to play with for a time then to pack up and put back out there.

Today during nap time Brianna didn't go to sleep and ended up standing up in her bed and flopping out (not sure how, but guess it doesn't matter) so the three of us spent the rest of nap time doing 'therapy' games like sorting paper circles by color, playing with a large bin filled with different size and shaped beans, and putting together 'puzzles' made from last year's "Thomas" calendar I used for appointments. I also have a great Down Syndrome calendar which will soon be cut up for the same purpose. We read some "one per page" books and signed and pointed to different books as Kristopher named the first letter of each word and told me the sounds. Kristopher and Brianna colored until Brianna ate the blue crayon and drooled blue the rest of the afternoon. We had "Charlotte's Web" playing in the background and when it was over the TV went off. That was the only thing that we watched all day. For lunch Kristopher ate two whole pieces of leftover pizza. In the afternoon two friends came over to play and they all ran around, they had issues here and there listening and with boundaries, but in the end Kristopher had a VERY good day compared to the past few.

So tonight we were sure to reward him with the appropriate dimes for his good behavior and finishing up tasks in a decent amount of time (ie getting dressed, eating, etc.). He had earned more than enough dimes to buy the next Christmas present and so when Mike got home for work I was just putting the last child in the car to go to McDonald's and then to Target for Kristopher to shop. He picked out $5 worth of things for Micah (the set amount we chose for him to use- and he has to earn half of it in dimes before he can buy it... he's already bought Brianna's gift and has $0.70 toward Emma's now).

I think- I HOPE- that this motivation to really want to earn dimes to be able to buy something for someone else will now be 'refreshed' since he had such a fun time picking out something for Micah today. He's excited to find something for Emma next and had a great night while we were out and all the way up to getting in bed and being bed for the first 20 minutes (before Micah started crying).

So... that's where we are with kristopher. As for my experiment over Thanksgiving break... he was great over break. Not many if any behavior issues. He was "back to his old self". Then school started and that first Monday back was AWFUL. Now they've been back for 2 full weeks and we're back at square one. Mike and I have had one or two serious conversations about school- and even tho we LOVE his teacher, his class, what he's learning, the social aspect of it, and that he is absolutely LOVING every minute of it... if it is what is the root behind his behaviors then it will have to be the thing that changes. We've put him to bed earlier (now 7pm), we've made sure he gets good HEALTHY meals, we've cut out all snacks that aren't healthy and have made him 'rest' during rest time regularly. We have given positive encouragement for the good things he's doing, we've given consequences for the not so good stuff. We've rewarded "good days" with a special treat of dinner out or a movie or a healthy evening snack... and yet we're still struggling. We've had him go to bed in the spare room's playpen (for about 20 minutes) when he was being unkind to his brother, we've had Micah sleep in there so he wouldn't wake Kristopher. We've taught him how to appropriately interact with his siblings, we've spent extra 1 on 1 time with him, we've been sure to give him a lot of good positive attention and yet things haven't changed.

Our plan for now... until we get a solid answer from God as to what is right for Kristopher right now... is to finish out next week at school, then we have 2 weeks off. If his behavior dramatically improves then we will know that, again, the common factor is school. When he returns to school in January, if we see a negative turn in his behavior, we will speak with the teacher (which we may do before hand) to see if she has any insight, and then the final action would be to simply remove him from school and finish out his pre-k year homeschooling. I hope it doesn't go that far. I know he will miss it, especially since Brianna will be going to school 4 days and Micah 2 days and he would be home. On the other hand, I know that we need to do what is BEST for him, and that's not always going to be what he wants the most.

Please keep this situation in prayer as it comes to mind. We appreciate it so much and we know we need to keep continuously setting it back before the feet of the Father to know what to do. Right now we don't have a peace about removing him from school, but we do have a general outline of what to check when so that we don't just let this behavior go on without any intervention.


  1. Wow that is a lot to be dealing with. Even though Kristopher loves school, it might just be too overstimulating for him at the same time. Have you ever had him evaluated for sensory integration issues?

    Sounds like you are on the right track. Be kind to yourself. You are doing a great job.

  2. Chris & Mary will be praying for your family. Praise God He cares about these things too!

  3. I have 2 teenage sons-
    I always say that I
    de-program them in the
    summer from all the
    behaviors they pick up at
    school. I have to say 4
    is very tough- but 14
    in grade 9 is the toughest!
    the peer pressure!
    If they did something
    innapropriate I would
    send them to their rooms-
    It works until about the
    age of 11-
    I also sometimes reminded
    them that this 'cool'
    behavior is ok around
    friends- but at home the
    attitude should change.
    Don't worry it will get
    Your kids are so cute
    I love following your

  4. This sounds a lot like our Caleb (middle son) when he started pre-K. After a full semester we pulled him out because the school atmosphere was too much for him. This is common in boys as sometimes they do develop a tad slower than the typical girl. After we pulled him out and he started Kindergarten the next year it was so much better! I will be praying.

  5. Judson did many of the same things. In my attempt to analyze it I came up with several scenarios. 1) Just moving from Toddler to Boyhood. 2) Dealing with less attention due to Sawyer and his issues and then little sister. 3)lack of maturity. All of the above, None of the above.

    Some things we did that we think helped but then again, he may have just matured and life just got a bit better. (Not that it's perfect as he still hits his siblings too much. He never really lied)

    1) Money of the day. If he was good he got money to put in his bank.
    2) Let him do 'big boy' things and making a big deal about only he can do them as he's the only 'big' one. BUT he had to behave. They were privileges. Such as: Get to work outside with Dad without the babies. (Yardwork, special projects, cleaning, whatever) Go to work with Dad every once in awhile. Run errands with mom: Groceries, drug store. Help mom make dinner. He can make his own PB&J. Anytime just one of us went somewhere that was appropriate for him, we'd let him go. He still likes to do things with his siblings but he likes the one-on-one time too.

    We home school him, but we did take him out of a Mother's Day Out program as it just wasn't working for us. (That was when we decided to home school) Now that he's 6, he and his dad to to karate and he and I do a basketball league together. (I coach) He and his dad have season passes to a park close by and they also go hiking together.

    Just some things we do that seem to help.

    Good luck


  6. A few things to think about (and I am just throwing out ideas here so feel free to take or leave them) . . .

    Have you considered that his behavior may be realted to all of the changes in your home in the last year? Emma and Micah were wonderful additions but I'm sure that your whole world has changed since they came home. Schedule changes, more doctor's appointments, needing to focus on Emma's health issues, etc. I am NOT saying it shouldn't have been that way but maybe Christopher is reacting to that? My five year old starts to have behavior problems any time that he feels insecure or like he's not getting enough attention (that whole "negative attention is better than none" thing).

    I'm wondering if you might try talking to Christopher about all the changes and give him words for some of the feelings he may be having. Sometimes it's hard to have new siblings. It's okay to wish things could be back the way they were. It's okay to feel like he doesn't get enough time with mom. Whatever it is you think he might be struggling with. Also, if you can give him some one-on-one time with mom or dad (maybe a special night each week that is just his?) that may help as well.

    I'm not saying that this can't just be behavior but I wonder if some of the other stuff might be there too. Please don't interpret this as my saying that you shouldn't have adopted or anything like that! I'm just saying that adoption can be hard on everyone sometimes even though in the long run it is a wonderful, beautiful thing and brings so much joy to your family.

  7. I so agree with the last poster's comment.

    You added two other kids to the house hold and they have special need's.
    Your Christopher is only 4 give him a break...
    I have read your journey from the start .
    I feel sad for your Christopher He is the only "typical" child in your home and the others are taking tons of time away from him..!

    Dont blame it on school he need's to see "typical" Children he need's to have that interaction with them.
    Remember he is only four yrs old.

    His world has been rocked..
    Good luck !

  8. Mer ... you know I have a 4 year old boy too, and I say BOY because boys are SO different than girls! LOL

    Anyway, I wanted to see if you also eliminated artificial coloring from his diet? Even eating healthy can still provide for artificial coloring and let me tell you that elimination of it from diet WORKS wonders for behavior! We did this with Mason and it is amazing! RED is the worst culprit.

    Also, what about planning date nights with each of your kids, alone with you and then alone with your DH? Or even if that isn't feasible with four kids, maybe K is needing it most right now?

    I'm sure school is affecting his behavior. Mason has learned SO many not so great things from his friends at school. I guess that is how the world turns and we just have to teach them what is right, no matter what their friends say.

    Good luck, I know how trying it can be!

  9. I'm thinking that maybe with all the changes at home, he just needs to be at home with mom and the kids. I'm wondering if he needs to get really secure in his place in this "new" family, before he can spend time away and get back into the groove of things every day. Does that make sense? Because his behavior improves during break from school, it seems to me that he needs some more time at home with mom and siblings before venturing out into the world :) I wouldn't blame it on school, just more on security, transitions, and consistency. Good luck!

  10. I, too, am sorry that Kristopher is having his "moments", but it's certainly encouraging that he is beginning to 'fess up to his mishaps. His occasional aggression with the other children concerns me more than the lying - he's larger and stronger, and could accidentally hurt the little ones in the heat of the moment.

    I think in your shoes, I'd have a very serious talk with him - the "you're a big boy now" tactic is tricky, because while he no doubt wants to be a big boy - he's still only four. But he's old enough to understand that he could hurt the little ones, and that instead, you'd like for him to be their "protector". Actually, (where's the lightbulb for this sudden inspiration??) making him some sort of costume or badge as the "protector" might add a little bit of imaginative play for this role. Little boys of four are typically very interested in "good guys" vs. "bad guys".

    Also - have you all read Judith Viorst's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day"? I highly recommend it.

    Once more thing: kids get VERY antsy just before Christmas vacation from school. There is so much going on and so many distractions - so ease back a little where you can and go with the flow. Other than the possibility of physical injury to your younger three, which of course is non-negotiable, the rest can be circumvented to some degree. The dimes and resulting Christmas shopping sound like a great way to reinforce desirable behavior, btw. Maybe using stickers or gumdrops or something similar would also work to highlight the good stuff!

    Hang in there...

    Susan in Ky

  11. Sounds like we are on the same track these days!!! Elijah is beginning to have these issues too. I know part of it is age, but like you it is still wrong and he need to learn now how to deal with things appropriately. We are also dealing with the whining and always wanting something. We have begun to try to focus on the positive things and reward and praise these things. He also seems to be worse after school. We are truthfully considering homeschooling also due to these behaviorial issues. I also am seeing that some of this is also in direct correlation with Sarah and the amount of time she requires. When we adopted her, we totally upset the apple cart he was use too. Sarah tends to get more of the attention when we are out and about, so I am trying to always praise him in front of those giving all of the attention to Sarah and most have followed my lead and noticed Elijah. This has really made a huge difference in Elijah. Please continue to update on how you are handling things! I need new things to try!!


  12. I have on child in particular who is also causing me a lot of grief. Parenting is hard. And in my house it seem if it is not one of them, then it is another.