Thursday, December 3, 2009

Taking the Sizzler to Grandma's

I received permission from author Carol Barnier to reprint an email that she sent to her subscribers. First, you can sign up for her emails HERE and also visit her website Sizzlebop HERE.

She has written some wonderful books (I own two) including:

How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On To Learning
If I'm Diapering A Watermelon, Then Where'd I Leave the Baby?
The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles

If you have a sizzler, you likely do your reading in chunks. Her books are full of easy to do ideas and oodles of humor. (You probably guessed that last part by her titles.)

The email she sent out was a 'help' in how to deal with the stress of a 'sizzler' during the Christmas season. She lists the definition of a sizzler on her webite as well. (ADHD etc.. fits the definition.) Please take the time to read this. Even if you don't have a sizzler, I think many kids become one during this highly stressful season and we'd all do well to take note of these ideas. Oh- if you will see us during the holidays, this is required reading.


As we head even deeper into the holiday season, many of you are planning trips to be with family. Some of you are excited about the shared moments you'll be having. But some of you are living in sheer dread of just what may happen with your beloved Sizzler's holiday-charged energy level when coupled with Grandpa Bill's belief that your child was dropped from a passing Klingon space ship. (Any Trekkers out there?)

Take heart. There is hope. There are things that can be done. And not a one of them on our list involves sedatives. Whooo hoo!

Today's Tip is how to prepare your Sizzler for the upcoming Family Gatherings. Part of this is from a note we sent out in March. It originally addressed some of the challenges of developing a social life when it includes Sizzlers. But it has been updated for the holidays. Hope you find something useful! -- From Your Friends at Sizzle Bop

HELP!! I Can't Take Him Anywhere!
The sound of shattering glass shot through the house. I sat down my mug of tea with a practiced sigh. I had planned on sipping that tea long and slow...taking it in along with large amounts of girlfriend chatter, fall-out-of-your-chair laughter, and the sharing of deep concerns. But, once again, it was not to be. My much loved son had yet again, spoiled the afternoon by breaking something in someone else's home. Well, I should be grateful. No one was hurt this time. No one followed him up on the roof. No one slipped into the fast moving waters because they had followed him across the slippery rocks.

It's not that he wants others to be hurt. In fact, it's the farthest thing from his mind. To be honest, there is little in his mind. It's more in his muscles. It's all about doing. Doing what pops into his head. Doing something that is fast and fun and sets things in motion. He never even considers that there might be a resulting danger.

Sometimes I just want him to be typical...calmer....more that once in awhile I could just enjoy that cup of tea.

But alas, this is not my life. And when I bring him into the homes of others, very often they look at this high energy child and see nothing but unchecked behavior. A visit with family members can become the most painful experiences. Comments and corrections flow like water. And his spirit can leave their home bent and wounded.

I recently received this letter and I ached for this mom. It brought back memories of my son's early years.

HELP!!! I am the mom of a six year old sizzler who is having a hard time with others who feel the need to discipline my child when they think I am too lenient. I have learned to choose my battles with my Sizzler and have also learned that his mind thinks differently than most. So he sees the world through different eyes. Even though I have explained my son's ADHD and sensory integration to my parents and other close members of my family, they seem to think that my Sizzler just needs more of a firm hand and constant reminding of "not to touch", or whatever else they feel he to be reprimanded for. My heart breaks every time we visit my parents home. The once safe place to be, where he was adored and accepted has now become a place of constant nagging!! Don't do that and don't do this. Stop touching that!!! Stop running!!! You're too loud. Lower your voice!!! Ahhhhh!!! Will it ever get better? Please, if you can, I would like some suggestions on how to make visiting Gramma and Grampa's house more pleasant. At this point, I feel it best not to visit any longer and to have them visit our house instead. What do you think? Is it fair to expect others to understand? Or is it an unrealistic goal?

Well, take heart. All is not lost. It may be restrained for a season. You may even decide that all social connections must occur in your own home. But since that isn't always possible, particularly when major holidays arrive, then do what you can.

Here are five possible ideas.

ONE: Take Them There Ahead of Time
Often times a Sizzler gets wound up just by the mere volume of new inputs to process. Going to Grandma's or Uncle Toby's or the Brockowitz's can be chock full of new sights, sounds, sensations and even smells. In addition, each new environment has it's own set of expectations and rules that are not a part of life at home. If you could take your Sizzler through a sort of practice run of the the upcoming event once or twice before the actual event itself, then much of the "newness" would be removed and you'd have a better chance of avoiding over-stimulation impulse control issues that often bless our holiday events. (making them even more eventful...big sigh). Of course you often CAN'T take your child on a dry run of events and places to come. Uncle Toby wouldn't appreciate it.

So do the next best thing.

Take your child on a virtual tour. Have them close their eyes and imagine the scene as you describe it to them in great detail. (This is a great activity for long drives in the car.) Describe the town you'll be entering. Describe the house you'll be parking in front of. Describe how each of them will stay with the car until they are given their assigned bundles, bags and gifts to carry in. Describe how they'll wait BEHIND you at the door, what they'll say when the door opens, who is likely to open it, what they will look like, what the greetings will sound like. What will be the first thing they smell when they walk in the house? Where will the tree be placed? Where will the excessively fragile floating magnetized skaters on the mirror pond be placed and operating? How closely can they look at it before Aunt Myrtle will shriek "Don't touch!" Explain who Dean Martin is and just why he is singing in the background all day long. (Personally, I think you should go to the library and borrow a Martin/Lewis movie to improve your child's popular culture education.) If you are of Norwegian descent, explain the whole concept of Ludefisk (for that matter, explain it to the rest of us!) If Scottish, explain Haggis. If Australia, explain Vegemite. If get the idea.

What are they going to see? Hear? Smell? Be tempted to touch? Be permitted to touch? Go through it all. Laugh along with them. Make the unfamiliar familiar. You'll be preparing your children for what is to come. In addition, you may also be creating in them an interest in seeing all these wild and wonderful things you've been describing. It can make for lots of fun.

TWO: Role Play Good Manners

Many children will pick up good manners almost by osmosis. They see how we act and what we say when meeting new people. They see that we eat and speak differently when we have company over for dinner. There is much you don't even have to tell them because they pick it up through day-to-day observation.
This is NOT THE CASE with the Sizzler. Many social cues are completely missed by this child. It's not that they are ignoring all the social signals. They simply aren't seeing them. It's like having color blindness. You can teach someone who is color blind that when the middle light of the traffic light is illuminated, you must slow down...for it is yellow. When the bottom light is must stop, for it is red. They will never innately "see" the difference but they can learn the correct behavior by being taught the rules and algorithms that accompany the lights. (If you want a real scare, be a passenger in the car of a color blind driver approaching a single blinking light! Yikes. Right on through the blinking red light he went...assuming it was yellow.)

Fortunately, Sizzlers can learn social behaviors, but they will have to be proactively taught and practiced.

We role play with them what to say in response to things. If Aunt Tilly sets a plate of something in front of my Sizzler, we practice saying, "That looks great. Thank you." We'll practice this in ways that are even silly. I'll say, "Aunt Tilly now offers you a plate of baked frog toes. What do you say?"

Answer? "That looks great. Thank you."

"Now Aunt Tilly offers you a plate of banana topped seaweed cookies. What do you say?"

"That looks great. Thank you."

...and so on.

We role play how to look an adult in the eye, shake their hand and say, "Nice to meet you."
We role play what to say when Grandpa says, "So whattcha you learning in that home school of yours?"
We role play how not to shriek and run when cousin Lucy gives you a hug.
We do them over and over and over again, until the reaction is at least practiced, if not natural.

You can't prepare them for everything, but some beautifully executed responses early on can put some forgiving margin into place when other behaviors show up later in the day.

THREE: Make Use of Rewind
This is a technique that requires a watchful eye and ear on your part. When you hear your Sizzler getting a bit bossy, or a bit loud or a bit...well, you know...he's heading for the line that you absolutely do NOT want him to cross, then stop him before he crosses over. When something was said that was too much, call your Sizzler over and suggeset that he do a rewind. A rewind means that instead of being punished, he has the opportunity to hit the rewind button on his tape player of life, start over and do it right this time. If he can do this on his own, all is forgiven and we just move on.

Here's how it might play out.

Sizzler and cousin Joey are playing.

Joey: I don't want to play Spiderman anymore.

Sizzler: If you don't play Spiderman, then you're just a stupid idiot snot-faced peg-leg head!

Joey: Am not!

Mom: Darling Son, come here a second. I just heard what you said to Joey. Would you like to try a rewind?

Sizzler knows from experience or from previous discussions about the rewind method that he either fixes this on his own, OR Mom will be taking action. There is strong motivation for him to make this right.

Sizzler: Okay. I'll rewind. (Some kids even close their eyes at this point and create a mental picture of pushing a button or time turning backwards). Joey, if we don't play Spiderman anymore, what else could we play? Can we play Spiderman again later?

Sizzler looks to Mom to see if rewind attempt has been accepted. If so, the tape of life just continues on uninterrupted. AND your Sizzler is learning alternatives to his usual impulses...a skill we can all get excited about.

FOUR: Forget what others think...Remember to SEE THE GIFT IN YOUR CHILD

You will undoubtedly come in contact with others who do not see your child as a "gift". I know that many other moms watch with horror as I calmly extract my child from the top of the refrigerator upon which he has climbed. They grow weary as he shares with me the 3 millionth thought which just flashed into his head. They even comment that they could never handle a child with the energy level of my son while I harbor the belief that they also think I should just make him "straighten up!"

Others have responded that I seem to hold the reigns of discipline too tightly. I do indeed keep "a shorter leash" with this child, for I know that there is a line of excitement where, once crossed, he will act on any impulse immediately, without concern for consequences or dangers. So to these parents of calm, compliant children, I do seem to respond too quickly to what appears to be a very minor infraction. But I know what comes later, if things aren't kept in check now.

Keep in mind that people are just doing the best they can with what they known and have experienced. I am perhaps a bit more sensitive in some areas regarding the highly-wired child, but only because of my set of experiences. And those experiences have come with a price. When you have a child who is different in ANY way, people can say some careless things. Ask the mother whose child is in a wheel chair. Ask the dad whose child has a facial disfigurement. But the truth is we are ALL ignorant about something. In the right set of circumstances, we will---each of us---say something that would be considered uninformed or even insensitive by someone who is a little more "in the know". In fact, if I didn't have an ADHD child, I'm sure I would be quite judgmental of others whose children where ADHD. I'm certain that I would see it as simply poor discipline. If my daughters were my only children, I would probably be unbearable arrogant about my parenting skills. I would be the one saying those stupid things to others.

So I no longer expect or "need" others to understand my child.

I have learned to smile politely when their well meaning comments are sometimes way off base. I have learned that my child is special. I really believe that my son is destined for something wonderful...something that would be impossible for those calmer, regular-energy level children. I can think of several occupations where boundless energy would be an incredible asset. I delight in the fast pace of his thought. I am even jealous of his tireless enthusiasm for life and wonder what more I could accomplish if I were so blessed. And I am most especially delighted that I have been chosen to help him rein in and shape this gift of boundless energy.

From all your friends at Sizzle Bop
and...Carol Barnier
Delightful Speaker, Entertaining Author, Adequate Wife, Pitiful Housekeeper

Author of...
How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On To Learning
If I'm Diapering A Watermelon, Then Where'd I Leave the Baby?
The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning Styles

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails