Even though we work with teenagers that struggle with their behaviors, and it is literally or job to help teach them how to change their behaviors and make good decisions, I still believe the hardest part of our job is knowing how to raise our own two boys.
Their behaviors recently have sometimes even seemed unmanageable. If we take our attention off of them for even the time it takes to go to the bathroom, they either make a huge mess or break something. It’s incredibly frustrating.
Micah, our five year old, has a genetic syndrome called Kabuki Syndrome. And some of his behaviors can be accounted for because of this. Ezra, his younger brother, seems to get joy from destroying things.
It feels overwhelming for a number of reasons.
For one, my wife and are I family-teachers, which our boss loves to tell people is being “professional parents.” So when we feel we are unable to manage our own kids, the shame feels multiplied.
Another reason is that many of the parents we know do not have this struggle with their kids on a constant basis. Yes, some kids have their moments. But it’s not a constant issue like it is for us.
Another reason is that it seems we are able to teach and help teenagers fairly well, but our own toddlers seem to be eluding our parenting and teaching.
So we’ve had to ask for help. A skill that we teach our girls on a daily basis.
We began seeing a behavioral therapist quite a few months ago to help with Micah’s behaviors. The strategies we would be using would be coming from the same model we use for our teenagers, but just adapted to younger kids.
And in many ways it has helped give us strategies with how to deal with Micah and Ezra, but it also has given us permission to address some behaviors in a way that I didn’t know to go about initially.
One issue we’ve been trying to address is when they wake up. They get up near 5:30 most days. And it’s tiring. They come out of their room and get into mischief. So our therapist suggested we get an alarm clock that has a red light and a green light. And you can set the time for the green light to go off, which tells them they are allowed to come out of their room. If the light is red, they are not to get out of bed or their room.
I set it for 6:15 this morning, and although Ezra and Micah had gotten up earlier to go to the bathroom, they both went back to their room and only came back out at 6:15 when the green light turned on.
I am thankful when strategies like this work out, even if only in the short term.