Posted by: Daisy | August 22, 2008

Big Boy Conversation

I had a big discussion with my 5 year old today over dinner at the Swiss Chalet.  I guess school is on my mind, and as I get some things ready for the new school year, I realized probably the most important thing that needed ‘readying’ was him.

Okay Monkey.  So, when you read this post years from now, and you ask me, “was I really like that?” – the answer is yes.

My little monkey is not exactly a model student.  Don’t get me wrong, he is not a difficult child either, however, there are certainly some behaviours that I could really do without.  He is extremely shy and has difficulty adjusting to change and with transitions.  At times, I find this a little baffling and at other times, I suppose I understand to some degree.

His coping mechanism for dealing with change and transition are not exactly ideal.  I’m not sure that he realizes his reactions (and let’s be honest – his over-reactions) to these changes are making him stand out even more which is something he does not like; afterall, he’s extremely shy, remember?  So, a vicious circle begins, and he needs to learn to deal with these situations in a better way.

So, began a long conversation over dinner.  I guess for some reason, I was in a patient and understanding mood and began talking to him in a way that hopefully he understood.  I reinforced in a positive way the behaviours that are expected of him when he begins school – the do’s.  He rhymed off easily all the things he is supposed to do, and when.  It was amazing actually.  He knows exactly what the routine is, and what the expectations are.  So, then came the more difficult part – the execution of those do’s.  It’s easy enough for him to talk about what he’s supposed to do, but when emotions, like fear, take over, that’s when the doing gets difficult.

I felt the need to explain the why’s – I told him all the benefits of following the routine, and listening to the teachers.  I told him how his father was a great example of this type of behaviour when he was the same age, and how this resulted in being labeled “the nice kid” who everyone liked.  I asked him if this was something he thought he might like and of course he wanted to be just like his daddy.  Though he didn’t say it, we both knew that he would have some difficulty actually doing the things he just said he was supposed to do.  He needed reinforcement and baby steps in figuring out the how.  I told him we could introduce a notebook with specific behaviours we would like him to do and how it could result in some very positive short term and long term results.  Okay.  Obviously, I didn’t use those words – instead I got down at his level and got specific and kid-friendly.

At one point, I told him that he was a very good kid, and sometimes, his behaviour was not very good, and it is his behaviour that I’d like him to work on.  It felt like a very grown-up conversation about the importance of getting along with people and the underlying theme, I worried may be a bit too adult-like.  Yet, it seemed right and important to start having this conversation, even at a 5 year old level because the truth is, even though he’s very smart, if he misbehaves a lot of the time, then the intelligence thing really won’t matter much in the kid or grown-up world.

At length, we discussed potential strategies to help him figure out the how’s and to help him adjust.  I felt a little breath of fresh air because he seemed to understand and was so open to making the year a success.  We finished with a short discussion on his dreams and goals for the year, as well as mine for him, and I am hoping that was the first step in laying the groundwork for a great school year.  I think I must have done well because an older couple who sat at the table next to me asked him, “Is your mother a teacher” which of course the answer is no, to which they replied – “well, you sure would make a very good one”.  Wow.  Even old impatient farts like me can have great days like that once in a while.  I can only hope I have more of those days, and less of the other ones where I’m far less than ideal.

Thanks for that fabulous Big Boy Conversation tonight – you always surprise me with your critical thinking ability on a rational level.  I can only hope you’ll be able to take that information and transform it positively into behaviours that will set you up for success in the future.

– Daisy (aka, Mommy)

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Responses

  1. That’s awesome coaching! I particularly like the idea of assessing the where one is at, and creating the picture of where one needs to go. Without that creative tension, change is a lot more difficult.

    That said, when the monkey returns future forward to read: know that schools can be difficult for smart monkeys, and I have met you, and you seem like one smart monkey to me. Also, schools are not great places for active monkeys either. So if your first 5 years have been running around everywhere and having fun, learning to sit in a circle and raise one’s hand and all that funny business can be awful hard. All that can add up to one huge load of monkey sh*t. So if you find school hard, just know there have been other monkeys just like you that have had trouble fitting in, but with great parents, and great teachers, it will usually work out.

    Signed – your friend in Monkeydom – Gerry

    Ha ha ha. You’re absolutely right. Yes, he is a smart monkey, and sometimes the things we ask of smart monkeys can be difficult.
    On a completely different side note, I read a post somewhere that described a person (in this case a programmer) and their quirks and personality traits. It was hilarious and reminded me that we are all human, and we can not be great or seemingly ‘normal’ or average at everything. – Daisy


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