Working Through Problems
I've been amazed with who this kid has been for the last several days. I have to assume we are simply on the uptake of his natural mood and mind cycle, but he has been amazing - especially given the fact that most of his big life stressors including step-parent, step-siblings and chores have all been present. School is still three weeks off - oh have mercy! I do believe there have been several helpful factors which I will mention in a moment. But I now present to you Preston's big problem-solving moment...
I was in the kitchen preparing food of some sort while Preston and Braeden were playing with Bentley in the living room just around the corner. It sounded like it was starting to get a little wild when Preston started getting upset. He came into the kitchen and said, "Mom. Braeden was just pinching me and I didn't appreciate it." Pause. I was about to give him my 'I trust you that you can work this out with Braeden' line or intervene (may not count as abuse, but physical stuff always escalates quickly) when he said before I could start, "I'm going to go back in the room and tell him how it made me feel." ?!! I told him that I thought that sounded like a great idea and I fully supported him. As he went around the corner, I was still caught off guard by that statement. Part of me wondered if it was lip service and I prepared to break up a fight. But no - he went back in and I heard him say, "Braeden, I really didn't appreciate you pinching me. It made me feel uncomfortable. I would like it if you wouldn't do that in the future." ??!!!! And this was great - Braeden, without making excuses or being snide simply apologized.
That was an awesome moment. Both Jason and I smiled and chuckled a little at this boy who normally has complete meltdowns when things don't go quite right. Especially when Braeden starts invading his space. WOW! I made sure to compliment Preston and make a fuss over how proud I was of him. I also asked him how it felt and if he noticed Braeden's easy response. No fighting, no fuss. He has the capacity to regulate himself, I've just got to figure out how to help him stay calm and work through problems intead of getting upset regularly.
As for his current state of goodness, I do think it is a good 'cycle' but I also think some of what Jason and I have been doing has something to do with this. Jason, as the step-parent has stepped away from disciplining Preston. He makes small and simple requests but keeps them limited. He also working on hard on giving Preston lots of positives. Preston actually followed-through on hanging his church clothes up on Sunday and he brought them up to show Jason and I heard Jason make a tremendous fuss - so fabulous and so important.
I met a cute gal at the park one day who also had a blended family and that was her biggest piece of advice for me - don't discipline your step-kids; let the blood-parent handle that. For me as the blood parent, I've been much more relaxed. As I mentioned in my last post I'm more carefully picking and choosing battles, finding humor in situations that would have otherwise wound me up, and using humor with him when he is naughty (obviously not super naughty - small infractions). I think my being more relaxed is helping him to be more relaxed and I think his anxiety is a very big trigger to his ADHD tendencies and emotional meltdowns. We've also been playing more games together as a family and that is always helpful. We played Ticket to Ride the other night and while one kiddo kept getting blocked and started to cry, Preston got blocked and said, "Oh well. I just got blocked! But I'm okay see!" Luckily the delivery didn't sting the other kid, that little voice of Preston's just made us all laugh. Another awesome moment. And he even planned his route on his own and came in second place - beating me! Luckily, I didn't cry either. :)
As a parent of an ADHD kiddo that has had some pretty awful moments, it lights up my heart and gives me strength and hope when he has some pretty awesome moments as well.