My son used to keep all his words inside his head.
Now he is sharing those sentences out loud.
Sometimes in anger.
Sometimes in mischief.
And with good words comes bad words.
Impulse control is still something we are learning,
and developmental delays live with us every day.
The consequences get more profound with each day.
(If a child is working through developmental delays, becoming more aware of the world, more self-aware, and gaining expressive language, there is more of the world that intrudes into their decision-making process.)
John LOVES this movie. This movie is a gift of concrete depiction of a child’s processing joy, fear, happiness, worry, peer pressure, frustration, motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic) and navigating socialization.
Kids with developmental delays may still need “concrete” learning tools longer than their peers.
So we use this gift to help John learn to process and practice decision making—the best decision making possible—for the best possible independent adult life.
Of course, he LOVES to push Mom’s buttons.
So, as a cinematic gift of the universe to our homes, may I re-introduce Ralphie.
Oh yes, Ralphie and his decisions. Good and bad.
Except we used soap made from essential oils.
And I used the words straight from the movie.
John thought it was funny.
Until the flavor hit his taste buds.
And that consequence really really struck home and built a good strong neural pathway.
Because there was one day when no re-direct was working.
When even my best DefCon 5 re-directs had no effect.
John was persisting in saying “s**t” for the game of it, and no amount of “say shoot or dang instead” was working.
All that was left was “hard way”, and “hard way always hurts”.
And thus we used Ralphie.
Since then, I heard from one of his teachers that someone had said “crap” in class recently—and that John “was not having it.”
He had then said, “don’t say that” with a giggle.
Mom is thankful for that knowledge of right and wrong,
given that he seems to take great delight in saying the wrong words around me.
With a very large grin on his face.
Testing our boundaries.
We have had many conversations about what words are OK to say.
We use the Lord Valdemort technique: We don’t say (the bad words’) names.
Why would we want to build any neural pathways toward choosing harmful words?
So we re-direct over and over back to the socially-acceptable words.
And, of course, he also tries to get the wrong kind of attention from me by
stringing out that “fffffffffff…….” line from the movie.
I ignore that, and re-direct him to something else.
(I remove the audience. No audience, no reason for the performance.)
I haven’t asked him if he knows what that fffffffff……… means.
Another day, maybe.
And, as the days have gone by, he now will remind others when they say a bad word:
“Don’t say that word, that could get you into a lot of trouble”,
(I am happy to report that admonition sure sounds like it came from Mom programming.)
What about the life lessons from Home Alone #1 and Home Alone#2?
Conversations and teachable moments on both sides of Kevin’s decisions.
We don’t waste those opportunities.
Practice, re-direct, take something away, consequences.
We are building social habits for his lifetime.
You know in your own lives, right? When you aren’t here anymore.
Moving on from the movies, here’s another way re-directs work at our house.
(Now that we have built it together by practice and backward chaining.)
“I’ll meet you in the car.”
I used to have to go back and lock the door after we met in the car.
Now he locks the door on his way out.
We back-ward chained that also.
Self-Control and Zero Tolerance for Hitting
To spank or not.
I make no judgements on others.
I am speaking only for my experience with John.
Big mistake me spanking him.
It always escalates our mutual use of force.
And my shame is that I have been at this crossroad before.
And promised myself I have to find better ways of managing nuclear war.
I have apologized to John, and we have promised no more whacking.
Not me on him, or he on the dog or on me.
We also re-direct and re-channel motivation by our top reinforcers.
For example: taekwondo stripes.
And for self-soothing, the eBay sling-swing you see in this photo is highly effective.
Especially in the night-time process.
John puts himself in and out of it.
Again, we are building habits of self-regulation and self-control for his best possible adult life.
Peace be with us,