(four on the left are ours)
One huge success is the reduction in medication we have been able to do for our oldest. He was on a ton of medication to control his behaviors. We were warned that many foster parents try to work the system and get their kids on more medication just to get more financial support. That, and they don't know how else to control their bad behaviors beyond medicating them. He was taking 5 pills a day when we got him. Now he is down to only 2 and soon to be just one in a few months. One day he said, "Mommy, I feel better". I didn't even know he didn't feel 100%, and apparently he didn't either. This is a huge praise! He is also behaving much better. I think structure, discipline, love and security was the remedy for him. I believe he truly does have some ADHD tendencies and we may not completely remove him from one medication, but we shall see as time goes on. We have come this far....who knows what God can do!
Just to give examples of how far we have come, let me share some behaviors we had the first month:
- hitting, kicking, and even some biting when trying to discipline by putting them in time-out
- calling us "ugly", "mean" and even "b*tch" when they were angry - particularly the oldest two
- breaking furniture, window screens, and nearly kicking down the door in the timeout room - I was seriously considering creating a padded room! LOL
- meal time was ridiculous - they were up and down from the table, making messes, being extremely loud or rude with their conversations and always interrupting each other and us
- listening and obeying was terrible - I felt completely defeated and ignored
- I was so anxious to take them anywhere in public - mostly worried for their safety since they didn't listen - but also embarrassed by their hyperness and loudness
Are you all in shock? I know my friends at work were. When I got back from my one month leave with the kids and shared what that first month was like, people wondered how we got through it and said they had no idea it was that rough. Thankfully, we knew going into it what the worse case scenario was and we were prepared for that to happen. However, even when you know the first month is the hardest...it doesn't make it go any faster! That, and being with them 24/7 made it a challenging month. I'm honestly not sure how we survived except that the Lord gave us strength and surrounded us with an amazing community to support us. We had hope in what was to come and faith that God would see us through.
Four months later:
- no more violence - they occasionally throw a tantrum over discipline but it is improving tremendously. I think part of it is us learning how to better discipline. The key for us is to stay level and calm and remind them that this was their choice to not obey and they must accept the consequences. We have learned to discipline the behavior quickly before we get too irritated or emotional about it.
- haven't heard any dirty words :) and only occasionally they will say they don't like us when they are in time out - but who's kid doesn't
- Meal time - big improvements here! They remain seated (mostly) and ask to be excused before they leave the table. They also know they cannot use words like "poop" at the table :). We are working on taking turns speaking. Usually this means I ask a question for the group...like "what did you do nice for someone today?" ...and we go around the table answering one by one. I want to continue to work on their noise level and manners in general.
- listening and obeying is still an issue for us but it has also seen great improvements. We have a new rule that you must listen the first time. I will sometimes ask them, "When do we listen?" to which they respond "the first time". This has helped us to correct much more quickly and limit our irritation level (as referenced in the first bullet). I had begun with the counting to three method...but that didn't work. Basically it was delaying the obedience. I've heard that delayed obedience is disobedience. The kids would wait for me to get to three and then move towards them before they would act in obedience. That was not going to work!
- I am much more confident to take them places, I still have a little anxiety at times, but now it is just when I know I have all 4 by myself. If Matt is with me, or I just have 2 of them, I'm not nervous. I pray this continues to improve. Honestly - most of our issues that remain will greatly improve as the "listening the first time" improves.
Huge progress, right?!? Any time I may feel discouraged by their behaviors, I pause and think back to how far we have come. Then, I have renewed hope in what can be. Please continue to pray that we gain wisdom on how best to love and discipline these beautiful children.