Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

My Special lil’ Snowflake(s)

One of the blog/websites that I frequent lately is SizzleBop. I actually found this site years ago, then forgot about it and recently re-discovered it on Facebook. It’s a site for parents who have kids that operate outside the norm. Frequently used terms to describe them are high needs, active alert, highly distractable, out of sync… others as well, but those are the most common.

I have one of these children. Actually, depending on who you ask, I may have two of these children, though they’re very different.

LittleBoyBlue was a classic ‘high needs baby‘. I held him, quite literally, all the time either in arms or worn in the sling. I was okay with that, but it took a lot of energy to defend my actions as a new mom with him. Thankfully, my Loverly Husband was (and ever has been) on board with a more attached style of parenting, so as a united front we pretty much made most parenting topics ‘off limits’ to non-supportive family and friends. Once PeaGreen came on the scene, we got flak from so many people about our feeding methods, sleeping arrangements and discipline philosophy – things that I really tend to feel are NOYFB.

The reason that I particularly enjoy SizzleBop is because of founder Carol Barnier’s attitude towards these kids. She’s constantly reminding parents of ‘sizzlers’ not to ‘miss the gift’ in these children. That message is so very important – one that is so easy to forget when you’re in the midst of a ‘situation’ with one of these intense little people. It is, at times, so very hard to remember that they are not trying to create chaos. They’re not trying to make things more difficult. And most of the time, they’re just as frustrated as you are.

Two of my best friends have a child that is like this as well. They’re all so very similar, and easy to pick out. I can, without hesitation, say that I deeply enjoy these kids. Oh, they’re right little brats at times – probably more often than your average kiddo – but they have so much ‘much-ness’, as SFK often says, that when they’re being charming, well… gosh darn it, you’re charmed! When they’re not though, it’s exceedingly difficult to remember that the gift in these kids is the same thing that cause us parents the most grief.

I got a chart from Kindermusik years ago that had a list of positive phrases to use to describe your child. Instead of ‘argumentative’, you might say ‘opinionated’ or ‘goal oriented’. Instead of  ‘loud’ you might say ‘vivid’ and so on…it’s a good tool to help re-shape your attitude towards your spunky kidlet. It also makes you much more aware of the phrasing that other people use to describe your kids, and if yours are like mine (super smart and very observant), then they also understand when someone is saying one thing but meaning something else; something not so nice, and it makes your heart simply ache when you realize that your child recognizes that he is ‘different’ to the point that they’re uniquely disliked by an adult.

The thing is, my child has only ever seemed ‘different’ when I start comparing him to other kids, or hold him up to the expectations of people who really don’t matter. That’s not to say that he’s not challenging, because he is – they both are. They’re both intense little people – but that just reinforces something I have always thought and said – children are whole, complete and fully functioning little people, from the moment they’re born. One of the benefits of homeschooling for me is that there is less pressure to compare my child to any others. Yes, the homeschooling community at large is responsible for some of the most fierce competition in accomplishments for their kids, but I don’t usually buy into that mindset. I know that my kids both have unique strengths and with that comes weaknesses as well. Recognizing that has gone a long way towards having the relationship with my kids that I do… that, and having some awesome tools to help me respond in a way that is helpful.

One thing I try to always keep in mind is that the traits that we admire most in Leaders are the same ones that are so challenging to handle in children. Smart mouthed kids grow up into witty and clever adults who can get your attention with a single phrase. Kids who have limitless energy when they’re little are burning the midnight oil on whatever project has their interest as adults. Children who ask a million questions grow up to be those amazing ‘idea people’ who can think 5 steps ahead of normal people… these are things that we envy in other adults. So how do you nurture those traits without going crazy in the process?

Something that helps me is to be conscious of how I think about my kids. I’m not perfect, so obviously, I fail at this more than I succeed, but like the Kindermusick list, I try to give myself positive words and phrases to think about my kids. If I’m struggling for a word to help reshape my perspective, I can type a word that describes my feeling at the moment into Thesaurus.com and pick more positive words to replace them. It’s amazing how much that one thing alone can help shape your outlook.

Another amazingly simple tool I use is the Mistaken Goal Chart by Jane Nelson from PositiveParenting. I printed it out and have it in an easily referred to place because I need it! This is by far one of the best tools I have found that helps me really understand what my kids need and having an answer to the ever-present question ‘what do you want?!?’ makes it ever so much easier to provide them with it, especially when most of the time they are not even able to verbalize what they need.

I do believe that when children feel well, they act well. I believe that children are acting, for the most part, the best they can in that moment. That doesn’t mean that I let my kids get away with being ugly or disrespectful or bratty. It does mean that I try to understand where they’re coming from as best I can and try to make sure that I am not pushing an unrealistic expectation on them.

Warmly,

~h

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11 responses

  1. Thanks for sharing I have two just like you. I just joined Sizzlebop, I had never heard of it before.

    September 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    • I hope you enjoy it, Anna-Marie 🙂 I always find something thought-provoking.
      ~h

      September 12, 2010 at 10:17 pm

  2. Interesting web site. Thanks for posting that. Will follow them on facebook and twitter.
    I have one “sizzler” and one who pretty much runs at a high temperature but not quite high enough to be sizzling. Jury still out on the 3rd. He was an easy peasy baby but is now a very high energy toddler.
    I think much of the AP stuff like wearing babies, co-sleeping, etc. actually is quite helpful to kiddos like ours, at least it was in my situation, and homeschooling is kind of an extension of that, kwim?
    I have ended friendships with people who were intolerant (and sometimes down right rude) to my son regarding his behavior and I have deliberately sought out friendships with adults I may not have otherwise, solely based on the fact that they “get him” and appreciate his energy and charm.
    Thanks for posting this today, it is very timely. We are about to embark on a vacation with a family of adorable, sweet and nearly perfectly behaved children, which often leads to me fussing at my son more to be quieter, calmer, etc. You know, all the things he is not. 😉

    September 11, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    • Oh, I totally agree that AP ‘fits’ these kids. AP is ideal for most kids, IMO, but high-needs children demand it from the get-go. If we listen, think that we have the potential to be better parents – at last to have more understanding of our kids’ needs.

      I hope your vacation goes well!
      (and yes – I’m a frequent visitor on your page :))
      ~h

      September 12, 2010 at 10:20 pm

  3. Awwww, I just noticed you added me to your blogroll. Thank you. [blush]

    September 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm

  4. What a great post. Today LilMiss and I had quite the… idk what to even call it. So your post is quite timely for us as well. I especially enjoyed the chart. TY for sharing that.

    September 11, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    • “He is not trying to create chaos. He is not trying to make things more difficult. He is just as frustrated as I am. When he feels well, he acts well. He is acting the best he can in this moment.”
      … My mantra for today… 🙂

      September 11, 2010 at 11:18 pm

  5. excellent post adn a great reminder about the power of words.

    September 12, 2010 at 3:58 pm

  6. PB&J

    I really enjoyed watching your lil snowflakes enthusiasm and eagerness to learn Friday on our field trip! It made my mama heart happy. And I almost wacked the guy over the head when he embarassed your peagreen sweetie. 🙂

    September 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    • Thanks 🙂 They had a great time – and yes, I was kinda irritated that he got called out in front of everyone. But I think it went okay for the most part. We’re looking forward to our trip Thursday!
      ~h

      September 12, 2010 at 10:21 pm

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