Last night we had another horrible homework night with Luke. He started out great. Zipped through quite a bit of it in a mere 15 minutes with minimal breaks. He had 2 things left to do. Got to the math page - which was simple, really it was! - and he froze.
The attitude started. "I'm NEVER going to get this done. Never. NEVER!"
And he didn't. Way to set yourself up for failure, buddy.
I don't get it. Really I don't. I admit, I don't always see the glass as half full. I am sometimes negative. I sometimes stress myself out over the anticipation of an event. Perhaps we are all guilty of that from time to time.
But it is exhausting to watch someone else do it. Especially when I know he CAN do what he is anticipating he can't.
I reminded him that I wasn't going to sit there while he had this bad attitude and that when he was ready to work, I'd be back. So I left.
He did too. He went to his room and shut his door. I guess he needed an outlet, so he trashed his room. He has never done this before. All of his books were off of his bookshelf. Toys were all over the floor. He wasn't throwing things. He was actually quite quiet in there. I honestly didn't know what he was doing until he came out and sarcastically but almost proudly said, "Come see my room, mommy!"
I did. I walked away without saying a word. Because that didn't give him any attention, he started throwing things. I went back in his room and calmly told him that we do not ruin things on purpose and he had to go straight to bed. We never leave messes before bedtime. But this time we did.
I told him I would be waking him up early in the morning so he could clean his room before school.
I heard him in his room this morning. I pretended like I didn't. About a half hour after I heard him wake up, he came out and said, "Good morning, mommy! Come see my room." It was clean. Almost. He asked me to help him with the few things that were left. So I did. Then he said he wanted to hurry and get a shower so he could finish his homework.
Except it didn't end up that way. He went to finish his homework and stopped. Again. I have no idea why. He ran out of time because he was just sitting there. The bus was coming. What happened???
I respect two parenting experts: Dr. Kevin Leman and Tedd Tripp. I've read their books, watched their DVD's and have seen both of them at speaking arrangements. It's hard to remember their advice in the heat of the moment, but I really try.
Dr. Leman's advice is mainly - walk away. Ignore the bad behavior, allow kids to face natural consequences of their behavior. Respond, don't react. (Of course it always comes back to the parents!!)
Tedd Tripp says outward behavior is always an indicator of an inward heart condition.
So their thoughts are always in the back of my mind. I walked away. But what is *really* going on with Luke? What is in his heart that is making him so frustrated?
I tried to talk with him as we were waiting for the bus. He wasn't giving me much insight. I'm not sure he understands why he does what he does. Isn't it my job as a parent to help him figure this out? Ugh. It's hard being a detective!
Finally, after trying a lot of dead end quesions, I asked him, "Luke, tell me what happens if you try your best and make a mistake." He answered: "Then everyone gets mad at me. You. Daddy. My teacher." He put his head down sadly.
What? Wow. Are we not encouraging him enough? Does he not understand that mistakes are okay but bad choices are not? Do we set our expectations too high? Are we critical of him?
All these thoughts start swirling around my head. But I had to say something. So I told him we don't get mad at mistakes. Mistakes are okay. I make mistakes, daddy does, his teacher does. And he does too. Mistakes help us to learn. Blah blah blah.
Then the bus pulled up. "Have a good day, baby!" I said as the door opened on the bus. I wonder if he will.
As I walked back up the driveway, I had a million thoughts. We do encourage him. Really, we do. Why doesn't he get that? Why is he afraid to make a mistake? Why does he have to be such a perfectionist that a fear of failure overrides his desire to try? Why does he seek negative attention? Why why why???
And so he finally offered me a bit of insight that makes perfect sense to him and totally confuses me.
Wish I knew what to do with it.