Helping Older Kid’s Achieve, When They Are Emotionally Younger

Helping Older Kid’s Achieve, When They Are Emotionally Younger

 originally written April 2012

I remember when the boys were little, I had charts for them where they would get stars for completing a responsibility or for good behavior.   They would look at the picture chart and be able to understand what they were supposed to do.  It was VERY helpful for me, because that way I wasn’t having to say, “brush your teeth” or “comb your hair” or “pick up toys”…etc.

It is more complicated with children who have  trauma, or are diagnosed with RAD or PTSD.  And it is way more complicated when they are so very young is some areas and older in other areas.
Trying to be sensitive to emotional needs, respecting their age, yet needing them to brush teeth is tricky ground to walk upon. 🙂

The immature child gives up on things very easily when they become frustrated. The mature child will push through a difficulty and learn from it.  Our goal is to bring the immature to maturity, without overwhelming.

We have baby chickens now.  Sweeties 2 and 4 are sharing the responsibility of keeping the babies, fed, warm and clean.  There is responsibility involved each day, but it is not hard.  It just consumes a bit of time and effort.  They did a pretty good job the first week. The second week went by well, but we are into the 3rd week we ran into a problem.
One of the baby chicks died due to getting wet and cold. 🙁    There needs to be GREAT CARE taken to not get the area wet when putting in water.  I was showing both girls how to make sure no water would effect the bedding. One listened, one got angry.  And then and Miss Sweetie 4 decided she was “quitting chickens”!

“No, maam. You may not ‘quit chickens’. Those babies depend upon you for their lives! Mama does not give up on her children and you cannot give up on your babies!” 🙂 This was the same day that she was having trouble getting dressed, hair combed and putting dirty clothing in the laundry.  She was overwhelmed….. WHY?  Because that day, she was really struggling, and was more 3 years old than 12.  I was treating her as a 12 year old.  She was giving me clues that I was ignoring, such as baby talk….. duh…. I need to pay better attention!

I went in and talked to Mike about it, and we both agreed.  Three it is! 🙂 So, I did exactly what I would do with a 3 year old.  I switched things over to make her feel less overwhelmed.  I helped her along and explained things to her like I would have if she was 3.

Guess what?  The anger disappeared, she was willing to try to do things differently and she mourned the loss of the baby chick.  She had a little funeral for it with Sweetie 2. 🙂

I decided to make a small chart for her with some simple responsibilities and a box to check next to them.  Oh the giddiness of being able to check that box!

For a few days now, she checks off each item required. (these are things that have ALWAYS been required, but many times I have had to walk her through each one verbally )

1. Brush tangles out of hair (not just brush hair, but all tangles)
2. Eat breakfast
3. Get dressed
4. Put dirty clothes in laundry ( not in closet or under bed)
5. Brush and floss teeth  (with toothpaste)
6. feed chickens   (carefully)

So, even though many 12 year olds would probably balk at a “chart” as being babyish.  Miss Sweetie 4 LOVES the chart.  She has been happy to follow it and check it off.
And she is back to loving taking care of the chickens.

I have not assigned a “reward” with this chart. It is a simple guide for her. I think a reward would backfire.  For our little boys, after 100 stars on their chart, they would get a little prize.  For her, we have a new chart each day and the simple check mark is suitable.

It is amazing how such a simple thing can make such a big difference.  One of the biggest things for me, is that I don’t feel like I am hovering over making each thing get done.  She goes to her chart and sees what is next and just does it.  We are going on 4 days now, and it is working well!

1 Responses to Helping Older Kid’s Achieve, When They Are Emotionally Younger

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