I love my son! I like my son! I adore my son! (But there are times when I want to kill my son!)
And I'm happy to announce that I am a BRILLIANT mom! BRILLIANT!
I am brilliant because I have just figured out the source of all ills when it comes my tween son. (Get those nomination forms out for the Nobel Prize and I'll start writing my acceptance speech as soon as I finish this blog post.)
It all comes down to following directions. (Not just verbal and written directions, but implied directions as well!)
Following directions...it would make everyone's life so much easier. There would be no trust or safety issues because he would be following directions. Hanging out with his friends after dinner? No problem. He follow directions and by doing so lets me know where he is and will be home at the time I specified.
No more anger or upset about school work or grades. When he follows directions he does all his homework/schoolwork and his grades reflect this. He went to Huntington Learning Center (a whole other blog post for another day and time) where one of the things he "learned" was how to study. If he follows the directions they gave; studying for a test or quiz should be easy.
I've established (over the past 12+ years) that he's a relatively smart kid. (Not brilliant, but smart in a multitude of ways.) I think back to when he was younger and a Lego addict. By following the directions, he was able to build from kits that were meant for adults. He started slowly, learned by following the directions and eventually started building his own creations from his imagination. By then he had the "building blocks" (Sigh...yes the pun was intended) he needed and could move on. He'd learned the basic how to from the directions and was able to branch out.
It's become clear to me over the past year, that my child does NOT have a problem learning, but what he does have a problem with is following directions. I'm not saying that the directions are unclear or he is unable to follow them. The problem is that he doesn't, or that he doesn't regularly. When he DOES, the results are great. But then, for whatever tween boy reason he throws it out the window (along with good judgement). As a result the downward spiral starts spinning. Grades plummet. Parents start screaming and yelling. Tears start flowing (on all fronts). Utter mess! Total chaos! His self-esteem ends up in the toilet. (No one wants a kid with low self-esteem!) Promises are made. And then are forgotten. The cycle begins again.
I hate the cycle. (Who wouldn't?)
We need to break the cycle. As parents we need to emphasize the importance of ALWAYS following directions. (Which we do, but clearly we do not do it enough. We need to reinforce and reinforce. And then reinforce again!) We need to celebrate his successes while focusing on the fact that the success was the result of his following directions. We need to review the "failures" (and I really do hate to use that word) and find the area where directions were not followed. We need to emphasize the fact that reading and following directions may take some time (and in the world we live in there we all stress ourselves out with the "do it faster, do it quicker, get it done, get it done NOW" mentality.) We need to show him again and again, that following directions leads him to success. That by following directions he will instill a level of trust in us. And the results of all this will help reestablish his self-esteem.
This requires commitment from all of us. It's so easy to let things slide. There is so much going on in everyone's lives. But we need to change things for our family's sake...for my son's sake. We need to change OUR direction and focus on DIRECTION. We need to instill the importance of following directions to our son AND we need to do so ourselves.
It's time for us as a family to make a commitment to following directions. And hopefully by doing so, we will find ourselves in a positive direction.