Ever since the summer holidays finished, it’s been a non stop, turbulent time for our family. It has taken weeks for Sonny to settle into the new school year. Trying to keep Sonny’s head above water has taken every ounce of energy I have. He has been anxious and frightened, he’s lashed out and he’s sworn until he’s red in the face, but then that’s what major change does to a child like Sonny.
The last time I wrote on my blog was at the start of the summer holidays. It was tough for us even then as we were right in the thick of the ‘Post School Meltdown.’ Getting back into the swing of a school week is challenging for anyone but Sonny found it particularly difficult to adjust. There was a new classroom in a whole different area of the school to navigate. He had a new desk in a new area of his classroom and a totally new routine to adapt to. Everything was too much to bear. The teachers he had come familiar with, were married over the holidays and Sonny couldn’t fathom why they now had different names. He’s not phased by it now though and loves to correct me when I get it wrong!
As the weeks went on. I was feeling defeated, deflated and everything in between. I had tried everything I could possibly think of. Nothing was working, nothing made life any easier. We stepped up the level of visuals at home and we paid closer attention to charts and calendars. We reduced the amount of demands after school and we even sat together to make ‘household rules’ only for Sonny to destroy it when he broke one of them in a temper.
One afternoon I went to collect Sonny from school. Riley was at tennis club and Zachary was sound asleep at Nanny’s house. I reached the door and got THE wave over. The one where your gut tells you it’s not going to be for any great news. His teacher said ‘step in, he’s just in here…’ I took five steps into the classroom where my eyes met three of his teachers. All on their knees picking up items from a sea of toys which spread the whole width of the classroom. Sonny had a meltdown at school pick up time and had launched boxes of toys across the floor. Chairs were on their backs and books were strewn homelessly across the room. Some kind of intervention was needed, that much was clear.
Not too long after that incident, I sat with the Head Teacher, SENCO and Class Teacher for a good length of time. We discussed his behaviour plan in great depth, what was working well and what wasn’t working so well. We hashed over what we could do to make things better and the outcome was pretty good.
There were a few scenarios we noticed that needed changing. When Sonny had a meltdown in class, done reflection time and had apologised, he wasn’t fully over what had happened. So Sonny went back in to the same situation still simmering and inevitably it would only be a matter of time before he bubbled over once more. It was decided that after reflection time and apologies, Sonny would go off with his 1:1 to do a social story or activity relating to the incident. This would reinforce the message and give him ample time to calm down before going back into the classroom.
Another issue we noticed was school pick up time. Sonny has been coming into school through the office for quite some time now. This helped him escape the crowded playground, the queuing of children and gave the rest of his class time to put their things away and settle down before he arrived. We noticed that Sonny would have a good afternoon but would meltdown in the minutes leading up to pick up. He was struggling to cope with the franticness of the children getting ready to go home and the anxiety of waiting for me to arrive. We decided to implement a different end of day routine for him. I now collect him 5 minutes before the end of day from the office, he knows I’m going to be waiting there and he leaves calmly, ready with his things. So far it’s proved positive.
Things didn’t stop there, I felt inspired to have a look at our own routine and see if there was any supportive changes I could make.
I noticed our route to school consisted of busy roads, many parents went the same way and being amongst it trying to keep my three ‘together and safe‘ caused me so much stress. Now we walk a slightly different route, takes the same amount of time but it’s quiet and often we are the only ones there. It gives us time to talk together, reiterate how the day is planned, we play I spy and sing silly songs.
The biggest cause of arguments on a weekday is Sonny’s need to win. He has to be the winner at everything. I tried to channel it in various ways and when I realised it wasn’t helping I put a ‘win ban’ in place and now I look for ways of getting us to work together. In our hallway we have a traffic light system. Furthest to the door is RED. RED is angry, hitting, swearing, not listening and not being ready. Closer to the door is YELLOW. Yellow is feeling tired, feeling sad, feeling poorly and not listening. Closest to the door is GREEN. Green is happy, smiling, ready, grateful, loving and helpful. Regardless of how late we may be, we do not leave the house until we are all feeling green. Once out of the house, everything we do has to be together, there is no winning, we stay together, we are a team. Team Green.
Since the latest changes, the boys have been going into school much calmer. We’re still often late but you cant have it all…