What? How do you possibly ignore the behavior but not the child? The child is the one doing the behavior. I tried. I really tried. A friend and I had a lunch “date” together and the boy was acting up.* I mean, he was putting on a real dog and pony show! He begins by making the statement that he’s not eating any food, just ice cream, thereby invoking a response from me. No food, no ice cream. Then he slides under the table and makes a nuisance of himself, not to mention the uncleanliness of the carpet beneath. I pulled him up, nicely attempted to entice him to eat. (He’s extremely skinny. His doctor says he’ll eat when he’s hungry, & then later reports that the boy’s lost another lb.) Then he began laying all over the booth, pummeling me with his feet and knobby knees & elbows. Then he put his head under the table and feet in the air, kicking me simply because I was in the path of his flailing legs. I realized that I was spending every moment of our lunch correcting my son’s behaviors, so I allowed him move to the booth behind us to give him some “wiggle” room in the mostly empty restaurant. I attempted to ignore his behavior and salvage some conversation with my friend. The behavior worsened and we were beginning to draw looks from other patrons, heck, maybe they’d been looking the whole time and I hadn’t notice because I was being bumped, thumped, wiggled & jiggled. I don’t remember exactly when I gave up and realized that not only was the “ignoring the behavior” not working, but my son was escalating things, getting louder and louder & doing headstands in the booth behind us, putting his feet on that table, sticking his finger in my ear, etc. Ignoring was, yet again, an epic fail. I grabbed him by the arm and escorted him to the inside seat of our booth and started using the familiar threats; 1,2,3- you lose your video games. Then we lose the video games for the next day. Then we threaten to take the child to the bathroom to get a spanking. Finally, we give up on any semblance of an outside-of-the-home relationship or life whatsoever, and head home.
As I’m attempting to ignore the boy’s behavior, it occurs to me that this is the first time I’ve paid any attention to my 18-month-old daughter in several minutes because she’s being so calm and quiet. She’s just happily eating her chicken and fries and enjoying the attention my friend is showering on her. The thought strikes me… Is my son going to grow up to resent the amount of attention that was showed to his sister, and the time spent “ignoring” him? Probably. Is she going to grow up to resent how much of mommy’s time and effort is spent on trying to wrangle her brother into cooperation? Probably.
* A note: I feel that it is important to explain that we do not medicate our son for his ADHD on weekends or non-school days. There is a couple of reasons for this. The first being that we are his family, we love him whether he’s wild or not. The medication does alter his personality, it dulls him. We love that creative and funny spark & prefer it not to be squelched. The other reason is because ADHD medications are tested on and approved for use in a child age 6 and up, except in extreme cases. There is so much development in a child’s brain at age 5, not to mention that it is well known that these medications can cause growth stunting and weight loss, due to lack of interest in food. FYI, the medication that he takes for school starts working in 1.5 hours, there is no need for it to build up in his system. You may ask, “Isn’t it cruel to not give him his medication so that he has control over himself all the time?” We have taken this into consideration too. Our thoughts are this, the medication is a stimulant, every body needs a break from a stimulant. We do not normally plan grocery shopping trips, trips out into public places where he needs to be orderly, or plan any activities that will overstimulate and trigger a behavior when he is unmedicated. My luncheon was an oversight on my behalf, I thought he was having a good day (up until the point where he wasn’t,) plus my friend has a way of extorting good behaviors out of my son, she’s got the kid touch. It’s all a guessing game. Some times mom’s right, and sometimes she’s really really wrong.