Behavior Modification

So, my son. I love him to pieces, but the boy has a hard time staying focused in class. My zeal for rationalization leads me to believe that there are several causes for this, including his age (he’s an August birthday, so he’s one of the youngest in his class), his outside-the-box-ness (he tested into the gifted program during his first semester of Kindergarten), his natural inclination to amuse/entertain others, and his dislike of order, structure, and rigidity.

Up to now, it was mostly harmless-but-irritating stuff. He wasn’t hitting, or biting, or fighting, or acting out. His teacher described him as a “chatty Cathy,” just jabbering away.

On Wednesday, I got this e-mail from his teacher:

“Hi Windy,
I wanted you to know that Tyler was throwing glue pieces during my math lesson today at M____. They are not sitting next to each other. He also is not saying kind things about M_____ to his creative academic friends. M_____ is starting to get his feelings hurt over all of this. I am taking Tyler’s recess for Thursday and Friday and he was given a fine. I hope that Tyler can improve on these behaviors.
 
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”

Oh, NO HE DIDN’T.

There are few things I will not tolerate, and the top two are disrespect and plain meanness. And he hit them both in one day.  Needless to say, Wednesday evening was grim at my house. I made him write apologies to his teacher and to M____.

But what could I do long-term, for the future? I mean, I can’t just wait for the situation to deteriorate again and then flog him. I needed a solution that I could work on at home, to help him in the classroom. His problem seemed to be a lack of focus and self-control.

Then it hit me. What activity entails listening to and following directions, cultivating focus and deliberation of movement, and entails focused meditative relaxation?

The answer is YOGA.

Crazy, right? I am no hippie! I used disposable diapers! I don’t buy organic milk! I actively dislike CFL bulbs!

But I love yoga.

I turned to the internet, hoping it would have my back. I found a study on the impact of yoga on children who struggle to stay focused in class. 

Rationalization: Complete! Let’s get bendy!

I sat Tyler down last night (after a good report from his teacher) and said, in my best Strict Mom voice, “Tyler, I appreciate that you had a better day today, but you’re not out of the woods yet, not by any means. So we’re going to do something to help you focus, something to help you exercise control over your own actions.” His face got darker and darker. “We’re going to do yoga.”

I thought he was going to fall off his chair. He was PSYCHED. He started giggling, and didn’t stop until shavasana was over. And he did a great job! We did the “Basic Flow” from Shiva Rea’s Yoga Shakti, and he was able to follow along pretty well. 

Downward Dog

Time will tell if it helps him in class. Even if we have to use other means to improve his behavior, it’s nice to have found something we can do together.

Upward Dog, or Cobra

Plus, it’s way better than zoning out in front of the TV or computer. 

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Behavior Modification

  1. Robyn

    This is awesome.

  2. I’m a middle school teacher. I love that you are doing this! I wish all parents were as proactive. Post how it goes!

  3. Since my son (now a 2nd grader) was a wee child of 18 months, he has been pratt-falling and behaving like a future member of the SNL cast. He has been struggling with his behavior in class, as he just wants people to think he’s hysterical all the time. Completely annoying for the teacher, but his out-of-the-box thinking and gifted classification sounds very similar to your son. I love yoga, and maybe this will help him focus his energy as well. I just wish his classroom teacher would see him for the sweet, generous, kind, creative-thinker that he is, rather than an obstruction to the learning process. Thanks for the post!

    • Windy Taylor

      I totally understand. I used to make excuses for Tyler – “It could be so much worse! He could be hitting, or fighting, or throwing temper tantrums! He’s just doing the worm….. in the middle of math…. yeah, that’s probably not good.”

      Best of luck with your son!

  4. Pingback: Update: Behavior Modification | House Blend

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